By Ernie Els
Well, that was a bit too close for comfort really! But I’m in. I’ll be teeing it up at next week’s BMW Championship, the third playoff event in this year’s FedEx Cup, and quite relieved to be having the opportunity.
In the first couple of rounds at the Deutsche Bank I did exactly what I had to do, hit more fairways and greens than I have recently and made fewer mistakes. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was solid enough. Rounds of 66 and 69 had me in a nice position going into the final two days, around the tied-20th mark and looking to move upwards and make safe that spot inside the top-70 on the FedEx Cup rankings. That was the magic number.
I didn’t play quite as well in Sunday’s third round, but managed to finish with three straight birdies to shoot 68 and that was important. It got me in touch with where we needed to be on the leaderboard, in tied-24th. There were lots of possibilities and mathematical permutations, but my guess was we’d need to climb further up the leaderboard in order to stay in this race.
My target at the start of the day was to get to 14-under par, which would mean shooting a 4-under par round of 67, so it was important to make a move early and get some momentum going. Two birdies in my first four holes, that was good, but after that it was pars all the way – not a disaster, obviously, but still a bit frustrating. All day I kind of knew that it was right on the line and playing with Brendan Steele he was in the same boat, basically.
Anyway, after signing for a 2-under par 69 and a 12-under par aggregate, it was hard to be confident. There were so many players yet to complete their rounds, and so many little twists and turns that could come. As I said before, we felt that 14-under would be safe and I didn't quite do that. It was disappointing; it felt like I’d just missed the cut to be honest. For a while I was out of the top-70, but a few of the guys made some bogeys coming in and that elevated me up into 70th place and that’s where we are this morning. Just good enough!
Having had a night to reflect on it, I’m pretty pleased with my performance at the Deutsche Bank. To go there and shoot four rounds in the 60s, the first time I’ve done that on the PGA Tour this season, was a decent effort especially in the circumstances. I can take a fair degree of satisfaction from that.
This coming week is completely free, so I can just be at home and do my own thing, work on my game and get myself ready for the BMW Championship. We’ll be at the Tom Fazio-designed Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Chicago, which is a new venue for this tournament. Some of the players were talking about it last week and saying it’s a fantastic golf course in great condition and with a set-up where we might get some low scoring. We’ll see.
Of the 70 players who tee it up in the BMW, only 30 will progress to the following week’s Tour Championship. No point doing the calculations. I’ve just got to take care of my own business and try to win the golf tournament.
I’ll write again soon.