Inside the Ropes
The Deustche Bank Championship FedExCup Playoffs Event No. 2
Yards: 7,214 as per the scorecard
Par: 71 (36-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; 6,500 square feet on average.
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass and fescue at 4”
Water Hazards: 2
Course Architect: Arnold Palmer (2001); Redesign: Gil Hanse (2007-now)
Winner’s Share: $1,440,000 and 2500 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion: Webb Simpson defeated Chez Reavie in a playoff to claim his first-career Playoffs victory.
Date: August 30-September 3
Field: 100 players will be cut down to the top 70 and ties after two rounds. 72 holes stroke play.
Notes: Your week will be all screwed up as this event starts on Friday and ends on Labor Day Monday.
This is one of the “original” rotators in the FedExCup Playoffs as it has been in every Playoff since 2007.
TPC Boston first held a TOUR event in 2003 where Adam Scott was victorious.
For the last few years, TPC Boston has played in the top third of easiest courses on TOUR. TPC Boston was ranked the 37th-most difficult course of the 51 courses played on TOUR in 2011.
The average winning score since its inception in 2003 has been a whopping 17.55-under-par.
Charley Hoffman (2011) and Vijay Singh (2008) both fired 22-under in their victories to establish the tournament-low score.
No offense to Charley Hoffman or Olin Browne, but TPC Boston has a “who’s who” list of champions since 2003. Adam Scott, Singh, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Webb Simpson have their name on this trophy.
Nick Watney now joins Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Justin Rose as the only players to win both a WGC and FedExCup event in their careers.
Look for the big players to leave their mark with low scores this week.
“Young” Guns versus “Middle” Guns versus “Old” Guns
In 38 events on TOUR in 2012 the “Young” guns are opening up a lead thanks to victories in the past weeks by Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and now Nick Watney (31). As the Playoffs continue, the “Young” guns start to pull away at 19-16-3.
For the “Young”, age during their victory in ( ), Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan TWICE (29) Rory McIlroy TWICE (22), Justin Rose (31), Rickie Fowler (23), Dustin Johnson (27), Webb Simpson (26), Marc Leishman (29), Ted Potter, Jr. (28), Scott Stallings (27), Keegan Bradley (26), Sergio Garcia (32) and Nick Watney (32) are your winners.
The “Middle” guys are Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods THRICE (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33), Jason Dufner TWICE (35), Zach Johnson TWICE (36), Scott Piercy (33) and J.J. Henry (37) have been victorious.
Steve Stricker (44), Phil Mickelson (41) and Ernie Els (42) are the only “Old” guys to hit the board in 2012. At least 33% of their wins are majors! Old man Westwood (T5) gave the “Old” folks their best chance this week.
So What? So Let’s Dance!
Since 2003, the Deutsche Bank Championship has non-stop birdie action at TPC Boston. Arnold Palmer’s original design has been altered by Gil Hanse since 2007 and it hasn’t slowed down the birdie barrage which arrives on Labor Day weekend each year. The course was not originally designed for a TOUR event but after rave reviews it has evolved into a main-stay on the circuit since 2003 and provides for a nice release after a difficult week at the Black Course last week at Bethpage State Park
This year, they are reconfiguring the 18th hole to make the finish, ahem, more difficult. The 18th hole had played as the easiest on the course yet this year tournament officials are hoping that will change. The original thought of having an accessible, 533-yard par-five finishing hole was to entice players to make eagle coming home and to provide a grandstand finish. The pros learned over the last few years that ANY second shot around 18 could result in pretty standard up-and-downs for birdies. To “toughen” this up the 18th green has been shrunk down 50% and tilted right and the run-off areas have been tightened up to make pitching on to the green more challenging. The wetlands in front of the green will now give the pros pause as they consider their options heading home.
But that’s one hole. Last year’s winner Webb Simpson only made 17 birdies en route to victory but he hardly made any bogeys, six to be exact. He also had two eagles to make the math work out. Chez Reavie made 20 birdies and five bogeys. And lost. With the greens running at 11.5’ on the stimpmeter, guys who can get it close should have an advantage as the speed of the green will help those who aren’t premium putters. Biridies are obviously fantastic but the players who keep their cards the cleanest will be contending for the trophy on Sunday.
