NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- It was pointed out to Tiger Woods on Monday after he shot 65 at the BMW Championship that he had qualified for the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, eliciting a smile and a quip: "Yep, I won't have to ask for one,'' he said.
Woods was referring to the special exemption that he was sure to get and unlikely to need in order to play in the championship he's won three times.
By finishing tied for sixth at the BMW, Woods qualified for the Tour Championship, one of the exemptions that was all but a formality after he opened the tournament with a 62 at Aronimink Golf Club.
The rain-plagued event concluded Monday and Woods made another run at his 80th PGA Tour title, coming up three shots short of a playoff won by Keegan Bradley. But it helped him finish 20th in the FedEx Cup points, meaning a spot in the 30-player Tour Championship next week.
It will be his first appearance in the season-ending tournament in five years.
"To make the Ryder Cup team and get back to East Lake, that was a pretty big task at the beginning of the year and to be able to accomplish that is something I'm very proud of,'' Woods said. "I'll represent the United States over there (in France for the Ryder Cup) and also compete with the top players on the tour.''
Justin Rose, who bogeyed the final hole to fall into the playoff, took over the No. 1 ranking in the world to finish at 260, 20 under par. Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, won for the first time in six years.
Woods, who is projected to rise to No. 21 in the world, would have needed a final-round 62 to be part of the playoff. While that was certainly possible - he missed three birdie putts inside of 15 feet, and made two bogeys after finding bunkers - it was a lot to ask on a miserable day. Only two players bettered his 65 with 64s. The even-par round of 70 on Friday after opening the tournament with 62 was the real difference. Only six players shot worse in the second round.
"In order to win out here you've got to be consistent and on a golf course like this, even par is not going to do a whole lot,'' Woods said. "This is one of our tougher tests but it just wasn't playing that way this year, it was just soft and it was hot early in the week, the ball was flying, guys were hitting driver-wedge every hole. Wasn't much of a challenge. You look at the scores, 20 under par.''
Woods missed a 6-footer for birdie at the seventh hole but when he birdied the ninth, he turned in 31 and was just one stroke back of the leaders.
But bogeys on the 10th and 14th holes derailed his hopes and he ran out of holes, playing the back nine in 34.
For the sixth time in his career, Woods shot 263 or better. This is the first time he did not win.
Woods again had some putting issues, missing three times inside of 15 feet three times. For the week, he was a modest 31st in the 69-player field in strokes gained, putting. But he was second in strokes gained, approach to the green, 13th in strokes gained, around the green, and 22nd in strokes gained off the tee. For the week, he hit 59 of 72 greens in regulation. He had 27 putts on Monday.
"To have a chance to win again this year, it's a very positive feeling,'' he said. "Had I made a few more putts this week could have been a different deal coming down the stretch, though I finished at 17 under and good looks on two of the last few holes. That's a positive.''
It was his sixth top-six finish of the year. Woods finished the regular season 20th in FedEx Cup points and had slipped to 25th heading into the BMW. He returned to 20th with his sixth-place finish. The top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings earn exemptions to the Masters, U.S. Open and Then Open - although Woods has lifetime entry to the Masters and an exemption through age 60 at The Open.
He also could have qualified for the U.S. Open by being among the top 60 in the world ranking next spring.
All of it was procedural, as Woods was sure to get a special exemption from the United States Golf Association.
By getting into the Tour Championship, Woods also earns a spot in next year's WGC-Mexico Championship.
Perhaps most important of all to Woods - the Tour Championship offers another chance for a victory, where he will need to defeat just 29 players.