American Zach Johnson began Monday morning three shots behind 54-hole leader Jim Furyk but a final round 65 saw him win the BMW Championship by two shots Monday afternoon at Conway Farms Golf Club outside Chicago. Johnson’s bogey-free 65 saw him post 16-under-par 268 for his 10th career victory and his first ever in the FedExCup Playoffs. Countryman Nick Watney was runner-up on 14-under and Furyk rounded out the podium one further shot back.
Zach Johnson missed the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs, The Barclays, to be the best man in his brother’s wedding. The Golf Gods obviously rewarded his dedication to his family and brother by smiling upon him this week. It also didn’t hurt that Johnson played a practice round during that wedding week at Conway Farms so it was all part of his master plan! Johnson had a great week off the tee (T6), into the greens (T3 GIR) and his trusty putter (second in strokes gained-putting) was exactly that, trusty. His excellent all-around game led to 20 birdies (T4) and only four bogeys (second-best). His bogey-free 64 to open was almost bested by his 65 to close as Johnson played all four rounds under par.
His season started off ice cold but once the weather started to heat up, so did his game. In his last seven starts, he finished outside the top 8 ONE TIME and that was T27 at the DBC the last Playoff event. He closed that “terrible” performance with 67-66 so there wasn’t any question to his form. He needed a result this week to make The TOUR Championship as he sat at No. 27 entering the week and boy did he get one. It’s interesting to note that this was only his fourth top 10 in FedExCup events. Weird that from a guy who has 51 top 10s in his career.
Speaking of careers, Johnson has had quite a solid one and he’s only 37 years of age. He now has 10 wins, including a green jacket, on his CV. He’s won four times in Texas, twice at Valero and twice at Colonial; three times in Georgia, twice at TPC Sugarloaf which is no longer on the schedule; twice in Illinois in the last two years and once in Hawaii. I don’t see him slowing down. His swing is compact, simple and effective and his mind and spirit keep him grounded and focused. Patient fantasy owners were hugely paid off this summer and Johnson should get a bumper sticker that says Class is Permanent; Form is Temporary because he’s legit!
With this victory, Johnson collects $1,440,000, 2500 FedExCup points and moves from No. 27to No. 4 on the FedExCup points race. He’s one of the “Magic Five” that can win the $10 million bonus with a victory next week at East Lake.
Next Week’s Golden Ticket Holders
No. 1: Tiger Woods’ tender back looked to flare up on Monday but he still ground out a T11 to enter Atlanta numero uno.
No. 2: Henrik Stenson had a final round 74 that knocked him to T33 but his ball-striking was solid so we’ll see what he has mentally left in the tank next week.
No. 3: Adam Scott opened with 67 on Thursday and fired 67 on Monday to maintain his position at No. 3 and guarantee him the FedExCup Championship with a win next week. He’ll need FOUR solid rounds next week to pull that off.
No. 4: Zach Johnson won this week.
No. 5: Matt Kuchar shot 61 on Saturday. You had no idea because you were watching college football. He backed it up with 73 in the final round to finish T24 yet maintain the last golden ticket spot at No. 5 in the FedExCup standings. Hey, all it took was 61 on Saturday!
All players outside of the top five will need an accountant to figure out how they can win. The Magic Five do not.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
There have been 39 tournaments this season and the USA has won 31 of them.
There have been 12, first-time winners this season and just five players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar, Snedeker and Scott).
Only 16 of the 54-hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win the 37, full-field, stroke-play events on the season. Jim Furyk has been a frequent contributor to this list over the last two years and he returns again this week, sadly.
Premium players win the Playoff events, period. Zach Johnson has now won on TOUR in seven of the last eight years. That’s premium.
The winners on TOUR (international players in italics) have been Dustin Johnson (28), Russell Henley (24), Brian Gay (41), Tiger Woods FIVE times (37), Phil Mickelson (42) TWICE, Brandt Snedeker (32) TWICE, John Merrick (30) Matt Kuchar TWICE (34), Michael Thompson(27) Scott Brown (29), Kevin Streelman (34), D.A. Points (36), Martin Laird (30), Adam Scott (32) TWICE, Graeme McDowell (33), Billy Horschel (26), Derek Ernst (22), Sang-Moon Bae (26), Boo Weekley (39) Harris English (23), Justin Rose (32), Ken Duke (44) Bill Haas (31), Jonas Blixt (29), Woody Austin (49), Gary Woodland (29), Jason Dufner (36), Patrick Reed (23), Henrik Stenson (37), Zach Johnson and 19-year old Jordan Spieth. The young folks (30 and younger) now have 14 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 20 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have FIVE wins. Jim Furyk hit the podium in third for the old folds.
A look at the players who finished in the top 10
Nick Watney: A renowned ball-striker with a quiet putter, Watney shook it up this week as he was first in strokes gained-putting and T1 in putts per GIR. It helped that he was T7 GIR and this deadly combination led to 24 birdies, which led the week. Even though he was No. 1 in putting he did miss a couple of shorties during the week that would come back to haunt him. No matter as Watney hits the top 10 for the second time in three events and he vaulted from No. 34 to No. 12 and he’ll have a chance at the big bucks. Watney should be known as LAST CALL as this is the second year in a row that he’s gone crazy in the Playoffs. Last year his win at the Barclays and T20 at the DBC saw him make Atlanta. Todd Anderson’s instruction is paying off already.
