Jon Rahm sunk a 66-foot putt on the first playoff hole against Dustin Johnson to win the BMW Championship on Sunday. The putt incredibly came after Johnson had just made a 50-footer on the 18th hole of regulation to tie Rahm and send the Championship into a playoff. Both putts on the 18th hole included double-breakers that depended on the perfect touch over and down the hill to get into the center of the cup.
The playoff was a battle between the No. 2 player in the world Rahm and No. 1 player Johnson. Rahm cut into Johnson’s lead in the world rankings but it wasn’t enough to overtake him. The win puts Rahm No. 2 in the Fed Ex Cup Standings going into next week where the top-30 players in the rankings will play. The new format, now in its second year, places players on the leaderboard on where they are in the Fed Ex Standings. Johnson, No. 1, will begin the tournament next week at -10 followed by Rahm at -8, Justin Thomas at -7, Webb Simpson at -6, and Collin Morikawa at -5. The rest of the field will start at -4 or below depending on their place in the standings.
Rahm very nearly lost out after a one-shot penalty on Saturday where he inexplicably picked up the ball without marking it. Yes, golfers have mental lapses, too. However, he never let that become the final factor, only a sidenote to him winning the BMW.
“Fore Questions from the BMW Championships
Was this the best finish of the year?
Heck, this may have been the best finish in the last five years. What more could you ask for? First, Dustin Johnson makes an incredible 50-footer that winds left and right on the back of the 18th green to tie Rahm and send the match into the playoff. Then on the first playoff hole, Rahm returned the favor sinking his own bomb and winning the Championship. More impressive, it was a showdown between No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, something very rarely seen in golf. In fact, it was the first playoff between the top two players in the world in over 25 years.
The BMW marks another thrilling ending to a 2020 tournament following the shutdown. We saw the Morikawa and Thomas showdown at The Workday Charity Open where the two traded similar bombs from out of nowhere to extend a playoff. Then there was the PGA Championship where Morikawa broke out of a 7-way tie for the lead late in the Championship with one of the greatest drives onto the green you’ll ever see at 16, a drive that landed five-feet from the cup. And then came Sunday.
If people wonder how the PGA Tour is beating out the NBA in ratings, all they had to do was tune into the final round on Sunday.
2. Did Golf Make the Right Decision playing the BMW Championship?
Listen, I hate getting political. I try to avoid it at all costs. For the record, I’m a registered independent and understand both sides of this issue and all issues. I will just say this: Yes, they made the right move. I personally think the issue at hand is overplayed. Bruce Arians of the Bucs said it best that the best way to handle this issue is to take action, not boycott or protest. It doesn’t really do anything, or in his words, “it doesn’t do crap.” I liked what Tony Finau said and how he handled it, saying it’s a topic of conversation that we need to address and discuss, but we still need to go about our lives at the same time.
Cameron Champ, who is half black and half white, wore one black and one white shoe during the tournament with “Black Lives Matter” written on his shoe. I thought the right thing to do in the end is not to say anything or take any action with the Jacob Blake situation until all the facts and evidence come out. Instead of listening to CNN and Fox News and hear them try to slant things the way they want to, let’s sit back and let the investigation play out before we jump to conclusions before we say he was justly or unjustly shot.
3. More important: Birth of Child or Tour Championship/Major?
Rory McIlroy’s first child is due next week and he has said he will miss the Tour Championship (and a potential $15 million) to be there with his wife. Should the baby be delayed, it would cause another potential question of whether he would miss the U.S. Open to stay at home with his wife. The question on what the right decision to do is easy: you go home to be there for that historic moment you’ll never forget.
Listen, golf is just a game. Seeing the birth of your child, whether it be your first or your tenth, is your life. Family always comes first. There will be more Tour Championships and majors for Rory, but there will only be one chance to see the birth of your new child. Phil Mickelson set that standard at the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst when he said he would leave mid-round should he get the call that his wife is in labor. Mickelson could have left even though he was in the final pairing and had a strong chance at winning his first major, although Payne Stewart sank a 20-foot putt on 18 to beat Mickelson by one. Mickelson even turned down a chance to compete in the U.S. Open a few years back in Wisconsin when he decided to attend his daughter’s graduation, that same daughter who was born just after the 1999 U.S. Open. Rory is making the right call, even if he is the defending champion at the Tour Championship and could earn a massive paycheck.
Now if he were poor and struggling to make ends meet, it would make the decision a little tougher. If it were me in that situation, I’d put my wife in a wheelchair with a doctor and have her give birth on the golf course if need be. That would satisfy both ends of the equation. But that aside, you always choose family first.
