Deutsche Bank Championship 2016
Round 4 - Rory McIlroy rallies to claim win
September 6, 2016
Three holes into the Deutsche Bank Championship, Rory McIlroy had to make a 15-foot putt just to escape with triple bogey.
He already was 4-over-par and had every reason to believe this tournament was headed for an outcome that was becoming far too familiar for a player of his class. But there was one difference.
His head didn't drop. His shoulders didn't sag.
McIlroy went from a miserable start to a memorable finish, closing with a 6-under 65 on Monday to make up a six-shot deficit and win the Deutsche Bank Championship for his 20th career title around the world.
''It's just incredible, this game, how quickly things can change,'' McIlroy said after his two-shot victory over Paul Casey. ''It's been a great lesson for me this week not to get down on myself, to stay patient. After three holes Friday, there was so much going through my head, and none of those things involved sitting beside a trophy.''
Not just a trophy, but a belt, too.
Deutsche Bank gave him the blue belt with a large silver buckle when McIlroy won four years ago, and because this was the last year it is sponsoring the tournament, the company wanted him to keep it.
''World heavyweight title,'' McIlroy said of the belt.
Not quite, but certainly a step in that direction.
A new putter, a new putting coach, and suddenly he looks like the McIlroy of old. It was his first PGA Tour victory of the year and moved him to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup, all but assuring him a clear shot at the $10 million bonus when he gets to the Tour Championship at the end of the month.
In a strengthening wind from Hermine that penalized the slightest misses at the TPC Boston, McIlroy closed out the front nine with three straight birdies to take the lead for the first time, went ahead to stay with a 20-foot birdie on the 12th hole and left no doubt with a 3-wood into the wind and over the hazard on the par-5 18th hole that set up a birdie from the bunker.
Casey, who started the final round with a three-shot lead in his bid for his first PGA Tour victory since 2009, closed with a 73. He had a 60-foot eagle putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff. It went 8 feet by and he missed the meaningless birdie putt.
''Wow, very impressive. Yeah, that's a might round of golf,'' Casey said of McIlroy's finish. ''I struggled a little bit from the get-go and it's hard to regain rhythm and make your birdies if you started out that way, so I found it incredibly difficult. I battled well, did a lot of things brilliantly all week, but obviously frustrated.''
The only consolation for Casey was that his runner-up finish moved him from No. 59 to No. 10 in the FedEx Cup, assuring a spot in the Tour Championship for the first time since 2010. PGA champion Jimmy Walker closed with a 70 to finish third.
The top 70 advance to the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Crooked Stick in Indiana. Among those who moved into the top 70 was David Hearn of Canada, who came into the week at No. 92. Hearn closed with a 70 and tied for eighth.
McIlroy, who finished at 15-under 269, moves back to No. 3 in the world.
The 27-year-old from Northern Ireland fell out of the ''Big 3'' conversation earlier this year when Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open, Henrik Stenson won the British Open and McIlroy kept sliding, largely because of his putting. His only victory was the Irish Open in May, and when he missed the cut in the PGA Championship, he sought out popular British putting coach Phil Kenyon. McIlroy also switched putters last week at Bethpage Black, though he was at the bottom of the pack in putting.
Not this week.
He didn't need to make everything in the final round, with his driving and short game setting up three early birdies. But he made an 18-foot birdie on the par-3 eighth, and followed that with a 10-footer on the ninth to make the turn in 31.
As the wind picked up, no one could stay with him.
''I wasn't getting impatient. I wasn't searching,'' McIlroy said. ''I know that I hadn't won on the PGA Tour in a while, but over the past 12 months, I've still had three wins worldwide. ... I knew my game was in good shape, I just needed to do something with the putting. I found something. I still need to keep going with it. It's definitely not the finished article, but it's a big step in the right direction.''
Round 3 - Paul Casey vaults three clear
September 5, 2016
Paul Casey looked at the leaderboard late in the third round Sunday and saw a lot more names in the mix than he realized. He took care of that with a 3-iron into 30 inches on the final hole for an eagle and a three-shot lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Then he looked at the forecast, and realized his work was just starting.
Casey made birdie and eagle over his last three holes for a 5-under 66, giving him a three-shot lead over Brian Harman going into the Labor Day finish as he tries to win on the PGA Tour for the first time in seven years.
Only five players were within five shots of Casey, who was at 15-under 198.
Rory McIlroy (66) and Louis Oosthuizen (64), who staged a duel at the TPC Boston four years ago, were six shots behind. It was difficult to count out anyone with a forecast for 35 mph wind and burst of showers from the remnants of Hermine due in New England.
Starting times have been moved forward to give the tournament the best chance of finishing.
''I don't think anyone's completely prepared for tomorrow,'' Harman said after his 66. ''It's more about survival and just doing the best you can.''
