FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Not long after signing for a final-round 73 at The Barclays, Jonas Blixt dumped his golf clubs in the back seat of his courtesy car, threw on some flip-flops, then headed back to the clubhouse at Bethpage Black. His work on Sunday was done, but not everything had been finalized.
“I’m trying not to look,” Blixt said. “Someone said I should be locked in by now, but you never know.”
Less than an hour later, the rental car was gone. Blixt was headed to Boston.
With only the top 100 players on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points list advancing to this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, Sunday provided one final opportunity for those flirting with the cutoff number, such as Blixt, to make their case for inclusion.
Nick Watney won the tournament, shooting a 2-under-par 69 to finish at 10 under and beat Brandt Snedeker (70) by three shots, taking over the top spot on a points list that will pay $10 million to its champion next month. But for Blixt and a handful of others, the goal at The Barclays compared favorably to the wish lists of so many other team sports when the playoffs arrive: survive and shuffle off to the next round.
Six players who showed up on Long Island outside the top 100 earned enough points at The Barclays to qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship. Besides Blixt, who began the week at No. 101, the others cashing in last-minute tickets to TPC Boston were Tommy Gainey (102), Bob Estes (103), Graham DeLaet (106), David Hearn (108), and Jason Day (113).
Day also made up the most ground on Sunday; he began the final round projected to finish 115th on the points list, but a 66 – the day’s best score – pushed him to 88th.
Perhaps the player with the toughest task was Hearn, a 33-year-old Canadian whose playoff run ended at The Barclays last year. Hearn needed to finish inside the top 45 to secure his spot, and began the final round tied for 18th. But he was paired for the first time with Tiger Woods, never an easy assignment because of the extra distractions that come with it. Did he ever wonder if such a pressure pairing would produce a high final-round score and an early ticket home?
“No, I shot 67 on Saturday, so I certainly didn’t have any thoughts of shooting a big number today,” Hearn said. “It was a good day for me to really learn how to focus in a situation like that, and I think I did a pretty good job.”
Hearn shot 71, tied for 10th, and outplayed Woods (76), jumping 41 spots to No. 67.
The week’s biggest mover was DeLaet, who used a tie for fifth to improve 62 places, from 106th to 44th.
Roberto Castro figured he was playing with house money simply by being in the field at Bethpage Black. Castro was on the bubble at No. 100 when the tournament started, knowing that a good week was mandatory if a successful rookie season was to include a second playoff tournament. Opening with 76 hurt the cause, but he made a hole-in-one on No. 14 in the second round and shot 67 to make the cut, then went 69-71 on the weekend. Now he’ll play in another $8 million playoff event, and squeeze in some sightseeing, as well.
“I’ve never been to Boston, and the last two or three years I’ve talked about taking a vacation up there because I’ve heard good things,” said Castro, who tied for 24th to move up 20 places on the points list. “To be one of the best 100 players this year is a real accomplishment. This is my rookie year, and you think your whole life about whether you’re going to be good enough to play out here or not, you wonder. It’s fun to find out.”
The six players who fell out of the top 100: John Mallinger (who came in 88th), Will Claxton (89), Chad Campbell (91), Andres Romero (93), Fredrik Jacobson (95), and Chris Stroud (99). All but Jacobson missed the cut; Jacobson tied for 67th.
Among those not jumping into the top 100 was James Driscoll, the Boston resident who was trying to put the Deutsche Bank Championship on his schedule for the first time as a playoff event. Driscoll, who came here 115th on the points list, shot 77 in the final round and finished 75th.
Now the scene shifts to Boston, with the Deutsche Bank Championship once again deciding its winner on Labor Day. Come next Monday, only the top 70 will advance to the third playoff event, the BMW Championship in Indianapolis. Brian Davis, at No. 70, is the new bubble boy — at least until the first shots are hit Friday, when the real-time projection machine will start working again.