With notable names such as Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose sitting out this Playoff event for rest, as well as Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods missing out due to personal reasons and inability to qualify, respectively, the Deutsche Bank Championship is missing out on some star power. Nonetheless, the field is still stacked. World No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 (Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson) are all set to tee it up at TPC Boston this weekend along with last week’s champion Hunter Mahan.
Here are five golfers to keep an eye on this week:
1. Jim Furyk
The poor guy just can’t find a way to close. As noted often on the CBS broadcast at The Barclays, Furyk has failed to convert his last eight 54-hole leads/co-leads into a win. He hasn’t necessarily played poorly as he finished inside the top-10 in those eight events, but he is lacking a killer instinct to go low on Sundays. Nonetheless, he has ascended to sixth in the world ranking on the strength of nine top-10 finishes. Even if he won’t be able to find the playoff magic like he did in 2010 when he won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, Furyk is at least a solid choice for your fantasy lineup this week.
2013 Deutsche Bank Championship finish: T27
2. Rickie Fowler
Just like Furyk, Fowler is playing too well to not have a win yet this season. With top-five finishes in all four majors in 2014, many have Fowler pegged to be the rival to Rory’s reign. By tying for ninth place last week, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy continued his torrid pace this season to climb two more spots to No. 11 in the world. Moving up the rankings is no walk in the park, yet Fowler has climbed from No. 40 at the end of 2013. Like Furyk, Fowler has locked up a Ryder Cup spot for next month and can play free and easy as he guns for another top-10 finish and, perhaps, his first win since 2012.
2013 Deutsche Bank Championship finish: Missed cut
3. Luke Donald
If you told me after the 2011 season that Luke Donald would be fighting for a spot in the 2014 Ryder Cup, I would have thought you were crazy. Nonetheless, here we are. After ascending to world No. 1 with a magical 2011 season that saw Donald finish at the top of the PGA Tour and European tour money lists, Donald has plummeted to No. 29 in the world and has yet to cinch a spot in the Ryder Cup. Many anticipate that at the least he will be granted a captain’s selection from European captain Paul McGinley, but a good showing this week and in the rest of the playoffs would go a long way to show his game is on point. At No. 80 in the FedEx Cup points list, Donald is not only fighting for his Ryder Cup life, but he will have to have a good showing this week to land in the top 70 for next week’s BMW Championship.
2013 Deutsche Bank Championship finish: T41
4. Brandt Snedeker
Snedeker is basically in the same boat as Donald. On the outside looking in at the Ryder Cup (points are finalized on the US side, while Europeans still have through this weekend at the Italian Open), many have Snedeker tabbed for one of three Ryder Cup captain’s selections, especially with Tiger Woods taking himself out of consideration. Nonetheless, it would not hurt to play well to impress captain Tom Watson. Like Donald, his FedEx Cup Playoffs future hinges on this week’s play. Currently, he is just barely inside the top-70 (No. 67), but a missed cut this weekend might put an abrupt end to a guy who won the whole thing in 2012. In 2012 he finished sixth at TPC Boston and tied for 47th. Look for him to make the cut to extend his playoff run and to keep him on Watson’s radar as the Ryder Cup looms just one month away.
2013 Deutsche Bank Championship finish: T47
5. Henrik Stenson
As mentioned before, Stenson is one of the premier golfers in the world and his win at last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship led to an eventual FedEx Cup win and capped off a tremendous summer that has led to his current world No. 3 ranking and brought him back to the top after falling outside the top 200 just a few seasons ago. Stenson has played phenomenally again this year, posting top-five finishes at the US Open and PGA Championship, but has yet to win in 2014. Coming back to a place of past success this week could change that for Stenson.
2013 Deutsche Bank Championship finish: Win