By Pete Pappas
GolfWRX Staff Writer
The FedExCup Playoffs continue this week with the 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship, and when the last shot is fired Labor Day evening at TPC Boston only 70 players will be left standing.
The Deutsche Bank Championship is the second of four events in the PGA Tour playoffs, and has produced five different winners since the tournament became part of the playoffs in 2007. Past winners of the event include Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Charley Hoffman, and the defending champion and 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson.
The FedExCup leaders will tee off together and marquee groups battling in Beantown (with their current rankings in the FedExCup) are Nick Watney (1), Brandt Snedeker (2), and Tiger Woods (3).
Last week Watney turned his season around, going from two-down to three-up in a four-hole swing to surge past Sergio Garcia on the final day and win The Barclays (and with that victory, Watney leaped 48 spots to his current first place in the FedExCup standings).
Woods, on the other hand, suffered through another troublesome and increasingly common weekend collapse. Nevertheless — he’ll try to become the second two-time winner of the Deutsche Bank Championship (Singh won in 2004 and 2008). And to that aim Woods comes into TPC Boston healthy.
“The back’s good,” Woods said at a press conference this week, referring to the lower back injury he suffered last week while sleeping on a soft hotel mattress.
2012 PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy (4), Zach Johnson (5) and Jason Dufner (6) is another group worth watching.
McIlroy has only one previous FedExCup playoff appearance (finishing T37 here in 2010). But the young Irishman’s 2012 campaign has been as impressive as anyone’s on Tour. To go along with his second career major victory at the PGA Championship, McIlroy also won The Honda Classic and twice finished runner-up at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Wells Fargo Championship.
Dufner also comes into Boston with two victories this year — the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and HP Byron Nelson Championship. And the native Clevelander also boasts eight top-10 finishes in this season.
“I had a good run in the regular season to get to this point, and I’m excited about the last three events, playing some great golf courses, against some obviously great fields,” Dufner said.
And after skipping last week’s playoff opener Dufner said he is fresh and focused.
“I feel good after the week off,” he said. “I had a nice week at home, just resting, and getting ready for this stretch.”
Other star-studded groupings include Bubba Watson (7), Dustin Johnson (8), and Carl Pettersson (9); Matt Kuchar (11), Hunter Mahan (12), and Keegan Bradley (13); Luke Donald (14), Justin Rose (15), and Stricker (15); and Mickelson (17), Ernie Els (18), and Rickie Fowler (19).
The top 70 players on the FedExCup points list after the Deutsche Bank Championship advance to the BMW Championship next week. And the top five after the BMW control their own destiny. They can win the FedExCup with a victory in the final event, the Tour Championship presented by Coca Cola — which turns the heat up on the 98 players in the field this week to jockey as close as possible to that magical five spot.
And to add just a little more drama to stakes this week, the 18th green at TPC Boston has been redesigned specifically for the Deutsche Bank Championship. Scoring will be more difficult with the green raised about two feet. And subtle changes to the surrounding area add a risk-reward dimension that could result in the tournament being won or lost on a final shot.
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