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    This Year’s U.S. Open Spotlights Ben Hogan’s Claim to a Fifth

    For almost 100 years, the hallmark of the United States Open has been the qualifying procedure. It’s integral to the very nature of the Open, as the tournament is open to all comers — provided they have an official handicap index of 1.4 or better.Usually the Open field is composed of 156 players, with half of them qualifying via prior performance and the other half through a series of grueling qualifying rounds. The Open is played on some of the finest courses in the land, under the most rigorous conditions imaginable, but the need to first qualify through superlative play is paramount.It is this requirement of having to earn one’s way into the championship that clearly sets the Open apart as the most democratic of all of golf’s tournaments.Typically, there are 9,000 to 10,000 applicants for local qualifying at about 115 sites across the country, with successful qualifiers moving on to 10 regional qualifying sites in the United States. There are also additional international qualifying rounds, with regionals in Canada, England and Japan. Most years, about 78 players are fully exempt into the championship and qualify through a variety of categories — winners of the major tournaments over the past several years, winners of other U.S.G.A. events in the past year, high finishers on various money lists and the like.Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S.G.A. canceled all qualifying and replaced it by deliberately selecting players picked from several golf performance lists for approximately half the field with the other half coming from the fully exempt categories as usual. Because of the change of dates for the tournament — to mid-September from mid-June — the field was reduced to 144 players, a result of the fewer hours of available sunlight in the fall than in the summer that is critical to completing the first two rounds with a much larger field.The goal was to mirror — as closely as possible — the average composition of the various player categories over the past few years and fit play into the available light. John Bodenhamer, the U.S.G.A.’s senior managing director, in charge of the Open, acknowledged that the goal was to mirror the average composition of the past few years. “This has been a very challenging year, and to go without qualifying is deeply disappointing to us,” he said.However, the U.S.G.A.’s category selections were somewhat arbitrary — for example, this year’s inclusion of players off the Official World Golf Ranking list was increased to 70 from 60; 13 amateurs, always a fixture in the Open, were included, down from the 18 who played their way into the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.Without the qualifying rounds, there won’t be any wonderful, compelling stories about the young assistant pro at a small club who overcomes all odds to qualify or the heartwarming tale of the senior amateur who first played in the Open 25 years before and finally made it back. The U.S.G.A. takes great joy in publicizing those individuals.Also missing will be the ultimate Cinderella stories — the players who had to go through the qualifying rounds and went on to win the U.S. Open — Ken Venturi in 1964, Orville Moody in 1969, Steve Jones in 1996, Michael Campbell in 2005 and Lucas Glover in 2009.Because of the elimination of local and sectional qualifying, this year’s Open is tantamount to an invitational tournament. But the winner’s name will appear on the U.S. Open trophy right there with the greats of the game. His scores will go in the official U.S.G.A. record book and he’ll also receive the same gold medal as those legendary players.As a counterpoint, consider the case of the 1942 Open. It was called the Hale America Open, but it came to be known as the Wartime U.S. Open. It was conducted by the U.S.G.A., with an assist from the Chicago District Golf Association and the PGA of America, and was played at Ridgemoor Country Club in Chicago on the traditional mid-June dates for the U.S. Open.Most significantly, it featured local and sectional qualifying conducted by the U.S.G.A.Virtually all of the top players were there; players who had already won a major or would go on to win one. Bobby Jones even came out of retirement to play.Without a doubt, it had all of the trappings of the U.S. Open.Ben Hogan won by three strokes over Mike Turnesa and Jimmy Demaret, and by four over Byron Nelson, shooting 17-under-par 271 for the tournament. Hogan’s Open appeared for many years in the official record book. And the gold medal that Hogan was presented with by the president of the U.S.G.A., George Blossom, was visually identical to the other four he would go on to win. There was one very slight exception — the background of a small field of stars on the face of the medal, about half the size of a pinkie fingernail, is not painted blue as it is normally in the ones that winners get for winning the Open.The threshold question then is, if this year’s U.S. Open, without local and sectional qualifying — the bedrock principle underpinning the U.S. Open — is considered official, shouldn’t Hogan’s name be added to the iconic trophy and his records put back in the official record book as well?Hogan always believed he won five U.S. Opens, though U.S.G.A. removed the 1942 victory from their record book and did not engrave his name on the trophy. Restoring his fifth title would also change another bit of Open history: Hogan’s 62 in the second round would also count as the lowest score in the tournament’s history. More

