NORTON, Mass. – You could forgive Abraham Ancer if he didn’t sleep well Sunday night. The PGA Tour rookie and 54-hole leader at the Dell Technologies Championship had history working against him. Seven of the last eight winners at this event came from behind in the final round to claim victory, and six won after starting the last round two or more shots back.
Ancer also had Bryson DeChambeau, the winner of last week’s Northern Trust, working against him. DeChambeau came into Monday’s final round playing well and with a legitimate chance to be the first player since Vijay Singh in 2008 to win each of the first two FedEx Cup playoff events.
Maybe Ancer knew all that, and maybe he didn’t. Either way, those stats need to updated because after making three consecutive birdies at Nos. 7-9, DeChambeau pulled away from the field and held on down the stretch to win at TPC Boston.
Finishing at 16 under 268, DeChambeau shot 67 to beat England’s Justin Rose (68) by two shots and Australia’s Cameron Smith (69) by three.
“I’m playing golf at the highest level and winning at the highest level,” DeChambeau said.
With his second win in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, DeChambeau is guaranteed to be ranked No. 1 on the FedEx Cup point list heading into the Tour Championship in Atlanta. That week, any player ranked in the top five on the FedEx Cup point list who wins the Tour Championship also will win the overall FedEx Cup title and the $10 million prize.
DeChambeau, who turns 25 on Sept. 16, is morphing into one of golf’s elite players. Entering the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he had two PGA Tour wins – the 2017 John Deere Classic and the 2018 Memorial – and many golf fans knew him more as the guy who plays irons that are all the same length, who used a compass to help determine where the holes are in yardage books and who turns putts into quizzes in Euclidean geometry.
Now he has four wins, has shown he can hoist the hardware starting with a big lead or coming from behind and has won over $7.8 million in prize money this season.
“When I got to a four-shot lead, after 11, I think, I said, all right, this is now kind of like last week,” DeChambeau said. “Let’s keep the focus, keep executing the right shots and hit it into the middle of the greens and making great strokes on putts. Hopefully, they go in, if they don’t, just tap it in.”
As composed and collected as DeChambeau appeared Sunday, he wasn’t perfect. Rose’s birdies at 17 and 18 came too late to put real pressure on the American, but Smith applied some down the stretch. On 16 he hit his tee shot on the 190-yard par 3 to 12 feet and made the birdie putt to reach 14 under and pull within a shot of DeChambeau.
But playing the 15th hole, DeChambeau responded by hitting a 309-yard tee shot and 102-yard wedge shot that stopped 8 feet from the hole. He drained the birdie putt, and when Smith made a bogey on the par-5 18th, DeChambeau could par his way to a win.
“The 3-wood out there and the wedge to 8 feet, that was it, that’s why I play golf right there,” he said. “Make that birdie and come off the green confident.”
It was clear well before DeChambeau and Ancer teed off at 1:45 p.m. that low scores were available.
Phil Mickelson got off to a hot start and carded a 31 on the front nine, then made three more birdies on the back to shoot a final-round 63.
“It feels really good to put it all together. I feel like over the course of the last couple of months I’ve been turning 65s and 66s into 71s and 72s,” Mickelson said. “Today I was able to get off to a good start and maintain it, make a couple of crucial pars in the middle of the round to keep the round going and had really a nice day.”
Hideki Matsuyama also bolted up the leaderboard as DeChambeau and Ancer played their opening holes. His 65 included five consecutive birdies on Nos. 3-7, but a pair of bogeys on 11 and 12 wound up taking him out of contention.
Dustin Johnson and Aaron Wise shot 64s, Justin Thomas matched Matsuyama’s 65, and Bubba Watson and Adam Scott were among the four players who shot 66.
Rose made a late move up the leaderboard with four birdies in his last six holes.
“You’re trying to win these amazingly important golf tournaments, but in the back of your mind you’re trying to secure yourself into the final one at East Lake in Atlanta,” Rose said. With the runner-up finish, Rose moved from sixth to third on the FedEx Cup point list, while Smith’s third-place finish moved him from 16th to eighth.
Ancer, who shot 73 on Monday, moved from No. 92 to 56.
Only the players ranked in the top 70 in the FedEx Cup points move on to play this week’s BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa.
Ted Potter Jr., who shot 68 Monday, wound up as lucky Mr. 70. Peter Uihlein moved from 83 to 64 thanks to finishing tied for 12th. Tyrrell Hatton, who started the day at 12 under and shot 73, also finished T-12 and moved from 71 to 54.
Among the notable players whose seasons ended at TPC Boston are Ryan Moore (71), Stewart Cink (73), Jimmy Walker (75), Matt Kuchar (76) and J.B. Holmes (82). Gwk