Tiger Woods, his bad back of a week ago no longer an issue, heads up one of several marquee groups that will take the field in Friday’s first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
“The back’s good,” Woods, who will tee it up in the first two rounds with The Barclays winner Nick Watney and last week’s runner-up Brandt Snedeker, told reporters before playing in Wednesday’s charity golf outing with pal Notah Begay III. “It was a touch stiff on Saturday but it was better on Sunday, so a couple days off, it’s good.”
Woods joined his former college teammate Begay and a roster of heavy hitters from the PGA and LPGA Tours for the fifth annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge. With this week’s tourney at TPC Boston representing the last chance for bubble boys like Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk to make their cases for being U.S. captain Davis Love III’s wild-card picks, Woods and Begay talked Ryder Cup on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” before heading out to Turning Stone Resort’s Atunyote Golf Club in Vernon, N.Y.
Woods conceded that he had discussed with Love the four players who may be on the team but he was close-mouthed about what their talks entailed.
“I have, yes,” Woods said about whether he and Love had chatted about next month’s match with Europe at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. “Will I divulge anything? No. That’s where it ends.”
Begay, a four-time tour winner who lends his expertise to Golf Channel broadcasts, was not so wary about divulging the names of the four players he might choose to round out the team of 12. With Begay observing that European teams have been more successful at balancing “fire power” with “chemistry” in its pairings, he suggested the Americans follow their lead.
“What I would think is in the best interest of the U.S. side is to find pairings that create good chemistry,” Begay said. “Tiger and Strick have had a nice run. Tiger and Furyk have had a nice run. For that reason alone, I’d put those two on the team based on performance and their ability to add leadership.”
Begay would not, however, rule out Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Snedeker, Watney, or Dustin Johnson.
“Whoever Captain Love picks,” Begay said, “there’s going to be a couple of guys that are disappointed.”
In addition to Woods playing with potential Ryder Cup picks Watney and Snedeker, several other notable groups, which are based on their FedEx Cup standings, will be worth watching at the Deutsche Bank:
- Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson, and Jason Dufner -- Dufner skipped last week’s FedEx Cup series opener at Bethpage Black but said on Wednesday he was rested and ready to play.
- Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, and Carl Pettersson -- With Watson the longest on tour off the tee, it should be fun to watch him go driver-to-driver with seventh-ranked DJ.
- Matt Kuchar, Mahan, and Keegan Bradle -- Hometown hero Bradley hopes to be around for the weekend after missing the cut in 2011.
- Luke Donald, Justin Rose, and Stricker -- Stricker hopes to face his two playing partners, who are members of the Euro Ryder Cup team, at Medinah in September.
- Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, and Fowler -- Always a crowd-pleaser, Mickelson has had an off year but squeaked into the eighth and final automatic Ryder Cup spot.
For a list of all tee times, visit PGATour.com.