The PGA Tour rolls into Boston this week, for the second leg of the FedEx Cup play-offs. The Dell Technologies Championship, which took on its current title sponsor 12 months ago, has been a mainstay in the play-offs, since their inception in 2007, and is where players can either play their way in, or out of the top-70 that will star in the BMW Championship next time out.
Formerly known as the Deutsche Bank Championship, this event has crowned some great winners, during an important time of year – Labour Day weekend. Due to holiday weekend, this event starts on a Friday and ends on the Monday, as opposed to the usual Thursday-Sunday slot, so don’t get caught out.
Even though he hasn’t found too much success so far at TPC Boston, World No.1, Dustin Johnson still claims favouritism this week at 9/1, followed by defending champion, Justin Thomas (11/1) and U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner, Brooks Koepka (12/), according to almost every online betting site we have checked in. Two players who often look over-valued, but may actually be worthy of consideration at shorter odds this week are two-time tournament winner, Rory McIlroy (14/1) and Tiger Woods (18/1) who has a win, a 2nd, a 3rd and multiple top-10’s to his name here.
The Course and what it will take to win
TPC Boston, 7,342 Yards, Par 71
TPC Boston has been used since this tournament began in 2003, and has remained host throughout the play-offs, so the players will only be too aware of what is required to get the job done here.
This course heavily favours those who are playing well tee-to-green, not only on the week, but generally throughout the season.
Since 2007, Webb Simpson (20th) is the only winner here to not rank inside the top-11 for SG: Tee-to-Green the week he won.
Of the 10 qualifying winners* here since 2007, only Rickie Fowler (26th in 2015), Chris Kirk (50th in 2014) and Charley Hoffman (16th in 2013) have won here since 2007, whilst ranking outside the top-6 in SG: Tee-to-Green on the season. This in itself highlights that this is a test for the very best ball-strikers.
*Rory McIlroy had not played enough rounds on the PGA Tour in 2011, to qualify for this stat.
It is also somewhat of a bombers course, with McIlroy (twice), Justin Thomas and Phil Mickelson all winning since 2007. Whilst the likes of Kirk and Webb Simpson boast victories here as well, they had to be impeccable both tee-to-green and with their short games to get the job done.
No one type of player should be ruled out here, as this as generally an all-round test, but if you are not amongst the longest off the tee, you will need to ensure the rest of your game is in fine fettle.
Also interesting is the amount of winners here, who got the job done despite a slow start to their FedEx Cup play-off run. Thomas finished 6th at The Northern Trust last year before winning this event, but the five winners before him had not finished better than 24th the week before they won.
McIlroy (2016) – 31st at The Barclays the week before
Fowler (2015) – MC at The Barclays the week before
Kirk (2014) – 53rd at The Barclays the week before
Stenson (2013) – 43rd at The Barclays the week before
McIlroy (2012) – 24th at The Barclays the week before
Simpson (2011) – 10th at The Barclays the week before
Hoffman (2010) – 27th at The Barclays the week before
Stricker (2009) – 2nd at The Barclays the week before
Singh (2008) – 1st at The Barclays the week before
Mickelson (2007) – T7 at The Barclays the week before
As you can see, when the play-offs first started, the win here generally went to those with a hot hand already, but that hasn’t always been the case in more recent years, so those that struggled last week, will not be too despondent just yet.
If we look a bit deeper though, Thomas (2017) and McIlroy (2012) had both won the PGA two starts prior to their wins here, and Simpson’s win at the Wyndham Championship in 2011 preceded his 10th at the Barclays, so recent form is still much preferred, even if not the week before.
Hoffman was the only player, since the inception of the FedEx Cup to make this his first win of the season. The other 10 winners had at least one win worldwide already during the season.
In summary, an elite ball-striker, who has already won at least once on the season, will be high on the shortlist this week. Whilst 6th or higher in SG: Tee-to-Green is probably too high of a benchmark, you wouldn’t want to be counting on those way down the pecking order, when looking at the season-long stats either, so look for those that have been at the very least, steady all season from tee-to-green. With Kirk (50th) the worse tee-to-green across the season by some distance, I would use Fowler’s ranking of 26th as a more realistic benchmark.
Rory McIlroy 20/1 (Coral, Ladbrokes, SportingBet) 3pts e/w:
I don’t often find space for Rory McIlroy in my selections, in fact I couldn’t tell you the last time I put him up, but at 20/1, I have finally decided to bit the bullet on him, at a course he enjoys.
The majority of McIlroy’s problem is putting, as he has looked bang-average with the short stick all season, but on his favoured putting surface, he can find his second win of the year.
In terms of Bentgrass green performance, McIlroy ranks 2nd only behind, Justin Rose, since 2014 according to futureoffantasy.com and a return to this type of surface could ensure not only a second win of the season, but also a third at TPC Boston.
Victories here in 2012 and 2016 are complemented by a 5th place finish in 2014. If he can keep up his current strike rate of a top-5 finish every two years here, he will surely be in for a run at the title.
Rory is coming in off the back of a two-week break, after struggling to a 50th place finish at the final major of the year, the PGA Championship. With the Ryder Cup and the rest of these play-offs at the forefront of his mind, he decided to skip last week, where he may have struggled due to the demands off the tee, and instead will start his quest for a second FedEx cup title here.
