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BMW Championship

Tournament Preview

 
The BMW Championships kick off Thursday in Chicago as the PGA Playoffs get back to business after a week off.

Only the Top 70 players are left out of a field that once numbered 125, with all those men vying to finish in the Top 30 of the FedExCup points standings and move on to the final event, the TOUR Championship next week in Atlanta.

As of right now, the men with the top 11 points totals - have already locked in their places in the TOUR Championship, meaning the other 19 spots have 59 players chasing them at the Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Set on 209 acres, the course is a par-71 with one of the meanest finishes in all of American golf - No. 16 is a par-4, 465-yard hole with a lake to drive over and a deep bunker in the fairway; No. 17 is a par-3, 207-yard hole with a downhill tee shot and No. 18 is a par-5, 570-yarder with a green that can be reached in two, but a creek, a deep bunker and a massive oak tree looming as distractions.

Rory McIlroy is the defending champion, and could really use a dose of that winner's touch this year - he is currently outside the Top 30.

The players are paired for today and tomorrow's rounds based on their current position in the FedExCup standings, which makes for some truly dandy trios, especially those starting on the back nine.

At 10:42 a.m., Justin Rose, Steve Stricker and Brandt Snedeker hit the links, and 11 minutes later, the top three men in the standings - Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott are up.

Other quality groups to watch either live on the Golf Channel or via the Internet are Jordan Spieth, Bradley Keegan and Jason Day at 11:48 a.m. on Tee #1, followed by Matt Kuchar, Graham DeLaet and Phil Mickelson at 11:59 a.m.

In the six years of the TOUR Championships, only three players have qualified for the final event each year - Mickelson, Stricker and Hunter Mahan.

09/12/13, Thursday


Already ranked No. 3 in the FedExCup Points standings, American Brant Snedeker is one of 11 players in the PGA Playoffs who has already clinched his spot in next week's TOUR Championships in Atlanta.

But for the names in that elite class, just making the final isn't what this is about.
Snedeker fired an 8-under 63 to take a one-shot lead over Zach Johnson after one round at the BMW Championships in Chicago on Thursday.

Any player ranked in the Top 20 at this point would take over the No. 1 point placement with a victory at this tournament.

Snedeker finished the day with a run of six straight birdies between No. 13 and 18 to sprint to the lead in a Top 10 full of top names.

A big finish would be huge for Johnson, who is currently 27th among the point leaders. Only the Top 30 men make the cut to the final tournament of the year. Like Snedeker, Johnson did not record a bogey in his round, shooting 3-under on the front nine and 4-under on the back.

It's a four-player logjam at 5-under tied for third containing Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods, Kevin Streelman and Charl Schwartzel.

The South African Schwartzel, who entered the tournament ranked 29th, hit a bogey on No. 3, then ripped six birdies over the next 11 holes.

Woods, who trails Henrik Stenson by just 14 points for the overall lead, struggled with consistency early, hitting three birdies and two bogeys in his first six holes. He eliminated the bogeys while knocking in birides on No. 7, 9 and 10, then added a 22-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to reach 5-under.

Masters champion Adam Scott is one of four players tied for seventh at 4-under. The course was not as kind to some other top players. British Open champion Phil Mickelson is tied for 18th after shooting a 1-under 70, while US Open champion Justin Rose is at even par.

Stenson, who won the Deutsche Bank Invitational in Boston two weeks ago, shot a 1-over 72 and is tied for 39th. The normally consistent Stenson shot 12 straight pars to open the round, then struggled with a double bogey on 13 and a bogey on 16.
 
 
09/13/13, Friday


Jim Furyk entered the BMW Invitational tied for 15th in the FedExCup standings, meaning he'd have to still do some work to make next week's TOUR Championships by Coca-Cola.

On Friday, he got down to it.

Furyk became just the sixth player in PGA history to fire a 59, shooting 12-under to explode into a first-place tie with Brandt Snedeker halfway through the tournament being played in Chicago.

