The FedEx Cup moves on to the second leg of the playoffs for the historic Labor Day weekend Tour stop in Boston. The 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship will begin on Friday, with a Monday holiday finish at TPC Boston for the remaining 100 players. There will be 30 more players knocked out in Norton, with only the top 70 in points moving on to Chicago.
As is typically the case, Tiger Woods enters the week as the favorite. He has a win and two runner-ups on this course and, despite his poor weekend at The Barclays, he's still third in the standings and the likely favorite to take home the $10 million prize at the end. Woods' back bothered him last week but he still battled through the final three rounds. He enters the tournament looking to atone for a brutal finish on Sunday at Bethpage.
A even favorite with Tiger is his playing partner from last week, Rory McIlroy. While Rory is one of the shorter, smaller players on Tour, he still bombs it out there as far as anyone and TPC Boston is notorious for being one of the longer courses on the circuit. It's a park that always favors the big hitters, and McIlroy can build on his top-25 finish last week to take control of the standings.
Boston has also been a place where some of the players on the top-70 bubble take off. Last year it was bubble boy Chez Reavie, who rode a T10 finish in Boston to move all the way through to Atlanta and finish 9th overall in the standings. This is also the track where Webb Simpson's amazing year really took off. The young Wake Forest product had a steady 2011 summer, picking up his first win in Greensboro. But it was the FedEx Cup victory here last year that propelled him into the spotlight as one of the best young Americans in the world. In the next calendar year, he would light up the International Team at the President's Cup in Melbourne and then go on to capture the U.S. Open.
But more than the FedEx Cup boost, this tournament will be played against the Ryder Cup backdrop. It's the final opportunity for a host of American players to prove their mettle and become one of Davis Love III's captain's picks. Love will make his selections on Tuesday after the tournament wraps up. Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk, and now Nick Watney are the biggest contenders for the final four spots. Steve Stricker, also known as "Mr. September" for his success in Boston and throughout the playoffs, seems to have locked up one spot. The 2009 Deutsche Bank winner will certainly be one to watch this week.
Johnson has been red hot lately and in constant contention, finishing T3 at The Barclays. This could be the bomber's paradise that favors the long-hitting South Carolinian and locks up a spot with a victory. Watney has a comparable game and has now come out of nowhere to add to Love's difficult decision. The Ryder Cup jostling will certainly dominate the storylines throughout the week but unlike all the drama on the European side, Love has reiterated it's a good problem to have. He's emphasized how much these final two weeks could mean to the roster, as he looks for a hot golfer in form. More than the FedEx Cup points, that will surely be what's weighing on everyone's mind this weekend.
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