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    Who Is Davis Thompson? A Young Amateur on a Hot Streak at Golf’s U.S. Open

    Davis Thompson is filling the role of the fast-starting amateur at this year’s United States Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y. While he’s still near the top, here’s the lowdown.What Has He Accomplished?Thompson is a senior at the University of Georgia, where he was a finalist for the college player of the year award. Georgia has produced a number of PGA players, including Bubba Watson.Thompson’s amateur wins include the 2020 Jones Cup Invitational, an event in Georgia previously won by Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed.Thompson is currently the fourth-ranked amateur golfer in the world, which qualified him for the U.S. Open. He has played in two PGA Tour events this season, finishing tied for 23rd at the R.S.M. Classic in Georgia, where his father is tournament director, and missing the cut at the Puerto Rico Open. He has never previously played in a major.How Did He Do Thursday?Thompson got off to a fast start, birdieing six, seven and eight, then adding another at 11 to briefly lead the tournament.He came back down to earth at the end of his round, bogeying three late holes to finish at minus-1, four strokes off the lead.Perhaps he was helped by playing with two Georgia alums, Harris English and Brendon Todd. They each did him one better, shooting minus-2.Thompson’s caddie is his father, Todd, who also played golf for Georgia.What Did He Say?“I mean I’m nervous, but that also just comes with it,” he told the Georgia student publication Red and Black before the tournament. “This is my first major ever, you only get one, so I’m going to try to enjoy it as much as I can.”“I got off to a great start,” he told Golf Week after his round. “I hit a lot of fairways coming out of the gate, which kind of gave me a lot of comfort at the start. Then I just missed a few fairways coming in and had to hack it out and try to get up and down. Unfortunately, I didn’t,”Is It Time to Get Excited?Maybe not. It’s not uncommon for amateurs to fire off a good first round at majors.At least year’s Open, Viktor Hovland was four shots off the pace after a round and wound up 12th. That was better than expectation, actually.In 2018, Luis Gagne and Will Grimmer were four strokes back. They finished 48th and 66th. In 2017 it was Scottie Scheffler. He wound up 27th.Thompson and his fellow Georgia Bulldogs tee off at 12:54 Eastern on Friday. More

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    Snow Golf? In Switzerland, Where the Greens Are White

    For years, golf has been associated with lush greens, bluebird skies and a Whitman’s sampler of riotous plaids and checks. But few know the sport has also quietly embraced winter whites, particularly in ski-crazy Switzerland.In 2021, the Engadin Snow Golf Cup will enter its 42nd year in Switzerland’s Engadine Valley, home to St. Moritz, and its famed diamond dust skies and scenic alpine golf courses dating to 1889. What started as a lark in one of Switzerland’s sunniest winter sports destinations, has become a bona fide sport that’s not only drawn golf enthusiasts but has begun to lure second home buyers seeking winter recreational activities adjacent to the snowy piste.Winter golfing might sound odd, but the alps of southern Switzerland are especially sunny and offer a refuge for golfers from northern European countries who may not feel like hauling their nine irons on a plane for a few rounds farther afield. What’s more, snow golf offers an active but less-risky alternative to skiing. This has all led to a surge in popularity in predictable places like Germany, Austria, Canada and the United States (including popular golf destinations like Colorado, California, Wisconsin and North Carolina) but also off-the-golf-radar spots like Argentina, Greenland and Finland.It has also drawn enthusiasts to buy nearby property. “Winter golf is just one of many offerings that make Switzerland’s Engadine Valley attractive for second home buyers, and a few have even bought here solely because of that,” said Ramun Ratti, the managing director at Engadine Golf Course, home to two 18-hole courses; it will host the Snow Golf Cup in January. “But snow golf is and will probably always be niche.”ImageWinter golfing might sound odd, but the alps of southern Switzerland are especially sunny.While images of winter golf on frozen lakes can be found as far back as 17th-century Dutch paintings, it’s believed by some that modern snow golf started with St. Moritz’s former resort manager, Peter Kasper, who took up the idea of converting the putting greens to whites in 1904, which turned into reality with the first tournament in 1979, held on a frozen Lake St. Moritz. (The tournament moved in 1996, and today nine holes are played in a snow field in Surlej near Silvaplana Lake.)There are, of course, significant differences with regular golf. The “whites” need a lot of manual grooming to make the surface around the hole compact, and the balls are orange and the golf holes three times bigger than regulation size. But the trade-off is something special, enthusiasts say.“Winter golf is an amazing experience,” said Caroline Rominger, a professional golfer and Engadine native. “It can be quite cold, but when the sun comes out, we often play without jackets.”The Alps play host to another tournament, the Barnes Winter Golf Cup, which is entering its fourth year in 2021. The annual host of the event rotates between four different alpine resorts: Courchevel, Megève, and Val d’Isére, in France; and Crans-Montana, in Switzerland’s Canton Valais, host of the Omega European Masters and one of eight golf courses in the canton.ImageThe Bürgenstock Alpine Spa.As the popularity of snow golf tournaments has grown, so has demand for nearby real estate.Switzerland has had a wave of new golf residences, resorts and courses open in recent years, including Bürgenstock, a resort complex of hotels and residences perched above turquoise Lake Lucerne and once home to Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren. In 2017, its scenic nine-hole course offering views of mountains like Eiger, Jungfrau, Pilatus and Titlis, reopened. Andermatt’s network of high-altitude residences and a 18-hole course just below the Gotthard Pass opened in 2016, while Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, the spa resort, reopened in 2019 with three hotels and seven restaurants, including two with two Michelin stars each.The next generation of Switzerland’s golf communities includes Golf Resort La Gruyère, scheduled to reopen in 2023 after a major refurbishment. Not all courses offer snow golf, but demand is growing and having fun is the goal.“Snow golf is not about scores,” said Eveline Fasser Testa, a regular player who lives in St. Moritz. “The chance that you’ll find your ball in the deep snow is unlikely. It’s more about the experience of playing golf in the winter and having a great day.” More

