One round left at Cog Hill, and the possibilities are endlessForget the FedExCup number-crunching. All Ryan Moore wants to do is convert his 54-hole lead into a win.September 11, 2010
Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor
LEMONT, Ill. -- Among all the dizzying array of subplots and projections and possibilities and scenarios that could take place in Sunday's final round of the BMW Championship, at least one thing is certain.
Matt Kuchar cannot win the FedExCup title at Cog Hill.
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Sure, he could win the tournament. It would be his second of these PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, it would make him a legitimate (and perhaps the favorite) Player of the Year candidate, and it would be even more impressive than the victory two weeks ago at The Barclays.
After all, he was healthy for those four rounds at Ridgewood. But through the first three rounds here, he's done all he can just to stay upright while walking 18 holes a day, battling an infection that at times took away his voice but not his sweet swing.
The fact that he's tied for second, one shot off the lead held by Ryan Moore, seems unfair to the rest of the field. Kuchar, the No. 1 player in FedExCup points, is in such a groove right now that not even poor health can knock him off-stride.
"I wanted so bad to just pull out of the tournament and go home," Kuchar said after Saturday's 1-under 70 moved him into a tie with Dustin Johnson and Charlie Wi at 7 under. "The last thing I wanted to do was be out here trying to play golf.
"But I'm very pleased with the way I'm feeling at the moment."
Consider yourself warned: A healthy Kuchar might be an unbeatable Kuchar on Sunday. The only thing that might stop him? If he replaces his alarm clock with Jim Furyk's cell phone.
But as dominant as he's been in the first 11 rounds of these Playoffs -- he's a combined 29 under, and he entered this week with a lead of nearly 1,000 FedExCup points ahead of his closest pursuer, Charley Hoffman -- Kuchar cannot wrap up the FedExCup title, thanks to the reset of points that happens after the final putt drops Sunday.
Yes, Kuchar is guaranteed his place in the top five of points going into East Lake, which means he can win the FedExCup title should he win THE TOUR Championship. But four other players also will have that same opportunity -- including Sunday's winner at Cog Hill.
And 25 other players are vying just to get in THE TOUR Championship field, to give themselves at least an opportunity at the FedExCup. One of those long shot hopefuls is Tiger Woods, who is facing elimination if he doesn't dip into the low 60s Sunday.
"It's going to be really interesting tomorrow," said Wi, the second-round co-leader with Kuchar who also shot 70 on Saturday. "I know everybody is jockeying for position to get into the top 30 tomorrow on the FedExCup points list.
"I know where I stand and I know what I need to do, so it's almost nerve-wracking knowing what you have to do and that if you don't perform, you might not achieve that goal. It's going to be a tough test of nerves and emotions out there, but that's why we're here and what we do."
Wi, unlike Kuchar, came to Cog Hill this week fighting for his Playoffs life. Ranked 37th in points, he needed to finish ninth or better just to make the top 30. Now he has a chance to make the coveted top five.
Ryan Moore birdies No. 7
Ryan Moore holes a short chip from the fringe at the par-4 7th for a birdie three.
So does Moore, who was in even worse shape that Wi. Ranked 58th in points coming in, Moore needed a top-four finish to make East Lake.
So just imagine the mindset he faces on Sunday -- he wants to play aggressive enough to win the tournament, but he needs to maintain a high position, otherwise his Playoffs will be over.
Moore said that it's really not that confusing. He will play to win. Period.
"That's what I'm here for," Moore said. "I'm not here to try and qualify for the TOUR Championship. I'm here to win the (BMW Championship), and that's what I'm trying to do. All the other stuff takes care of itself."
There's just a lot of stuff to consider. Winning a tournament. Making the top five. Making the top 30 (which, besides having a chance to win the FedExCup titles, comes with other perks, such as invites to the first three majors of next year).
"It's all kind of up in the air," Moore said. "You can move so much. I could move myself up with a win up into the top few spots, which is crazy to me because I didn't play too great the first two events.
"But that's how [the] Playoffs work. I mean, there's upsets, there's teams that don't play very good the first couple and then sweep the rest of the games, and there you go."
Yes, there you go. Lots of possibilities on Sunday. As Wi said, it's "make it or break it" time.
Thirty will make it to East Lake. The rest get a break. An unwanted break.