As they headed into the backstretch of the FedEx Cup playoffs, PGA Tour players jockeyed for position at the BMW Championship, setting up a ferocious finish at the upcoming season’s finale at East Lake.
Zach Johnson zoomed past record-breaker Jim Furyk and a surging Nick Watney to win the tournament and jump all the way from 27th to the fourth spot in the standings, giving him a great shot at the title and the $10 million prize that awaits the FedEx Cup champ.
After a one-day rain delay, heavyweights such as Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel all had a chance to win when Furyk faltered on the last day. Despite a mediocre Monday finish, Woods remains in first place in the standings while some prominent names couldn’t make the cut.
Furyk had leapt into the lead on Friday when he became only the sixth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59. Now in the 11th spot in the standings, Furyk lost his sixth straight 54-hole lead, but he still has a good chance to win the FedEx Cup.
Meanwhile, a wild melee took place around the No. 30 spot in the FedEx standings as a number of players fought to make it to the next stop in the playoffs, where only 30 of the 70 who came to Lake Forest would advance.
Winners and losers were plentiful at the BMW Championship as the season reaches its finale.
Looking like he was headed home early, Luke Donald played superb golf over the last two days, shooting 67 and 66, respectively, and catapulted himself from 54th to 29th in the standings.
Donald, who finished in a tie for 41st in the last two playoff tournaments, really turned things around at Conway Farms, which just happens to be his home course.
After missing three cuts in his last six outings, his tie for fourth was a refreshing change and gave him a chance to finish the season on a high note.
Lee Westwood has had an emotional year, one that saw him get so close to finally winning his first major at the British Open, only to eventually founder on the last day.
While he was fortunate to make it into the third round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, he left unceremoniously, finishing in 67th place at the BMW Championship.
A win at one of the playoff venues would have gone a long way toward helping Westwood as he looks to rebuild for next season.
It is kind of hard to call Dustin Johnson a winner, since he barely snuck into the 30th position in the FedEx standings after finishing in a tie for 62nd place at the BMW Championship.
But, luckily for the wayward Johnson, that's the way the wacky playoff points work.
Meanwhile, young Harris English will not compete at East lake, as he dropped from 28th to 31st in the standings with his 50th-place finish in the tournament.
The year was not a total loss for the 24-year-old who won his first tournament and had four top-10 finishes.
Anyone who shoots a 59 in a round is an automatic winner in our book. The unspectacular Jim Furyk's spectacular round made him only the sixth man in PGA history to shoot such a score.
As they say, it can only be downhill from there, and even though he held the lead going into the final day, Furyk was unable to keep his score down, shooting even par and finishing in third place.
He did jump up four spots to the 11th position in the standings and could be one of the favorites, despite being outside the top five, to win the title.
Furyk's 59 also appears to be a very loud and visible retort to Fred Couples, who did not pick him for the upcoming President's Cup team. Interestingly, Furyk has now finished in the top 10 in five of his last six outings and may be the hottest golfer on the tour.
This falls under the "Why Bother?" category and reflects the altogether weird nature of the FedEx Cup scoring.
Each of these players—Ryan Moore, Rory Sabbatini, Matt Jones and Jimmy Walker—played exceptionally at the BMW Championships, only to fail to make the cut.
Of course, golf tournaments are all about missed cuts, but each of these players had a great tournament yet will not move on.
Jones finished in a tie for eighth and just barely missed the cut line at 32nd in the standings.
Moore, Walker and Sabbatini hovered around the top of the board all tournament, and tied for 11th at nine under.
Winners or losers? You make the call.
Rory McIlroy, who fired a second successive three-under-par 68 to finish at seven-over 291, just didn't have enough consistency to make it to the next round.
Last year's superstar winner of the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championships ended his very forgettable 2013 PGA Tour campaign in the 50th spot in the FedEx Cup standings.
No doubt, a head-scratching future lies head for the once invincible young man.
Nick Watney needed a great tournament in order to proceed to the Tour Championship, and that is just what he had.
Playing brilliantly throughout, he made it into the top 30 with rounds of 67, 69, 70 and a fantastic 64.
He ended up in second place in the tournament and No. 12 on the FedEx Cup leaderboard.
Last year, Watney finished fourth in the FedEx Cup standings and is making a solid run again.
The brash Brit may be great in Ryder Cup performances, but he just hasn’t performed that well on the PGA Tour.
Even though he missed the cut at The Barclays, Ian Poulter rebounded nicely at the Deutsche Bank Championship, finishing in a tie for ninth and setting up a chance to finish in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Poulter’s up-and-down season, which included a tie for third at the British Open, continued at the BMW Championship, where he was unable to make any headway.
His ultimate score of one-over par dropped him into 53rd place in the standings, ending his season in a very unceremonious fashion.
So much for fist pumps.
Steve Stricker sure makes golf look easy. The 46-year-old with the best putting stroke on Tour took The Barclays off, then marched into the Deutsche Bank Championship and finished second.
Entering the BMW Championship, he was eighth in the standings, but his 11-under performance put him into a tie for fourth in the tournament and sixth place in the FedEx Cup standings.
Stricker came very close to winning the BMW, so one should definitely consider him a front-runner at the TOUR Championship at East Lake.