PARAMUS, N.J. — There was a mishap involving the trophy that goes to the winner of The Barclays, but it’s no accident that Hunter Mahan was the man for whom the hardware was intended.
"I had a feeling it was coming today," Mahan’s caddie, John Wood said. "He’s been doing everything right since Akron (the Bridgestone Invitational)."
Wood had just witnessed a sparkling effort by Mahan, seven birdies in 17 holes, and a gut-check bogey at the 18th to nail down a two-stroke win over Stuart Appleby, Jason Day and Cameron Tringale in The Barclays. Mahan’s first FedEx Cup win was his sixth PGA Tour win and thrust him into the mix for a Ryder Cup captains’ pick talk.
His closing 65 to finish at 14 under made the most noise at Ridgewood Country Club, but it was hardly the only storyline. Here are 5 Things to know from Sunday’s closing round:
1. WAY OUT? NOPE, HE’LL BE UP FRONT: He knew there was a side door out of the scorer’s room, in case he wanted to avoid a few reporters who were waiting for an interview. But Jim Furyk has far too much character.
"I’ve never ducked them before, I’m not going to do it now," he said.
Instead, Furyk – fresh off his closing 70 that saw him tumble from a share of the lead into eighth – stood tall. He knows it’s the eighth consecutive time he’s had at least a share of the 54-hole lead since 2010 and failed to win, so ask away.
"I understand the questions are coming (but) I feel like we’re in a morgue," Furyk said. "Like everyone is looking at me with this blank stare and they ask me depressing questions."
He resents those who suggest he hasn’t "punched it in" on Sunday, pointing out that in two of the three times he’s finished second this year he’s closed with a 65 and a 66. But he does not deny that he didn’t do enough to keep in line to win The Barclays.
"Obviously, 70, where everybody is shooting 66 and 68, is not a good score," Furyk said. When he birdied the sixth to take the lead at 11 under, "I felt good," but he pointed to Nos. 7, 8, and 9 as the turning point. He missed a 15-foot birdie try at the seventh, an 8-footer at the next hole, then from 35 feet he three-putted to bogey the ninth.
He wouldn’t make another birdie till the 13th, but by then, Hunter Mahan had heated up and started to pull away. Another bid to win as the 54-hole leader would end in disappointment.
But Furyk begged for perspective.
"I leave (these interviews) like I lost my dog," he said. "It’s golf. I didn’t die out there today. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me."
2. FEDEX CUP INS: It’s difficult to think that Geoff Ogilvy left Ridgewood CC Friday afternoon thinking much more than when he would start his 2014-15 season. He had shot 73-76 to miss the cut and given that he began the week 90th in the FedEx Cup standings, it was easy to see Ogilvy falling outside the top 100 and be done for the playoffs and the season.
For most of Saturday’s third round and a good portion of Sunday’s finale, Ogilvy was projected to be below No. 100, too. Then again, computers when they crunch out projections don’t foresee errant drives and missed putts or account for human shortcomings.
Several players who seemed to be on the upswing stumbled on the back, points constantly got re-distributed, until finally it was official: Ogilvy had hung on to the 100th and final spot into next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship by 2 points over Troy Merritt, 611-609.
It’s good timing for Ogilvy, too, because he’ll tee it up next week on a course, TPC Boston, on which he’s had success – four top 10s in eight starts, including a T-2 in 2010.
While Ogilvy hung on while he watched from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., seven players came from outside the top 100 to get into next week. Bo Van Pelt went from 104th to 73rd; Stewart Cink from 109th to 77th; Andres Romero from 110th to 92nd; Danny Lee from 116th to 96th; Paul Casey 118th to 85th; Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 119th to 81st; and Morgan Hoffmann 124th to 72nd.
3. FEDEX CUP OUTS: You could turn in any number of directions, but let’s use as a starting point Merritt. He came into the week No. 111 in the FedEx Cup standings. When he birdied the par-5 17th Sunday, he was projected to be No. 98. Minutes later, he bogeyed 18 and the projection had him at 102nd.
