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Thursday, September 1, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at Deutsche Bank

Last week Rickie Fowler came up short on the last day of The Barclays as Patrick Reed outlasted him down the stretch. Both men are in the field at Deutsche Bank this week. Can they possibly duke it out again?

Fowler congratulates Reed on victory at The Barclays

TPC Boston is a world away from Bethpage Black when it comes to setup. Although the two courses are comparable in difficulty -- at least, as determined by slope rating (152) and par (71) -- the Black is around 250 yards longer with narrower fairways and higher rough. TPC Boston is an Arnold Palmer design that was redone by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon, which basically means it's a player-friendly course with numerous ways to attack the greens.

So what does that mean for my "5 to Watch"? Is accuracy less important this week? Are the shorter players unlikely to get it done? The list of past winners does appear to favor the longer hitters, but not the longest of the long. That player-friendly design tends to level the playing field a bit.

A few players aren't even being considered this week. While I try not to underestimate him these days, Henrik Stenson's knee concerns me a bit; the 2013 champ and 2015 runner-up has come back a bit soon for my taste. Although Adam Scott has a few Top10s in the past, he hasn't played particularly well here the last three times. And that's even more true of DJ. So call me a fool if you like, but I just can't pick them.

At any rate, here are my picks:
  • Rickie Fowler is the defending champion here and, while he stumbled down the stretch last Sunday, his game certainly appears to be back on track. With his short game firing on all cylinders, it's hard not to like him to repeat.
  • Okay. Maybe Patrick Reed will have a bit of a letdown this week after that big win, breaking his string of "almosts" over the last couple of years. But I wouldn't bet on it. Patrick wants to prove something, and two in a row would certainly do it.
  • Speaking of something to prove... Russell Knox. So two wins don't justify a Ryder Cup pick, eh? Darren Clarke may end up wishing he had a "Billy-Ho pick" left!
  • Another player bucking for a Ryder Cup berth is Ryan Moore. He's playing really well, coming off a win and a T7 in two of his last three starts. You wanna catch Davis Love's attention? I'm pretty sure a Deutsche Bank win would do it.
  • And my flier is... Emiliano Grillo. I know, he's one of the shortest drivers in the field and I haven't even mentioned Day or Spieth or McIlroy or any of the other players who have finished well here in the past, who have games that seem built for TPC Boston. (Gosh, Rory won it in 2012!) But Emiliano's only been out of the Top14 once in his last six starts -- and those include two majors, a WGC and the Olympics, with a T2 last week.
Which one am I taking as my eventual winner? I took Reed at the Olympics, but I was a couple weeks early. I took Fowler last week, so I'm gambling that I was a week early with him. I'll take Rickie Fowler for $200, Alex. (For my international readers who may not have seen some US game shows, that's a Jeopardy joke.)

But I'll be honest with you... I could have taken any of my "5 to Watch" and felt good about my choice. All five players are pretty hot right now, and I expect all of them to have a chance to win it this week. I'm picking Rickie primarily because he's the defending champ and his game appears to finally be back in form.

Don't forget that the Deutsche Bank event begins TOMORROW, on Friday, and ends on Monday because of the Labor Day weekend here in America.

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