We're down to 100, and all but Spaniard Sergio Garcia will tee it up at the annual birdie fest that is TPC Boston and the Deutsche Bank Championship. Although conditions were a bit firmer than usual last year - which reflected in the scoring - the Deutsche Bank Championship was still the token shootout and Chris Kirk was the one who emerged victorious. Key to Kirk's success was his putting from the mid-distance range en route to a final day 66.
The top 70 in the Fedex Cup points list will advance to phase 3 come Sunday night, before the top 30 hit East Lake for the Tour Championship. The Deutsche Bank Championship starts on Friday, with a Monday finish due to Labor Day in the States.
Last week at The Barclays wasn't a good one for Jordan Spieth - 8.00. A missed cut at Plainfield CC saw Rory McIlroy - 9.00 - reclaim his no. 1 spot in the world over Jordan without lifting a finger, while Jason Day's - 6.50 - third victory in 4 starts has seen the Aussie overtake Spieth at the top of the Fedex Cup rankings.
The course - TPC Boston
A birdie fest with a twist: TPC Boston plays circa 7,240 yards to a par 71 and offers up par breakers aplenty, but a feature around this course is trouble in close proximity to the greens, and rounds can get away from you fast if you're a little off in the ball striking department.
Nick Watney can attest to this, having clocked up an 11 on the par 5 2nd while in contention back in 2011. Patrick Reed opened 68-68 here last year and then bizarrely succumbed to a 3rd round 82 in similar conditions. The trouble comes predominantly in the form of marshes and ponds while penal grassy mounds and bunkering line the fairways. There is room off the tee though so big hitters have an advantage here. Premium will be on GIR%, and iron play will be key to success. Greens are undulating and usually slick so putting from 10-20' will be pivotal, as Chris Kirk showed in 2014.
Three from the pack
Henrik Stenson - 15.00 or 3.75 - is the obvious choice this week and there may be a little bit of juice in his price, given the top three in the market are taking out so much of the book. Stenson is a former winner at TPC Boston and, indeed, the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship victor - who went on to take down the Fedex Cup that year - hit the tournament record low at TPC Boston with a total of -22. Coming here with a T6 at the Bridgestone and a runner up at The Barclays says his iron game is on point. The Swede leads the GIR percentage stats on the PGA Tour with a clip of 74.07% and also tops the ball striking and total driving charts. He's second in strokes gained tee to green and owns an average spot of 42.5 from 10-20 feet on the greens.
Justin Rose – 21.0 or 5.00 - may not have a great record at TPC Boston but he can build from a 16th place finish in 2013. He didn't tee it up here last year but his price stands out. Justin talks about adding an extra 20 yards off the tee, and being relatively straight with a total driving rank of fourth, this will benefit him no end around the TPC Boston track. Rose sits 8th in the greens in reg department. He lies third and 12th in the birdie and putting averages respectively and key for Rose as always will be the short putts. The Englishman was hugely impressive last week, bouncing back from an opening 77 with rounds of 65-63 for T16. He hit over 70% of greens (T18).
Patrick Reed - 81.00 or 16.00 - is the bet of the week for me. Reed carries with him what I like to call hidden form. I'm putting last week's result down to his inaccuracies with the driver - he hit just 46.43% of fairways on a track where finding the short grass was key. Looking at his stats, there's a strong theme of high GIR% on tracks with room off the fairway for Reed, and TPC Boston fits the profile. Patrick was clocking up the top 30s prior to The Barclays, and as mentioned earlier, he opened 68-68 here last year to be T5 at halfway, while the stats will only show a third round missed cut after that very strange 82 I alluded to. Reed sits 11th in birdie average and arguably his strongest asset is the flat stick - ranking 5th in putting from 10-15' and sixth in putting average.
Kevin Kisner - 101.0 or 19.00 - comes from the Reed school of 'confidence' and the Georgia Bulldog will be keen to emulate good friend and fellow University Alum, Kirk's success here last year. Kisner has contested three playoffs this season and looks to be rounding back into form with a top 20 at The Barclays, where he ranked T13 in GIR% and 12th in strokes gained putting. Kevin sits 26th in total driving for the season and could be this week's dark horse.