Harman will be in the final group with Casey and Smylie Kaufman (68), who was in the group at 11-under 202 along with PGA champion Jimmy Walker (70) and Kevin Chappell, who had the lead going into the back nine until hitting a tee shot into a divot that led to double bogey on No. 12. Chappell shot 71.
''To be sitting here at 66, I'm obviously over the moon,'' Casey said. ''Even with the great ball-striking, I found it difficult at the beginning, but to turn it around and have a lot of looks for birdies and make a few to come in, it's been great.''
Chappell, still looking for his first PGA Tour victory, made a birdie at the 10th to get to 13 under until he went at the flag from the divot in the 12th fairway. He came up short in the hazard, tried to play out of the native scrub and went over the green and wound up with a double bogey.
''I said yesterday that at some point in time during the next 36 holes, I was going to be hit with adversity,'' Chappell said. ''Felt like I hung in there and finished with six straight pars from not-the-best position. So that's what I'm going to choose to look at, and hopefully tomorrow I can get the ball in position and try to make some birdies.''
Casey made his at the right time, and his eagle at the 18th sent him home with a smile.
He had 232 yards to the hole with the wind coming out in and out of the left. The wind picked up and his caddie, John McLaren, stepped in and called him off. The wind died slightly, and the fun wasn't over.
''It looked left,'' Casey said about his shot. ''And then the wind gusted and it went right. And after that, I was happy it got over.''
Casey was amazed by the low scoring, including his own, given the wind. The tour prepared for it by moving up several tees.
''A lot of guys were tearing it up,'' he said. ''Shows how good guys are out there.''
Casey has been through that before. Asked why he only has one PGA Tour victory - he has 14 on the European Tour, mostly recently the KLM Open two years ago - Casey pointed to his early years in the Tiger Woods era.
They seemed to play the same schedule, and Casey said that made it even tougher. And then there were the injuries, which slowed his career. Casey said he has had no excuses the last couple of years, and he was determined to change that.
All he has left is one more round, and what figures to be a day of nasty weather.
Dustin Johnson wasn't among those in the mix. He was a birdie away from tying for the 36-hole lead on Saturday. Starting the third round just three shots behind, Johnson stumbled to a 75 and was 11 shots back. Jordan Spieth didn't fare much better. He was five shots behind and had to rally with two late birdies for a 72. He 10 behind.
The top 70 in the FedEx Cup advance to the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Crooked Stick in Indiana. Casey was at No. 59 going into the Deutsche Bank, while Harman was at No. 67. Getting to the next FedEx Cup playoff event no longer is a concern.
Round 2 - Kevin Chappell takes over at halfway
September 4, 2016
Kevin Chappell made six birdies and an eagle Saturday and wound up with the 36-hole lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Nothing brought out more emotion than his only bogey.
Chappell missed the green well to the right on the 13th hole and with a far right pin, he didn't have much of a shot. He tried to chip it up the hill, only it came up short. He tried a flop that didn't quite stay on the green. And all he could think about was last week at Bethpage Black.
Chappell was in reasonable shape late in the second round at The Barclays when he finished bogey-double bogey-bogey. Instead of being one shot behind, he dropped four shots in three holes. At the TPC Boston, he wondered if he was headed down the same road.
Not this time. Chappell holed the 15-foot bogey putt, added two birdies and closed out a 7-under 64 for a one-shot lead at the halfway point.
''I was fighting some internal demons there,'' Chappell said. ''I couldn't help but recall the same situation last Friday. To know that, refer to it and then not let it happen again is huge, and that's why you saw the emotion from me.''
He was at 11-under 131, one shot ahead of PGA champion Jimmy Walker (64) and Paul Casey (66).
Dustin Johnson was poised to join Chappell in the lead until his long iron on the 18th sailed well right into the trees. He had to take a penalty drop, hit wedge on to about 45 feet and then three-putted for a double bogey. He still shot 66 and was three behind.
At least he still has a chance.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut for only the second time in a FedEx Cup playoff event, making a double bogey on his final hole for a 72. Jason Day, the world No. 1, took a quadruple-bogey 8 on the fifth hole and rallied to make the cut on the number.
The cut was at 1-under 141.
Also missing the cut was Bubba Watson, still hopeful of a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup. Justin Thomas also is trying to make a case, and Saturday didn't help the cause. His good start was wasted by a 40 on the back nine, which included two balls in the water for a triple bogey on the par-3 16th, and he wound up missing the cut.
Chappell nearly threw away a shot at the end. After a good drive on the 18th, he watched players in the group ahead struggle from the left of the green. Chappell figured his best chance was to lay up, but he hit it weak, the ball caught a gust of wind and it landed in the thick collar of a pot bunker.
His next shot made up for it, a wedge that jumped on him but still had enough height to settle about 15 feet away for par.
Chappell already has three runner-up finishes this summer (two of them to Day). He is patient about his prospect for that first PGA Tour victory, and it helps that he's having a career season. At No. 13 in the FedEx Cup, he is all but set to reach the Tour Championship for the first time.
''It's hard to be frustrated when you're having the best year of your career,'' he said. ''That's really how I try to look at it. ... I would love to have won, and won multiple times, but I've learned from those experiences. You don't know if you're improving until you get in the situation and see how you hold up, so look forward to that.''
Casey is at No. 59 in the FedEx Cup, needing a good week to make sure he stays in the top 70 to advance to the third playoff event at the BMW Championship next week. That shouldn't be a problem. He played bogey-free for a 66 to get in the last group with Chappell.
Brian Harman is at No. 67 in the Fed Ex Cup. He had a 65 and was two shots behind. Joining Johnson at 8-under 134 was Smylie Kaufman, who had reason to expect so much more than his 66. Kaufman was 7 under through seven holes, thanks to a chip-in and an eagle. But he closed out the front nine with bogeys, and played even par on the back nine.
Walker recovered from his malaise after winning his first major at Baltusrol. He missed the cut in his next two weeks, but spent time at home working on his game and appears to have returned to form. He finished strong with an eagle on the par-5 seventh and a birdie from the first cut of rough on the ninth hole.
Thirteen players who were at No. 70 or lower in the FedEx Cup missed the cut, meaning their season is over. That group includes Webb Simpson and Vijay Singh.
Round 1 - Ryan Moore & James Hahn top leaderboard
September 3, 2016
Ryan Moore changed his schedule to pile up tournaments at the end of the year with hopes of getting into a rhythm going into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
He has no complaints with the results.
Moore backed up a good start to the playoffs with a 6-under 65 on Friday to share the first-round lead with James Hahn on a day when hardly anyone seemed too far away. After one round at the TPC Boston, 37 players were separated by three shots.
Phil Mickelson would be an exception.
Mickelson, who leads the PGA Tour in adjusted scoring average and said he wanted to win the Vardon Trophy for the first time in his career, took two swipes out of high grass in a water hazard to no avail, finally took a drop and made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the sixth hole. That sent him to 75 and in third-to-last place.
Moore and Hahn played bogey-free on a breezy day that allowed for good scoring, even though no one went terribly low. They were one shot ahead of Paul Casey and Fabian Gomez. The average score was 69.67 as 80 of the 97 players in the field were at par or better.
As usual, there were Ryder Cup implications.
Jim Furyk, J.B. Holmes and Daniel Berger were in the group at 67, all of them to make an impression before Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III starts filling out the U.S. team with three picks in 10 days. Holmes finished 10th in the standings, while Furyk was at No. 15 even though he four months recovering from wrist surgery.
Love has said every American in the Deutsche Bank Championship would be on his radar, though Moore isn't even thinking about it. His main goal is to get to the Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup finale, and this stacked schedule at the end of the year is working in his favor.
Along with a victory in the John Deere Classic, he tied for seventh last week at The Barclays to move to No. 11 in the FedEx Cup.
''I like how I've been feeling with my game,'' Moore said. ''This is actually the sixth tournament in a row, which I don't think I've ever done in my entire career on the PGA Tour. I'm getting some positive momentum going into these events. How I've been doing it these last few years kind of wasn't working so I decided to change it up and play a lot more and make a final push and then I know I get a little break.
''It seems to be working, whatever that decision was.''
Emiliano Grillo and Adam Scott played together and each shot 67, though they finished differently. Grillo hit a 4-iron into the hazard on the par-5 18th, took a drop and holed out with a wedge for birdie, looking blankly as the crowd roared before throwing down his club in mock surrender. Scott hit into a greenside bunker with his second shot, had a terrible lie and took two shots to get out in saving par.
''I should have chunked a 4-iron. That's the way to make birdie,'' Scott said with a laugh.
Jordan Spieth played with them and shot a 68, saying after his round he somehow was losing some 30 yards off his driver and would try to figure out why. Barclays winner Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson also were at 68.
Jason Day, the world No. 1, opened with a 70 and then discovered his wife and two children were involved in a car accident near their travel bus. Day said his wife was taken to the hospital as a precaution, though everyone seemed to be OK.
The top 70 in the FedEx Cup advance after this week, and it was a big start for Furyk and Steve Stricker. Furyk is at No. 84, while Stricker barely made it into the field at No. 97. Both opened at 67.
Furyk is more concerned with getting to the BMW Championship next week than his Ryder Cup lot.
''There's really nothing you can do but go play well,'' Furyk said. ''So I'm going to try to do my best not to really pay too much attention to the scoreboard and go play golf and worry about the process more than the golf.''
Stricker went to a different putter, a rare move for him, switching to a face-balanced model after his wife noticed last week he had trouble keeping it square. He decided to give it shot on Friday, and it paid off. His hope is that he gets to keep playing for at least seven more rounds.
''My goal this year was just to finish in the top 125 and get back into some of the tournaments that I had been play - The Players Championship, some of the majors. Then once I did that ... you know, we're all competitive. We all want to keep playing.''