Adam Scott watched his birdie putt on 18 just slide past the hole and leaned over his long putter with a slightly disappointed smile, thinking he needed it for a chance to at least get into a playoff. He tapped in for his bogey-free, six-under 66, 11-under total, which at the time put him in a four-way tie at the top — but the leaders were just coming down the stretch, with a number of chances to make birdie and best Scott’s effort.
Instead, one-by-one, they botched their opportunities, leaving the Masters champion atop the ‘board by himself at the end.
“I can’t believe it to be honest,” said Scott, who won the first leg of the FedExCup playoffs. “I just played a good round today and I came in and really didn’t think it had a chance. But obviously things went my way a lot out there, and so I’m happy.”
U.S. Open champ Justin Rose had a 25-footer on 18 to take the outright lead. Like Scott, Rose didn’t think 11-under would be enough for the win and he got too aggressive and blew it by five feet and missed the comeback for par.
“I felt like if I was going to be in a playoff to win this golf tournament, I was going to have to make a putt at some point,” said Rose, who finished T2. “That was my mindset, obviously, and clearly got too aggressive.”
Tiger Woods left his birdie putt an inch short dead center in front of the cup. It’s now the second time Woods has lost The Barclays at Liberty National by a matter of inches.
Finally, Gary Woodland, who was playing in the final group of the day, knocked his approach to about nine feet on 18. He had done the same in the two holes prior and missed similar length putts. A train passing by sounded its horn as Woodland was about to pull the trigger on a putt to force the playoff. It was a comical –and ominous, at that — moment and the crowd laughed as Woodland backed up and tried to recompose himself. He misread the line and missed.
Scott was the last man standing, but hey, he’ll take it.
“It’s different playing an hour and a half in front of the leaders and the guys who have been under pressure all day than when you’re out there and I know how they feel,” said Scott, smiling.
“When the pressure is on you to close out, it’s much harder and the holes become much harder and shots are far more crucial. I mean, I feel like I’ve been given a bit of a gift, but I’ll take it, that’s for sure.”
Scott started the final round six shots off the lead after he moved the wrong way on Saturday. He played horrible for the most part and found himself four-over through 12 holes in the third round, but managed to post a one-over 72 with birdies on three of the last six holes. Still, at the time, he thought he had lost any opportunity to win the tournament.
“I was playing like a dog after 13 holes yesterday, it was horrible,” he said. “I was feeling a bit fatigued after a long Friday slog, and just the body was off, the rhythm was off, couldn’t find anything, and somehow made three birdies and salvaged a half-respectable round, but felt my tournament was really over, and I was just looking for a good finish and trying not to slip down these FedExCup points.
“But there you go. You’re never out of it and you never know what can happen. Again, it’s proof, and I’ve been on the only side of it, too, where it’s never over. So you’ve just got to stick in there, and those three late birdies yesterday saved my week.”
*Tiger Woods: On the par-5 13th, Woods set up to hit a massive cut on his second shot into the green. Instead, it never cut and he pulled hooked it seventy yards left of his target. He immediately fell to his knees dramatically, and then down to all fours and stayed there for a few seconds, grimacing in pain, before he gingerly got up.
(One player in the locker room: “That was an oscar-winning performance.”)
“It actually started the hole before, my little tee shot there, started it, and 13 just kind of accentuated it,” said Woods, who declined media requests besides CBS, after shooting a final round two-under 69.
Asked if it was a back spasm, Woods replied: “Oh, yeah, big time. It’s definitely spasming.”
He said he was fine until his tee shot on no. 12.
“I was perfectly fine,” said Tiger. “I was playing pretty good, and I was hanging right there and at the time Kev just made double at 11, and I was only one back. So I figured, you know, I was in the perfect spot, and unfortunately just couldn’t finish off the rest of the day.”
Will he be OK to play next week at the Deustche Bank Championship, the second of four legs of the FedExCup Playoffs?
“That’s all hypothetical right now,” he said. “I just got off and I’m not feeling my best right now.”
