T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
2014 Deutsche Bank Championship | Five players to watch
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Thursday, August 28, 2014 | 8:33 a.m.
For U.S. Ryder Cup Captain's Pick hopefuls, this is it -- the line in the sand.
The Deutsche Bank Championship, the second leg of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup, takes place beginning Friday at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. It's the final event on the PGA Tour schedule before U.S. Captain Tom Watson names his three wildcard picks next Tuesday in New York.
All of that means there are serious implications for U.S. players, including the likes of Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson.
Mahan was the winner last week at the Barclays, but was it enough? Snedeker is known as one of the best putters in the world -- a huge asset in the Ryder Cup -- but missed the cut at the Barclays after posting three consecutive top-13 finishes.
Bradley missed the cut at the PGA Championship and finished in a tie for 53rd at the Barclays. This week is a home game for the New England native, at a course where he's finished in the top-16 each of the last two years.
Finally there's Simpson. He tied for fifth at the Wyndham Championship, which was sandwiched by missed cuts at the PGA Championship and the Barclays.
Of course, those aren't the only players to look out for at TPC Boston. Here are your five players to watch.
5. Henrik Stenson
Best finish in 2013-14 season: T3 at the PGA Championship
Reason to watch: Stenson is the defending champ at the Deutsche Bank Championship and it's the place where he started his magical run in 2013 on his way to becoming the first player to win both the FedExCup and the European Tour's Race to Dubai in the same season. It hasn't been a spectacular season for the Swede, but he did tie for fourth at the U.S. Open and he tied for third at the PGA Championship. He's had his European Ryder Cup spot sewn up for quite some time now. He's just playing to win.
4. Webb Simpson
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: As mentioned in the intro, this is Simpson's final opportunity to make an impression on Watson. He really needs a big week. Luckily for Simpson, he's got history at TPC Boston, having won the 2011 Deutsche Bank Championship. That T5 at Wyndham was promising, but the missed cut at the Barclays had to sting. It's put up or shut up time this week.
3. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, PGA Championship
Reason to watch: The slumping McIlroy (calm down -- we're kidding) tied for 22nd at the Barclays a week ago in his bid to win in four consecutive starts. I think he's entitled to a pass, don't you? I mean rattling off three wins -- two majors and a World Golf Championship -- in three starts is as good as it gets. He's made it clear, however, that he'd also like to win the FedExCup. Having won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2012, I'd say there's a good chance McIlroy gets back on a roll this week at TPC Boston.
2. Keegan Bradley
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Reason to watch: Bradley might be the most intense player on Tour and that's without a Ryder Cup Captain's nod hanging in the balance. All the stars are aligned for him this week -- he's got a home game on a track he's familiar with and the situation appears to be cut and dry: play great and you're headed to Scotland. Don't give Watson a reason not to pick you.
1. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2013-14 season: Won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
Reason to watch: Very quietly, the world's No. 2-ranked player is enjoying a solid season. He's finished in the top 10 eight times in 14 starts, hasn't missed a single cut and his worst finish by far was a tie for 38th at the Players Championship. Outside of that start, every other one has been inside the top 25. With those kinds of numbers it's hard to believe he could be overtaken for the No. 1 spot in the world, but that's a testament to just how great McIlroy has been. Nevertheless, Scott wants to pile up the wins. TPC Boston is a far different course than it was when he won the inaugural tournament there in 200, but he has had four top-10 finishes at the event since that victory 11 years ago. Expect the Aussie to be there until the end of this long holiday weekend.
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