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How the Top-30 Bubble for Tour Championship Berths Unfolded at the BMW Championship

Top 30 on FedExCup will head to East Lake for a chance at season-long title

Viktor Hovland has won the BMW Championship with a course-record 61, and all eyes now turn to see who made the final top-30 bubble for spots in the TOUR Championship.

The top 30 after this week will advance to next week’s TOUR Championship at East Lake, the third FedExCup Playoffs event, which utilizes a handicapped Starting Strokes format to determine the FedExCup champion. All 30 players who qualify for the TOUR Championship will receive a two-year exemption on TOUR, earn a spot in next year’s Masters and likely qualify for the U.S. Open and The Open Championship (exemptions for the latter two have yet to been announced).


Matt Fitzpatrick (No. 40, moved to No. 10) Coming in 10 spots off the bubble for East Lake, Fitzpatrick needed some magic to make it to the third leg of the Playoffs, and he certainly found it. Last year’s U.S. Open champion and this season’s RBC Heritage winner has been candid about struggles with his driver in recent weeks, but he found his momentum this weekend and finished T2 at Olympia Fields.


Chris Kirk (No. 29, moved to No. 33): The 38-year-old’s chances for Atlanta looked promising after opening the BMW Championship with back-to-back rounds of 4-under 66. Kirk was projected as high as No. 4 after he completed his round Friday. However, his 9-year drought for making the TOUR Championship will unfortunately extend another year after a 75 on Saturday and a 71 on Sunday brought him out of the top-30 window.


Sepp Straka (No. 24, moved to No. 30): The last man standing in the tight field of 30 players to make it in is Sepp Straka. Straka finished his final-round 66 unsure if he would be heading home to Birmingham or making the trip to Atlanta. “I have a flight booked for 3:30,” Straka said. “I’ll probably push that back. Hopefully I can book one to Atlanta but need a lot of help for that.”


Sungjae Im (No. 28, projected to No. 17): As it pertains to those that were already inside the top 30 of the FedExCup standings, no one improved their position better than Sungjae Im. Im used four straight rounds in the 60s, capped off by a final-round 66, to finish 10 under and in solo seventh. The two-time TOUR winner will be making his fifth consecutive appearance at the TOUR Championship, his best finish coming last year with a solo second. With his improvement in the standings, Im will now start the TOUR Championship at 2 under in the FedExCup Starting Strokes format.

Endless permutations were in play as the final round unfolded at Olympia Fields, where the FedExCup top 30 would be finalized. Read on to see the live notes from a Sunday full of action.

5:00 p.m. CT: It will go down as one of the most historic rounds in FedExCup Playoffs history. Viktor Hovland’s 61 at Olympia Fields.

It was good enough to nab the course record – and the second win of his season, as the young star made seven birdies on the back nine to win the BMW Championship at 17 under, two shots clear of Scottie Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick. He moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup with the win.

For most of the day, it seemed to be a two-man duel between Scheffler and Fitzpatrick. At one point they held a four-shot lead together over Hovland and the rest of the field.

That quickly dissipated as Hovland began to charge. His only pars on the back nine came on the par 3s, 13 and 16. Other than that, it was all birdies. He did it with supreme ball striking. None of his back nine birdies came from outside 15 feet. In order, they were: 3, 13, 5, 2, 8, 9 and 7 feet.

Dart after dart after dart, Hovland took on every tucked hole location and stuffed every putt when he got close. His birdie on the par-5 15th was the only hole on the back nine that he took more than three strokes.

The result is a convincing victory for the 25-year-old whose stardom isn’t slowing down. Hovland has won five times, including the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday earlier this year. He carded his first top 10 at a major with his T7 finish at the 2023 Masters. Then supplanted it with a T2 at the PGA Championship.

He can add the lowest final-round in Playoffs history to his resume. Might a FedExCup title be next?

Here’s a look at the top-5 in the FedExCup and where they will start the TOUR Championship.