As someone who suffers from chronic back pain, I definitely know what spasms feel like — and when you’re trying to play competitive golf, no less — so it made me cringe a little when people suggested he was faking it, but at the same time, he is a bit of a drama queen.
*Justin Rose: I was looking forward to a Rose-Scott playoff, especially since they’re good friends and Rose said he was inspired by Adam’s Masters win after he got a text from Scott that read “This is our time.”
Rose was obviously a bit frustrated to three-putt the 72nd hole.
“I pretty much knew where I stood in the tournament,” he said after posting a three-under 68. “I knew everything. I felt like it was a putt to make, a putt I could make.
“It was uphill, I thought, a little left-to-right and obviously it’s gone off in my hands a little bit. I was surprised to see it go five feet by, I mean, I’ve got to say. But it is what it is. Disappointing way to finish.
“So in some ways, surprised 11under par was where it was in the tournament. Some guys were clearly struggling out there on the back nine, which I guess is a testament to how good a round I put together, but yeah, disappointing to finish that way obviously.”
*Jonas Blixt and Rickie Fowler: The two PUMA-sponsored players were paired together on Sunday and Jonas decided it’d be funny if he copied Rickie’s final-round tradition and wore all orange.
Indeed, it was hilarious, but it didn’t work out so well for Blixt, who shot 81.
“A lot of people didn’t understand that we’re actually friends and this might have been planned,” said Fowler when asked about comments the pair received from the fans at Liberty National. “So a lot of them were saying, you know, like did you call each other last night well, of course this was planned. He didn’t do it to piss me off or something.”
And this back-and-forth is pure comedy:
Q. Did you already have this?
JONAS BLIXT: No, this is Rickie’s clothes. That’s why my pants are so tight.
Q. Will you give the clothes back to him?
JONAS BLIXT: I was going to burn them.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, he hit one of the water, got them a little dirty, probably stretched out the pants a little bit, so they are his now.
Q. How many do you have?
RICKIE FOWLER: I have quite a few. I keep a bin with all my shoes and I have a double bag with the full line, so I’ve got quite a few pairs of pants, probably I have probably five or six pairs of orange pants in there just kind of piled up.
Q. How much difference in the waste size?
JONAS BLIXT: Two.
RICKIE FOWLER: He’s a 38, I’m a 30. He’s in a 30, he’s good.
JONAS BLIXT: Terrible he kind of brings it up. I mean, if I shot 81 and I didn’t wear this, I’d probably be a little more pissed off right now.
Q. So the goal was to have fun with it obviously.
JONAS BLIXT: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.
RICKIE FOWLER: No one said anything it touched? I don’t know if they touched. I don’t know about balls touching, but they were close, though.
*Phil Mickelson: The Open Champion golfer of the year wasn’t joking on Saturday when he said he was close and looked forward to putting it all together on Sunday to prepare for next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship. Mickelson, who had had a bit of an Open hangover the past month, fired a six-under 65.
“Yesterday after the round, I felt a good round coming, because the pieces were there for a low round yesterday, but I didn’t put it together,” said Phil, who moved 28 spots up the leaderboard to T6. “I made a lot of little mistakes. I just played sloppy but I felt my ballstriking was coming and I felt the putter was coming.
“I believed that today was going to be a good day and it was a day whether I went really low or not, that it would build some momentum for next week. I feel like now, my ball striking is coming around. It was pretty sharp. I feel really good on the greens and I’m looking forward to getting to Boston next week.”
His 65 was almost a 64, but he bogeyed the 72nd hole.
“More than making the bogey, when I tried to muscle a 9-iron and as I was standing over it, I just couldn’t feel myself get it there and I just tried to clobber it, rather than getting it in the air and trying to bring it in softer,” said Mickelson when asked if he was disappointed with his finish. “That’s that sloppy stuff I was talking about. That was the only time I did that today. I did a bunch of it yesterday. And if I can eliminate that for next week, I can have a good week next week because I’m playing well.”