With Ryder Cup talk in full force, let’s try to look past that and focus on this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, MA. We have an extra day of prep this week since the tournament starts on Friday, so take advantage of that extra research time, but don’t overdo it and talk yourself too far off your gut plays.
The course is TPC Boston which plays host to this event annually, unlike last week’s Barclays and next week’s BMW, which both rotate courses year-to-year. TPC Boston is a par 71 that plays right around 7,300 yards. It’s an Arnold Palmer design that has been touched up by Gil Hanse. The fairways are easy to hit and the greens are bentgrass.
The first thing I like to look at is the yardage on a hole-by-hole basis. This week’s track is remarkably close to Bethpage Black last week. There are three par 3s over 200 yards, two par 4s under 410 yards, three par 4s between 410 and 450 yards, six par 4s over 450 yards and one par 5 over 575 yards. All of this is the same as last week’s Black Course at Bethpage, so yardage-wise, we don’t see a huge difference.
The big difference comes in the difficulty of the setup. While Bethpage features some of the most penal rough in the country, TPC Boston is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Golfers can grip it and rip it without much fear that errant tee shots will get gobbled up. Because this allows bombers to rip it apart from time-to-time, it gives TPC Boston a somewhat false reputation as a bomber’s paradise. When in fact, the course is manageable for all distances to compete, just look at the track record of Steve Stricker or Jim Furyk if you need proof.
Great scramblers have also had a knack for performing well here, so I will give that a strong look this week, as well.
Other than Bethpage Black, some other comparable events/courses I stumbled upon include: the Memorial, Congressional CC and Firestone CC.
Check out the Fantasy Golfanac for golfer quotes and tournaments angles.
Players to Watch
Henrik Stenson… Withdrew after round one last week for “precautionary” reasons after feeling pain in the same knee that was operated on over the winter. It was a poor opening round by his standards but he could have shot even par in round 2 and still made the cut. The Swede has a win (2013) and runner-up (2015) on his TPC Boston resume so keep a very close eye on his status and be ready to invest if nothing bad pops up.
Jason Day… Was right in the mix last week despite having some of the worst off-the-tee stats at Bethpage Black. Luckily TPC Boston is much more forgiving off the fairways so I’m expecting him to add to his already strong resume of five top 15s here at TPC Boston.
Rickie Fowler… Nearly played his way onto the Ryder Cup squad but floundered down the stretch. Still a good week, but he did nothing to help out his reputation as a poor closer. Luckily, this week has a very similar yardage setup to last week’s venue, and a win here last year reinforces that it plays well for his game. He’s still a lock to crack the Ryder Cup squad but in true Fowler fashion, I think he’ll finish the season strong to prove he’s worthy.
Rory McIlroy… The switch to the Scotty Cameron mallet did him no good on the greens, but he’s had some poor history putting at Bethpage Black to begin with. He remains a weekly threat to win, and is long overdue for a PGA TOUR victory. With a victory already on his TPC Boston resume (2012), might as well add a second.
Justin Rose… As a member of Team Course History, I don’t just look for the top course horses, I also look for fades based on course history. Rose certainly fits that bill this week. The Englishman has finished outside the top 50 in six of his last seven visits to TPC Boston. That is just bizarre for a golfer of his talent. It could be a sight line thing or it could be trouble with the green complexes. Whatever it is, I don’t want to bank on him figuring it out, especially with his salary where you are really looking for a top 15 to avoid disappointment.
David Lingmerth… While I’m fading Rose due to course history, Lingmerth is someone I’m willing to take a chance on. He’s 0-for-2 here with just one round in red numbers, but four rounds is not enough to convince me he’s a course turd. Also, unlike Rose, his expectations are much lower, so I can pick him on DraftKings for $3,400 cheaper. Why am I willing to take a shot? He’s fared really well on two of the correlated events I’m looking at, WGC Bridgestone and the Memorial.
Louis Oosthuizen… He’s generally top 40 every year in strokes gained off-the-tee and TPC Boston will let him put that big stick to good use. It’s no surprise to see a 2nd and 12th on his TPC Boston CV, in two tries.
Emiliano Grillo… He’s been a weekly plug-and-play for a few months now. Now his salary has risen quite a bit on DraftKings, unfortunately. Once again he should set up great for the course, but his lack of scrambling skills does worry me a bit. If he’s splashing greens at an ultra-high rate then it won’t be a big problem, but if he’s just average in terms of GIR this week then it could become an issue.
Sergio Garcia… His lack of respect/care for the FedExCup is a bit concerning. He doesn’t give a hoot about the dangling carrot ($10 Million) and makes that clear by skipping one or two events every year. Finished eighth at the Olympics but hasn’t teed it up since. I think I’ll leave him alone and let him work out the rust this week as he tries to peak for the Ryder Cup.
Bubba Watson… Has ZERO top 10s in 10 starts at TPC Boston. On the bright side he’s beat the field average in seven of those starts, so he’s not tanking he just hasn’t popped. His ability to thrash the par 5s makes him a solid play on DFS sites that heavily value eagles.
Steve Stricker… Stricks is a very tough nut for me to crack this week. On one hand, he’s the Team Course History play at TPC Boston. He also finished T2 in birdie or better percentage last week (his best performance in that stat all year). The down side? He lost 3.69 strokes off-the-tee + approach-the-green. At this point in his career, I don’t think he has the tee-to-green game to rely on week-to-week. Despite the long track record of stellar course history, I’m going to pass here.
My Top 25 for the 2016 Deutsche Bank Championship
1. Jason Day
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Bubba Watson
4. Rickie Fowler
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Adam Scott
7. Henrik Stenson
8. Jim Furyk
9. Emiliano Grillo
10. Zach Johnson
11. Charl Schwartzel
12. Patrick Reed
13. Louis Oosthuizen
14. Gary Woodland
15. John Senden
16. Kevin Chappell
17. Tony Finau
18. Justin Thomas
19. Brooks Koepka
20. Dustin Johnson
21. Branden Grace
22. Sergio Garcia
23. Matt Kuchar
24. Webb Simpson
25. William McGirt