How great is it to be a golf fan these days? Sure, it was incredibly entertaining to see Tiger Woods in his prime, but he pretty much was destroying the field. He never had a true rivalry -- no, I don't think Phil Mickelson really was one. They rarely contended together in big-time tournaments.
But now we are looking at a 20-something threesome of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day battling it out for likely the next decade. Last week at the FedEx Cup playoff-opening Barclays event in New Jersey, I didn't expect much of Day after his very emotional win at the PGA Championship for his first major title. I was wrong.
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It's so rare to win your first tournament after a major, but Day was spectacular last week by finishing at 19-under 261, six shots clear of the field. All Day did on the weekend was shoot 63-62. It's his third win (third!) since barely missing out on the playoff at the British Open. Day also took over the FedEx Cup points lead from Spieth. Day's last 20 rounds on Tour have been at par or better, second only to a 21-round streak Patrick Reed had early in the year.
Day's fourth title this season matches Spieth for the most, and he's making a late push for PGA Tour Player of the Year, although I don't see how Spieth doesn't win that even if Day wins the FedEx Cup. Henrik Stenson finished second to Day at the Barclays and Bubba Watson third. McIlroy didn't play but still regained the No. 1 world ranking because Spieth shockingly missed the cut. Either Spieth or Day could take the No. 1 this week -- Day has never had it. If Day wins and McIlroy and Spieth each finish lower than second place, Day would become the 19th player since the world ranking's inception in 1986 to ascend to that honor.
Due to an error on my part, I wrote by Barclays preview as usual on Tuesday last week but forgot to send it in until after Round 1. The only Top-10 result I hit on was Dustin Johnson at even money. Spieth I liked too at -200. I went with Matt Kuchar to win, but he was T39. After Round 1, I liked Camilo Villegas following his 65, but he didn't break 70 again and finished T30. So I'm ready to move on from the Barclays!
So the Top 100 in points, down from Top 125, move on to the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston this week. This is one of just two events on Tour each year with a Friday-Monday schedule thanks to the Labor Day holiday. Then next week the playoffs take a break. Two guys who just missed out on being in the Top 100 on Sunday were Nick Taylor and Stewart Cink, who finished Nos. 101 & 102. Taylor missed a 7-foot-birdie putt on his 72nd hole or would have made it. Ditto Cink, who missed a 14-foot par. Villegas made a 9-footer for par on his final hole to get to No. 99.
Seven other players moved into the Top 100 from outside it: Zac Blair (from No. 106 to No. 45), Spencer Levin (115 to 80), Jason Dufner (103 to 82), Carlos Ortiz (112 to 83), Mark Wilson (114 to 85), Luke Donald (119 to 87) and Johnson Wagner (101 to 92). The current bubble boy is Jason Kokrak. The Top 70 advance to the BMW Championship. Boo Weekley is currently 70th. All but one of the Top 100 are supposed to play in Boston except for Sergio Garcia, who also sat out the Barclays. But Sergio already has officially advanced.
The defending champion is Chris Kirk. He played his final 37 holes without a bogey and finished with a 5-under 66 in the final round for a two-shot victory. Kirk was a whopping 10 shots out of the lead after his Friday round. Billy Horschel tied for second with 54-hole leader Russell Henley and Geoff Ogilvy. Kirk is +12500 to repeat at Bovada.
Golf Odds: Deutsche Bank Championship Favorites
Day is the +600 favorite . Since the British Open, Day has made 99 birdies and is a crazy 73-under-par. Next best is Justin Rose at 49-under. That's stupid. If you are wondering, five players have won consecutive playoff events all time. Day has three Top-10s at this tournament with a T7 last year.
Spieth and McIlroy are +750. Last week was only Spieth's third missed cut of the season. Last time was at the Players Championship and he was T2 in his next start at Colonial. Spieth has played this tournament twice, a T29 last year and fourth in 2013. McIlroy plays for just the second time in a competitive event since June because of that ankle injury. He was 17th at the PGA Championship and fifth here last year. He won the event in 2012.
Stenson (+1400) and Rose (+1600) round out the favorites. The Swede obviously played well last week with the runner-up and won here in 2013. Rose was T16 last week and had the same result here in 2014.
PGA Tour Picks: Deutsche Bank Championship Expert Predictions
For a Top 10, I like Day at -200, Spieth at -150, Stenson at +130 and Bill Haas at +600. Haas usually plays well at TPC Boston. Head-to-head, I'll go with Spieth at -105 over Day (-125), Rickie Fowler (-115) over Zach Johnson (-115), Brooks Koepka (-115) over Jim Furyk (-115), Stenson (-125) over Rose (-105), and Phil Mickelson (-125) over Justin Thomas (-105). Lefty is only 52nd in points, so he better not miss the cut or he might be in jeopardy of not moving on.
I'm taking a shot on Ian Poulter at +700 as top Englishman. He is 69th in points, so I'm sure will be aggressive. High-risk, high-reward. I like Stenson at +300 as top European and Day at -125 as top rest of the world. Stenson is my winner -- he's peaking right now and torched this layout two years ago.
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