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    Should You Buy in a Golf Community or Outside It?

    When it comes to finding a golf home, prospective buyers have two ways to go: purchasing in a community with a golf club or outside it and near a golf club, which could be in a community that offers membership to nonresidents.“For decades, golf home buyers bought most communities, but since the 2008 recession, the trend has gone the other way,” said Jason Becker, the chief executive of Golf Life Navigators, a matchmaking site that helps people find golf memberships and homes based on their criteria.So should you buy inside the gates or out? Here are some factors to consider before closing the sale.Home Maintenance CostsIn a community: Buying a home within a golf community generally requires joining its homeowner’s association (H.O.A.) which, according to Mr. Becker, costs roughly $1,000-plus per quarter in many communities.The association usually manage your home’s lawn care and pest prevention, and maintain common areas such as the clubhouse and pool. Storm preparedness is also within the purview of an H.O.A., Mr. Becker said.The downsides may include the high price and not having a choice of who services your community’s maintenance programs (that is mandated by the H.O.A.), but the benefit is the convenience. “You don’t have to think about when you need to have your lawn mowed or care factors because the H.O.A. manages it,” Mr. Becker said.Outside a community: When you live in a home outside a golf community, the financial advantage is that you don’t have a fixed maintenance cost and can compare prices when choosing your care providers. This could be less expensive in the long run, and you’re not forced to fund amenities you don’t use. On the other hand, you are responsible for scheduling and paying for lawn maintenance, pool cleaning and other upkeep.Costs of Being a MemberIn a community: In some communities, a home purchase includes membership to the golf club; these communities are considered “bundled” ones and an ideal option for avid but budget-conscious golfers.More often than not, however, said Michael Timmerman, the chief market intelligence officer for Club Benchmarking, a financial analysis company for member-owned clubs (including ones in communities), home buyers have to pay an additional fee to join the golf club and use facilities such as the gym and pool. “You’re looking at an initiation fee plus annual dues that add up to thousands of dollars a year and don’t have a choice in picking your club,” he said.Outside a community: Golf enthusiasts may end up saving money by living outside of a community, according to Mr. Timmerman, because they can choose from different clubs in the area and join the most appealing and affordable one. They also usually have the option to transfer their membership — a benefit that’s sometimes not available to buyers in communities.Ability to Rent Your HomeInside a community: Chris Charnas, the founder of Links Capital Advisors, a real-estate broker specializing in sales of golf courses and communities, said that many H.O.A.s don’t allow residents to rent out their homes for additional income. “They don’t want strangers living within the community, so if you’re not living in your home year-round, it’s sitting there empty, and you’re still paying expenses,” he said.If a community allows rentals, keep in mind that the homeowner and the renter often have to follow strict protocols. For example, the owner may have to fill out a lengthy application to transfer their membership to the renter. Also, renters may only be able to play golf under “guest” policies, which, for example, could state that they’re allowed on the course only during certain hours or have to pay a fee for each round.Outside a community: In a noncommunity golf home, you have the freedom to rent out your property, whether it’s for a longer period of several months or for a few days occasionally through a third-party rental site like Airbnb. “If renting your home is part of your master plan, I would suggest finding a home outside the gates of a community,” Mr. Becker said.The Noise FactorIn a community: Some noise is a given whether you live in or outside of a community, but living within the gates means that there is less likelihood of late-night partying. However, golf course maintenance vehicles during early morning hours, some of which can be loud, are common. If you’re considering a home on or hear a golf hole, make