NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – The PGA Tour needs some help from Mother Nature to avoid a worst-case scenario in its third playoff event.
The final round of the BMW Championship was wiped out Sunday after a steady, all-day rain further soaked an already-waterlogged Aronimink Golf Club. The course has taken on more than three inches of rain in the past 36 hours.
“Today was kind of a no-brainer forecast,” Tour meteorologist Joe Halvorson said. “It looked like it was going to rain all day and it did.”
Tour officials are optimistic that play will be able to resume at 7:30 a.m. ET – there’s potentially a window of opportunity between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. – but the forecast still calls for moderate to heavy rain early before thunderstorms develop later in the day. Slugger White, the Tour’s vice president of rules and competition, said that Aronimink’s staff would need at least 2 ½ hours of uninterrupted work to properly prepare the course for play. He said the condition of the fairways and back nine are his “biggest concern.”
“Obviously we’ve got kind of a mess out there,” White said. “As of right now, the golf course is unplayable.”
Which increases the likelihood that the BMW is shortened to 54 holes.
Per Tour regulations, at least half of the 69-man field needs to finish the final round by Monday night to go into a Tuesday finish; otherwise, the 54-hole scores stand. White said that they wouldn’t even attempt to begin the final round if they weren’t confident that at least half the field could finish – even though next week is the lone off-week for players in the playoffs.
“That doesn’t make any difference,” White said.
Only once in the 11-year history of the FedExCup has a tournament been reduced to 54 holes – the 2011 Barclays, the playoff opener, which was only three rounds because of Hurricane Irene.
A weather-shortened BMW would have significant ramifications for the world’s best.
Justin Rose, who is at 17-under 193, one shot clear of Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele, would be declared the winner. With the victory, the 38-year-old would supplant Dustin Johnson and rise to No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time in his career. He’d also solidify his position in the FedExCup race, jumping from No. 3 to No. 2 in the standings and increasing the number of scenarios in which he could capture the season-long prize.
But Rose, set to collect $1.62 million for his third win of the season, would be just about the only player pleased with that outcome.
Schauffele is hoping for another opportunity to impress Jim Furyk before the Ryder Cup deadline. The captain was scheduled to announce his final addition to the team at 9 a.m. ET Monday, but it’s not yet known when that 12th man will be named. Schauffele finished 12th in qualifying and figured that he needed at least a BMW win to enter the conversation.
Tony Finau, the presumptive choice for the final U.S. wildcard selection, is tied for 15th after three rounds. If the BMW is shortened to 54 holes, he’s projected fifth in the FedExCup standings – meaning that if he wins next week at East Lake, he’d also take the FedExCup.
The other bubble offers plenty of intrigue, too.
Right now, Jordan Spieth is projected 31st in the standings – only 20 points behind Keegan Bradley for the final spot in the Tour Championship. It’d be a huge blow to Spieth, who has never missed the season finale since he first joined the Tour in 2013, but it’d also leave him on the wrong side of a new rule that requires a player to make 25 starts if he doesn’t add a new event to his schedule. The Tour Championship was expected to be Spieth’s 25th event, but currently he’d fall short of reaching that mark. Those who fail to meet the new requirement are subject to a “major fine” (in excess of $20,000) or suspension, though Spieth likely could argue to Tour officials that he wasn’t afforded an opportunity to improve his standing in the final event if the last round is canceled.
“We’re just going to do the best we can,” White said, “and hopefully we can play.”
Some players’ rankings and seasons depend on it.