Scottie Scheffler (moved from No. 2 to No. 1 with T2 finish) – will start 10 under

Viktor Hovland (moved from No. 7 to No. 2 with win) – will start 8 under

Rory McIlroy (stayed at No. 3 with fourth place finish) – will start 7 under

Jon Rahm (moved from No. 1 to No. 4 with T31 finish) – will start 6 under

Lucas Glover (moved from No. 4 to No. 5 with T22 finish) – will start 5 under

4:25 p.m. CT: Jordan Spieth and Sepp Straka are officially the final two players to crack the top 30 and a spot in the TOUR Championship.

Both endured long waits after finishing earlier this afternoon but neither could be unseated by any challengers.

Denny McCarthy was the closest pursuer most of the day – a birdie on the 18th would have been enough to overtake Straka. But it just wasn’t his day. McCarthy’s approach on the final hole found the bunker and his sand shot was never on line, landing six feet from the hole and sealing his fate. He missed the par putt to shoot 70 and finish No. 33.

The last man out is Sahith Theegala, who will look back on his bogey on 18 with plenty of regret. Theegala’s approach shot on 18 went over the green and his chip raced by the delicate hole location, leaving him with 15 feet to save par and his spot in the top 30. He, too, missed. After 11 months of work, he finished nine points behind Straka.

Matt Fitzpatrick is the lone golfer to play his way in this week.

His T2 finish was enough to jump from No. 40 to No. 10. He supplanted Chris Kirk, who finished T29 and dropped from No. 29 to No. 32.

4:00 p.m. CT: Rory McIlroy’s chances of winning the BMW Championship are rather slim at this point, but he still has a lot to play for.

The three-time FedExCup champion is putting himself in a better position to win his fourth with a trio of back-nine birdies.

McIlroy made a 14-footer for a birdie on the par-3 13th, tapped in for a birdie on the par-5 15th after missing a short attempt for an eagle, then ran in a 19-footer for a birdie on the 16th. The last birdie pushed him to No. 2 in the FedExCup, surpassing Jon RahmScottie Scheffler is currently projected to stay at No. 1.

The difference between No. 2 and No. 3 is the difference between starting next week’s TOUR Championship at 8-under or 7-under. As we are seeing with the current top 30 bubble, one shot can have a massive impact on the final result.

With the hardest two holes – 17 and 18 – still to play, can McIlroy stay in front of Rahm?

3:14 p.m. CT: It’s been a bad few minutes for Sahith Theegala’s Playoffs chances. In search of back-to-back TOUR Championship appearances to kick off his PGA TOUR career, Theegala finds himself No. 31 just minutes after he finished with a bogey on the 18th.

It wasn’t just that bogey that pushed him out of the top 30, though. When he tapped in for a five on the par-4 closing hole, Theegala was actually still No. 30. He only lost it when Patrick Cantlay made a birdie on the same hole to tie Theegala and three others at 6 under, 15th overall.

The difference between a four-way tie for 15th and a five-way tie for 15th is roughly five points, enough to move Sepp Straka into No. 30 ahead of Theegala.

Theegala’s hopes now rely on someone else falling from the group at T15. Andrew Putnam, Adam Svensson and Corey Conners are still on the course at 6 under.

3:08 p.m. CT: It’s getting dire for Justin Rose.

He began the day No. 26 in the standings but has dropped all the way to 34th as the Englishman finds himself through 13 holes with three bogeys and zero birdies on his card. He will likely need four birdies in his final five holes to crack the top 30.

It’s not likely, but given what Rose has done the last few weeks, it’s still possible. He opened last week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship with a 6-over 76, dead last in the field of 70. He dramatically shifted gears with a 9-under 61 on Saturday, tying the course record at TPC Southwind en route to a T20. It allowed him to shake off three straight missed cuts and arrive at Olympia Fields at No. 32 on the FedExCup.

He will need another high-flying finish to nab his 11th TOUR Championship appearance.

