Mother Nature delayed the final-round drama at the BMW Championship on Sunday. She might deny them outright Monday.
When persistent rains soaked Aronimink Golf Club, we lost the chance Sunday to see whether Tiger Woods, tied for 11th at 12-under, might surge; to watch Justin “Philly Philly” Rose, the 54-hole leader at 17-under, earn a win in this region for the third time; to see whether Phil Mickelson, with one top-10 in his last 15 starts and, at 48, playing for the fifth time in six weeks, would finish 69th. He was 68th. There was no cut.
Most relevantly, we missed the chance to witness whether Xander Schauffele or Tony Finau would earn the final spot on the Ryder Cup team. Schauffele, who held a 2-stroke lead after 36 holes, sat in second, 16-under, one behind Rose. Finau was tied for 15th at 11-under.
Jim Furyk announced his first three captain’s picks last week. He was scheduled to announce the final pick Monday morning, in observance of the Horschel Rule. (In 2014, when Tom Watson had three captain’s picks, he selected them after the first two Fed Ex Cup playoff events. Then, Billy Horschel won the final two events and the Fed Ex Cup, which made his exclusion look ridiculous.) He now will delay the announcement until the BMW either ends or is declared a 54-hole washout. Anticipate the washout.
There has been no cogent reason given for not making all captain’s picks until after the penultimate playoff event, or until after the playoffs finish completely, for that matter; but, in this moment, that’s not the point. The point is, if Schauffele had won Sunday at Aronimink, and if Finau had finished far behind him, it would have put Furyk in a difficult position.
Would he choose Schauffele, who was ranked 12th in Ryder Cup points after the PGA Championship on Aug. 12, at which point the rankings were set? After all, Furyk’s first three picks — Tiger, Phil and red-hot Bryson DeChambeau, who won the first two playoff events — occupied the first three spots after the eight automatic qualifiers, and if Schauffele won the BMW, it could hardly be argued that he didn’t deserve a trip to Paris, where the tournament will take place Sept 28-30 at Le Golf National.
Would Furyk choose Finau? Entering the BMW, that certainly seemed likely. Finau has been charging. He finished fifth in the U.S. Open, tied for ninth in the British Open and finished second and fourth in the first two playoff events. In three months, his world ranking rose from 37th to 17th, three spots ahead of Schauffele, who acknowledged Friday that Finau was probably the better choice, even though Finau is 15th in Ryder Cup points.
Schauffele’s remarks were more logical than gracious. He hadn’t won since the Tour Championship last season, and he hadn’t been sharp since the British Open, but he hadn’t been as awful as, say, Euro-icon Sergio Garcia. Schauffele finish second in the British, and that followed a tie for sixth at the U.S. Open and a tie for second at the toughest tournament of the year, The Players Championship.
As difficult as things might be for Furyk, his European opposite, Thomas Bjorn, finds himself in a worse pickle after his announcing all four of his captain’s picks last week. He chose fading sentimental favorites Garcia and Henrik Stenson, who are ranked 17th and 24th, respectively, in Ryder Cup points, and have fallen 16 and seven spots, respectively, in the world rankings since March. Bjorn snubbed 2016 Ryder Cup hero Rafa Cabrera-Bello, a Spaniard; Matt Wallace, an inconsistent Englishman, who won twice since June, including the Made in Denmark last week in Bjorn’s homeland; and Matthew Fitzpatrick, who slumped in 2018.
All three were in the top-16 of the European team’s two convoluted qualifying points systems … and Fitzpatrick successfully defended his title at the European Masters on Sunday. Poor Bjorn.
At least Furyk has an extra week.