31 Aug 2020 | Professional golf |
Smith, Leishman in Tour Championship
by Martin Blake
Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman have been rewarded for their consistency across the season with a spot in the $US46 million Tour Championship in Atlanta this week, but Adam Scott and Jason Day dropped out of the race today.
Smith, who won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January, is in the season-ender at East Lake for the second time having finished 20th in 2018, while Leishman is a regular in Atlanta.
Scott lost his opportunity with a disappointing final round in the BMW Championship in Chicago, starting the day inside the top five but finishing with a five-over par 75 to drop to tied-25th, while Day (68 today) was out of the running already.
Scott's chances disappeared when he hit his tee shot into a hazard on the par-five 15th and took double bogey, but Smith was solid all day, shooting 69 to clinch his spot in the field next week and tie-20th in the BMW.
On the season-long Fedex Cup points list, Leishman finished 25th, Smith 26th, Scott 38th and Day 50th. Only the top 30 on the points list get to play.
Dustin Johnson will take the No. 1 seeding into Atlanta this week although he was usurped on the final day at Olympia Fields today by Spain’s Jon Rahm, who closed with a stunning 64 to win the penultimate playoff event in a playoff.
Rahm, who had called a penalty on himself for picking up his ball on a green without marking it on Saturday, was unstoppable. Johnson holed an amazing, downhill birdie putt from 14 metres at the 72nd hole to force a playoff; then Rahm from a similar angle in the playoff holed out from more than 20 metres to take the championship.
The victor in Atlanta this week gets $US15 million and the minimum is $US400,000 in a prize pool of $US46 million.
Smith and Leishman will spot Johnson and others shots under the format of the Tour Championship, with the No. 1 seed starting out at 10-under par, making it difficult to see either becoming the first Australian to win the Fedex Cup. Leishman will start at one-under par and Smith at even.
But the money is enormous and regardless of what happens, the players know that there is still the US Open and the Masters to play in 2020.
Leishman was 30-over par and last in the 69-man field in Chicago, acknowledging that he was in a “rough patch’’. The Australian referenced the life-threatening illness of his wife Audrey a few years ago in his commentary afterward.
“Yes, I mean, if this is the worst thing that's ever going to happen to me in my life, I'll be all right,’’ he said. “It's a bad few weeks, few months, whatever it might be, but I've been through a lot worse than this off the course, so that always puts things in perspective when you can have a laugh at a situation off the golf course and then I guess your perspective is not always that good. I wish it was.
“But going through some of that makes something like this -- I won't say bearable. It's obviously still very frustrating, but it's a whole lot better than sitting next to your wife in an intensive care unit waiting for her to die.’’
IN EUROPE, Min Woo Lee shot a closing 69 to finish tied-11th in the ISPS Handa UK Championship at The Belfry. The 22-year-old Lee, who won the ISPS Handa Vic Open in February, is 24th on the tour points standings and heading toward the lucrative DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in December.
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