sure to ask those maintenance schedule questions so you don’t catch any surprise alarm clocks.Outside a community: A big advantage to living outside the community when considering noise is not having to worry about course maintenance schedules. On the other hand, you are most likely to be near interstates or busy roads.SafetyIn a community: The safety factor of living in a gated environment is one of the biggest drivers for buying a home within a community. “Safety has become even more paramount for golf home buyers since Covid,” Mr. Timmerman said. Most gated clubs have a front gate security booth where all visitors check in and get a pass before they are allowed to enter. Gated communities also have security guards who regularly patrol the streets.Outside a community: If you’re not living in a community, you’re relying on the overall safety of your neighborhood and local law enforcement for security. Many areas also have neighborhood patrol programs in which residents volunteer to drive through the streets to watch for any suspicious activity.Sense of CommunityIn a community: Golf Life Navigators, who help golfers find homes and courses, conducted a recent survey of 25,000 people and found that the top reason for home buyers to live in a community is the opportunities it offers to socialize. Mr. Becker said that communities host regular events for residents including barbecues and game and movie nights. “Your social life is created for you, and outside of events, there are more organic opportunities to connect,” he said. On the other hand, a possible drawback is that you don’t fit in with the club’s overall culture.Outside a community: While home buyers outside of communities can mingle with others through their golf clubs, they tend to miss out on the sense of belonging and close-knit feel that community residents get. “You have to work harder to connect with others as a nonresident,” Mr. Becker said.AmenitiesIn a community: Mr. Charnas said that amenities are a top perk of community life. Examples vary by community but could include a pool, green spaces, tennis courts, multiple restaurants, a spa, a gym, hiking and biking trails and a kids’ center — all within walking distance of your home. “Communities offer a lot more diversions these days than just golf and attract plenty of nongolfers,” he said.Outside a community: Amenities are more limited for a noncommunity home. “The neighborhood your house is in may have a playground or park at best,” Mr. Charnas said. On the other hand, if you’re a resident member at a community club, you may be able to access its amenities. A word of caution: before joining a community’s club, be sure to understand your financial commitment as a nonresident member; you could still be on the hook for any capital contributions.Architectural DesignIn a community: Generally, to keep the look of properties consistent, golf communities have homes that are built in one or a handful of architectural styles, leaving buyers with limited options for the exterior look of their home. If your home’s architecture is more important to you than the golf club, Mr. Becker suggested finding a property to suit your tastes first and then consider the club.Outside a community: When you don’t live in a community, you have the freedom to choose your home’s architecture. But you are also at the mercy of your neighbors and their design preferences; a neighborhood with too many varying styles has the potential to lower the market value of your home.Ability to Sell Your Home and Leave the ClubIn a community: In the event you want to leave the club, the process isn’t always hassle-free and can be costly. You’re likely to lose your initiation fee as a nonequity member but may have to keep paying annual dues until you’ve been replaced by a new member if you have an equity position.When selling your home, most communities have a residential real estate broker or expert who can help sell your property, but keep in mind that the financial state of a club has a big impact on property values, according to Mr. Timmerman and Mr. Becker.Outside a community: A benefit of living outside of a golf community is avoiding any potential threats of depreciation of a golf community home. While you take a financial risk wherever you buy, the risk may be greater buying a home in a club community that could have money struggles in the future. However, whether you live in a club community or not, resigning your membership can be just as pricey. More

