Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas take aim at FedEx Cup in BMW Championship
Jordan Spieth already has achieved a big goal on this trip to Chicago. He threw out the first pitch before the Cubs played the Mets on Tuesday.
‘‘I hit the three bucket-listers for me there. I’m done now,’’ Spieth said after adding Wrigley Field to first pitches at Fenway Park in Boston and Globe Life Park, home of his hometown Texas Rangers.
When some Cubs told him they get the jitters on the first tee, he confessed to being nervous about messing up the ceremonial first pitch.
‘‘The only way you end up on ESPN is if you really screw up,’’ he told them. ‘‘I kind of bailed a little. Threw it a little high. But [I was] definitely nervous walking out there.’’
Spieth will have his nerves under control when he tees it up at the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday morning at Conway Farms in Lake Forest.
After finishing second in the first two legs of the FedEx Cup, Spieth is in first place in the PGA’s season championship with two legs to go. The event wraps up in Atlanta next week.
‘‘Very excited,’’ Spieth said. ‘‘I’m in a great position, looking to obviously stay in the No. 1 spot. The FedEx Cup is a tremendous accomplishment, something I’m certainly striving for.’’
Spieth, who won the 2015 FedEx Cup and won his third major at this year’s British Open, is still only 24, and the most dramatic example of the youth movement in golf.
Right behind him is his close friend, Justin Thomas, 24, who won his first major, the PGA, last month. With 5,044 points Thomas is just 27 points behind Spieth (5,071).
‘‘I wouldn’t say I feel old, but yeah, I’m the oldest, for sure,’’ said third-place Dustin Johnson (4,650). At 33, Johnson is the only player older than 25 among the top five in the FedEx Cup. Hideki Matsuyama, 25, and Jon Rahm, 22, are fourth and fifth.
‘‘They’re really good players at a very early age,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘I like seeing it. The game needs it, and it pushes me to keep working harder. So I like it.’’
This will be the third time in five years that the BMW has come to Conway Farms. Four years ago, Jim Furyk’s 59 highlighted the tournament.
‘‘It’s a fun course,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘It’s playing a lot different right now because it was very soft two years ago. You have to play for six to 10 yards of rollout with longer irons. That makes it more difficult than it was a couple of years ago.’’
As a seasonlong event that began in 2007, the FedEx Cup falls into a different category than a major championship. But the $10 million bonus that goes to the winner, plus the growing prestige of the season championship, is more than enough to grab the players’ attention.
‘‘Never dealt with a number even remotely close to that,’’ Thomas said.
‘‘I’ve won a major,’’ said Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open champion. ‘‘I haven’t won the FedEx Cup. To me, they pretty much go hand-in-hand. It’s a big tournament where we get paid very, very well if we win. So it means a lot.’’
The champion won’t be crowned until next week in Atlanta. But this week will go a long way in terms of positioning.
Players like Spieth and Thomas, who have been friends since they were 14, competition will trump friendship this week.
‘‘I promise you, when we’re out there and [Thomas] has a six-footer to win the tournament, I’m not rooting for him to make it,’’ Spieth said. ‘‘I’m rooting for him to miss it so we can go to a playoff and I can beat him.’’
Follow me on Twitter @HerbGould and at TMGcollegesports.com.