PARAMUS, N.J. — With his third career PGA Tour victory on Sunday at the Northern Trust, Bryson DeChambeau moved to first in the FedEx Cup standings, strengthened his case to be selected by American captain Jim Furyk for the Ryder Cup and, oh yeah, made more than $1.6 million, which puts him past the $6 million mark in total earnings this season. Nobody had a better week than the eccentric rising star, and only a fool would argue otherwise.
That being said, there were several players who made the most of their opportunities at Ridgewood Country Club this weekend. With just 100 spots available at TPC Boston for the Dell Technologies Championship, and then just 70 for the following week for the third leg of the playoffs, the BMW Championship at Aronimink, a handful of golfers needed to make a big move in the standings to increase their chances of getting into the Tour Championship. And as we know, it literally pays to get to East Lake. So while these pros didn't win, they had almost as good of a week as DeChambeau. Here's six in particularly who came up clutch in New Jersey.
After a career season in 2017 that saw him win his second straight RBC Canadian Open and make nearly $3 million, 2018 has been a lean year for Vegas. The 34-year-old Venezuelan posted just one top-10 in 25 starts this season, and that came back in January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Coming into the Wyndham Championship at 122nd on the points list, Vegas was in need of a good week to feel safe about getting into the playoffs, but instead, he missed the cut.
Fortunately that only dropped him to 123rd, which got him a spot at the Northern Trust that he took advantage of by finishing in a tie for 15th at nine under. That result jumped him 36 spots in the standings, all the way to 87th, putting him in striking distance of the top 70. If he can build on that at TPC Boston, Vegas could be in line to make it to at least the third leg of the playoffs for the third straight year.
In 2012, Watney won the Northern Trust (then called the Barclays) at Bethpage Black. It was the fifth PGA Tour win of his burgeoning career, and it appeared as though many more were to come. Six year later, however, it was actually his last, his winless drought coming in part due to injuries. But Watney has quietly put a decent season together in 2017-'18, one that included his best individual finish since 2015, a T-2 at the Wells Fargo Championship. He'd also amassed $1.1 million in earnings coming into the the week, eclipsing his combined earnings from the last two seasons on tour.
Still, that was only good enough to get to 102nd in the FedEx Cup standings, meaning he needed a good week to get into the top 100. Watney did that and then some, tying for 11th thanks to a final-round 69 and jumping 35 spots to 67th. It gets him to the second leg of the playoffs for the first time since 2015, the same year he also made the third leg, which he's got a great chance of doing again now that he's in the top 70. The Tour Championship remains a long shot, but if he can get into East Lake, it'll be his first start there since 2013.
Of the six players on our list, Burgoon faced the tallest task this weekend after posting a second-round 73 that dropped him to one under, barely inside the cut line. At 111th in the standings, his chances of making it to Boston looked bleak, but the former Texas A&M standout took it deep on the weekend, posting rounds of 67 and 66 to leap all the way to 73rd in the standings. Burgoon, 31, struggled in his first go round on the PGA Tour in 2016, failing to register a top-10 and missing out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs entirely. After earning his way back with a strong 2017 campaign on the Web.com Tour, Burgoon has fared better with his second chance, most notably at the John Deere Classic, where he tied for second. After missing his next three cuts, he came to Ridgewood ice cold, but his stellar weekend play could make this a life-changing season for Burgoon.
One of the best stories that didn't involve Tiger Woods at Bellerive was the return of Scott to the top of the leader board. The 2013 Masters champion had lost his way since his outstanding 2016 season that included two victories. While he did collect four top-10s in 2017, it was a quiet season for the Aussie, and his 2018 season followed a similar trend up until a pair of top 11 finishes in back-to-back starts at the Players Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson. He nearly put it altogether at the PGA, finishing in solo third. Scott built on that this week at Ridgewood, posting another top-five and moving from 73rd to 40th in the FedEx Cup standings. After missing the Tour Championship in 2017, Scott looks like he could be heading back where he belongs.
No one made a bigger leap this week than Palmer, who came in at 100th in the standings, right on the edge of the Dell Technologies cut off. After a one-over 72 on Saturday, Palmer responded with a final-round 65 that included a chip-in eagle at the par-5 third hole. The round put him in a tie for fifth, giving him his third finish inside the top eight this year and moving him 50 spots up into 50th. Now, he looks safely into the third leg of the playoffs, the BMW Championship, where he'll try to punch his ticket to Atlanta for just the third time in his career, the last appearance coming in 2014.
At 53rd in the standings beginning the week, Smith had to feel safe he'd be playing at least three times, but why not make it four? With his strong performance this week, he is well on his way to the Tour Championship, finishing in a tie for third to move up to 16th in the standings. Smith, 25, came out of the gates strong this season, starting back in the fall with a T-5 at the CIMB Classic and a solo third in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. He kept it rolling into the spring with a T-6 at Riviera and a T-5 at the Masters. But he faded after that, missing five straight cuts after a T-32 at the RBC Heritage, and then finishing outside the top 50 in the season's final two majors. As we've seen in the FedEx Cup Playoffs before though, a few good weeks can erase any bad memories very quickly. Don't be surprised if Smith breaks through in the next month, similarly to how Xander Schauffele did a season ago.