A late fade and Viktor Hovland’s surge left him tied with Matt Fitzpatrick for second
OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – This was going to be Scottie Scheffler’s tournament.
He birdied six of the first 13 holes and led for much of the BMW Championship’s last round.
Alas, Scheffler played the final five in 1 over par – including a failure to birdie the par-5 15th, a missed 6-foot birdie putt on 16, and a three-putt bogey on 17 – while Viktor Hovland played them in 4 under for a course-record 61. The five-shot swing left Scheffler (66) two back and tied for second with Matt Fitzpatrick (66).
“I mean, I’m just a bit frustrated,” Scheffler said, “I think that would be the way to describe it. I mean, Viktor went out and really just beat me today and played a fantastic round. I can hold my head high and just – I did my best out there today and fought hard.”
Already the PGA TOUR leader with 15 top-10 finishes, including wins at the WM Phoenix Open and THE PLAYERS Championship, Scheffler now had a 16th top-10 and another near-miss.
The silver lining was that Scheffler will go into the season-ending TOUR Championship at East Lake in first place under the FedExCup Starting Strokes format for the second season in a row. Still, that was cold comfort. He had one hand on the trophy at Olympia Fields but it slipped through his fingers in the last hour of play.
The first sign of trouble was Scheffler’s failure to birdie the 15th after nearly reaching the green in two.
“Yeah, it was just a little bump-and-run,” he said. “I landed it maybe a foot short of where I wanted to, and then the second bounce was the one that really got me. I thought I was going to one-hop it onto the green, but it hit that Poa Annua and kind of stopped.” Left with a 13-foot birdie putt, Scheffler missed.
Still, it wasn’t over. He strafed his tee shot at the par-3 16th hole to 6 feet, 2 inches from the pin – but he missed that one, too. By the time he reached the 17th green, Scheffler found himself one behind Hovland, who had converted short-range birdie putts on 17 and 18 for a back-nine 28. For the first time all week, he was ahead.
Needing a birdie, Scheffler instead three-putted the 17th from just inside 22 feet to fall two back. It was, for all intents and purposes, over just like that. Neither he nor Fitzpatrick could eagle 18.
Although he also wound up two shots short, Fitzpatrick merely shrugged his shoulders at his T2 finish. Having started the week 40th in the FedExCup but played his way to next week’s TOUR Championship (he’s now 10th), he had a nice consolation prize. Besides, it seemed as if he spent much of Sunday chasing Scheffler.
“Yeah, played great,” Fitzpatrick said after congratulating Hovland. “Can’t do anything about 61. I did just see Viktor, I called him a little s—. But for me, just really pleased again that I played really well final round in contention with world No. 1, and I didn’t lose it. Someone else came from behind and won it.”
Scheffler has been in this position a lot lately. At one point this season, he posted 19 consecutive top-15 finishes – remarkable, and yet there was no way not to also see the missed opportunities, especially on the greens. While he was No. 1 in Strokes Gained: Total, he came into the BMW at 146th in Strokes Gained: Putting.
He putted well for much of Sunday, but in the end, the flatstick let him down again. For the round, he ranked 37th in Strokes Gained: Putting (-1.453). After a glimmer of hope Saturday (25 putts) his Sunday travails left him 38th (of 49) in Strokes Gained: Putting (-1.891) for the week, accounting for most of the deficit between him and Hovland.
Now Scheffler heads to East Lake to try for the TOUR Championship and decide the FedExCup.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” he said before heading for a shower and packing his bags, “but I approached the shots the way I wanted to today and just didn’t hole the putts there at the end.”
Source : PGA Tour