For a points system widely perceived as flawed, confusing, and virtually unnecessary, the Fed-Ex Cup's first playoff event, the Barclay's, generated suspense, drama, and ultimately a worthy victor in Matt Kuchar, finally silencing the naysayers.
Despite Kuchar's radiant playoff victory over a disintegrated Martin Laird, there lurked players just one, two, and three shots behind a swarm of dogged competitors who will undoubtedly be out for blood when the Deutsche Bank Championship gets underway Thursday September 2nd at the TPC Boston Golf Course.
The Course: TPC Boston
The 7,304-yard New England track boasts gorgeous panoramic views, but TPC's beauty is deceptive. The majority of holes demand pinpoint accuracy from tee to green. Players' whose shots go awry are brutally punished by treacherous wetland areas, fescue, and enormous trees that devour golf balls for kicks. Players will also have to putt through a maze of both massive and miniature blindingly fast putting greens.
Currently, the Boston area is expecting some light rain, which will undoubtedly favor longer hitters. But while the precipitation is not expected to be constant, what remains a perennial presence at TPC Boston are the swirling winds that could reach up to 20 MPH.
Who To Watch: Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson
With the win at the Barclay's, Matt Kuchar officially seized control over the Fed-Ex Cup Points. Kuchar's win solidified his potential as a candidate for PGA Tour Player of the Year, considering his stats and finishes are unrivaled. His Top 30 finishes in all four Majors remains an exceptional feat, and he also leads the money list, scoring average, and come to think of it, in all-around ranking, too.
But Kuchar is not the only player heading into the Deutsche Bank with a hot hand.
Steve Stricker, the defending champion of this tournament, came within two shots of entering the playoff with Kuchar and Laird at the Barclay's after his stellar five-under-par 66 on Sunday. In addition to his two victories this season, Stricker hasn't missed a single cut. Pair his consistency off the tee with his extraordinary touch on the greens and we may have a back-to-back winner of the Deutsche Bank come Sunday.
It seems like a simple idea, and yet for some reason it took Tiger Woods nine tournaments to decisively keep his driver in the bag. Sure enough, Woods led the field in accuracy off the tee the first day of the Barclay's and shot an opening-round 65. Though his second and third rounds were mediocre, there was visibly substantial progress in Woods' game, which led to an encouraging T-12 finish.
Tiger is a solid prediction this week, not just because he's still the World's No.1, or because he has 71 victories, or even because he has a video game based on him. Actually, at the Deutsche Bank, Woods has not only won once (2006), but finished second twice and never worse than 11th.
Dustin Johnson has become a perpetual presence on Sundays of the 2010 PGA Tour season. After tying for ninth last week and fourth at this event last year, Johnson will ride his momentum, and outrageous distance, into the Deutsche Bank.
Fed-Ex Cup Points Race
- Matt Kuchar (3,937),
- Steve Stricker (2,572),
- Martin Laird (1,977),
- Justin Rose (1,860),
- Ernie Els (1,851).