The FedEx Cup moves into the second play-off event on Friday as the PGA Tour makes its annual Labor Day visit to New England for the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
The top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings have made it through to the second leg of the play-offs, with only the top 70 making it through to next week’s third leg at the BMW Championship.
It’s an unusually-scheduled Friday start at TPC Boston in order for fans to enjoy a Monday finish on the American holiday Labor Day, while also giving the golfers an extra day to prepare.
Dry and sunny conditions in Boston could mean for a firmer and faster course than usual, although there is a threat of storms heading in from Sunday which could shake things up a little.
Although 100 have qualified, only 94 will line up in the field on Friday with a number of big-name absentees from the event, including Dustin Johnson on his own personal absence and Jason Dufner who is out injured.
Graeme McDowell is staying at home with his new-born daughter, Paul Casey is waiting for his wife to give birth, while Sergio Garcia is taking a rest and Justin Rose is back at home for his son’s first day at school.
The 7,216-yard, par-71 Arnold Palmer-designed TPC Boston was only opened in 2002, but was tweaked by Gil Hanse in 2007 to become more scoring-friendly, and that is certainly how it’s played since. Three of the last six winners scored 22-under-par, while Rory McIlroy reached 20-under in his 2012 victory, so expect more aggressive birdie making.
Henrik Stenson shot a final-round 66 to equal the tournament record with a 22-under-par mark to clinch the trophy last season, on the way to a remarkable stretch when he claimed the money titles on both the PGA and European Tours. Sergio Garcia faltered down the stretch to lose by two shots as the Swede secured his victory by holing a bunker shot from beside the 17th green in a remarkable exhibition.
Leading contenders (With Sky Bet odds)
Rory McIlroy (4/1 – 9/2 priceboost win only)
It’s not really hard to make a case for McIlroy getting back to winning ways after his remarkable winning run ended at last week’s Barclays. An ‘off’ week was always on the cards, and he can bounce back easily at a course he took apart to win on back in 2012 en route to world dominance. Back then, he also won the US PGA Championship and with successive major wins this time around he’ll have no problem falling back into that winning groove.
Adam Scott (10/1)
The Aussie bagged his first PGA Tour win here in 2003 and with five top 10s in nine starts he obviously has an affinity with the course. Finished 15th last week despite a shocking 75 on Saturday, but will need his putter to warm up to stand a chance in Boston.
Jason Day (14/1)
Two top threes at TPC Boston and a T2 at the Barclays confirmed that he is well and truly back to his best form. He’s always there or thereabouts in the big events but with a short enough price the fact he’s still only won one strokeplay event on the PGA Tour must be a big worry to his supporters and to the man himself.
Henrik Stenson (16/1)
The defending champion returns to Boston sitting way down in 66th in the FedEx Cup with only the top 70 going through to the BMW and then top 30 for the Tour Championship. Of course, one big week will ease all his problems, and that could come on a familiar course with fond memories from last year. Closed with a 68 after a horror show 77 on Saturday at The Barclays last week, but only a couple of weeks since a T3 at Valhalla so cannot be discounted.
Rickie Fowler (16/1)
A fifth straight top 10 finish last week despite never really threatening to win, and he’ll enjoy the birdie fest of attacking golf on offer in Boston. He’s had 14 rounds in the 60s from his last 16 outings on the course, and this one should be right up his street. After such a good summer though the worry is a lack of course form coupled with possible tiredness, and the fact he’s still only managed one Tour win.
The market leaders usually do pretty well here, and with a number of big names missing then maybe this could be the time that Jason Day finally puts all those near misses behind him and collects a big breakthrough victory.
There are a few other decent prices out there though, most notably with both Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson available at 25/1.
Mahan is the only man to have played every FedEx Cup play-off event since it started, and leads the table after last week’s win. He would be just the second man to win the Barclays and Deutsche Bank in the same season, but in just seven seasons of the play-offs we’ve had four back-to-back winners while Stenson won two out of four last year so that should not put you off.
Mickelson has had more shots played from hospitality tents than top 10 finishes so far this season, but there was a second place at the US PGA. He loves the track in Boston and won there in 2007, but by his own admission his game is frustrating him – if he can get his head straight he’ll have a big chance.
There can be no more motivated man than Brandt Snedeker in the field, who sits in 71st place in the standings after a missed cut last week. A 12th, 13th and 5th before that suggested some fine form, and he had three straight top sixes here up until last year. Add his course form to a desperate last-gasp Ryder Cup bid and he’ll be as fired up as anyone.
Others of value and appeal include the fast-finisher of last week Patrick Reed (40/1), who can more than hold his own in a birdie shootout, Ernie Els (50/1), fresh off a T5 last week who looks to have found some form again, and Gary Woodland who finished T13 last week.
2 pts e.w Jason Day 14/1
1pt e.w Brandt Snedeker 33/1
1 pt e.w Phil Mickelson 25/1
You can watch the Deutsche Bank Championship live on Sky Sports 4 from 6pm on Friday