Week three of the PGA Tour playoffs came to a close, setting the stage for a stirring FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta. The LPGA contested its last major championship of 2017 in France. Football may be in the air, but important golf balls fly higher. Have a sample of what mattered this week in our September 18th Tour Mash.

Leishman unleashed, finally, in Chicago

Marc Leishman of Australia heard the footsteps. They weren’t coming from playing partner Jason Day, who would counter every three birdies with a bogey or double. Instead, it was Justin Rose who was making a run at the leader. If ever an event felt owned by a golfer it was this one. Question was, could Leishman close the deal?

The massive Aussie had led since his opening 62, but when Rose reached 19-under at the 16th, Leishman had to feel threatened. He had two tour wins to his credit, including this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. None had ever given him a chance at the FedEx Cup, though, and Leishman was not to be denied. He closed with three birdies over the final quadrilateral, securing a 5-stroke margin of victory over Rose, who bogeyed the 17th to drop back to a second-place tie with Rickie Fowler, at 18-under. With the win, Leishman joined Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm in the playoffs top five.

Nordqvist wins 2nd major title at Evian

Anna Nordqvist is tough. She returned from a debilitating bout of mono this summer to feature prominently in the European Tour’s Solheim Cup challenge. On Sunday, the Swede defeated upstart American Brittany Altomare on the first playoff hole to win her second major title.

All golfers began the round behind Moriya Jutanugarn. The Thai golfer played well over her first nine holes, but played her final nine holes in two-over, dropping to 8-under and a gut-wrenching T3 finish, one back of the playoff duo. With Jutanugarn were Lydia Ko and Katherine Kirk.

Altomare and Nordqvist played the playoff hole in rainy conditions, unable to avoid the deluge that had lingered all day but never committed. Neither player offered her best in extra holes, but it was Nordqvist who squeezed in a clutch bogey putt to secure victory over Altomare’s double.

Snaps for Hadley after Boise victory on Web.Com

Chesson Hadley knew he would return to the PGA Tour in 2017-18, before the 2017 Web.Com Tour playoffs began. His sense of urgency might have diminished just enough to free up his game. On Sunday, the North Carolina native and Georgia Tech alum finished with fury, birdieing holes 15 through 17 at the Boise Open. He reached 16-under par, then watched his pursuers work in vain to catch him.

Close to Hadley were Ted Potter, Jr., and Jonathan Randolph. both men birdied 16 and 18 to sign for 15-under, one excruciating stroke shy of the top spot. For Randolph, the finish secured his PGA Tour card for 2017-2018. With his win, Hadley moved to the top of the Finals board, about $85K clear of 2nd-place Andrew Landry. The tour moves to Cleveland for the penultimate playoff event, before closing the season in Florida, in two weeks.

Jerry Kelly wins again on Champions Tour

Much like Hadley, Jerry Kelly sought vindication. He had been a tour winner, and when he finally won on the Champions Tour in late August, the pressure valve had opened and the pent-up steam of frustration, released. On Sunday at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, it looked as thought Kelly would add a runner-up finish to that title, but Lee Janzen closed poorly, and Kelly took advantage.

Janzen stood at 16-under with four holes to play, but errant shots at the 15th and 17th led to bogey and double, dropping him to 13-under on the week. Kelly did nothing spectacular, simply going about business as usual. He birdied the 15th to get to 14-under, then closed with three pars to edge Janzen by one, for victory No. 2 on the senior circuit. Tommy Armour III and David McKenzie were a further stroke back, tied for third at 12-under.

Wattel a winner at last on European Tour

Romain Wattel trailed only Kiradech Aphibarnrat at the start of round four in Holland. Chasing his first European Tour victory, Wattel had to feel a bit positive as his day trended upward, while Aphibarnrat lost the handle and finished at 2-over on the day, 12-under overall and tied for ninth. Austin Connelly, the young Canadian, appeared from nowhere and the game was on.

Connelly birdied the 18th hole at The Dutch, reaching 14-under with his second consecutive round of 66. Wattel remained poised, however. Although his final birdie came at the 10th hole, he closed with seven consecutive pars, enough to secure his debut victory on the European circuit. Wattel moved to 55th spot in the Race To Dubai rankings, while Connelly ascended to 71st.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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