Deutsche Bank: Inside Track
Harry Emanuel with his pre-tournament analysis of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
Course: TPC Boston
Location: Norton, Massachusetts
Low winning total: 61 Vijay Singh (2006) Mike Weir (2008)
Course Record: 262 Vijay Singh (2008)
Field: Top 100 players in the FedEx Cup Standings
Cut: Top 70 plus ties after 36 holes
Tee Off: Friday BST 12:40
With 25 players eliminated from the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup, a field of 100 will be competing this week at the second Playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts.
The top 70 players will advance to next week’s third Playoff event, the BMW Championship.
For fans who appreciate low scores and a lot of birdies, the Deutsche Bank Championship is for them. Since its inception in 2003, the winning score has averaged just over 17 under par (17.33).
The tournament takes place on Labour Weekend and it is the only PGA Tour event with an official Monday finish.
Last Time Out
Vijay Singh posted a final round eight under 63 to become the only multiple winner of the Deutsche Bank Championship (2004 and 2008). With a tournament record 22 under 262, Singh cruised to a five stroke win over Mike Weir.
The win gave Singh victories in the first two FedEx Cup Playoff events cementing his place at the top of the points list and he went on to become the 2008 FedEx Cup Champion.
The TPC Boston is an Arnold Palmer design which had been upgraded slowly over the past four years by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon. The course measures 7,304 yards and with only one par five on the back nine plays to par 71.
Unlike many redesigns the golf course has actually been shortened rather lengthened in recent years. In 2006 the course played over 7,415 yards but the fourth was reduced from 425 yards to a 295 yard drivable par four and long par three sixteenth was shortened by 50 yards.
Many of the changes have been of a cosmetic nature. The addition of stone walls, chocolate drop shaped mounds on some fairways, reshaping around the greens and remodelling of the bunkers has given the course a classic New England feel.
A lot of work was done to the greens and areas around the greens with the addition of bunkers and run off areas. This year they have narrowed the 14th and 15th fairways, added new moulding on 17 and reshaped the area around the greens on the third and sixth holes.
The fairways are generous in size and with two reachable par fives (second and eighteenth) and the drivable par four fourth it has always been considered a course that suits long hitters.
The narrowing of a number of fairways and remoulding of the landing areas is making this more a test of strategy. However heavy rain last Saturday has left the course soft and the ball is not rolling out on the fairways and in the first few rounds the course will play at its longest.
Nearly half of the bent grass greens have been completely altered over the years. Many of greens have ridges running through the middle and demand accurate approach shots to the correct part of the green.
Any wayward approaches leave players putting over the ridges making three putts a real possibility. New run off areas and bunkers mean the penalty for missing the greens has increased placing a greater emphasis on accurate approach play.
The green are soft and players will be able to fire at the pins but the greens still remain fast at 12 on the stimpmeter and should firm up as the tournament goes on.
“Yesterday I played the pro-am, we played early, so the ground was pretty soft. We weren’t getting hardly any roll, and it was playing really long, and we were on the front of every tee box, too. I was hitting 3- and 4-irons into a few of the par-4s. But I think with the weather it will firm out a bit. Just totally a different feel than last week because we’ve got trees and a little wider landing areas this week. But I think you’ll see some low scores with how good the greens are and with the weather we’re going to have.” – Webb Simpson
“Again, they’ve made a few changes this year, but everything looks great. I mean, I have a feeling it’s going to get firmer and faster just like it did last year and get much, much harder.” – Heath Slocum
Horses for Courses
The TPC Boston has been kind to Vijay Singh. He has four top four finishes in five career starts at the Deutsche Bank Championship and is the only multiple winner of the event with victories in 2004 and 2008. He was second in 2006, fourth in 2003 and despite finishing one over par for a share of 60th place in 2007 he is still a collective 65 under in five starts at TPC Boston.
Singh holds both the low tournament and low eighteen hole record and is the only player to surpass $3,000,000 in career earnings at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The 18th is the easiest hole on the golf course. Last year this 528 yard par five yielded 21 eagles and 206 birdies and only 25 bogeys or worse.
The tee shot is somewhat demanding because of the bunkers in the center of the fairway. Players need to decide whether to play over those bunkers or to the left. Then they have a decision to go for it in two, which is a forced carry over a wetland area that guards the front of the green or they can lay up. It is an exciting finishing hole on which the result of the entire tournament often rests.
The forecast is good with sunny skies and light winds on all four days with a 20% of light of showers on Friday.
Birdies are the order of the week and with soft greens the players can be aggressive over the first two days. Long hitters still have an advantage but changes to the course place a greater emphasis on strategy and accurate iron play.
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