An unexpected stumble by a single player turned an $18 million battle into a massacre.
World No. 1 Scotty Schauffler (USA) was in big trouble on the par-3 15th hole of the first round of the Tour Championship on the U.S. Professional Golf (PGA) Tour on Friday. He sent his tee shot into the water and hit his third shot from the drop zone to the green. He then three-putted with 4.5 meters to the hole. He missed the putt for a 1-meter double bogey and made a triple bogey, giving him the nickname “Onion. Schaeffler, who held a one-stroke lead before the hole, dropped to a tie for fourth, two shots behind the leader.안전놀이터
The match, being played at East Lake GC (Par 70) in Georgia, USA, is the third and final FedExCup Playoffs (PO) event to which only the top 30 players have been invited. Schauffler enters this final round at 10-under-par as he sits atop the FedEx Rankings after the second round. The second through fifth-ranked players in the FedEx standings are 8- to 5-under par, respectively. The final FedExCup victory bonus is a whopping $18 million.
Schauffler raced to three birdies through the seventh hole, but then dropped four shots over the next 11 holes as he made just two birdies, a triple bogey and three bogeys. A seemingly generous 10-under-par advantage became “there and gone,” like the numbers in a paycheck stub.
Schauffler’s stumble sent the $18 million race into a frenzy. In contrast to Schauffler, who dropped to 9-under-par fourth with a one-stroke loss, Colin Morikawa (USA) shot a career-low 9-under-par 61 to move to 10-under-par. The 24th-seeded Morikawa started the day at just 1-under. He came into the tournament with a small change to his setup and hit the greens in regulation on the first 16 holes. He swept seven birdies and made an eagle putt on the sixth hole (par-5) by placing his second shot from 225 yards to within one meter of the hole.
The 16th-seeded Kim also has hopes of making the final FedExCup cut. After starting at 2-under par, Kim trimmed three strokes with six birdies and three bogeys to reach 5-under par and tied for 14th. She is five strokes off the lead. After starting the day eight strokes off the pace, he has closed the gap by three. A South Korean player’s best FedExCup finish is a second-place finish by Sungjae Im last year. Lim, who advanced to the Tour Championship for the fifth straight year, lost one stroke and is tied for 26th at 1-under par. Kim Si-woo is two under par and tied for 22nd.
Keegan Bradley plays a bunker shot on the 16th hole. AP
Schaeffler is also the favorite for the remaining rounds. It’s the first time since the current format was introduced in 2019 that a top-seeded player hasn’t even held a share of the lead after the first round of the final event. Schauffler, who started the final day of last year’s final round with a six-shot lead before losing the FedExCup to Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), said: “It’s disappointing. But the good thing about it is that I have three days left,” he said, vowing to rebound. Schauffler, who has been consistent all season, has struggled on the greens, as evidenced by his 145th-place ranking in putting. After switching putters, he was still last out of 30 players with 33 putts.
Two-time defending champion Keegan Bradley (USA) and last week’s PO2 winner Viktor Hovlan (NOR) are tied at 10 under par. McIlroy, who has been battling back pain, is tied for seventh at 7-under par. Bradley and Morikawa are among the favorites to make the six U.S. team wildcards for the Ryder Cup (played between the United States and Europe) when they are announced next week. “I try not to think about the Ryder Cup, but everyone here asks me about the Ryder Cup selection, even when I’m walking down the fairway, the galleries talk about it, so it’s impossible to get it out of my head,” Bradley said.