Jim Furyk: In the last 24 months, he’s held six, 54-hole leads and has not converted any of them. He should be renamed Mr. Each-Way because he’s burned plenty of win tickets over that period of time. For gamers, he’s been a gold mine on courses where scoring is tough. The more difficult, the better for Furyk as his strength is peppering fairways and greens and accepting that par is a decent score. His only finish outside the top nine in his last six events was last time out at DBC when he carded T27 after a dull final round 73. His 59 was nice but he’ll be remembered as one of the three who have fired 59 and NOT won the tournament. He joins Paul Goydos and Chip Beck as the two who didn’t go on to win; he’s the only one to achieve 59 with a bogey. In the Playoffs, there is usually not a safer bet than Furyk who pegged his 12th, top 10 finish of his career. That’s T1 with Mr September, Steve Stricker.
Luke Donald: He went Nick Watney this week as well as the normally lights-out putter decided to peg GIRS (T5) instead of rolling the rock (45th, strokes gained-putting). Donald also incurred TWO doubles on the week and still managed a T4 to vault him from No. 54 to No. 29 and into The TOUR Championship. This is his home course and he played like it was. Those gamers who held him for this event were nicely rewarded. After his T9 at Akron, another course he really likes, Donald rattled off MC, T41 and T41 in his next three events before his finish this week. I’m treading cautiously next week unless he kills East Lake.
Jason Day: He’s trending in the right direction as he heads to Atlanta after T25 at The Barclays, T13 at the DBC and T4 this week at BMW. This was his first NON-MAJOR top 10 since February at the WGC-Match Play. That’s weird. If he’s in the field, I’m not sure why any gamer wouldn’t have him in the lineup.
Hunter Mahan: My buddy Todd sent me an email last week asking advice on a OAD selection for the week. I pray he didn’t listen to my Dustin Johnson advice but I listened to his advice on Mahan (I also had Donald and Watney in my weekly game J). The “ATM” paid out again this week and is in fine form for East Lake. Like Day, Mahan is peaking at the right time and has identical finishes of T25, T13 and T4.
Steve Stricker: He’s now banged in 12 top 10s in his Playoff history as his T4 was his second in a row in the 2013 edition. His T13 at Akron is his worst finish in his last six events. That’s pretty good for 47 years of age.
Matt Jones: Here’s what I don’t really get because I’m awful at math: Stricker finished T4 and DROPPED places. As did Jason Day. Anyhow, Matt Jones’ wonderful finish to 2013 came up one birdie short of qualifying for Atlanta. His T8 saw him move up from No. 51 to No 32 but that’s short of the No. 30 that was necessary. Remember, Luke Donald sat at No. 54 and finished No. 29 and was one shot better. Gulp. In his last seven events he hit the top 10 four times so that’ll be a tough one for the Aussie to digest. Look for him to carry this form to next season.
Charl Schwartzel: He began the week at No. 29 and needed something to hang his hat on and he found it with his first top 10 in nine events (T8, Memorial) since June. In that same run of form Schwartzel never finished worse than T28 (one MC) so he’s been frustrating gamers. Anyone who putts it as well as he does should be in the conversation next week.
Brandt Snedeker: He busted out of his mini-slump with an opening round 63 but could only find one more round under par for the week in finishing T8. Gamers will be elated with that performance after T33 was his best finish in his last six. His class returned, as it does with all great players, but I wasn’t endorsing him on a new track after those previous results. Bully for you gamers who “knew” it was his week this week…He made six of his 19 birdies on the weekend and nine bogeys in rounds three and four.
One Man, His Own Category
Jordan Spieth has had quite a year and he’s capped it off with T19, T4 and T16 in his first-ever Playoff experience. He began the Playoffs at No. 9 and ended at No. 10. He turned 20 this summer and he’ll have a chance to win $11.4 next week. When I was 20, oh never mind…
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look at the boys on the bubble, Nos. 25-35 and how they fared.
No. 25 Roberto Castro: All four rounds of par or better saw him finish solo 15th and No. 24 in the final standings. The Georgia Tech product will feel right at home next week in Atlanta and his very solid sophomore season continues.
No. 26 Brendon de Jonge: All four round of par or better saw him finish T18 and No. 27 in the final rankings. He was T3 in pars this week. His first three Playoff events saw him finish T19, T9 and T18. #CashCow
No. 27 Zach Johnson: He won. End of.
No. 28 Harris English: It didn’t look like he would be out after seven holes on Monday as he was two-under for the day. He played the final 11 holes in three-over to finish 50th and No. 31. #everyshotcounts
No. 29 Charl Schwartzel: He showed his class to finish T8 to cash his ticket at No. 23.
No. 30 Lee Westwood: Wow. Opened with 80 and finished 67th out of 70 players. He finished at The TOUR Championship in 2012. Yikes.
No. 31 Charles Howell III: He needed something inside the top 25 to advance to Atlanta but couldn’t break par in four rounds. All four rounds at even-par were good enough for T39 but that moved him to No. 35 and out of the chance to play next week.
No. 32 Kevin Stadler: He wrote down 15 pars on a day he needed to make birdies. He ended T33 and No. 33. Wonder if he’s a Larry Bird fan?
No. 33 Kevin Chappell: A bad week for the Kevin’s as Chappell opened with 77 and was never a factor. His T62 saw him finish No. 45.
No. 34 Nick Watney: Cha-ching!
No. 35 Scott Piercy: His opening round 81 sank his chances. He finished No. 49.
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the field at The TOUR Championship while answering all your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget that you can follow Rob (https://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (https://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter!