getting late, early

Tour Championship bubble is tight and right now Jordan Spieth would be first man out

August 19, 2023

Michael Reaves

The longer the season goes, the tighter the FedEx Cup race gets. Just the way the PGA Tour likes it. And while the leader in points will start the Tour Championship next week with an automatic two-shot lead, just qualifying to play at East Lake is turning out to be a dramatic race of another kind.

With 18 holes remaining Sunday in the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields, Jordan Spieth sits 31st in projected FedEx Cup standings, making him the first man out as it stands. The three-time major champion started the week 27th in points but has played progressively worse over the three days outside Chicago, shooting 68-70-72.

During Saturday’s third round he was even par after 14 holes with one bogey and one birdie but made bogey on Nos. 15 and 18 to drop into a tie for 30th place in the tournament and move to 31st in FedEx Cup projected points. He trails Denny McCarthy by just a miniscule 2.902 points.

Spieth was 31st in the final standings in 2018 and missed out on the Tour Championship by one position.

McCarthy would be the last man in after a third-round 65 that included five birdies. He’s tied for seventh place in the championship at seven under, four shots behind leaders Scottie Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick. McCarthy has never qualified for the Tour Championship.

“I kind of just had a don't-care attitude today and I was just going to commit to the shot, hit it, go find it and hit the next one,” McCarthy said. “That's going to be the plan again tomorrow. If I do that again, and probably going to have to hit it a little better off the tee to give myself some more chances instead of scrambling and fighting, but if I just keep the same mindset I had today, I think I'll be in good shape tomorrow.”

Elsewhere around the bubble: Justin Rose entered the week 32nd in points, is tied for seventh place in the tournament and is projected 26th in FedEx Cup points; Jason Day, Chris Kirk and Tyrrell Hatton are Nos. 27-29 respectively; The next four after Spieth in positions 31-34 are Emiliano Grillo, Sepp Straka, Sahith Theegala and Adam Svensson.

Also on the line are automatic selections for the U.S. Ryder Cup team as the top six in points at the end of Sunday’s final round will qualify for next month’s matches. U.S. Captain Zach Johnson will then get six picks to round out his roster after the Tour Championship.