Bubble players learn last minute whether headed home or to BMW Championship
NORTON, Mass. - The television showed teen sensation Melanie Oudin knocking out the final few points of her upset victory over Nadia Petrova, but Boo Weekley's mind wasn't on tennis as he sat in the locker room at TPC Boston on Monday.
Woody Austin sat to his left. Austin had played his way into next week's BMW Championship, shooting a three-under 68.
Briny Baird, sitting across the room, was out. He'd started the week at 70th, the last spot that would get into the BMW at Chicago's Cog Hill, but he'd spun his wheels at TPC Boston, shooting even par overall. It wasn't even close.
At least they could enjoy the tennis. Weekley had already changed into a T-shirt and nursed a Miller Lite. He got up to check the computer in the corner of the room. He needed help.
Well before Steve Stricker birdied the last two holes to beat Jason Dufner and Scott Verplank, others obsessed over the top 70, and whether they would end up inside that number. The only thing at stake was what they'd be doing and where for the next week.
"That's a lot harder than trying to make a cut," Jason Bohn said to playing partner Stephen Ames after both had squeaked in.
Phil Mickelson said after his 66 on Monday (seven under total) that he understands only this about FedEx math: Play better and you move up. But it's easy for him. He started the week 10th in points and had no chance of washing out of the race for the $10 million first prize before at least reaching Cog Hill.
It's a fickle business. Ames was 71st in FedEx points when he left TPC Boston last year. Play wasn't over yet, but he figured he was out, so he headed back home to Calgary. Still, he thought he'd better double-check before he got on his connecting flight in Minneapolis. It's a good thing. He was 68th, and spent the night at the airport before booking a flight to St. Louis the next morning.
Weekley hunched over the computer, which told him he was projected to finish 72nd. He pulled out his cell phone. After a year in which he had aggravated a torn labrum in his left shoulder and recorded just one top-10 finish, it seemed he was headed home.
"I think I'm gonna miss it by one," he said, perhaps still lamenting his failure to get up-and-down for birdie on 18.
Bohn, who missed the first two FedEx Cups due to injury, started the week 81st, but after playing well the first three rounds, he was projected to be the 70th player as of early Monday morning.
He figured a 67 or 68 would assure him a spot at the BMW, but missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Monday, settling for a 69. Bohn thought he was going home.
"Come on," he said to his caddie, Billy Spencer, as they burst through the lockerroom doors. "Let's go see what flight I'm on tonight. I think I might be the guy, the Bubble Boy."
"D.A. Points is the guy," said Steven Marino, getting dressed nearby. Marino had started the week at 23rd, shot four under in Boston and was safely into the BMW.
"I might be in then," Bohn said, making a beeline for the computer. Sure enough he was. All that remained was to pick either the 6:30 or 7:30 p.m. American flight to Chicago.
"I think a cold beer is in order," Ames said.
"You bet," Bohn replied.
Ames knows what it's like to be on the wrong end of FedEx math. Jim Furyk knocked him out of the 2008 Tour Championship with a 41-foot putt on the last hole of the BMW at Bellerive.
"I still haven't thanked him for that," Ames said.
The biggest mover in Boston was Marc Leishman, the Australian rookie who shot 62 in the second round. After starting the week 93rd in points, Leishman eagled the last hole Monday to jump to 67th and push Brett Quigley to 71st, odd man out.
"I wasn't exactly sure," said Leishman, who carded a two-under 69 to finish in a tie for 15th place. "I thought birdie might have been good enough, but I knew eagle was good enough."
What about Quigley? Did Leishman know him? Had he ever played with him?
"No, I haven't, actually," Leishman said. "Sorry, Brett."
Austin was just done packing up his travel bag in the locker room, ready to head out the door. He'd greatly enjoyed the tennis on TV. After slipping with a 74 Sunday, he knew what he needed to do Monday and did it with his 68 to get to 68th in points.
Bohn was 69th and Chad Campbell, despite missing the cut in Boston, had landed on 70th.
"It's been such a bad year," Austin said. "I've played so little, just because it's been so terrible, but it was a little goal of mine to get to the third playoff event. Given the way the year's gone, and how bad Sunday was, it's gratifying. I snuck in."