We are into the “conference semifinal” round of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs as the Top 100 in the points standings have advanced (99 are playing, with J.B. Holmes out due to health reasons) after last week’s rain-shortened Barclays tournament to this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. And it’s an unusual weekend on Tour because we know there will be a Monday finish – with this tournament scheduled around Labor Day weekend it goes Friday-Monday.
American Dustin Johnson won the opening playoff event last week in New Jersey, with the Barclays cut to 54 holes thanks to Hurricane Irene. It was an overdue win for Johnson, who memorably lost potential major titles at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 2010. He finished the Barclays at 19-under 194 for his first win of the year (and his first since February 2010) and fifth of his career. He became the first player since Tiger Woods to go straight from college and win in each of his first four years on the PGA Tour. Johnson (+1000 to win this week) immediately took the points lead over Matt Kuchar, who finished second last week and is +1500 for this tournament.
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Only the Top 70 in the points will advance to the BMW Championship in two weeks. According to the PGA Tour and using last year's points total, it's expected that the top 56 players at the Deutsche Bank Championship likely have enough points to move on. That would leave 43 players (not including Holmes at No. 77) to vie for the remaining 14 spots. One player who needs a good result this week is defending FedEx Cup champion Jim Furyk, who is No. 60 in the standings. Furyk, +4000 on WagerWeb to win this week, has Top-10 finishes in this tournament two of the past three years.
Also look for something potentially surprising in Friday’s first round: Phil Mickelson using a belly putter. Mickelson teed off in Thursday’s pro-am with a belly putter and his standard-length model in the bag, and it is unknown which he will put it in play when the tournament starts. The belly putter seems to be the newest craze on Tour. Lefty (+2200) won here in 2007 but hasn’t contended on Tour this year since a T2 at the British Open.
PGA Tour Odds: The Deutsche Bank Championship Favorites
World No. 1 Luke Donald is the favorite this week at +700 on WagerWeb. The Englishman, who hasn’t won in the States since February’s Match Play, finished T18 last week, following a 70 with a pair of 66s. Donald’s 10 Top-10 finishes on Tour leads all players this year and he is the only European in the Top 20 of the FedEx standings. Donald finished in a group at runner-up last year, five shots behind winner Charley Hoffman. Otherwise Donald hasn’t had good results in limited action at this tournament.
Steve Stricker is next at +850, and we documented his playoff success last week – he’s the only guy to play every round of every event in the FedEx Cup history and he is almost always in contention. Stricker also has never been outside of the Top 15 at the TPC Boston, where he won two years ago.
Adam Scott is next at +900. Scott shot a final-round 76 last week, playing his final seven holes in 6-over, to drop from Top 10 all the way to 67th. That was his worst round in a Tour event since opening the Players Championship with the same number. It was easily his worst tournament since missing the cut at the U.S. Open. But Scott’s track record at TPC Boston is very good. He was the first champion here (2003) and has two more top-fives, including last year's T5.
PGA Tour Odds: The Deutsche Bank Championship Interesting Long Shots and Predictions
I mentioned Geoff Ogilvy last week as a decent long shot and he failed, missing the cut. Well, I’m going with the Aussie again at +4000. It’s simply now or never for him as Ogilvy is 91st in the points standings. Plus, this track suits him as Ogilvy was part of that runner-up group last year, his third top-seven finish in his past four at TPC Boston.
But I like Vijay Singh at +2500. He is the only two-time winner here (2004, 2008) and also shares the course record (61). Singh appears to finally be healthy and ready to win for the first time since ’08. You may not have noticed, but Singh has been Top 5 in each of the past two weeks.