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LAKE FOREST, Ill. Sergio Garcia had just hit his second shot at Conway Farms’ par-5 18th hole in the hazard. Thinking he needed a par to keep his season alive and advance to next week’s Tour Championship, Garcia needed a break.
He got it.
The grandstand, a temporary immovable obstruction, was impeding Garcia’s third shot from the hazard. He was afforded a free drop in the hazard, and after a nearly 20-minute deliberation Garcia dropped the ball and went on to make par.
It was an important moment and I wanted to do what was best for me at that time and obviously within the rules, and that’s what we did, Garcia said. I obviously didn’t want to do anything wrong, either. So, it was important to get it done the right way.
Said PGA Tour rules official Stephen Cox, explaining why Garcia’s drop was legal within the Rules of Golf: I suspect, like I say, (viewers) are curious as to why the player was entitled to get relief when his ball was lying in the water hazard. We have very large structures which we call TIO or temporary immovable obstruction. Whereas the rules of golf when the player’s ball lies in a water hazard would not get relief from an immovable obstruction for like a sprinkler head. The rule permits, because we like, for example there at 18, we have very large structures which are situated very close to the water hazard which ordinarily wouldn’t be there, the rules allow a player to get relief when his ball lies in water hazard, albeit if he was to proceed under no penalty of free relief he would need to stay in the water hazard.
Garcia’s closing 2-under 69 earned him a T-12 finish at the BMW Championship, and he jumped from 34th to 25th in FedEx Cup standings. He’ll be headed to East Lake, along with three other players who started the week outside the top 30 Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.
Phil Mickelson, Garcia’s playing partner, nearly had heroics of his own on the final hole Sunday. Mickelson’s eagle chip caught a lot of the hole, but it didn’t drop. Mickelson birdied the 18th, but shot a final-round 70, tied for 22nd and finished at No. 34 in FedEx Cup points.
Unfortunate, Mickelson said. I didn’t score the best today. I had a little rough front nine, but had that chip on 18 gone in it would have been enough. I missed by a shot.
It’s disappointing, but I like the fact that I’m starting to play well. I look forward to staying sharp this week for the Presidents Cup.
Also leaving the Chicago area disappointed are the four players who dropped out of the top 30 this week at the BMW: Louis Oosthuizen, Henrik Stenson, Brendan Steele and Bill Haas.
And Rory McIlroy, who tied for 58th at Conway Farms and ended his season 58th in points. Just two FedEx Cup champions Jordan Spieth and Brandt Snedeker have made it back to the Tour Championship the season after winning the FedEx Cup.
Finau made the biggest jump of the four players who moved inside the top 30, an achievement that guarantees three major starts in 2017, and puts players in great position to make the PGA Championship. He started the week 39th in points, but shot a final-round 64 to finish T-7 and end up 24th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Finau’s week was capped by an 18-foot birdie make at his 72nd hole.
You know, I think if I wasn’t nervous I would be worried because I know I’m not caring enough, Finau said. I was able to just somehow get it in the hole when I needed to and, yeah, it’s such a gratifying feeling right now.
Cantlay advances to the Tour Championship with just 11 starts this season. He was ranked 1,424th in the world after a T-48 at Pebble Beach, his first start of the year. He entered this week No. 87.
You know, the way I’ve been playing, I expected to play well this week and I expected to make it to the Tour Championship, said Cantlay, who moved to 29th in points. I don’t know if it’s set in exactly yet, but it will definitely be nice when I get to sit at home at the end of this year after next week and pick all the tournaments I want to play.
Schauffele played his final six holes in 6 under to shot 67 and tie for 21st. He rose six spots to No. 26 in points.
A dream year for me, said Schauffele, who is one of two rookies to make it to East Lake, along with Cantlay. (Accomplished) pretty much every goal I came up with, and got to start creating some new ones.
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