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    Pinehurst Awarded Four More U.S. Opens

    The United States Golf Association, which conducts the U.S. Open, announced on Wednesday that Pinehurst, a North Carolina resort and cradle of American golf, would become the first venue designated as a recurring site for the tournament. The resort’s showcase course, known as Pinehurst No. 2, was already scheduled to host the event in 2024 but will now also have the championship in 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.The U.S. Open, one of golf’s four major championships, has been played 119 times at golf courses around the country, with several venerable layouts making regular appearances. Next week, for example, the 2020 U.S. Open will be contested at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., for the sixth time.But as part of the U.S.G.A.’s goal to hold its signature event more frequently at revered, familiar golf courses, the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club has been established as an anchor site. In addition, other U.S.G.A. championships, including the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Amateur, will be played there more frequently.The association also announced that its influential equipment testing facility, a laboratory that determines which golf balls and clubs conform to the rules of golf, will move from the U.S.G.A.’s main headquarters in New Jersey to North Carolina. A museum and a visitor’s center will also be part of the association’s presence at Pinehurst by 2023. The bulk of the U.S.G.A.’s staff will remain at the organization’s current New Jersey headquarters.“There is no better place for the U.S.G.A. to plant new roots,” Mike Davis, the U.S.G.A.’s chief executive, said in a statement. He added: “We are taking a bold step forward and forging a long-term commitment that will elevate our championships, foster greater innovation in golf, and ultimately help grow the game.” More

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    Dustin Johnson Completes Long Climb to Win FedEx Cup

    ATLANTA — Dustin Johnson hit his stride at just the right time and it paid off in a big way.Johnson finally won the FedEx Cup on Monday by holding his nerve, hitting just enough fairways and making a few key putts when his lead began to shrink. He tapped in for birdie on the last hole for a 2-under 68, giving him a three-shot victory over Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele in the Tour Championship.Johnson won the $15 million prize, the biggest in golf. Equally important was getting his named etched on that silver FedEx Cup trophy alongside some of the best from his generation, starting with Tiger Woods and most recently Rory McIlroy.“This is a tough golf course. No lead is safe,” Johnson said. “The guys gave me a good fight today.”He became the first No. 1 seed at the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup since Tiger Woods in 2009.Johnson was staked to a five-shot lead at 19-under-par — 9-under on his own score and starting the tournament at 10 under as the No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup.He finished at 21-under.Schauffele, who tends to bring his best to big moments, and Thomas each got within three shots on the front nine. They both closed to within two shots deep on the back nine at East Lake.Johnson gave the lightest fist pump — that’s big emotion for him — when he holed a 20-foot par putt on the 13th hole that kept his lead at three. He made nothing but pars on the back nine until the outcome was no longer in doubt.Thomas made bogey from a wild tee shot to the right on the 17th. Schauffele also had to scramble on the 17th, escaping with par after a tee shot into the bunker. And on the par-5 18th, Johnson unleashed a drive that started left along the pine trees and faded gently toward the middle of the fairway.That set up a birdie from the front bunker, a hug with brother Austin, his caddie, and a trophy he long wanted.Schauffele had the lowest score over 72 holes at 15-under 265, but without a victory this year, he started at No. 14 in the FedEx Cup, spotting the world’s No. 1 player seven shots.Schauffele and Thomas tied for second, each earning $4.5 million.Jon Rahm, the No. 2 seed, closed with a 66 to finish fourth and earn $3 million. Scottie Scheffler, who a year ago was getting ready to start his rookie year, had a 66-65 finish and was fifth for a $2.5 million payoff.And so wrapped up the strangest season on the PGA Tour, which doesn’t feel like the end at all except for the $15 million awarded to Johnson, $14 million now and $1 million deferred.The new season starts Thursday. Two majors are still to be played.Golf was shut down for three months and when it restarted, Johnson was No. 111 in the FedEx Cup. He won the Travelers Championship and a month later began a stretch that brought him to the prize he desperately wanted.In four straight tournaments against the best fields, he had the 54-hole three times and was tied in the other. He converted one into an 11-shot win. He lost to a 65 by Collin Morikawa at the P.G.A. Championship and to a 65-foot putt by Rahm at the BMW Championship.He badly wanted the last one, and even staked to a five-shot lead to par at East Lake, it was never easy.Johnson made an 18-foot birdie early that was important because Schauffele kept hitting it close. Johnson had consecutive birdies through the par-5 sixth and his lead remained at five.But he went well right off the tee at No. 7 and had to pitch back to the fairway. He three-putted from 55 feet on the fringe at No. 8 and dropped another shot. The lead kept shrinking. Johnson rolled his long birdie putt on the par-3 ninth some 7 feet by, and he made the par putt coming back to keep his lead at 3.No putt was bigger than the 13th, when his lead was down to two shots over Schauffele. Johnson went from left rough to right of the green and chipped weakly to 20 feet. He drilled the par putt, restored the lead to three and was on his way.“It’s a very tough trophy to win,” Johnson said. “I controlled my own destiny, but I still had to go out and play well. I had a lot of great players right behind me. It got close at the end. I knew it was going to come down the stretch and I’d have to hit some golf shots.” More