After seeing the history of winners here I believe that we are headed in a “big name” direction again this week. Nick Watney, who was having a quiet 2012, had won four times on TOUR, including the WGC-CC last season, so he was not exactly chopped liver last week at The Barclays. When the field is this deep and strong, I don’t believe you need to stretch for the next Charley Hoffman or Olin Browne this week. Sure, there will be another Chez Reavie and we hope to find him for you in the off-the-radar section.
The 17 Contenders:
One for each Celtics NBA title. No, I’m not a Celtics fan but I respect their history.
Bubba Watson: Same stuff, different week and that’s nothing but positive for Watson this season. He’s finished outside of the top 20 exactly once this season when making the cut (T23 The Open Championship). He’s only missed two cuts and they were in back-to-back weeks as his life was a bit hectic. He MC at the Memorial when his family was being trailed around Columbus by some idiot and MC at the U.S. Open when he essentially admitted before the tournament started that he would not have much of a chance of playing “Bubba Golf” that week. He leads the TOUR in GIR and driving distance. The slower greens should help Watson’s flat stick cooperate as he will hit plenty of GIR. He’s made the cut in five of six (consecutive) appearances here and was cruising along here last year (-11 after 54 holes) before a final round 74 undid his chances. After closing out at the Masters in a playoff, I believe Watson would relish the chance to be in the mix again on this track late on Sunday.
Brandt Snedeker: He has all to play for this week with Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III’s Captain’s picks coming the day after they finish at the DBC. Snedeker did himself a huge favor last week by finishing solo second and showing DLIII that he could handle a big stage on Sunday plus some excellent putting on difficult greens. Snedeker should be stoked this week as he finished T3 here last year and T5 in 2010. Playing well this week would prove that he candle handle the pressure. He’s second on TOUR in birdie-or-better conversion percentage and first in strokes gained-putting.
Louis Oosthuizen: If you’re not a believer yet, I’m not sure what else I can do to convince you that he can absolutely play. He’s been T19, fourth, T21 and T5 last week in his last four starts in the States. Last week he was T3 in driving accuracy and first in GIR and TPC Boston is just a bit easier to play. He only made six bogeys at WGC-BI and just seven last week at The Barclays so if his putter cooperates, Louis Louis, Oh, Baby, he might just go lower this week.
Dustin Johnson: His length and ability to pound GIR will help him tremendously this week as he rides his excellent T3 from last week in to Boston. His best finish here was in 2009 as he finished T4 firing 15-under. Johnson faded on Sunday last year to 75 after being just four shots out heading into the weekend, but that was coming off a victory the previous week at The Barclays and there also wasn’t a Ryder Cup Captain’s pick on the line. He’s made six cuts in a row and his game is getting hot at the right time. This is the final audition for the Ryder Cup as DLIII will make his Captain’s picks on Tuesday morning.
Jason Dufner: Dufner was right in the mix at Wyndham two weeks ago before a double-bogey on Monday (hole No. 7) took the wind out of his sails. He finished T7 and only made four bogeys on the week on the back of 19 birdies. Now, after a week off to catch his breath, he should be chomping at the bit to get after it on a course where he’s finished T2, T18 and T31 last year in his last three outings. His least-favorite club has been his putter but with slower greens this week, his confidence should be sky-high.
Luke Donald: He hit the ball everywhere last week at Bethpage State Park but his hallmark short-game bailed him out again as Donald hit his seventh top 10 of 2012 (T10). Donald is another player who loves TPC Boston as he was T3 last year and T2 in 2010. Donald’s worst round in the last two years at the DBC is 70 (twice). Horse for course and a pretty solid player, no? Works for me!