Needing a birdie on No. 18 to attain what many in golf call the "perfect round", Furyk fired his tee shot within six feet on the hole, and calmly sank the putt, pumping his fist as the massive crowd erupted in tribute to the 43-year-old American who won these FedEx playoffs in 2010, which was also the last time anyone shot a 59 on tour.

Furyk became the first player to have a bogey in his round of 59, which he counterbalanced with 11 birdies and one eagle. All of that after his 1-over 72 left him tied for 39th on Day One.

He was at his best on the back nine, where he started the round with three straight birdies. He eagled No. 15, then birdied 17 and 18 to hit the turn with an 8-under 28. Furyk's previous career-low was a 62, which he has recorded four times.

The record-setting round left him tied with Snedeker, the defending FedExCup champion, who fired a 3-under 68 to also reach 11-under.

Zach Johnson, who was one off the lead to start the day, shot a 1-under 70 to fall three strokes back at 6-under.

Five players are tied for fourth at 6-under including rookie Jordan Spieth. The 20-year old shot a 6-under 65, the second-best round of the day after Furyk.

On the flip side of Furyk's day was Tiger Woods, who struggled to a 1-over 72. Woods hit a double bogey on No. 1, then was handed a two-stroke penalty after someone anonymously said they saw him move his ball in the woods. Video evidence supported the claim and Woods had to take an 8 on No. 1. Without the penalty, he would have been tied for fourth instead of tied for 13th.

The day wasn't very positive for a few other heavy hitters either. Masters champion Adam Scott shot a 2-over 73 to fall to 17th; US Open champ Justin Rose shot his second straight 71 to stay tied for 28th with Deutsche Bank champion and current points leader Henrik Stenson who shot a 1-under 70 but is even for the tournament.

British Open champion Phil Mickelson shot a 3-over 74 to fall into a tie for 45th, tied with PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner.

But no one suffered more than 2012 BMW Invitational winner Rory McIlroy, who bomed out to the tune of a 6-over 77 to fall to 13-over for the tournament, dead last.

McIlroy had six bogeys and a double bogey on Friday, a day after starting the tournament with a triple bogey 7, and adding a double and four bogeys.

09/14/13, Saturday

It's easy to see why the FedExCup playoffs are so popular when one looks at the highlights from Saturday's third round of the BMW Championships in Chicago.

There was the 99-yard eagle by Steve Stricker on No. 15, the 200-yard hole-in-one ace from Hunter Mahan on 17, Tiger Woods' rally and Jim Furyk's continued brilliance.
Not a bad day on the links.

A day after becoming just the sixth man to shoot a 59 at a PGA event, Furyk was 10 strokes worse by still 2-under par with a 69 to get to 13-under for the tournament.

That allowed him to keep the lead - although just barely - over Stricker, who shot a 7-under 64 to get to 12-under on the weekend. His eagle helped balance out a bogey on No. 17.

The defending FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker shot an even 71 to hold steady at 11-under, falling two strokes off the lead. He's followed by Zach Johnson at 10-under and Woods at 9-under.

One over through five, Woods rang up five birdies in six holes between No. 6 and 12 to roar back into contention. The 14-time Major champion was still steamed about the two-stroke penalty he incurred yesterday.

Mahan's ace allowed him to rise from a tied for 24th to a tie for eighth as he shot a 6-under 65. Ten players start the final round within six strokes of the lead.

Overall points leader Henrik Stenson rebounded from two sluggish days with a 4-under 67 to move from 28th to a tie for 18th. Falling back to join him there is 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, who struggled to a 2-over 73.

US Open champion Justin Rose shot a 2-under to finished tied for 26th, a stroke ahead of British Open champion Phil Mickelson, who was 3-under for the day but is just 1-under for the tournament.

Masters champion Adam Scott had his worst round yet, a 4-over 75 to topple from 17th down to 41st.

09/15/13, Sunday


Weather wiped out the rounds of every top player at the BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Illinois on Sunday, postponing the tournament's final round to Monday.

