NORTON, Mass. (AP) – Charl Schwartzel of South Africa birdied the last two holes to narrowly get inside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and advance to the third playoff event next week at Crooked Stick. The question now is whether he will show up.
Schwartzel has been coping with a rib injury since the U.S. Open, and it has flared up again. Schwartzel told one media outlet he was “doubtful'' to play, and another group of reporters that the odds were 50-50.
The Deutsche Bank Championship was his seventh straight tournament because he needed to get in his minimum 15 events to maintain PGA Tour membership, and the former Masters champion is on the edge. That was never more clear on Sunday in a moment that was replayed endlessly on television.
He already had made three double bogeys for the day – courtesy of a broken driver – when he had a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th. It caught the lip and spun away. He went to roll that one in and it caught another lip.
“That was enough for me,'' Schwartzel said.
He barely waited for the ball to stop rolling when he swatted at it left-handed, and missed badly. He finally cleaned up the four-putt for a double bogey and a 79. Asked about the putt from the left side, Schwartzel said, “At that point it was a blur.''
Each shot counts in the FedEx Cup, especially since Schwartzel came into the Deutsche Bank Championship at No. 71.
Part of the problem was his driver. Schwartzel said the shaft began to wear, and when his caddie picked up the bag on the sixth fairway Sunday, the head topped over. He did not have a backup driver, and when a replacement was brought out to him, he tried it on No. 14, snap-hooked it into the trees and made double bogey.
Schwartzel said if he skips the BMW Championship – he would need a top finish just to get to the Tour Championship, anyway – he would take a month off to rest and not return until the Dunhill Championship in Scotland.
MOVING ON: Chris Kirk was No. 81 in the FedEx Cup, needing a solid final round to get into the top 70 and move on to the next playoff event. This was not the start he envisioned – six bogeys through 13 holes against only one birdie as he tumbled down the leaderboard and seemingly out of the playoffs.
What followed was just as surprising. He holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 14th, and Kirk was on his way. He birdied four of the last five holes to barely advance.
“A little shocked that I put myself in that position,'' Kirk said. “And then very shocked that I managed to dig myself out. It just shows how crazy this game is.''
He wasn't alone.
Dicky Pride birdied his last two holes to advance to the BMW Championship, keeping alive his hopes of reaching the Tour Championship. He knew he was close, but tried not to look at a leaderboard so he could concentrate on his golf.
Pride turned to his caddie on the 18th when he stood over a chip for eagle and said, “Do I need to make this?''
“He said, `No, let's just play.' Which is what I was trying to do,'' Pride said. “He helped me get back to where I needed to be.''
John Merrick needed an eagle on the 18th to knock Pride out of the 70th position, but it came up short. Jonas Blixt finished in 71st on the FedEx Cup and goes home.
Oddly enough, Pride, Blixt and Merrick came into the TPC Boston at No. 96, No. 97 and No. 98 in the standings. Each of them had a 6-under 278. Each of them moved up 26 spots in the standings. It was Pride, however, who got the last spot.
LONG LOST BROTHER?: Louis Oosthuizen stepped onto the ninth tee and heard a fan screaming from the front of the box.
“LOUIS! LOUIS! I'M YOUR BROTHER! YOUR LONG, LOST BROTHER!''
The fan had a slight gap in his front teeth, was wearing a cap and was very, very loud – so loud that Oosthuizen couldn't ignore him. He turned to look and broke into a gap-tooth smile, and was laughing so hard he covered his face with his yardage book.
So, was he a real lookalike?
“My caddie said he looked just like me, so I don't know,'' Oosthuizen said.
Rory McIlroy sided with the caddie.
“He did have the gap in the teeth, which I thought was so funny,'' McIlroy said. “He was following us the whole way around. I thought there were a few similarities there.''
Except for the golf. Oosthuizen has a swing that is the envy of the tour.
HOMEWARD BOUND: Jeff Overton closed with a 68 and tied for seventh, his best performance since the first week of April. It could not have come at a better time. Overton needed a big week to advance to the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick, the first time PGA Tour players go back there since 1991.
Overton grew up in Indiana, played for the Hoosiers and can't wait to get back.
“I really wanted to play Crooked Stick all year,'' he said. “It's kind of been circled on the schedule of things to do.''
Overton set himself up by reaching 9-under par going into the last day. He was safe, unless he had a bad final round on Monday.
“It was hard looking at it last night knowing you've got to shoot 3 or 4 over, because that's the last thing you want to think about doing,'' he said.