NORTON – (Staff Report from TPC Boston) – Bryson DeChambeau became the sixth player in the 12-year history of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup (2007-present) to win back-to-back playoff events when he held off late afternoon pressure to win the Dell Technologies Championship, a week after taking honors at the Northern Trust Open. DeChambeau gained a two-stroke lead at the turn, shooting 32 on the way out, then held on against constant pressure from Australia’s Cameron Smith and England’s Justin Rose. DeChambeau shot a (-4) 67 in the final round and finished (70-68-63-67) for (-16) on the tournament.
Nineteen players finished within six strokes of the lead (-10 or better) during the day of a constantly fluctuating leaderboard, sometimes with as many as 21 players within four strokes of the lead earlier on a hot, humid Labor Day Monday in Boston.
DeChambeau, who started the day a stroke behind 54-hole leader Abraham Ancer, kept his composure to become only the second player to take both the first and second legs of the FedExCup playoff events in the same year. Only the great Vijay Singh (2008) can relate. DeChambeau is the first player since Billy Horschel in 2014 to take back-to-back playoff events, Horschel doing so in the final two events that year to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
“Consistency has been a big thing for me,” said DeChambeau immediately after his victory. “I’ve been trying to get that, week in and week out, and I was able to figure something out last week on the putting green, and that’s kind of progressed me to move forward.”
With his win, DeChambeau joined Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson as the only three-time winners on the PGA Tour this season. He also banked a $1.62 million 1st place prize check and 2,000 valuable FedEx Cup points. The victory also makes him a lock for the United States Ryder Cup team.
The top finish did not come easy.
Smith made it interesting as he turned his mediocre round of even golf into solid title contention with three birdies on the back nine to threaten the lead. A clutch birdie by DeChambeau on No. 15 fought off the pressure and Smith muffed an approach shot on the par 5 18th and bogeyed the final hole after removing the ball from the hazard. Smith finished (-2) 69 in 3rd place.
Rose also played very well down the stretch, carding birdies on four of his final six holes. Rose shot (65-67-70-68) to finish (-14), and finish a stroke ahead of Smith and two behind DeChambeau. Rose is now No. 3 on the FedEx Cup leaderboard.
Tiger Woods shot a disappointing 71 to finish (72-66-68-71) to tie for 24th place. Woods fell a slot to 26th on the FedEx Cup points standings, good enough to qualify for the BMW Championship but woefully close to the top 30 cut-off for the Tour Championship, the final event of the season for pro golf in North America.
Earlier in the final round, two tour veterans charged-up the leaderboard as Phil Mickelson shot a (-8) 63 to finish (72-72-69-63) for (-10) on the tournament while Johnson challenged with a combination of birdies and bogeys to shoot (-7) 64 and finish (68-69-72-64) and (-11) for the tournament.
The tour playoffs advanced to Boston with 125 players in the field, and the top 70 players in the complicated FedEx Cup playoff points standings will move on to play at the BMW Championship this coming weekend (September 6-9) in Newton Square, Pennsylvania. The top 30 after Philadelphia will qualify for the Tour Championship. DeChambeau ranks No. 1 on that list and the top five players have the best chance of winning the $10M prize for the FedEx Cup.
DeChambeau is fully aware he cannot rest on the laurels of winning the first two rounds of the playoffs because of the weighed system and the fact any of the golfers ranked in the top five going into East Lake (Atlanta) and the Tour Championship can come out on top.
“I’ve still got to focus on doing the absolute best I can each and every week,” he said. “I can’t get caught up in the fact that I’m No. 1. and I can’t get caught up in the fact that I won the past two weeks. Everybody starts at even par next week. We’re all fresh and there’s going to be a winner on Sunday. So it could be anybody out of the 70 that are there. I’ve just got to play better than all of them.”
Mickelson’s play almost guarantees a place on the 2018 USA Ryder Cup team. US team captain Jim Furyk will name three of the final four roster members on Tuesday. he is expected to add Mickelson, Woods and DeChambeau and leave one final spot to be decided a week from today, after the conclusion of the BMW Championship near Philadelphia. Mickelson is the only player in the history of the FedEx Cup playoffs to advance to the third round (BMM Championship) every year.
“I’ve got to take this momentum into Philadelphia, play a good solid week, get in that top five,” said Mickelson. “If I’m able to come out on top, it guarantees a win in the FedExCup, so next week is every bit as important.”
The conclusion of the prestigious golf event also marks the end of the Dell Technologies Championship (formerly the Deutsch Bank Championship) as the PGA Tour will reduce its playoff schedule to three events from four and do away with the Boston-based tournament. After playing in New Jersey in 2019, the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs will return to the TPC Boston in August 2020 when the club hosts the first round of the playoffs. It will be known as the Northern Trust Open going forward.