Only six players actually finished their rounds on Sunday, one of them being defending BMW champion Rory McIlroy who shot his second straight 3-under 68 after starting the weekend with atrocious play, going into Saturday at 13-over.

McIlroy finished 7-over for the weekend, and is tied for 60th place. Barring basically every single golfer completely falling apart on Monday, McIlory will not move on to the Tour Championships next week in Atlanta.

The pairing of Kevin Streelman and Justin Rose had just taken the course when the rains knocked out the chance of any more golf being played on Sunday.

The first tee off will be at 9 a.m. Central on Monday when Jordan Spieth and Brendon de Jonge take to the course. The pair are part of a five-way tie for 18th at 4-under.

Current leader Jim Furyk (-13) and Steve Stricker (-12) will tee off in the final pairing at 10:40 a.m on Monday. On Friday, Furyk became just the sixth man in PGA history to shoot a 59.

There are five players besides Stricker within five strokes of Furyk's lead.

Brandt Snedeker is at 11-under, Zach Johnson at 10-under, Tiger Woods at 9-under and Ryan Moore and Charl Schwartzel tied at 8-under.

The Top 11 men in the current FedExCup Points standings entering the weekend - Henrik Stensons, Woods, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Graham DeLaet, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Stricker, Snedeker, Spieth and Keegan Bradley - have all already racked up enough points to qualify for the final playoff event next week.

That leaves 19 other spots open for the remaining chunk of the field to try and cram their way into.

A player who will be a glaring omission next week is the UK's Lee Westwood, who was 30th coming into this tournament, but bombed out and finished at 12-over for the weekend, 3-over on Sunday and never able to recover from an opening round 80.
 
Tournament Recap

Jim Furyk had the round of the year with his 59 on Friday at the BMW Championship, but Zach Johnson came up biggest when it mattered most.

Johnson's final round 6-under 65 gave him the title on Sunday, along with the 2,500 FedEx points and a check worth a cool $1.44 million.

Furyk struggled to an even-par 71 that left him in third place for the weekend, also finishing behind Nick Watney, who fired a 7-under 64 to get to 14-under, two strokes behind Johnson.

Watney was on the outside looking in at the Top 30 to start the tournament, seeded 34th. His second-place finish sent him soaring 22 spots up to No. 12.

Johnson had zero bogeys and six birdies in the final round to take the title. Watney birdied his first three holes and was perfect other than a bogey on No.8 .He also birdied three in a row between No. 12 and 14.

Furyk dropped to 15-under through 10 holes, then ran into trouble with bogeys on No. 11, 13 and 16. The trio of bogeys matched his total for Rounds 2 and 3 combined.

Four players wound up tied for fourth at 11-under: Jason Day, Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker.

Stricker had been a shot behind Furyk for the overall lead through three rounds, and was 1-under at the turn, but he started the back nine with a bogey on No. 10 and a double on No. 11 to fall off the radar.

Charl Schwartzel, Matt Jones and Brandt Snedeker rounded out the Top 10, each man finishing 10-under.

American Tiger Woods shot an even-par 71 to finish tied for 11th at 9-under. Woods was able to retake the overall points lead in the FedEx Cup Standings, however.

Twenty-year-old sensation Jordan Spieth fired a 3-under 68 to finished tied for 16th at 7-under.

The most perplexing scorecard was turned in by American Matt Kuchar, who finished the weekend 3-under with a 74-73-61-73 - 281. Kuchar had five bogeys in Round 1, three and one double in Round 2, then fired 10 birdies in Round 3 before returning to earth with a four-bogey closing round.

US Open champion Justin Rose and British Open champ Phil Mickelson both finished 1-under, tied for 33rd with Henrik Stenson, who entered the field leading the Fed Ex race.

Masters champ Adam Scott finished tied for 28th at 2-under, while PGA Champ Jason Dufner never got below par on any single round, finishing 5-over, tied for 54th.

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