Through 54 holes at the Northern Trust, the first FedEx Cup playoff event this season, Maverick McNealy is squarely on the bubble to advance.
Each week in the FedEx Cup playoffs, there will be players sitting on the bubble, trying their best to advance to the following week of play. This week, as the Northern Trust final round approaches on Sunday, Maverick McNealy finds himself in such a position.
As Saturday’s play ended, McNealy was at, or near, the number 70 position in the FedEx Cup standings. The top 70 players at the completion of the Northern Trust advance to next week’s BMW Championship near Chicago.
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McNealy’s week started very well, as he fired a 4-under par 67 on Thursday at TPC Boston. On Friday, he came back with an even-par round of 71 to remain at 4-under for the week.
Saturday’s round was a tale of two sides for the 24-year-old McNealy. He started his round with a birdie at the first hole. However, he parred the par-5 second hole and then saw his struggles.
After a par on the third hole, McNealy found the native area on the fourth hole. He spent four shots to get himself to the green, then took two to get down, recording a double bogey and falling to 1-over on his round.
Unfortunately for McNealy, his struggles with the rough were not over.
He found the long grass again on the fifth hole and, because of that, ended up with a bogey. Then on the sixth hole, he found a fairway bunker, pitched out and, again, made a bogey. He was 3-over par on his round. And that’s where he finished his front nine, shooting a 39.
The good news for the native Californian was that the back nine was much, much different. After a par on the 10th hole, McNealy birdied the 11th hole. He would then par the 12th and 13th holes to stay at 2-over par.
McNealy would birdie the 14th hole and the 15th to finally battle his way back to even par on the day. However, he immediately bogeyed the par-3 16th hole, slipping back to 1-over par on the day.
The roller coaster continued on the 17th hole, where McNealy rolled in a 12-foot putt for birdie, getting back to even par once again.
On the finishing hole, the par-5 18th hole, McNealy found the fairway with his drive, was just off the green in two, and was able to get up-and-down for his birdie. That allowed him to finish at 1-under on the day and 5-under through 54 holes.
McNealy entered the week at 58th in the playoff standings and now will be fighting all day Sunday to advance as he plays the postseason for the first time in his career. If he can find what was working for him on Thursday, it would bode well for his chances to advance. But if he plays like he did on Saturday, there will likely be a lot of sweating it out in the McNealy camp on Sunday.