2:55 p.m. CT: And quickly we have another change. Denny McCarthy is out. Jordan Spieth is back in.

After making a birdie on the par-4 11th to jump in the top 30 and knock Spieth out, McCarthy made bogey on the par-4 12th to drop back down to No. 33. McCarthy’s drive just trickled into the right rough and he was unable to advance it to the green. A good pitch left him 3 feet for par, but he missed it to drop a shot.

Spieth, back at No. 30, leads McCarthy by 34 points. McCarthy, 1 under for his round, can climb back into the top 30 with a birdie.

2:42 p.m. CT: Oh, how thin the margins can be in the Playoffs. We have changes to the top 30 and they are by rather slim margins. Denny McCarthy and Sahith Theegala have both jumped into the top 30, knocking out Chris Kirk and Jordan Spieth.

Theegala is now in the No. 30 spot – 0.105 points ahead of Spieth, now in 31st. Theegala got there by making back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16. Now, though, he will need to play the difficult 17th and 18th, the two hardest holes of the day. It wasn’t too long ago Spieth made bogeys on both holes. Theegala can’t survive a similar stretch.

Then there’s McCarthy, whose birdie on the par-3 11th was his second in three holes. He made them both with stellar ball striking, leaving himself a pair of putts under 13 feet. For one of the best putters on TOUR, that was more than close enough as he knocked both in and moved to No. 28.

2:35 p.m. CT: There will be no rookies at the TOUR Championship this year. That became assured as Eric Cole finished at the 18th hole moments ago. In need of at least a top-5 finish this week to crack the top 30, the 35-year-old just couldn’t muster the charge at Olympia Fields.

He finished 3 under, tied for 26th. He is currently projected to finish 42nd in the FedExCup, the best among this year’s rookie class.

Cole’s path to the PGA TOUR was rather unconventional. He spent years dominating mini tours across the country before finally finishing inside the top 50 of the Korn Ferry Tour last season to earn his TOUR card. He made a name for himself at The Honda Classic, losing to Chris Kirk in a playoff. He added two more top-10s and finished the season with eight consecutive cuts made.

He was the only rookie to make it to the BMW Championship and will have a spot in all eight Signature Events next year because of it. He made more than $3 million this season and is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year.

2:07 p.m. CT: Wow. Wild finishes for the big-name bubble boys.

Jordan Spieth has a flair for the dramatic – but this isn’t the drama he hoped to find himself in.

The 13-time TOUR winner has straddled the top-30 line all day, quickly jumping from 31st to 30th after an opening birdie, then losing the spot with a bogey on the fifth. A double-bogey on the 10th dropped him to 34th but birdies on 13 and 15 put him right back at 30th. A few pars or a birdie in the last three holes would have been crucial to firming up his tenuous position, so his back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18 didn’t do anything to quell his anxiety.

Yet it didn’t doom him. Despite dropping shots on his final two holes, Spieth is narrowly clinging to his No. 30 spot. It is narrow, though. He is ahead of Sepp Straka, who is done for the day, by four points. He leads Denny McCarthy, currently T10 through seven holes, by 34 points. Justin Rose, currently T16 through eight holes, trails Spieth by 51 points.

Meanwhile, Tyrell Hatton went through massive tribulations of his own. After a front-nine 32 had him in a great position, the Brit finished his round double bogey-birdie-bogey-bogey.

Hatton pumped his approach on the par-5 15th way right out of bounds, then missed a 8-footer to save bogey. On the very next hole, the par-3 16th, he stuck his tee ball to 7 feet and made the birdie putt. Then back-to-back bad drives cost him on 17 and 18. His approach from the right rough on the penultimate hole went way left and he failed to get up and down. Hatton missed right with drive on 18, too, his time finding a bunker. He could only advance the ball 40 yards and he couldn’t make an 18-footer to save par.

Hatton looked dejected as he tapped in for bogey, yet, like Spieth, he remains very much alive in the top-30 race. Despite the back-nine 39, Hatton is still inside the bubble at No. 29.

