BMW CHAMPIONSHIP: Leaders benefitted by not hitting a shot

For Jim Furyk, leader of the BMW Championship through 54 holes, Sunday turned into a day to watch football on television. For Steve Stricker, his closest pursuer, it was a day for family time.

For all the 64 players left in the third event of the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoff series it was a day to change travel arrangements. They had to figure out how to get to Atlanta for the final tournament that tees off on Thursday.

“You’re used to getting to a tournament on Monday and having a routine, practice rounds, all that kind of stuff,’’ said Brandt Snedeker, winner of the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus last year and two strokes behind Furyk now. “Things are just going to be thrown off, but we’re used to this. It happens probably four or five times a year that we have to play on a Monday.’’

Furyk was supposed to start his final round at 12:40 p.m. on Sunday but won’t do it until 9:40 a.m. on Monday. He’s glad he didn’t have to hit a shot in Saturday’s downpours.

“It’s probably a positive because if I did get out on the golf course it would have only been for a hole or two,’’ he said. “It’s tough to get real excited about that. No one wants to slop it around in bad weather on a golf course where we’re playing the ball down.’’

The lift, clean and place rule is frequently put into effect when rain hampers tournament play, but it couldn’t be done at the BMW Championship because play had already started without that rule in place. It can’t be instituted after play starts because it wouldn’t be fair to all the players.

Of the six players to finish their round on Sunday the best was Rory McIlroy, the tourney’s defending champion. He shot 68, the same as his score on Saturday. Finishing at 7-over-par 291 for the 72 holes, he is the clubhouse leader but he won’t hold that honor for long once more players finish on Monday.

Dustin Johnson was the last player to complete his round on Sunday. He put his second shot into water at the par-5 18th and settled for a 72, good for a 72-hole score of 293. Though he doesn’t have to play on Monday, he will be watching closely to see if he winds up in the top 30 in the series standings and qualifies to play in Atlanta.

Kevin Chappell, Johnson’s playing partner, shot the same score at Conway Farms and will also have to sweat out Monday’s round to see if he’s still alive in the playoffs.

Stricker, one shot behind Furyk, joined the leader in being thankful he didn’t have to play on Sunday.

“We got the better end of the deal,’’ said Stricker. “It looked like pretty tough conditions for everybody.’’

Zach Johnson, three shots behind Furyk and also in the mix for the title, doesn’t feel a later arrival in Atlanta will matter much because the players all know that course already.

“There’s not a winner in all of this,’’ said Johnson. “If anything I feel really bad for the fans. I certainly feel bad for the WGA (Western Golf Assn.) and BMW because it was such a great championship up until this point.’’

Monday, in a sense, will be anticlimactic, with fewer fans likely to attend. The players will also be dealing with a changed course after the day-long rains. Soggy greens are slower than dry ones and wet fairways don’t allow for as much roll as they do before the rain falls.

“It’ll be completely different,’’ said Johnson. “Maybe you can be a little more aggressive, but yet you’ve still got to pay attention to how the course is playing. This course can bite you if you get too aggressive. You’ve just got to roll with it and hopefully get the speed of the greens down early.’’