The wait was on. "I can’t do anything about it," Merritt said.
A minute into his conversation with reporters, Merritt received a tap on the shoulder. He was No. 101.
"I knew where I stood, but it didn’t effect the way I played," Merritt said. "Three under (for the tournament) was my number. Two under, there was a chance, but 3 under was better."
As he walked up the steps to the clubhouse, Merritt heard another update: He was No. 99. He had picked up a few spots, just by standing around after having signed his card. "He always plays better when he’s off the course," Merritt’s caddie and brother, Tim, quipped.
Funny line, but what transpired was proof that this FedEx Cup indeed provides playoff drama. It’s different than the pro sports team variety, but it’s still drama.
Hours after he had finished, Merritt had fallen to 101st in the standings, one too many. But when Brendon Todd made double-bogey at the 16th hole, an intriguing scenario presented itself:
Todd was in a seven-way tie with Merritt for 46th, yet if he bogeyed either of the closing holes it would change the points structure. A six-way tie for 46th would give Merritt more points and he would leapfrog Geoff Ogilvy into 100th. OK, the leaders were on the course, but there was good drama at the 17th, where Todd made par, then at 18 where he drove it into left rough, hit his approach short right, and pitched his third to 15 feet.
If Todd made it, Ogilvy hung on to spot No. 100 and Merritt was out. If he missed, Merritt was in.
Todd drained it, but if there was heartache for Merritt, we’ll never know. He had long since left Ridgewood CC. But he had started the week well outside the top 100 and indicated there were no regrets.
The disappointment was more for those who had started inside the top 100 and fallen out.
Retief Goosen, for instance. From 96th, he fell to 103rd and a double-bogey at the par-5 17th surely hurt. But the two-time U.S. Open champion looked at the bright side.
"It’s been a long season. I’m looking forward to having some time off. It will be good," Goosen said. "Somebody’s got to finish out of it; it looks like it will be me."
He was one of seven players to start inside the top 100, but play themselves out. No. 92 Jonas Blixt, No. 93 Kevin Kisner, No. 94 Nick Watney, No. 95 Luke Guthrie, No. 97 Rory Sabbatini and No. 100 Brian Davis also fell outside the top 100 and won’t be qualified for the Deutsche Bank Championship.
4. ROUTE 65 A SMOOTH RIDE: No Ryder Cup pressure. His spot is locked. Not much FedEx Cup pressure, either. His standing was No. 9 to start the week. So Patrick Reed focused on his game; specifically, his putting had not been up to his standards.
After he drained birdie putts of 13, 5, 16 and 13 feet on four of the first six holes, you’d have to say Reed’s attention had paid dividends. Three more birdies coming home, a tidy 6-under round, and next thing you know, Reed was tied for the lead at 9 under.
He did not get ahead of himself, however. The leaders were still early in their fourth-round work. "I’ll probably be two or three shots out," Reed predicted.
Not quite; he finished tied for ninth, five behind Mahan. But the greater part of the picture was this: Reed had improved one spot and is eighth in the FedEx Cup standings.
5. SHORT SHOTS: Talk about a blast from the past. Stuart Appleby? No. 200 in your world rankings and 98th in your FedEx Cup standings. And in the lead? Shocking stuff, but there was the Aussie at 12 under with his third straight birdie at the par-3 15th. He made par saves at Nos. 17-18 and was the leader in the clubhouse, at least until Mahan came along. Still, the day was a huge success as Appleby finished tied for second and went from 98th to 19th in the FEC standings; he can start thinking about maybe playing in his first Tour Championship since 2008. … Morgan Hoffmann, the "Jersey Boy" playing in front of the home fans, settled down after a rough start, shot 69 and finished in a tie for ninth. … Rickie Fowler finished with a 69-275 and tied for ninth, his fifth straight top 10. … For a while, Ernie Els, fast approaching his 45th birthday, was the feel-good story. He birdied Nos. 17-18 to shoot 66 and finish at 11 under in a share of fifth.