WILMINGTON, Del. – Getting to the Tour Championship isn't all that's at stake this week in the second FedEx Cup playoff event. The BMW Championship also is the final event to earn one of six spots on the U.S. team and eight spots on the International team for the Presidents Cup next month.
Tony Finau has made the biggest moves of late, going from No. 11 to the sixth and final qualifying spot with his consecutive victories in Minnesota and Detroit.
The leading five Americans are Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas. Right behind Finau are Will Zalatoris and Jordan Spieth, the only ones capable of moving into one of the six qualifying spots.
The list is based on FedEx Cup points, which count triple in the postseason.
Davis Love III will have six captain's picks.
The International team has a confusing formula that makes it difficult for any fan to follow, but suffice it to say British Open champion and Players Championship winner Cameron Smith has double the lead on anyone else. The only question is whether Smith, as has been reported in The Daily Telegraph, will join LIV Golf after the playoffs and lose Presidents Cup eligibility.
The most significant development was Adam Scott, who tied for fifth last week in the playoff opener, getting him to Wilmington. Scott was likely to be picked even if he didn't hold the final qualifying spot. Now it frees up International captain Trevor Immelman to use a pick on someone else if it had come to that.
“I don’t really want to lean on a pick from Trevor because I think I should play good enough to get on the team and hopefully that leaves him some room to make smart picks and never have to justify picking me,” Scott said.
Scott made his Presidents Cup debut in 2003 in South Africa, the matches that ended in a tie. He has been on every team since then, all losses. Mostly recently at Royal Melbourne in 2019, the Americans had to rally to win. Even though it was three years ago — the upcoming matches were postponed one year by COVID-19 — Scott says the team can still use a close loss as momentum.
“Trevor's a good mate of mine and he’s put his heart and soul into this thing, so I think he’s done a really good job of keeping enthusiasm very high and making sure those guys remember how close we were to an incredibly special week in Melbourne,” he said.
Sepp Straka spent his first three years on the PGA Tour making sure he secured his card for the following season. He played an average of 27 tournaments.
And then he won the Honda Classic, making him exempt through August 2024. Within a month, Straka became an affiliate member of the European tour.
That's only natural. Straka, who moved to Georgia when he was 14 and played for the Bulldogs, was born in Austria. He speaks German as comfortably as he speaks English. His first professional event was the Austrian Open.
And then there's that small matter of the Ryder Cup.
Straka won't get any points from his runner-up finish in the FedEx St. Jude Championship because Europe hasn't started — or even announced, given the LIV Golf impact — its qualifying process for the matches next year in Italy.
It wasn't all geared around the Ryder Cup. Straka — his American mother met his father in Salzberg and that's where they stayed — has said he feels “fully connected” to his homeland. He played for Austria in amateur events even when he was at Georgia.
“It's just something I always wanted to do,” Straka said about joining the European tour. “I wanted to have the ability to rack up some points and maybe play their closing stretch. Or even just to have the ability to play a European tour event, especially if it's close to Austria.”
Language has always come easily. Straka — his given name is Josef — said he and twin brother Sam grew up speaking German to his father and English to his mother. And for general conversation in the house.
“We spoke English because my mom wore the pants in the family,” he said with a laugh.
BMW ON THE MOVE
The BMW Championship has the distinction as the only FedEx Cup playoff event that moves around. The host Western Golf Association is going to some familiar spots.
WGA officials announced Tuesday that it will return to Caves Valley outside Baltimore in 2025, and then return to Bellerive outside St. Louis in 2026.
Next year it goes back to Olympia Fields south of Chicago, followed by Castle Pines in the Denver area in 2024.
Bellerive most recently hosted the PGA Championship in 2018 won by Brooks Koepka.
TOO MANY SWING THOUGHTS
Rory McIlroy doesn’t watch a lot of video highlights of himself, even in good tournaments. He does more inspecting than reviewing.
McIlroy was asked last week how much he uses video on the internet as a teaching tool, and he said he has gotten away from it. He would watch Tiger Woods from the early 2000s, but that was of little value because their bodies, the length of their arms, everything is different.
“I don’t like looking at my swing too much, either, because I’ll just start picking it apart and I’ll be too perfectionist with it,” McIlroy said. “Honestly, I don’t even like watching my highlights anymore because I’ll start picking my swing apart. I don’t think it does me any good.
“So I’ve tried to steer away from looking at a lot of swings on video.”
The PGA Tour has replaced three LIV Golf defectors with four players on the Players Advisory Council, the 16-player — now 17-player — panel that advises the policy board on tour issues.
Graeme McDowell, Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey have all signed with LIV Golf and were suspended by the PGA Tour. Max Homa and Brandt Snedeker replaced McDowell and Koepka. In a separate election, Keith Mitchell and Kevin Streelman tied. Both were added to the PAC.
Streelman is the only one of the four with previous PAC experience. He was a co-chair in 2016 and then spent the following three years on the board as a player-director.
There are 11 official tournaments remaining on the PGA Tour schedule this year.
President Joe Biden has agreed to be honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup next month. Every U.S. president has served in that role for home matches dating to 1996. The Presidents Cup is the last week in September at Quail Hollow in North Carolina. ... Will Zalatoris was tied for 86th after the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the worst 18-hole position of anyone who has won a playoff event since the postseason began in 2007. ... The Mauritius Open is returning to the Sunshine Tour and European tour schedule in the fall for the first time since 2019. The co-sanctioned event will be held Dec. 15-18 at Mont Choisy Le Golf, and it will be the final tournament on the Sunshine Tour schedule. ... The Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour is going overseas for the first time. The Butterfield Bermuda APGA Championship will be Oct. 11-12 at Port Royal, which will host the PGA Tour event two weeks later. ... The Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA in late October has been canceled because of ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions. With the China event already canceled, that means the Asia swing in the fall will be South Korea on Oct. 20-23, followed by a week off and then Japan on Nov. 3-6.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Four PGA Tour rookies are in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup going into the BMW Championship. No more than two rookies have ever made it to the Tour Championship, most recently in 2020.
“Lack of confidence has never been an issue for me.” — Jon Rahm.
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