BMW Championships: Lahiri shoots 66 to finish top 10

While that was not enough to take him to the Tour Championships next week, it does put him in a great frame for the upcoming President’s Cup in 10 days time.

Anirban Lahiri closed his 2017 PGA season with a superb five-under 66, which saw him end the third leg of FedExCup play-offs with a top-10 finish at the BMW Championships.   -  AFP

Anirban Lahiri closed his 2017 PGA season with a superb five-under 66, which saw him end the third leg of FedExCup play-offs with a top-10 finish at the BMW Championships.

Lahiri, who opened the 2017 season, which began last October with a tied 3rd at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, closed with another top-10 finish and ended 51st in the final rankings.

While that was not enough to take him to the Tour Championships next week, it does put him in a great frame for the upcoming President’s Cup in 10 days time.

Lahiri, who had rounds of 67-71-68-66 was 12-under for the week in tied-9th place finish. It was his third top-10 of the season, after T-3 at CIMB and T-2 at the Memorial.

Marc Leishman, who started the day five shots clear of the field, was reduced to two clear of Justin Rose with four holes to go. But the Australian then sank birdies on 15th, 16th and 18th as Rose failed to add any more to his birdie count.

After weeks of struggling with his putting, Lahiri showed signs of some return to form, though he still missed a lot of putts inside 10 feet and some under five feet.

“It does feel great to go to the Presidents Cup with a good result at an event like the third leg of the FedExCup play-offs,” said Lahiri.

“Getting into the BMW Championships as the last man, and then getting a call from Nick (Price) for the Presidents Cup, this latest Top-10 is indeed a great run and I want to make the most of it at Liberty National (at Presidents Cup).”

Lahiri began aggressively with some excellent play and some huge putts. He birdied the first, third, fifth and sixth, but dropped a shot on second. On the back nine, he birdied the 15th and 16th for a five-under 66.

The highlight was the fifth and sixth, where he sank birdies from 33 feet and 48 feet, which would have done wonders for his confidence on the greens.

Leishman finished at 23-under for the week with the final round being 67, as Rose (65) tied with Rickie Fowler (67) at 18-under.

It was Leishman’s second victory this year, and it sends him to East Lake for the Tour Championships as the No. 4 seed in the FedEx Cup, giving him a clear shot at the USD 10 million prize.

Leishman finished at 23-under 261, breaking the 72-hole tournament record that Tiger Woods set at Cog Hill in 2007.

The timing was excellent as two weeks ago, the 33-year-old lost a two-shot lead on the back nine at the TPC Boston and he admitted that it hurt.

Rose is the only player who got within two shots of the lead, only for Leishman to answer with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole and a 10-footer for birdie on the 16th. Rose closed with a 65.

Fowler made a late run when he was too far back, and he needed one more birdie on the 18th to grab the No. 5 seed for the FedExCup finale next week at the TOUR Championship.

He ripped driver off the fairway and over the stream to the back rough. It was a bold play that preceded a pair of meagre efforts, a chip that came up 25 feet short, and a birdie putt that didn’t to the hole. He closed with a 67.

Jon Rahm birdied four of his last five holes for a 67 and will be the No. 5 seed.

Jordan Spieth shot 65 to tie for seventh and kept the No. 1 seed, followed by Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Leishman and Rahm.

The points are reset to give all 30 players at East Lake a mathematical chance, but the top five seeds only have to win the TOUR Championship to capture the FedExCup.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia injected more drama than necessary.

He figured he needed a par on the final hole to get into the top 30 when a bogey would have worked. His second shot was on the rocks in the stream, and after taking close to 30 minutes on a drop, he hit it over the green into the grandstand, got more relief, and then got up-and-down for his par.

Phil Mickelson wasn’t so fortunate. He made three bogeys on the front nine and tried to get back in the game with an eagle on the reachable par-4 15th. Needing an eagle on the 18th hole to make it to East Lake, Mickelson’s 140-foot pitch-and-run hit the hole and popped out.

Leishman earlier this year won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The third victory of his tour career was by far the biggest, and went far beyond the strong field, the USD 1,575,000 paycheck or his standing in the FedExCup.