But he is only three points ahead of Spieth, so all the same pursuers could easily track down Hatton, too.

1:48 p.m. CT: Emiliano Grillo is No. 28 – and it looks like he has done enough to stay inside the top 30. Grillo began the day 32nd but a flurry of birdies midway through his round helped him jump inside the bubble. He stood even par through seven holes Sunday but recorded back-to-back birdies at 8 and 9 to move within striking distance. His birdie on the 14th, his last of the day, moved him inside the top 30 and four pars coming home kept him there.

1:08 p.m. CT: Jordan Spieth has re-entered the festivities. Birdies on the par-3 13th and par-5 15th has him back in the No. 30 spot.

Spieth knocked his approach on No. 13 to 11 feet and sank the putt then took advantage of the 606-yard 15th, draining a 9-footer to gain another shot on the field. He missed a chance to climb even further, narrowly missing a birdie putt on the par-3 16th. Still, Spieth sits 1 under for the tournament and with a 10-point advantage over Denny McCarthy, who birdied the third hole to get back to No. 31 in the standings.

But with McCarthy just starting his round and the scoring average under par for the day, Spieth will likely need another birdie or two in his last two holes to feel comfortable this afternoon.

12:43 p.m. CT: Aaaaaand just like that it’s changed again. Justin Rose momentarily fell out of the top 30 after a bogey on the par-5 first, but the group behind him ran into issues of its own.

Denny McCarthy pulled his opening tee shot left and out of bounds. He played the hole well from there, hitting his provisional in the fairway, laying up in a prime position and holing a crucial 11-foot putt for bogey. Still, it dropped him from No. 30 to No. 34. He has plenty of time to turn it around. He’s just one birdie from getting back to that spot. Rose is back at No. 30.

Sepp Straka, meanwhile, can’t control his position for the rest of the day. He made a spirited run this morning, carding five birdies on his opening nine to get to No. 31. But eight pars and a bogey on the 18th wasn’t the back nine he had in mind. His Sunday 66 has him 32nd in the standings. He will need a lot of help to punch his ticket to East Lake.

12:26 p.m. CT: A front-nine 32 had Tyrell Hatton in great position to make the TOUR Championship, but back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11 suddenly leaves the Brit sweating his FedExCup positioning. Hatton is back where he started the day, 29th in the standings. Denny McCarthy, who teed off moments ago, is No. 30.

And just as that’s happening Justin Rose bogeyed the first hole of his final round to drop to 6 under for the tournament and now No. 31 in the standings. He is just six points back of McCarthy. It’s going to be a wild afternoon.

12:07 p.m. CT: Emiliano Grillo is now the projected 30th player in the field at East Lake. Denny McCarthy, who tees off in 10 minutes, has fallen to projected No. 31.

It’s a testament to the fine line of the bubble as Sunday unfolds; Grillo has begun his final nine with four straight pars, but a slight shift in McCarthy’s position (five-way T7, after beginning the day in a four-way T7) opens the door for Grillo to assume the No. 30 spot.

Grillo is 2 under Sunday through 13, 1 over total. He’s T35 for the week, which he began at 23rd on the FedExCup.

12:00 p.m. CT: After a double bogey at the par-4 10th, things are suddenly looking dicey for Jordan Spieth.

Spieth turned in 1-under 34, but he flew the green on his approach at No. 10; his pitch shot didn’t make it to the green, and he early-walked his 9-foot bogey try that missed on the right side. He now projects 34th on the FedExCup. Two birdies would still leave him outside the projected top 30, meaning some late heroics could be needed, or some help from other players around the bubble.

11:54 a.m. CT: Sepp Straka has cooled down after an opening-nine 30, with six straight pars to begin his final nine. Having entered the final round outside the FedExCup projected top 30, and at T43 on the leaderboard, he likely needed something in the mid-60s Sunday to have a chance at East Lake. So far he’s delivering; he just might need a couple more birdies coming in.

