DeChambeau sails to victory in FedEx Cup playoff opener
PARAMUS, N.J. — Bryson DeChambeau completed the first stage of his mission by winning The Northern Trust.
The next one is up to Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk.
Staked to a four-shot lead, DeChambeau never let anyone closer than two shots, ended the threat with consecutive birdies and closed with a 2-under 69 for a four-shot victory over Tony Finau on Sunday in the FedEx Cup opener.
DeChambeau won for the second time this year, both times against some of the strongest fields. He moved to the top of the FedEx Cup standings and was all but assured of being one of the top five seeds at the Tour Championship who have a clear shot at the $10 million bonus.
Also on his mind is playing for no money at all at the Ryder Cup.
DeChambeau narrowly missed earning one of the eight automatic spots for the U.S. team when he missed the cut at the PGA Championship. Furyk makes three of his four captain’s picks a week from Tuesday, and it will be tough to ignore a 24-year-old Californian with victories at the Memorial and a FedEx Cup playoff event.
He moves to No. 12 in the world.
“To be able to hold the lead and keep the lead for the whole time … was great,” DeChambeau said. “If I can keep playing the way I am, I think I can do great things.”
He didn’t need to be great at Ridgewood Country Club.
DeChambeau, who stayed on the practice range until it was dark Saturday night, came out firing with two straight birdies to stretch the lead to six shots. His only mistakes were a pair of three-putt bogeys on the front nine, the second one at No. 9 that reduced his lead to two shots over Aaron Wise.
But not for long.
Wise’s threat ended with a bogey on No. 16, about the time DeChambeau got up-and-down from just short of the reachable par-4 12th for birdie. No one got any closer the rest of the way.
Finau also made a strong statement about a captain’s pick. Furyk invited Finau to join a small group of Americans who played Le Golf Nacional the weekend before the British Open. He was playing with Furyk at the PGA Championship when Finau tied a tournament record with 10 birdies in the second round.
And while he stared five shots back on a course where the greens were as firm as they have been all week, Finau closed with a 68 to finish alone in second. Finau cracked the top 20 in the world for the first time in his career.
“If I’m in the conversation, this doesn’t hurt my chances, I don’t believe,” Finau said. “I had a solid week all around. My game feels good and I feel confident. Whatever his decision is, I’ll be ready to play.”
Billy Horschel (68) and Cameron Smith (69) tied for third.
Ryan Palmer also felt like a winner. He came into the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 100 — the top 100 advance to the second stage next week at the TPC Boston — and Palmer delivered a 65 on Sunday highlighted by a wedge he holed for eagle on the par-5 third hole.
He tied for fifth, along with Wise (67) and Adam Scott (69), and moved all the way to No. 50, all but assuring a spot in the third playoff event outside Philadelphia.
Dustin Johnson’s only consolation was four birdies over the final four holes for a 68 that enabled him to stay No. 1 in the world over U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka by a narrow margin.
Tiger Woods, coming off a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, never got anything going. He closed with a 70 and tied for 40th, 14 shots out of the lead.
“I’m sure you guys are used to seeing me win five times a year or more,” Woods said. “It’s not that easy to win out here. What you’re seeing is that I’m close, and just one shot here, one shot there per day, flips momentum.”