Tiger Woods may be out of the running to help his team repeat as champions at his pal Notah Begay’s annual charity golf tourney, but the world No. 1, balky back and all, expects to be the headliner at this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship.
With a Labor Day Monday finish, the winner of the 2006 event at TPC Boston leads one of many marquee groups that will kick off the second of four FedExCup playoff events on Friday. And since each playoff tourney sends golfers out for the first two rounds based on their FEC points totals, Woods will take on Nos. 2 and 3, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson, in the opening contests.
Here’s a sample of the heavy hitters who will challenge the 7,216-yard, par-71 TPC Boston track for at least two rounds this week:
- Woods, Scott, Mickelson (Friday, 10th tee, 8:40 a.m. ET; Saturday, first tee, 1:10 p.m.) -- If his back holds out, Woods, with that ’06 victory and a T3 finish last year, when he closed at two shots back of winner Rory McIlroy, has to be a favorite this week. Scott, however, also seems to enjoy late summer in New England, having scored a W in the first DBC tourney in 2003 as well as four top-10 outcomes. Also a former winner on the Norton, Mass., track (2007), Mickelson shared fourth place last year and tied for 10th in 2011. Friday’s opening round will also mark the 33rd time Woods and Mickelson have been in the same group on the PGA Tour, according to PGATour.com.
- Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker (No. 1, 1:10 p.m./No. 10, 8:40 a.m.) -- Nos. 4, 5, and 6 in the standings enter the week after some disappointments in Jersey City. Kuchar found just six greens in regulation in Sunday’s finale, according to PGATour.com, which led to a final-round 7-over 78. U.S. Open champ Rose was a putt away from taking Scott to a playoff and Snedeker, who seemed to battle his own back pain at Liberty National, missed the cut.
- Gary Woodland, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Streelman (No. 1, 12:58 p.m./No. 10, 8:28 a.m.) -- Hometown favorite Bradley held the Liberty National course record (63) for about 24 hours, until Kevin Chappell smashed it by one stroke on Saturday. Bradley missed the cut in his first start on friendly turf in 2011 but finished T13 last year. Woodland shared runner-up status with Woods, Rose and Graham DaLaet at The Barclays and also replaced the 14-time major champion in the Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge when his back injury forced Tiger to withdraw from that event.
- McIlroy, Nick Watney, Roberto Castro (No. 10, 12:46 p.m./No. 1, 8:16 a.m.) -- McIlroy is coming off a T19 at The Barclays, where he was longest off the tee but scored only one sub-par round (a 65 on Friday). As has been the case all season for the two-time major winner, off-course issues seemed to overshadow what went on inside the ropes. Last week, McIlroy and girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki -- a crowd fave last year as she followed her man around the TPC Boston track -- took to Twitter to rebut claims that the power duo had split.
I'd love to know who this guy source is... Seems to pop up in the papers all the time and is wrong 99.9% of the time!— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) August 25, 2013
Since my profile pic made big headlines I better change it again lol.. #dontbelieveallyoureadinpapers— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) August 25, 2013