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    Jon Rahm Sinks a Big Putt to Win Playoff at the BMW Championship

    OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Even with so few people around, Jon Rahm could hear from the other side of the Olympia Fields clubhouse that Dustin Johnson had made a 45-foot birdie on the final hole to force a playoff on Sunday in the BMW Championship.Resilient as ever, Rahm went out and made some magic of his own.From one end of the 18th green to the other, Rahm’s putt from just over 65 feet rolled down the ridge and into the cup, setting off a roar so loud it nearly made up for not having spectators.“I knew how good D.J. has been playing,” Rahm said. “I was expecting nothing else. I was fully confident it was going to come into a playoff and hoping to win it. Never did I think I would make another 50-, 60-footer, a couple of breaks in there, to end up winning it.”Johnson could only laugh at his birdie putt, eliciting a rare show of emotion — a slow, sweeping upper cut. And he had the same reaction to what Rahm did. What else is there to do?“I played an unbelievable putt, got in the playoff and then Jon made an even more ridiculous putt on top of me,” said Johnson, who has been a runner-up twice and won in his last three starts.The course that all week felt like a United States Open delivered the kind of excitement typical of the Masters.Rahm’s big birdie putt on the first extra hole spared him thoughts of his blunder in the third round, when he picked up his ball on the fifth green without marking it, leading to a one-shot penalty and his only bogey of the weekend.He tore through the back nine Sunday on his way to a six-under 64, the lowest round of the week, to finish at four-under 276.Johnson, a 54-hole leader for his third straight tournament and coming off an 11-shot victory last week at the T.P.C. Boston, birdied three of his opening four holes to open a three-shot lead, dropped a pair of shots around the turn and then delivered in the clutch with his 45-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 67.It was only good enough to stay at No. 1 in the world rankings by a slim margin.He also stays at No. 1 in the FedEx Cup going to the Tour Championship, meaning he will start the chase for the $15 million bonus at 10-under par, two ahead of Rahm, the No. 2 seed.Joaquin Niemann, the 21-year-old from Chile, also made a spirited run with a 67 and was in the lead until a bogey on the 14th and no birdies the rest of the way. He tied for third with Hideki Matsuyama, who had a 69.Tony Finau closed with a 65 to finish three behind. They were the only five players under par at Olympia Fields.Rahm won for the second time this year on the PGA Tour, and the 11th time in his career worldwide.Mackenzie Hughes had reason to celebrate, too.He was on the verge of playing his way into the top 30 who advance to East Lake when he took a sloppy bogey on the 17th. Needing a par on the 18th, he put his approach into the front bunker, splashed out to 5 feet and raised both arms when it dropped.Niemann also moved into the top 30, though he was chasing victory all day.Adam Long and Kevin Streelman were bumped out, and Long suffered the worst of those fates. He was projected 30th in the FedEx Cup until Corey Conners three-putted from 5 feet for double bogey on the final hole. That allowed Billy Horschel to move up enough spots on the leaderboard to move to the 30th and final spot by three points over Long.The top 30 are assured spots in at least three majors next year, along with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua to start the year. The winners-only event is taking the top 30 in the FedEx Cup from having lost three months of the season to the Covid-19 pandemic.Tiger Woods missed all the action. He made double bogey on his 17th hole for a 71, making this the first time he was over par in all four rounds of a tournament since the Bridgestone Invitational in 2010.Woods failed to reach the Tour Championship for the second straight year. He now gets two weeks off before the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and Olympia Fields proved to be a good test for that. More

