CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. — By winning the BMW Championship, Billy Horschel moved into the top five in FedExCup points heading into the Tour Championship.
That means he’s now one of five players who control their own fate in regards to winning the FedExCup trophy and the $10 million bonus.
Horschel moved to No. 2 in the rankings, behind Deutsche Bank Championship winner Chris Kirk, who remained No. 1 after tying for 36th at the BMW.
The other three players inside the top five are 3) Bubba Watson; 4) Rory McIlroy and 5) Hunter Mahan. Mahan won the first Playoffs event, The Barclays, and will make his eighth consecutive appearance at East Lake.
The last two FedExCup winners, Henrik Stenson last year and Brandt Snedeker in 2012, entered the Tour Championship inside the top five in points before winning the tournament.
The FedExCup points will now be reset to give everybody in the 29-man field an opportunity to win the FedExCup. But just the top five are guaranteed the opportunity to win the FedExCup by winning the Tour Championship. Everybody else must have varying degrees of help to claim golf’s biggest prize.
A year ago, Kirk finished 34th in points, making a strong bid in the final round of the BMW Championship by shooting 66 but coming up just short to advancing to the Playoffs finale.
Thanks to his win at TPC Boston, Kirk was safely inside the top five coming into this week and guaranteed his first start at East Lake.
“It’s obviously what everyone is hoping for starting off the year, to be in that kind of position going into Atlanta. I couldn’t be happier,” Kirk said.
And on simply making the Tour Championship? “It was definitely a goal of mine for this year,” Kirk said. “I’m not a big goal-setting guy, but it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile now. I’m glad I was able to pull it off.”
Horschel is making his second Tour Championship appearance. Last year, he finished 17th and ended up 16th in points.
But he’s riding plenty of momentum going into East Lake, having followed last week’s second-place finish with the second win of his four-year PGA Tour career.
“When you can be top-five and control your own destiny, that’s great,” Horschel said moments after his final putt Sunday. “I can’t even think about that right now. I’m so ecstatic to finally get a win. It’s been a tough year, and I battled all day to get that victory.”
Of the top five players, only McIlroy knows what it’s like to start the Tour Championship in such an advantageous position.
In 2012, he was No. 1 going into East Lake after winning two Playoffs events, but he finished tied for 24th and dropped to fourth.
This year, he started the Playoffs in the top position and maintained his top-five status with a couple of top-10 finishes in the last two events.
Watson, meanwhile, is looking forward to the opportunity to capping off a season that already includes wins at the Masters and the Northern Trust Open. He just needs to figure out his putting — he ranked 59th (out of 66) in strokes gained: putting at Cherry Hills, which offset his performance in strokes gained: tee-to-green, in which he ranked No. 1 this week.
“Maybe that’s when I make my putts,” Watson said about East Lake. “That would be nice to make them there. Ten million bucks worth of putts wouldn’t be too bad.”