4. Do you like the Tour Championship format?
For those who are unaware, the Tour Championship gives you a score going into next week to start based on where you stand in the FedEx Cup Standings. So Johnson will start the first hole at -10, Rahm will be -8, Thomas will be -7 and so forth. The lower down you are in the top-30, the more strokes back you’ll be with the 30th place person being 10 strokes back at Even Par.
I personally love it. I think the Tour Championship before was a bit strange with two different contests going on, the winner of the tournament and the winner of the FedEx Cup, and sometimes the winner would be the same. This way, you get one grand winner in the end which is what it should be about. The Tour Championship is about the FedEx Cup. I applaud the PGA for making the move after the 2019 season.
Three Foods for Thought
1. Last week was the John Deere, but this week was the U.S. Open
Wow, what a difference a week makes. Last week, Even Par would have gotten you nearly last place and a missed cut. This week, it got you a near-victory. You had two completely different extremes, and honestly, this was nice to see. Olympia Fields once hosted the U.S. Open in 2003, but even that year in didn’t play this difficult. The superintendents let the rough grow, narrowed up the fairways, lengthened the course and let the weather elements do the rest. In the end, 4-under was the winning score and only five guys broke par. It was fabulous to see.
Better yet, the players needed this. Winged Foot is in three weeks and they will likely see similar conditions, if not tougher. The last time the U.S. Open was played at Winged Foot, the winning score was +5. Yes, that’s right. It is considered the most brutal of all venues in the country. So this was a good tune up for what guys will get a taste of in a few weeks.
2. Tiger’s Season Starts With a Bang, Ends with a Stinker
When the year began, we were left wondering which tournament in 2020 would Tiger break Sam Snead’s record for his 83rd PGA Tour win. After 2020, we’re wondering what year he will do it in and if he can get to it. He probably will eventually, but boy, it seems like a far way off right now after watching him since the return from the layoff.
Tiger won the ZOZO Championship in Japan to begin the season. At that point, he had moved to No. 6 in the World Golf Rankings. He also added a top-10 at Torrey Pines in February. Then came back stiffness and withdrawals at the Florida Swing. After the virus, Tiger played four tournaments, his best finish being a T-37 at the PGA Championship. Tiger blamed the stop-and-go schedule and uncertainty of playing for his rocky season. The bottom line is he’s going on 45 and the body has a lot of wear and tear on it. There’s not a lot of tournaments left in him and probably very few wins. Getting to 83 won’t be easy and getting to 18 and tying Jack seems all but impossible right now.
While technically the season is over for him, major season is still very much rolling on. The U.S. Open is in two weeks and the Masters is a couple months away. However, given the state of his game and how he performed at Winged Foot last time where he missed the cut while in the prime of his game, it’s hard to imagine him being much of a factor in two weeks.
3. Mickelson Dominates in Champions Tour Debut
Well, that didn’t take long. After failing to make it to the BMW Championship, Phil Mickelson decided to give the Champions Tour a whirl now that he’s 50. He not only found it to be quite fun and entertaining, he picked up a win along the way, winning the Ozarks National by four strokes.
Phil reconnected with some of the players that he grew up playing with, like Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Chris DiMarco, Bernhard Langer, and Rocco Mediate, all over 50 now. He also gained some confidence as he heads to Winged Foot for the U.S. Open, the site of his most dreaded of six U.S. Open runners-up finishes. It was there where Mickelson stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead and needing a par to win and took out a driver, pushing it left into the trees. Five shots later a double-bogey cost him the trophy. The U.S. Open is the only major missing from his resume.
Phil will likely play some more Champions events next year and split time between the two Tours much like Vijay Singh and Davis Love III do. However, his future may be most awaiting him in the announcer’s booth where he was a hit a few weeks ago at the PGA Championship. Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger currently hold the big analyst slots on CBS and NBC, but there’s a good chance both networks will make a big offer to Phil to be their guy. I would look for CBS to make the biggest push. While Faldo is popular, Jim Nantz has had a strong connection with Tony Romo who many see a lot of similarities with in Mickelson. Let the bidding begin.
Two Picks for the TOUR Championshp
1. Dustin Johnson
Spotting him a two-shot lead already and playing the best golf of anyone in the world right now makes him an overwhelming favorite. Johnson has never won the FedEx Cup and giving him and Paulina a $15 million present going into the holidays would give the children some nice presents from Santa.
2. Webb Simpson
Simpson took the week off last week to rest and will have a few less stress marks on his face compared to the rest of the field after what they endured at Olympia Fields. Simpson comes in with back-to-back top-10s and two wins this year. He’ll be four back of Johnson when the TOUR Championship starts on Thursday.
One Final Word
Now that was a finish!