Rory McIlroy: In his first time playing this course in 2010 he fired an opening round 64. He couldn’t find that magic again but that was before he was a two-time major champion. After his eight-shot cakewalk (at least he made it look that easy) at Kiawah Island, it was no surprise that he didn’t back that up last time out at The Barclays. That’s impossible. He has no trouble making birdies and he’ll be looking to sew up Player of the Year with another victory this week. I think he bounces back this week and will add to his birdie average which is currently second on TOUR.
Steve Stricker: Nobody hits ‘em closer to the pin from the fairway than Stricker and the 2009 champion has shown he can knock it around TPC Boston. After MC in the first three events here, Stricker has finished T7, T9, T13, WIN, ninth and T42 last year. Stricker has no problem making birdies and should enjoy the memories around here from 2009. The only cut he missed in 16 events in 2012 was THE PLAYERS. That’s the only cut he’s missed since the 2009 PGA Championship.
Webb Simpson: It was last year at the Wyndham and Deutsche Bank Championship (DBC) that Simpson solidified his elite-player status with wins in both. The defending champ obviously knows the winning formula around these parts and I expect him to bounce back from his MC last week at The Barclays. His putter was ice cold last week but his the rest of his game was solid as he ended up T5 GIR and T13 in fairways. He leads the TOUR in birdie average and is in the top 25 in bogey avoidance.
Keegan Bradley: He didn’t use his course knowledge on the greens very well last week at the Black Course as his long putter was hibernating. His length is always an advantage no matter where he tees it up and this will be as close as the Vermont native will get to a true “home” game this week. He MC in his only appearance here last year but I’m not leaving out the all-around leader on TOUR this week. He makes too many birdies and should be fired up after MC last week. He ranks fifth on TOUR in birdie or better conversion percentage and is fourth in birdie average.
Jason Day: Do-or-die this week AGAIN for Jason Day and thankfully for him it’s at a course he’s shredded the last two years. The last four (and only) times at TPC Boston he’s finished T50, T19, T2 and T3 last year. In 16 rounds, he’s only shot worse than par twice. He’s currently No. 88 on the points list and must have another big finish to move on to Crooked Stick (Top 70) next week. His last two outings where he’s made the cut, he’s closed well with 66 on Sundays. He’s just had one bad round during those two outings that’s keeping him from hitting the top 10.
Adam Scott: Like most players who have ground it out at Kiawah and Bethpage State Park, Scott will be happy to find greener pastures this week on a course where he won the inaugural event in 2003. Scott struggled last week off the tee and on the greens as he limped home to T62. Suffice to say TPC Boston doesn’t set up like a major and Scott should be able to swing the putter on these greens. In seven events here, he’s hit the top eight four times including his win with finishes of T2 (2004), T5 (2010) and T8 last year.
Geoff Ogilvy: Stretching here a bit but Ogilvy has finished T24, T11 and T19 in his last three starts on TOUR. His record at TPC Boston is excellent as he’s hit the top seven four times in seven starts including T2 in 2010. Ogilvy, usually an excellent putter, has be average by his standards this season but coming into this week he reminds me a bit of Nick Watney last week. The familiar track should help push him up the leaderboard and see him improve on his No. 49 position in the standings.
Bo Van Pelt: Another week, another Van Pelt sighting on the list. His T24 last week was his worst finish after making the cut in his last seven events. His No. 2 all-around ranking should alleviate any concerns you might have as he’s been a top 10 machine over the last two years. Last year at DBC he smoked the weekend 66-66 in his normal come-from-behind fashion to finish solo seventh. Van Pelt has an outside chance at catching DLIII’s eye this week and it would probably take nothing short of a win to do so. Let’s see if BVP can stand up to the pressure and win in a field of this quality. We all know top 10’s are great but he’ll need something special this week if he hopes to be on the team at Medinah.
Nick Watney: It’s hard to leave out the guy who’s hot even though he fired a crispy 80 here on Sunday last year. That’s what happens when you take an ELEVEN on the par-five on the second hole. His confidence with his putter looks to have returned after his lesson with Deepdale club pro Darrell Kestner last week and he’s also playing for one of the four wild-card spots remaining on the Ryder Cup team. I’ll saddle up this week.
