2014 FedEx Cup Playoffs: Winners and Losers from the Deutsche Bank Championship
Let's be honest. Who knew who this young man was? He turned pro in 2007, won his first tournament in 2011, his second early this year and his third tournament in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Now he's No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings where Hunter Mahan was a week ago after his win in The Barclays. Mahan shrunk from the top, but Kirk filled the void.
Looking over the entire weekend, there were moments of brilliance from a number of golfers, whether it was Ryan Palmer's putting on Friday or Rory McIlroy's world-conquering play on Sunday (matched, under-reportedly, by Kirk).
It's on to Cherry Hill for the BMW Championship for the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Before that, let's take a look at the winners and losers from the DBC.
Winner: Chris "Captain" Kirk
It WAS a STELLAR PERformANCE by THIS young KIRK.
In case you couldn't tell (which, let's be serious here, you couldn't), that was a textual impersonation of William Shatner, the first Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame. Chris Kirk may have avoided being called Captain Kirk if for no other reason than that it's the most unoriginal nickname.
No matter. Kirk shot a 64 on Sunday (keeping pace with none other than McIlroy) and was then paired with the world No. 1 again. He was tied with McIlroy to start the day at 10 under, two back of the leaders.
Kirk shot back-to-back bogey-free rounds to finish at 15 under to stand on top of the FedEx Cup standings halfway through the playoffs.
"Just try to go play like I did yesterday," Kirk said during the NBC broadcast. "I felt good with the putter today. It's my biggest win ever."
Mahan didn't exactly set a good precedent by winning The Barclays and then putting his DBC in the rough, but time will tell how Kirk will perform a mile high in the air when he goes to Denver.
Loser: Jason Day's Inability to Close
The Jason Day computer program has no bugs in the first three rounds of a tournament, but come Sunday somebody hacks into his code, leaving him far short of the top spot.
This happened in the PGA Championship. This happened at The Barclays and it happened at the DBC. He was T15 and T2 in those tournaments and just couldn’t keep pace with the leaders and close it out.
Christopher L. Gasper of The Boston Globe wrote, “He always seems to be hovering around the leaderboard at majors like a bee around a cluster of goldenrods. Day has six top-10 finishes in the majors since 2011. He is one of those guys that routinely gets picked in your for-entertainment-purposes-only major pools.”
But then he stalls.
Day finished even for the day and 10-under for the tournament after a bogey and a double on the back nine sunk Day’s ship. Looking ahead, Day promises to be in contention for the FedEx Cup but lacks the killer instinct the proven winners have to take the crown.
Winner: USA Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson
Tom Watson’s coveted captain’s picks are due on Sept. 2, and the DBC gave him a good problem: the problem of choices. Ryan Palmer, though he has stalled since his first-round 63, showed an ability to roll in putts. Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley played some decent golf at TPC Boston to merit some of Watson’s attention. Then, out of nowhere, Kirk wins the DBC.
The Guardian’s Ewan Murray wrote:
Tales of America’s demise are not only exaggerated but dangerous to the European cause. Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Mahan and Snedeker earned prominent finishes at the US PGA Championship. History suggests that the enforced absence of Tiger Woods, while notable, will not be causing meaningful harm to Watson’s team.
Watson has choices, and the team appears to be strong even in the absence of Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner.
Loser: Rory McIlroy's Ball
How dare McIlroy tempt us, tease us, lead us on after his third-round 64? He was going to win the tournament. It was, as the saying goes, a foregone conclusion. Then he couldn’t make a putt. He looked, dare it be said, mortal.
Take the sixth hole. His drive plunked in a fairway bunker. McIlroy took a giant McIlroyian swing, and the ball promptly smashed into the lip of the bunker and plugged in the sand by his feet.
He drew a sand wedge and chipped into the fairway about 120 yards from the pin. Sure, McIlroy got up and down from way back there, but this shot stalled any momentum he had earned to that point.
You knew he was out of it when NBC stopped putting a camera on him.
After the sixth, instead of giving the ball to a fan, he made it sleep with the fishes.
