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IT'S PLAYOFF TIME

Sent on Thursday, September 06, 2018

Bryson DeChambeau has played at a high level most of this season, highlighted, of course, by his riveting playoff victory in June in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. After his second win of the year at The Northern Trust in the first event of the FedExCup Playoffs, the California native put himself in the lead for another prestigious prize, the FedExCup.

Now with a second straight Playoff win at the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston on Monday, Sept. 3, he's in the driver's seat for that season-long title.

DeChambeau, 24, leads the FedExCup standings on the PGA TOUR heading into the third Playoff event, the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia. He overtook world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who was the regular-season leader after three victories pushed his career total to 19 TOUR wins, with his victory at The Northern Trust, and now his lead is so large over Johnson that he is assured of topping the standings going into the TOUR Championship, regardless of how he performs in the third Playoff event at Aronimink.

Staked to a four-shot lead through 54 holes, DeChambeau held off Tony Finau at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., shooting a 2-under-par 69 for an 18-under 266 total. “I’m a man on a mission right now – two missions, actually,” DeChambeau said after his second win of the year and third of his career. “One being the Ryder Cup and one being the FedEx Cup. I'm doing pretty well right now and just got to keep moving forward in the right direction.”

He is all right. His two-shot victory over Justin Rose at TPC Boston ensured that he's the favorite for the FedExCup title. Meanwhile, the back-to-back wins ensured that U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, a former Memorial Tournament winner, would add him to the roster, which he did on Sept. 4. Furyk also selected five-time Memorial winner Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to the U.S. squad. 

Rose, who is one of the top players for the European Ryder Cup squad and a past winner of the Memorial Tournament, moved up to third in the FedExCup standings, while Finau remained in fourth place, and Justin Thomas, who won the season-long FedExCup title last year, is fifth and still well positioned to become the first player to win the FedExCup in back-to-back seasons.

World No. 2 Brooks Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, dropped to sixth. The rest of the top 10 are Bubba Watson, Cameron Smith, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

While the race for the FedExCup crown has reached the mid-way point – next season it will be reduced from four events to three – the jockeying for position is crucial. Now that the Dell Technologies Championship is completed, the TOUR takes a week off. Then the Playoffs shift to suburban Philadelphia for the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club. Only 70 of the 100 players from Boston advance to the third stage.

And, of course, only 30 will qualify for the TOUR Championship presented by Coca Cola in Atlanta on Sept. 20.

The most intriguing name among the current top 30 is a guy who didn’t even play on the PGA TOUR the last two years. Tiger Woods, who has won the Memorial Tournament a record five times, is currently 25th in just 16 starts this season. He finished well back at The Northern Trust in 40th place after coming in second to Koepka at the PGA Championship, but after a T-24 outing in Boston he has a chance to play in all four Playoff events for the first time since 2013, the year he won five times to run his career victory total to 79.

Woods, 42, still has a great chance to win a third FedExCup, but he will likely need at least one win to do it. And he has to beat players like DeChambeau, who clearly is on a roll this year with not only three wins on the season but also nine top-10 finishes. No easy task.

The PGA TOUR isn’t the only tour in the midst of playoff fever. The Web.com Tour also has a four-tournament run, the Finals, to determine who picks up 25 PGA TOUR cards in addition to the 25 awarded to the top 25 players on the regular season Web.com Tour money list. 

For the second consecutive year, the Nationwide Children’s Championship served as the first tournament of the Web.com Tour Finals, and once again it delivered an exciting conclusion with a pair of PGA TOUR veterans battling it out in overtime. In the end, Robert Streb defeated Peter Malnati on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with a par at the par-4 18thhole at the Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course. The two men completed 72 holes in 12-under 272.


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