Straka is currently projected No. 32 on the FedExCup. He’s 14 points behind projected No. 30 Denny McCarthy. Two more birdies would project Straka to No. 30.

11:38 a.m. CT: Early fireworks for Sahith Theegala, who began the day outside the projected top 30.

Theegala followed a tap-in birdie at the par-5 first with a 30-foot hole-out from a greenside bunker at the par-4 second.

He’s now projected 31st on the FedExCup, 3 points back of current projected No. 30 Denny McCarthy, who will tee off at 12:17 p.m. CT.

11:32 a.m. CT: The 30th and final spot at East Lake is currently determined by less than a quarter of a point. Those are the margins of Sunday at the BMW Championship.

Denny McCarthy, who began the day T7 and has yet to tee off, currently holds down the No. 30 spot. He’s projected a narrow .235 points ahead of Jordan Spieth, who stands T31 for the tournament as he plays the ninth hole; Spieth is 1 under Sunday through eight.

11:30 a.m. CT: Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo isn’t going down without a fight.

Grillo entered the week at 23rd on the FedExCup but opened in rounds of 73-69-71 at Olympia Fields, moving outside the projected top 30 into Sunday’s final round. He stood even par through seven holes Sunday but recorded back-to-back birdies at 8 and 9 to move within striking distance of a spot at East Lake.

Grillo is projected No. 32 on the FedExCup as he makes the turn. He’s projected just 6 points back of No. 30 Denny McCarthy; one more birdie would project Grillo to No. 30.

11:24 a.m. CT: The Jordan Spieth Experience is in full force.

Spieth entered the day projected 31st on the FedExCup, then moved to projected No. 30 with an opening birdie. He made bogey at the par-4 fifth, including an animated “Oh no!” as his approach shot from a fairway bunker sailed over the green. The bogey moved him back outside the projected top 30. Then he rebounded with a birdie at the par-4 seventh, striking a 150-yard approach to 14 feet and draining the putt.

Spieth is now projected No. 31 on the FedExCup, just 6 points back of Denny McCarthy. Things are moving fast and furious.

10:25 a.m. CT: Sepp Straka is a man on a mission. With a 7-foot birdie at the par-4 eighth, he moves to 4 under Sunday, now in 38th place for the tournament at 2 over. He’s projected 33rd on the FedExCup, 23 points back of current projected No. 30 Jordan Spieth, who is 1 under Sunday through three holes.

10:06 a.m. CT: With a 10-foot birdie at the par-3 sixth hole, Sepp Straka is still fighting. The University of Georgia alum is 3 under Sunday, now T38 for the week at 3 over. He’s projected 33rd on the FedExCup, 37 points behind the final spot that is currently occupied by Jordan Spieth.

10:05 a.m. CT: With a routine birdie at the par-5 opening hole, Jordan Spieth moves from projected 31st to projected 30th on the FedExCup, bumping out Denny McCarthy. It’s the first top-30 spot of the day to change hands, and it won’t be the last. Spieth is projected 9 points ahead of McCarthy.

9:38 a.m. CT: Kurt Kitayama began the week near the bubble at 33rd on the FedExCup, but an opening-round 76 made his task much more difficult, and he entered Sunday T43 for the week at 6 over. Kitayama needs a magical Sunday to have a chance at the top-30, perhaps even a sub-60 score, and he has opened with birdies on 1, 2 and 4. He now stands 40th for the tournament and is projected 36th on the FedExCup, still 217 points back of Denny McCarthy.

9:30 a.m. CT: Sepp Straka entered the BMW Championship at No. 24 on the FedExCup standings, but rounds of 71-74-71 left him outside the projected top 30 into Sunday at Olympia Fields, at T43 for the tournament.

In order to advance to East Lake, Straka will need either a big Sunday or others around the bubble to falter, or perhaps both. He’s giving it a run early, making birdie at the first and third holes. He currently projects 33rd on the FedExCup, 36 points back of Denny McCarthy.

Source : PGA Tour