Marc Leishman gave his fans two mighty scares, but in the end did just enough to keep his PGA Tour season alive.
On an impressive day for the Australian contingent at the Deutsche Bank Classic, the second of four legs of the FedEx Cup playoffs, Adam Scott charged up to fourth with a superb closing 65 at TPC Boston.
But that score was only good enough to match Rory McIlroy’s six-under tally as the day’s best and that gave the Northern Irishman his first win of the PGA Tour season at 15 under.
McIlroy made a spectacular birdie from the greenside bunker on the par-5 18th to cap his charge as England’s Paul Casey folded from the overnight lead with a 73 that left him two shots adrift.
There was no sign of Scott’s impending move until the 10th hole when he knocked in the first of six back-nine birdies as he stormed to 11 under.
Yet despite his second consecutive fourth placing, including at The Barclays to begin the playoffs, Scott fell to fifth in the FedEx Cup race behind McIlroy who surged to fourth.
Jason Day had an early bogey, then also shone with a 67 to move up to T15 at eight under. The Queenslander remains in second place in the FedEx Cup standings behind last week’s winner Patrick Reed.
Aaron Baddeley could only make one birdie in his flat 75 that left him T67 at three over, but ensured he’d be around for the BMW Championship ranked 67th overall.
But the big mover of the day was his fellow Victorian Leishman.
The Warrnambool ace began the day projected at 79th needing to be in the top 70 to avoid bowing out at stage two of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Leishman, likely needing to shoot four under for the round to reach a position to contest the top 70, charged to six under and looked safe after teeing off on the 10th hole.
But a double-bogey on the eighth hole threw the race wide open again and into a pitched battle with American Ricky Barnes.
Leishman parred his last, the ninth, to shoot a great 67 and finish T46 in Boston as Barnes bogeyed the eighth to finish one shot behind in the race for 70th.
“It’s nice to play well when you have to (because) I really didn’t want to miss the BMW two years in a row,” Leishman said.
“Last year, obviously with everything that went on, a rest was not the worst thing for me.
“But this year I feel like I’m playing well and hopefully (I can) have a good week next week and see where it can get us as far as Atlanta (Tour Championship goes.”
So close were Leishman and Barnes that the Australian finished just nine points ahead through the entire season.
The BMW Championship at Crooked Stick, near Indianapolis, starts on Thursday night AEST.