Betting market and overview
One hundred players get the nod to advance to the second stage of the Playoffs and The Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston tees off on Friday. Danny Willett misses out as he defends his Omega European Masters title across the water on the European Tour. American PGA Tour players not qualified for the Ryder Cup will be looking to impress captain Davis Love for the remainder of The Playoffs in the hope of a wildcard pick.
Last year at TPC Boston saw an epic battle down the stretch between eventual winner Rickie Fowler - 29.00, and former winner Henrik Stenson - 19.00. The undoing of the latter was a club misjudgment combined with a gust of wind on the par 3 16th leaving him short and wet. This is a standout theme at TPC Boston - par 3s are troublesome and there are a lot of hazards in close proximity to many greens on the course.
The top of the market looks very strong this week but there are question marks about many of the big guns. Jason Day - 7.50 - has a two-way miss going from the tee. That won't work at TPC Boston despite some generous landing areas. Jordan Spieth - 13.00 - is inconsistent in his ball striking, while Rory McIlroy - 13.50 - is struggling on the greens. For me, this leaves plenty of the value towards the front of the market on defending champion Rickie Fowler who was brilliant at The Barclays until the back 9 on Sunday, and Adam Scott - 19.00, who gave his usual ball striking masterclass at Bethpage Black to earn a top 4 spot.
The course - TPC Boston
TPC Boston is a woodland style course playing just under 7,300 yards to a par 71. There is some room for manoeuvre off the tees but grassy mounds and fescue lined bunkering await the overly errant. Trouble lurks in close proximity to many greens: this comes mainly in the form of ponds and marsh land. When the wind blows it brings these hazards very much into play as Henrik Stenson will attest to, and this is why you will see some extremely weird scoring patterns looking down past Destsche Bank Championship leaderboards.
Nick Watney and Patrick Reed - 19.00 - are two notables to shoot in the 80s while bang in contention on what is generally a track that yields a lot of blue numbers. TPC Boston can play firm and fast too and according to reports it's been dry and sunny in the area. Greens are slick and those hot with the flat stick can go low as Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk - 151.0 - showed in 2014, but TPC Boston is predominantly a second shot track where controlled aggression pays off.
The par 5s are some of the best risk-reward holes you will see all year with the marsh on no.2 causing havoc to some scorecards. Nick Watney chalked up an 11 on this hole. The closing par 5 18th is easily reachable in two but come up short and find yourself in a grassy marsh, or miss left into no man’s land where a redesigned catchment area leaves it almost impossible to get up and down. Many a 3rd shot will come back to your feet or go through the green into the deep bunker on the other side. Anything can happen down the stretch here.
Three from the pack
Brandt Snedeker - 51.00 or 11.00 - stands out at his price this week at a venue that suits. The short game specialist has improved his long game this year and currently sits 46th in strokes gained tee to green, and 23rd in strokes gained total. He told us at the Open Championship he'd been working on his short iron and wedge game with TrackMan after seeing the turnaround of Dustin Johnson from that range this year, and his figures look decent averaging circa 57th from 50-150 yards. Sneds is 28th in par breakers which is key at TPC Boston. He's recorded 3 top 6 finishes at the venue and was 3rd just two weeks ago at Wyndham.
Billy Horschel - 51.00 or 11.00 - recently mentioned in an interview that he likes the firmer conditions, and forecast is for "sunny and dry" this week. He showed us what he can do at TPC Boston with the flat stick in 2014 when tying 2nd just behind Chris Kirk, who holed even more. Horschel is of course renowned for his ball striking, ranking 23rd in strokes gained tee to green, so if it's no coincidence and he does in fact like the greens here at TPC Boston, he could prove great value. Billy is in first gear now with a T5 at the Wyndham followed by a T13 at Bethpage, where he contended for a time.
Last of the value best plays from the middle of the market is horse for the course Charley Hoffman - 81.00 or 17.00. Charley is showing progressive T25 - T13 finishes and closed out with a 67 at Bethpage so he looks to be hitting first gear ahead of one of his favourite haunts. Again, Charley is in the top 30 of the strokes gained tee to green stats and ranks 46th in proximity. He can be a birdie machine when he gets going, finishing the 2015 season 30th in par breakers.
TPC Boston though seems to bring out the best in him: The American won here back in 2010 and has recorded a handful of top 30s since. Last year he carded a 2nd round 63 to build-up a substantial lead at half way. Unfortunately, he fell ill on the Saturday and succumbed to a 76, but bounced back on the Sunday with another 67 to record a top 3 finish. Mid-sixties rounds are common place for Hoffman at TPC Boston and he actually bookended with rounds of 64 - 62 en route to his victory in 2010. He got over the line already this year so confidence will be high if he gets in contention again.