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    Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay Tough It Out, Sharing BMW Lead

    OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. — Rory McIlroy doesn’t need fans to help him keep his head in the game at the BMW Championship. Olympia Fields is so tough that it won’t allow anything but his full attention on every shot.McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay made their share of mistakes on Friday and shrugged them off, because that’s bound to happen on the toughest test the PGA Tour has seen this year. By the end of another steamy afternoon south of Chicago, they were the sole survivors to beat par.One week after McIlroy admitted to going through the motions without spectators around to provide the cheers, he had a one-under-par 69 and shared the 36-hole lead with Cantlay.It was plenty tough for Tiger Woods, whose PGA Tour season appears to be two rounds from being over.Woods didn’t have enough good shots to atone for his bad ones, and he had to make a 35-foot par putt on his final hole to shoot a 75, leaving him nine shots behind. He was toward the bottom of the pack at a tournament in which he needs to finish around fourth to be among the top 30 who advance to the Tour Championship.Cantlay holed a 50-foot chip for birdie and holed out a 50-yard wedge for eagle. He also missed the green on three of the par-3s, the last one leading to a double bogey. He finished with a 6-iron out of the thick rough and made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. It added to a 68, matching the best score of the round.He and McIlroy were at one-under 139, a shot ahead of Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson, who were going in opposite directions when it was time to sign their scorecards. Matsuyama, the only player to reach four under at any point this week, dropped four shots over his last 10 holes for a 73. Johnson finished birdie-birdie for 69.The phrase “U.S. Open” is being heard a lot more than “FedEx Cup” this week.“I think the test is what’s helped me focus and concentrate, because if you lose focus out there for one second — just one lapse in concentration can really cost you around here,” McIlroy said. “I think one of the big keys this week is just not making big numbers. If you hit it out of position, get it back in position — make sure that your worst score is bogey and move on. Honestly, bogeys aren’t that bad out here.”McIlroy made a mistake on the 14th hole by going long and left, and only a great wedge to a back pin to 5 feet kept him from a big blunder, even though he missed the par putt. He flirted with trouble later in his round on the fifth hole with a wedge from 134 yards that came up 30 yards short, the pin tucked behind a big bunker. He left that in collar short of the green and got up and down for bogey.Cantlay doesn’t expect to hole out twice a round with wedges and hopes he can sharpen up his game a little. Still, he loves the idea of having to think and plot his way around the course.“It’s about as stiff of a test as you would want,” he said. “It’s very, very difficult, and you have to play from the fairway, and you have to play from below the hole, frankly. The greens have so much slope on them that you really need to be putting uphill. And so if you’re in the rough, it gets exponentially harder to do that.”For those playing well — anywhere within a few shots of par, in this case — it was an enjoyable challenge. For everyone, regardless of the score, it was a grind.“I don’t know if any rain will matter, really,” Kevin Kisner said after a bogey-bogey finish had ruined an otherwise good day and given him a 70, leaving him three shots behind. “I think even par wins the golf tournament.”Doesn’t 280 always win the United States Open? That’s what Arnold Palmer used to say.And this feels like a U.S. Open.Go back to the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills two years ago to find the last time someone won at over par (Brooks Koepka). For nonmajors, the tour said no one had won with an over-par score since Bruce Lietzke at the Byron Nelson Classic in 1981.It’s a huge change from last week, when Johnson won by 11 shots at 30-under 254.“Last week was fun, too,” Johnson said. “But this week is more of a grind, that’s for sure. Every single hole out here is difficult. You’ve got to really be focused on every shot that you hit.”Among those two shots behind was Louis Oosthuizen, whose birdie in the dark on the final hole last week at TPC Boston moved him to No. 70, letting him qualify for the BMW Championship.“This is the golf course I needed to do what I must do,” he said of moving into the top 30. “Look, this can go really south on you quickly. You can shoot six, seven over on this golf course very quickly. But if you really stick to it and play middle of the greens and lag those putts, you can make a lot of pars. And you’re not going to lose spots if you’re making pars.” More