Calum Henderson studies a near-infinite list of scenarios and permutations to figure out a pathway to FedEx Cup glory for Kiwi hero Danny Lee.
Going into the final weekend of the PGA Tour season, any one of the 30 golfers qualified for the Tour Championship can still technically win. A slightly goalpost-shifting points realignment after the BMW Championship, designed to prevent the final event being a dead rubber, means that any of the top five ranked players in the FedEx Cup standings can lift the trophy and pocket US$10million if they win this weekend. For the rest of the players, it’s less clear cut. The PGA Tour website has a comprehensive list detailing all the pieces that need to fall into place if these guys are to win.
For Kiwi hero Danny Lee, ranked 19th, there are seven pieces to the puzzle:
Must win the TOUR Championship
Seems easy enough.
Jason Day must finish T12 or worse
Aussie legend Jason Day dominated last weekend’s BMW Championship from start to finish, eventually winning by six strokes to replace Rory McIlroy as the world number one and storm to the top of the FedEx Cup rankings. Were it not for the PGA’s pre-tournament points readjustment he would have an unassailable lead, but now he needs to win, or at least hope none of the other top five do. Finishing in a tie for 12th might seem unlikely given the type of form he’s in, but portentously that’s exactly where he finished two weeks ago in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Jordan Spieth must finish fifth or worse
22-year-old Jordan Spieth is probably the only other player apart from Day who really deserves to win the FedEx Cup. He’s had a season for the ages, winning two majors (the Masters and US Open) and finishing second to Day in the PGA Championship. But stuff it, we want Danny Lee to stage the greatest Kiwi come-from-behind victory of all time, so Spieth needs to finish fifth or worse. He could only manage a tie for 13th in the BMW Championship, so a repeat this weekend would suit us nicely.
Rickie Fowler must finish in a 3-way tie for third or worse
Rickie Fowler has had another solid season despite persisting with his infuriating habit of wearing hats that are slightly too big for his head. He won the tour’s richest single tournament purse in May at the Players Championship, and took out the Deustche Bank Championship two weeks ago before finishing in a tie for 4th last week. Fowler is probably a nice betting option this weekend, but a true Kiwi patriot will only have eyes for a 3-way tie for third or worse.
Henrik Stenson must finish third or worse
Cool Swede Henrik Stenson hasn’t registered a tour win this season, but a 2nd placing at the Deutsche Bank and a T10 in the BMW have kept him in the mix. He got his photo taken with Lydia Ko this week which seems like a good luck charm if ever there was one. Will it inspire him to romp home to a come-from-behind FedEx Cup victory? To be honest it seems like his destiny. But for Danny’s sake he needs to finish no higher than 3rd.
Bubba Watson must finish in a 3-way tie for second or worse
The PGA’s most disliked player according to an anonymous players survey conducted earlier this year, Bubba Watson has been annoyingly consistent with seven top three finishes in 18 tournaments this season. Fairly certain the players will rally together and conspire to stop him from finishing any higher than 3rd if he looks like threatening Danny Lee’s incredible run to FedEx Cup glory.
Zach Johnson must finish T2 or worse
This will happen. Don’t worry about Zach Johnson.
If all these pieces fall into place New Zealand’s Danny Lee will win the FedEx Cup and carry its giant novelty cheque for US$10million off into the sunset and towards the President’s Cup.