Rose takes No 1 spot; McIlroy blue on greens
Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy was left feeling blue on the greens as Justin Rose become world number one despite losing out to Keegan Bradley in a playoff for the rain-delayed BMW Championship at Aronimink.

The Englishman (38) went into the final round one stroke clear of McIlroy and Xander Schauffele on 17-under par and looked set to claim the title when he birdied the 16th and 17th to go the last needing a par for victory.

Bradley bogeyed the 18th and signed for a six-under 64 to set the clubhouse target on 20-under.

But while Rose edged ahead of him with clutch birdies at the 16th and 17th, the former US Open and Olympic champion bogeyed the last, lipping out from 15 feet, while McIlroy made par for a frustrating 68 to finish two shots outside the playoff.

Rose then bogeyed the 18th in sudden-death to lose out to Bradley, whose fourth PGA Tour win was his first for six years and his first since the ban on anchored putting came into effect in January 2016.

"It's so hard [to win]," Bradley said. "This is just incredible. It's been a hard road back, and this is just... I just can't believe it. It's so great."

Solo second was enough to see Rose edge ahead of Dustin Johnson and become just the 22nd player to reach world number one.

“That’s obviously boyhood dream stuff,” Rose said of achieving a rare treble — a major win, an Olympic gold medal and the number one ranking. 

"That is something I am incredibly proud of. When you talk about your career those are the three highlights and I now have another string to the bow." 

Disappointed not to win despite moving to second behind Bryson DeChambeau in the FedEx Cup standings, he added: “I’ve been to the top of the game. That's definitely some consolation. I just wish I could have enjoyed the moment maybe. 

"This just slightly dampens it. But tomorrow or the next day, the week after, I'll look back at this and think it was amazing, an amazing moment in my career."

Bradley and Rose finished a shot ahead of Schauffele, who shot 67, and former FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel, who signed for a 64.

But McIlroy was left to wonder what might have been as he played in a final group for the fifth time this season and had 32 putts in a 68 to finish solo fifth, two shots outside the playoff on 18-under.

The Co Down man gave himself 13 birdies putts in his first 13 holes (two from the fringe), including seven inside 15 feet.

But he made just one of them — from 11 inches after a stunning wedge to the 10th — and followed that by immediately missing from around nine feet for birdie on the next three greens.

His longest successful putt was an eight-footer for par at the 15th and while he birdied the par-five 16th, zipping a wedge back to just five feet, he simply ran out of holes.

McIlroy was ranked first in the field for proximity to the hole with 27'2" and his average approach for the week was 149 yards with seven of his final round approach coming from inside 120 yards.

But after making 133 ft of putts in a 63 on Saturday, he made just 33 ft yesterday, he can console himself with the fact that he was the best wedge player in the field, ranked first from 125-150 yards with 11'8", edging out Dustin Johnson who averaged 12'8.

He also moved up two spots to world number six and will go into the Tour Championship ranked 17th in the FedEx Cup standings after failing to get the win he needed to make the top five who are guaranteed to win the $10m with victory in Atlanta.

To win the FedEx Cup now, McIlroy must win the Tour Championship and hope:

  •     No 1 Bryson De Chambeau finishes T11 or worse
  •     No 2 Justin Rose finishes in a three-way tie for 4th or worse
  •     No 3 Tony Finau finishes T3 or worse
  •     No 4 Dustin Johnson finishes in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse
  •     No. 5 Justin Thomas finishes T2 or worse
  •     No. 6 Keegan Bradley finishes T2 or worse

The resurgent Tiger Woods also made it to Atlanta in 20th spot after a closing 65 left him tied for sixth, a shot behind McIlroy on 17-under.

Woods got to within a shot of the lead heading down the back nine but ended up tied for sixth, three shots outside the playoff, as he played his last five holes in level par.

"At the end of the season here to say that I made it back to the Tour Championship after what I've been through is a pretty good accomplishment," Woods said. 

"To make the Ryder Cup team and get back to East Lake, that was a pretty big goal at the beginning of the year and to be able to accomplish that is something I'm very proud of. I'll represent the United States over there and also compete I guess as the top players on the Tour."

Bradley's move from 52nd to sixth in the FedEx Cup standings was bad news for Jordan Spieth, who fell from  27th to 31st and failed to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time in his career.

“I was in control of my own destiny and didn’t have it this week,” Spieth said after a closing 73 left him tied 55th on three-under. 

As for falling foul of a PGA Tour a tour policy that requires players to play at least 25 events in a season or to add a new event that they haven't played in the last four, he sounded unconcerned.

"I assume it will either be a fine or I'm adding some in the fall," Spieth said. "I don't know if that counts. I'm not sure."

He added: "I obviously accept whatever fine it is and move on and try and add one every year but it's kind of tough."

Finau gets final pick

Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk confessed that Tony Finau's incredible consistency made it "impossible" to leave him out of the USA side that will defend the trophy in Paris from September September 28-30.

Finau joins Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods as the last of Furyk's four wildcards after an incredible season featuring 11 top-10s, including three of the four majors.

"He has an unbelievable body of work this year," Furyk after watching Finau finish tied eighth in the BMW Championship last night. 

"All those top-10 finishes, the play in big championships and the Majors, and then his current form, a second, a fourth and an eighth in the playoffs. He checked a lot of boxes and made it impossible not to pick him."

Finau said: "It’s a dream come true for me. I got the goosebumps when he told me, and I’m excited to add my skills and talent to the team, a team that’s stacked already. 

"Hopefully, I bring something to the team that can help us bring that Cup back."

Furyk’s team includes three rookies in DeChambeau, Finau and Justin Thomas and nine major champions with 31 major wins between them.

USA (* denotes rookie): Bryson DeChambeau* (24), Tony Finau* (28), Rickie Fowler (29), Dustin Johnson (34), Brooks Koepka (28), Phil Mickelson (48), Patrick Reed   (28), Webb Simpson (33), Jordan Spieth (25), Justin Thomas* (25), Bubba Watson  (39), Tiger Woods (42).

Europe (* denotes rookie): Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood*, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton*, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren*, Thorbjorn Olesen*,  Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm*, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson