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FedExCup update: Jubilation, heartbreak defines the top 50 headed to the BMW Championship

FedExCup update: Jubilation, heartbreak defines the top 50 headed to the BMW Championship

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Hideki Matsuyama bounds through the TPC Southwind clubhouse, the momentum of his final six holes carrying him forward. Three birdies and an eagle in the gasping moments of Matsuyama’s season launched him from the brink of elimination to inside the top 50 bubble.

Matsuyama knows it. So does his manager Bob Turner, who swings his arm around his client as he finally catches up to him. The two let out a euphoric cheer as they strut into the locker room.

It was as though Matsuyama had just won the tournament – and in his own way, he did. He had yet to miss a TOUR Championship in his career. His closing stretch assured that streak continued. Job accomplished.

Not 50 yards away stood Nick Hardy. He was enjoying a similar run to Matsuyama, with three birdies in his last five holes before he stepped on the 18th hole. His demeanor was much different.

Matsuyama needed a par on the difficult closing hole to secure his Playoffs spot. He got it. Hardy needed another birdie. His tee shot found the water.

“Just sucks, I mean it really sucks,” said Hardy, choking back tears as he recounted the final-hole bogey that dropped him to 52nd in the FedExCup standings.

Matsuyama’s season continues. Hardy’s is over. Jubilation and heartbreak.

Those are the margins that make up the FedExCup Playoffs. Seventy players arrived at TPC Southwind but only 50 advanced to the BMW Championship, keeping their season alive and qualifying for next year’s slate of Signature Events. The bowels of the clubhouse were where players learned their fate. A mix of ear-to-ear smiles and faces hidden by sweat-drenched towels.

Matsuyama was one of two to play their way in, alongside Cam Davis. Outside the top 60 after bogeying the 12th, Matsuyama birdied the 13th and 15th. Then after a short weather delay, he eagled the 16th, sticking his approach to 9 feet on the gettable par 5, then birdied the 17th to resuscitate his chances.

“During the suspended play, I looked and saw what I needed to do on the final three holes,” he said. “Especially at 18, I looked up and saw I was 47th on the FedExCup list, which made that approach shot really difficult. I’m just happy that I was able to get it up-and-down.”

Usually a three out of 10 difficulty, Matsuyama said the chip felt more like an eight or nine out of 10 given the circumstances.

He wasn’t the only one to stare at leaderboards on the back nine. Mackenzie Hughes was trying not to, but inevitably as he stood over…


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