Since winning at Bay Hill in March, McIlroy has finished T5 at the Masters, where he had every chance of winning, 2nd at Wentworth, 8th at the Memorial, 12th at the Travelers, as well as 2nd at the Open Championship. A 6th place finish at the WGC Bridgestone which promised to be a whole lot better, followed that fine effort at winning a second Claret Jug. All in all, his game generally looks in fine shape, despite the criticism, which revolves heavily around his choice of caddy, and lack of ability to put the event to bed when in contention in recent times.
14th in SG: Tee-to-Green and Off-the-Tee, as well as 6th Around-the-Green, it is only his putting (76th in SG: Putting) that comes into question once again.
20/1 about McIlroy always catches the eye, but on a course where he has two wins and a 5th place finish to his name, I am lapping it up this time. It looks as though Rory has been priced based on his fortnight off and his disappointing effort at the PGA, as opposed to his strong season as a whole and for that reason, I am certainly confident he should be shorter.
Henrik Stenson 40/1 (UniBet) 1pt e/w:
As ever, Henrik Stenson has been exceptional tee-to-green, this season, ranking 4th in SG: Tee-to-Green. He also leads the Tour in SG: Approach, Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation, so he is clearly striking the ball as well as ever. His iron play, as well as his trusty 3-wood are the bread and butter of his success, but one club has been letting him down more than ever, all year.
Unfortunately for the Swede, he has been far from at the races on the greens, ranking a lowly 172nd in SG: Putting. This is woeful for a player of Stenson’s quality, and will no doubt be frustrating for the former FedEx Cup champion.
After a taking a week off last week, he will be keen to right a few wrongs here as he not only looks to make strong run at a second FedEx Cup victory but firmly catch the eye of European Ryder Cup Captain, Thomas Bjorn, who will desperate for the veteran to prove himself ahead of Paris.
It is evident, that he is merely a good putting week away from winning for the first time this season, and after closing with a round of 64 last time out, he will be keen to get it rolling again.
Stenson was trying to defend the Wyndham Championship on his last start, and whilst he could only muster up a T20 finish, he did shoot two rounds of 65 or better, and failed to break 70 just once (shot 70 in round 3), so he should have enough to go well this week.
Fresh from skipping the Northern Trust Stenson can return to a course where he has a win (2013) and a 2nd (2015) in just four starts.
Whilst he has not won this season, or at all since winning the Wyndham in 2017, Stenson can boast top-6 finishes at both the Masters (5th career-best) and the U.S. Open (T6), amongst seven top-10s in that span.
TPC Boston is clearly a decent hunting ground for Stenson, despite mediocre of finishes of 26th and 41st either side of his 1st and 2nd place finishes, and at 40/1 I am happy to chance that he can capitalise on his impressive tee-to-green play for the first time this year.
Patrick Reed 40/1 (Unibet) 1pt e/w:
I picked Reed last week at the Northern Trust, based on his odds and his form on Tillinghast designs, and whilst he could only produce a T25 finish, I am happy to opt for him again, even at a shorter price.
After finishing 70th on debut here in 2013 and missing the cut in 2014, Reed has since put together a run of three-straight top-6 finishes here, and he can post a similar result this week.
He has been understandably quiet by his standards, since that career-changing win at Augusta, but he has never really looked out of sorts, remaining solid week-to-week.
24th on Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green, Reed just passes the test on that front, but with his ridiculously consistent course form, he can be expected to put in a performance of the highest quality, and find his best finish since Augusta.
Until he shortens to an unbackable price again, Reed is generally going to be worth a customary glance, and this week he deserves more than that.
As fine a competitor as any of his day, if he gets even the slightest sniff of a chance come Sunday, you can bet your bottom dollar he will be relentless in pursuit of a seventh PGA Tour victory.
Billy Horschel 50/1 (General) 1pt e/w:
Whilst Horschel doesn’t meet the benchmark criteria when it comes to SG: Tee-to-Green (47th in 2018), he is well known for being a form player, and he is in a rich vein of it at the moment.
Horschel finished 3rd last week at the Northern Trust, a week after finishing 11th at the Wyndham, and five weeks after finishing 2nd at the Barbasol. Three finishes of 11th or better in his last five starts means he’s riding a hot wave of form, and he did just that when winning the FedEx cup trophy in 2014.
A 2nd place finish at this event in 2014, was the springboard to him finishing 1st at both the BMW Championship and the season-ending, Tour Championship, which ensured he netted the cool $10m bonus.
With a 3rd place finish in New Jersey last week, he has perhaps got his run of form off to an early start, and another good week here would mean a second realistic shot of pocketing a $10m bonus for the second time in his career.
Other than his 2nd place finish here during that wonderful run in 2014, Horschel’s form here reads MC-MC-72-70, which is of course – dismal.
His MC here in 2016 was particularly perplexing as he was coming in off the back of 5th and 13th place finishes at the Wyndham and The Barclays respectively, but on the other three occasions, he was fighting for form.
As we know, that is not the case this week, and after seeing what he is capable of here when 2nd in 2014, there is every chance his good form continues, at what looks to be a generous price in a reduced field.
Total Points Staked this week: 12
Profit/Loss for 2018: -128