Lee Westwood: It’s his first time in this event but he should be feeling pretty good about how his game rebounded after he cleaned house two weeks ago. He sacked his caddy and long-time swing coach and the change-up saw him start banging GIR (T4 last week) again. His putter will be happy to see greens running less than 12 on the stimpmeter as well. He hits too many fairways and greens to omit!
Tiger Woods: Woods has two seconds and a win here. The one thing we’ve learned about Woods, to some degree this season, is he’s thrived on courses where he’s had multiple wins. His only win here came in 2006 which seems like forever ago. My hesitation this week is that he hates playing slower-style greens and his wedge game has been less than stellar. He’s fired 63 twice here and he might need that early to have a chance this week. Just when you think Woods is returning to his week-in, week-out top 10 form, last week happens. I’m returning to my gun-shyness.
Five That Could Surprise:
Tom Gillis: Total horse-for-course selection as Gillis finished T5 here in 2010 in his last time at the DBC. His T10 last week should give him the belief that he can match or better that finish this week.
Brian Harman: Heat check. Five top 25’s in his last seven events including T5 last week.
Graham DeLaet: Riding the wave of last week, DeLaet is looking to make his seventh cut in a row. The pressure is off to survive and advance and his relaxed outlook could lead to another great finish this week.
Jeff Overton: Top 25 in birdie-or-better percentage. Has to move this week (No. 83) to hit the top 70 and return to his home state, Indiana, next week for the BMW. He has the incentive and has shown go-for-broke-ness before.
Chris Kirk: 17 birdies and an ace last week were enough to make his seventh-straight cut so you know he’s close. He’s also on the outside looking in as he sits No. 81 in the standings. He’ll need to cut out the bogeys this week (T15 last week) if he hopes to move it on up, but I like a guy who made a bunch of birdies (17, T4) on a hard course to thrive on a much easier track this week.
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: Deutsche Bank Championship (Glass Picks)
Group 1: Bubba Watson
Group 2: Dustin Johnson
Group 3: Tim Clark
Group 4: Jeff Overton
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
Full Disclosure: I am NOT Ned! He’s smarter and better looking!
Luke Donald-- Donald at The Barclays carded a final round of 1-under-par to ease into top 10 finish. His recent record at TPC Boston is very strong, with consecutive top 3 finishes.
Steve Stricker-- I think this spot is a real tossup between Adam Scott and Steve Stricker. I'm going with Stricker based on his current play and his record of playing well in the Playoffs.
Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Jim Furyk
Brandt Snedeker-- He looked great last week and he finished into sole second place after Sergio Garcia bogeyed the 72nd hole. Like Luke Donald, his recent record at the Deutsche Bank is very strong with consecutive top 5 finishes.
Tim Clark-- After a sole second place at the Wyndham, Clark followed up with a top 10 for his fourth consecutive top 15 finish. His record at TPC Boston is just ok, but he really is about hopping on the hot player.
Dustin Johnson-- Johnson is coming off of a tie for third place at The Barclays and he does have one top 4 finish in three starts at TPC Boston.
Rory McIlroy-- You could use Tiger Woods in this spot based on his history at the Deutsche Bank, but he is a bit risky after his poor finish last week. I'm going with McIlroy in hope that he improves on his T-24 finish last week.
Bo Van Pelt, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy
Jason Dufner-- He has been money on the TOUR since the spring with top 7 finishes in six of his last nine starts, which includes championships at the Zurich Classic and the Byron Nelson.
Louis Oosthuizen-- This is his first time at TPC Boston, but he is striking the ball so well right now, which has resulted in a fourth place at Firestone and a T-5 last week at The Barclays.
Padraig Harrington, Carl Pettersson, Bud Cauley, Vijay Singh, Harris English
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: Deutsche Bank Championship (Ned’s Picks)
Group 1: Luke Donald
Group 2: Brandt Snedeker
Group 3: Tim Clark
Group 4: Tom Gillis
“And another thing…”
The analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat with TheGolfNewsNet.com's Ryan Ballengee on Wednesday at NOON ET. They will be breaking down the field at the Deutsche Bank Championship and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.