Furious finish results in FedExCup magic for eight players at Barclays

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William McGirt made a late birdie to move into the top 100 in the FedExCup standings.
August 27, 2011
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

EDISON, N.J. -- William McGirt didn't even realize there were no scoreboards on the course until his playing partner, Charley Hoffman, mentioned it as they were walking to the 14th green on Saturday.


Those gigantic LED boards usually display a wealth of statistical information -- not the least of which is a player's projected rank in the FedExCup. With Hurricane Irene fast approaching, though, those leaderboards had been taken down overnight.

So McGirt, who was the last man into the field for The Barclays, had no idea where he stood in the projected FedExCup standings as he prepared to hit his approach to the 17th hole. Luckily, his wife Sarah did.

McGirt was teetering on the edge of elimination at No. 101 -- only the top 100 headed to the TPC Boston for the second event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Caroline Harrington, Padraig's wife, was walking with Sarah and gave her some timely advice.

"Caroline told me to tell William that he needed to make a birdie," Sarah McGirt recalled.

So Sarah used her fingers to flash the numbers 1-0-1 to her husband and his caddy. As if on cue, McGirt responded with what he called the "best swing I made all week -- bar none" and coaxed a 7-iron within 6 feet. When he made the putt, McGirt became the last of eight hopefuls to played their way into the Deustche Bank Championship.

"At that point, I needed to know," McGirt said simply. "I asked Brandon, 'Do we need one or not?' And he looked over at Sarah."

Harrington, who played with McGirt for all three rounds at Plainfield Country Club, joined the PGA TOUR rookie in extending his Playoffs run. So did Camilo Villegas, who made the biggest jump of 58 spots to No. 51; Chris Stroud, Ian Poulter, Bill Lunde, John Merrick and Ernie Els.

The Irishman had canceled a family vacation in the Bahamas last week just to get into the Playoffs, playing in Greensboro where he moved six spots to 124th, one spot ahead of McGirt. After two rounds at Plainfield Country Club, Harrington was projected at No. 48, which would have all but assured him of a spot at the BMW Championship.

Harrington struggled with his putter on Saturday, though, using a total of 30 on a day when Plainfield was being extremely generous. He managed his seventh straight round in the 60s but fell to No. 80 in the FedExCup.

"Bit disappointing because where I was going out I was guaranteed the BMW as well," said Harrington, who will be playing in his fifth straight tournament at TPC Boston. "Now I have to go and work again this week.

"I was very happy with how I struck the ball this week -- probably my best of the year of what I've seen. I didn't chip the balll very well. I didn't bunker it very well. Areas that are normally strong were weak this week. I'm looking forward to putting hte two together next week."

While Harrington was safe all day, Poulter, who had started The Barclays ranked No. 114th, put himself behind the eight-ball early when he made double bogey at the third hole. He shot 8 under over his next 15 holes and needed every bit of it, including the 16-footer for birdie at the final hole.

The 64 was Poulter's best round in what has been an otherwise disappointing season -- but one that can be salvaged over the next four weeks.

"I just needed to make birdies -- simple as that," Poulter said. "I knew if I made birdies, I'd be fine. I'm not interested in finishing just top 100, just top 70, just top 80," Poulter said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's not good enough. I'm not happy even if I am still in the top 100.

"To me, it's been a poor season. But the only plus for me is the FedExCup. I can move up a lot. If I can play well next week, I can move on again."

Poulter barely broke stride as he headed from the clubhouse to his courtesy car in hopes of catching a private plane back home to Orlando for a couple of days of R&R before heading to Boston. At the same time, Lunde, who had played with Poulter, was leisurely chatting with reporters after playing his way into the Deutsche Bank Championship for the first time in three tries.

"We actually kind of checked the phone on 18 while we were waiting," Lunde said. "... Ian and I were both in the same boat and trying to see where we were and I knew he was behind me, but ahead of me, so that wasn't helping me, he kept pouring in birdies and I'm like, well, that one is going to hurt a little more. I really had no idea."

Turns out, they both made it. Lunde, who closed with a 66 to move from 103rd to No. 85, planned to head back to his hotel to ponder his options.

"I had a flight on hold to go to Vegas," Lunde said. "I had no idea which way I was going. I just knew there was no flights on Sunday, and it was going to be my last chance to get out of here before the hurricane came."

McGirt had planned to go to Boston either way. He and Sarah had spent part of their honeymoon on Cape Cod, and he was scheduled to play in a pair of pro-ams prior to the Deutsche Bank Championship. Now the vacation had turned into a working one.

The couple had driven to New Jersey from Greensboro, N.C., after McGirt played his way into The Barclays. They were headed to see friends in Rochester, N.Y., to escape Hurricane Irene -- and maybe play a round at historic Oak Hill Country Club where his buddy is a member.

But McGirt will be ready to tee it up again at TPC Boston on Friday.

"Heck yeah, man, it's the Playoffs," he said with a grin. "There's still a chance."