Rose wasn't the only big winner on a day of massive implications

September 18, 2011
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

LEMONT, Ill. -- Justin Rose came to the BMW Championship hoping to extend his stay in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.

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The Englishman definitely had a sense of urgency, too, coming in ranked 34th in the FedExCup standings after dropping seven spots with that tie for 68th at the Deutsche Bank Championship. More than half the field would leave Cog Hill disappointed as only the top 30 among the 70 who teed it up would be eliminated.

Rose didn't want to be one of them.

The near-flawless 63 he shot in the first round was a big confidence boost, and Rose went on to build a four-shot lead entering the final round. When he gutted out a 71 on this raw, rainy Sunday, Rose not only won the BMW Championship and punched his ticket to Atlanta, he became one of the men to beat.

With his victory, Rose moved 31 spots to No. 3 in the FedExCup. The points are reset going into the Playoffs finale at East Lake and the top 5 have the best opportunity to win the $10 million bonus -- provided they win the TOUR Championship as well.

Everyone else has a chance -- after all, Jim Furyk won the FedExCup after starting the TOUR Championship ranked 11th -- but they'd need the right scenarios to develop at the end of 72 holes. So Rose was feeling pretty good after he hugged his wife and low-fived his 2-year-old Leo on the 72nd green.

"To win my third tournament feels like I'm sort of moving in the right direction, and to move to three on the FedExCup list and give myself control of my own destiny next week in Atlanta is something I didn't foresee at the beginning part of the week, so just an amazing outcome this week," Rose said.

Four of the players who started the BMW Championship ranked in the top five managed to remain there. Webb Simpson, who finished fifth Sunday after winning twice in his last three starts, remained at No. 1 while Dustin Johnson stayed second, despite tying for 65th. Luke Donald held onto the No. 4 spot when he finished solo fourth on Sunday while Matt Kuchar dropped from third to fifth and Brandt Snedeker was the odd man out at No. 6.

Rose wasn't the only player who prospered in the Playoffs on Sunday at Cog Hill, though. John Senden finished two strokes behind Rose in second and climbed 46 spots to No. 9 in the FedExCup. Geoff Ogilvy had the most ground to gain, starting the week ranked No. 69, and the Aussie got the job done with a third-place finish that lifted him to No. 24.

Of course, with those three busting the Playoffs bubble, three more were headed home.

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was one of them after bogeying three of his last four holes to tie for 42nd and drop five spots to No. 32 in the FedExCup. Ditto for Rory Sabbatini, whose tie for 59th sent him tumbling nine spots to 35th. And Kyle Stanley came in at No. 30 but was projected outside the magic number after each of the first three rounds before ending up 34th.

One by one players came off the final green on Sunday and walked briskly over to a computer shielded from the rain by a cardboard box and soggy towel to check their projected FedExCup standing. Some went away happy. Others headed to the locker room to wait and see whether they needed to change their plane reservations.

At least one pounded his fist in frustration on the table when he realized how far he dropped after missing a short putt for par on the 72nd hole. Camilo Villegas didn't know it at the time, but even if he'd been successful on that 4-footer the numbers would not have been in his favor.

Villegas actually had crept inside the top 30 when he made his fifth birdie on the back nine on Sunday on the way to tying the day's low round of 66. But the young Colombian, who started the final event of the regular season on the Playoffs bubble at No. 125, ranked 37th when he finished and ended up four spots higher and 87 points shy.

"You know what? It was a fun day," Villegas said. "it's a challenge out there. ... It's been a pretty crappy year and the last couple weeks we've turned it around a little bit to the positive side. Looking forward to finishing strong and keep it going."

Jim Furyk was another one of the casualties. The man who won the FedExCup and TOUR Championship last year started the final round projected 27th in the FedExCup. But he made four straight bogeys on the front nine and two more on the back before finally making his only birdie at the 17th hole -- falling to 36th in the process.

"I'm disappointed," Furyk said. "It's a disappointing year to start so far back, 60th coming into the Playoffs, I felt like I caught some momentum at the end of the year, but playing the last round and playing poorly leaves a sour taste. I got off to a bad start today. ... By the time I got things calmed down, it was a little late."

Martin Laird knows how he feels. Even the bomb of a 43-footer that sneaked in for birdie at the 18th hole wasn't enough. He still fell 30 points short of making the field for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

The Scotsman, who now makes his home in Scottsdale, came into the BMW Championship ranked 31st in the FedExCup and ended in the same spot. As much as he wanted a chance to play for the $10 million bonus at East Lake, though, Laird embraced the excitement on this dreary Sunday at Cog Hill.

"There's stories everywhere," Laird said. "It just makes for a great week, and that's what the Playoffs are all about."