SB Nation’s Brendan Porath wrote, “It was in a bunker at the sixth that his final round hopes took a hit. This sloppiness out of the sand, however, was less a result of that weakness in his game and more just Rory getting a little too greedy."
Now McIlroy is on to Denver to commiserate with the Broncos and maybe win the BMW Championship for the second time in two years.
He’s still the favorite to win the Cup, so it’s probably best that he has taken a slow climb through the playoffs instead of shooting up like a firework and bursting at the apex.
Winner: Geoff Ogilvy Getting off the Bubble
You’ve heard of the Seinfeld bubble boy (if not, Google it), and the FedEx Cup’s own version of the bubble boy is Geoff Ogilvy.
He snuck into the DBC field as the 100th and final golfer to advance out of The Barclays. And on the back of some serious putting, Ogilvy, T2 at 13 under, vaulted to the upper real estate of the DBC leaderboard and into the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings.
“It’s amazing what a couple putts will do to your demeanor, the scorecard, and everything,” Ogilvy said in The Boston Globe on Saturday. “Basically, I just found my putter for the last nine holes, which was fun.”
He carried that momentum into the final two days of the tournament. Ogilvy even got a little lucky when an errant chip hit the pin and landed just a few feet away instead of several yards away.
An NBC commentator said, “When it’s your day, it’s your day.”
And now Ogilvy, after a disappointing season (one win, one top-10, only three top-25s), is right in the thick of the FedEx Cup playoffs and every bit as capable of competing for the $10 million.
Loser: Billy Horschel's 6-Iron on 18
Billy Horschel was the only man who had a shot at forcing a playoff against Kirk. His approach on 18 left him with a 6-iron in to the green, 212 yards. If he eagled he would've won. He would have needed a birdie to force a playoff.
He set up. He drew his 6-iron back. Then his downswing hit more dirt than ball, and his shot fell like a wounded bird into the hazard where Horschel took a drop, then settled for bogey and a T2. Horschel said during the NBC broadcast:
It's unfortunately, it's the worst swing I've made all weekend. The ball was a little bit below my feet. I just wanted to stay in the golf shot. I knew anything in the green or the right bunker was good. I tried to make a good golf shot but I stayed in it too long. I played really good today. Not to make a bogey until 18 it's unfortunate.
It was his only bogey of the day. It's no coincidence that this shot came when it did. All eyes were on him, and he failed to deliver.
In either case, he made the 70-player cut for Denver and will be a formidable player if he keeps his game as sharp as it was through 17 holes on Labor Day.
Winner: Jerry Kelly
Jerry Kelly needed an eagle on 18 for a chance to make the 70-player cut that advances to the third leg of the playoffs. What did he do?
Kelly delivered a scorching 3-wood to the left side of the green. The ball rolled to within 10 feet, and Kelly drained the eagle putt, sore back and all. At that point he had made the cut, but later in the round he dipped below that cut line again.
Thanks to Jason Day’s birdie putt to end his round (an otherwise meaningless putt), it took points away from Robert Streb and Kelly snuck in as No. 70.
Rocky Mountain High for Kelly.
In 22 events for Kelly, he has two thirds and four top-10s. His even-par showing at the DBC bought his ailing back a ticket to Denver.
Loser: Hunter Mahan's Chance as a Ryder Cup Pick
Hunter Mahan may have played himself off the Ryder Cup team with his play at the DBC. This after he made a strong case for inclusion on the team with his emphatic win at The Barclays. In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of climate, Mahan's westward travels will stop far short of Denver.
Mahan shot one-over at the DBC to finish 64th.
“I don’t know why. Everything felt good, felt the same as last week,” Mahan said, per Jim McCabe of Golfweek. “I felt like I was going to play really well. I don’t know. I guess it’s the nature of golf. I can’t explain it.”
Will Watson select a player like Mahan after he slipped so far after a win? Or will Watson go with the Flavor of the Week in Kirk? Or, will Watson expedite a change in McIlroy's citizenship? Either way, Mahan's grip on being a captain's pick is slipping.