Deutsche Bank Championship: Tasty Apples worth a bite in Boston, says The Punter

Stuart Appleby - The Punter's only bet in Boston
Stuart Appleby - The Punter's only bet in Boston

Our man takes a detailed look at the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs series in Boston, where strong trends suggest it could be a great event to trade in-running. Read Steve's comprehensive preview here...

"I like backing great players that suddenly find their form and after a poor opening round of 73 at The Barclays, Apples shot rounds of 66, 68 and 65 to finish tied for second. That may well prove to be a flash in the pan but if it doesn’t the 210.0209/1 currently on offer is huge."

Tournament History

The Deutsche Bank Championship is a relatively new event on the PGA Tour - it was first played in 2003 and this will be the 12th edition. It's the second of the four FedEx Cup Playoffs and is restricted to the top-100 in the standings but a number of qualified players are set to miss the event...

Sergio Garcia is taking a rest, Graeme McDowell is home with his wife and brand new baby daughter, Paul Casey's wife is due to give birth next Monday, Justin Rose is staying at home as his son is starting school and Jason Dufner is injured. And then there's Dustin Johnson, who's on his little break. 

It's Labor Day in the States next weekend so unusually, the tournament runs from Friday to Monday.


TPC Boston, Norton, Massachusetts

Course Details

Par 71, 7214 yards
Stroke index in 2013 - 69.06

The Arnold Palmer designed TPC Boston only opened in 2002 but it's been tweaked a bit already.

Gil Hanse, with help from Brad Faxon, made changes to the track in 2007, reducing the length of the course by around 200 yards. The biggest change came at the 4th hole which is now a drivable par 4 and further changes were made prior to the 2012 renewal in an attempt to toughen-up the 18th. The green was raised by a couple of feet and it was halved in size but it didn't make an awful lot of difference, it's still a very good chance to end your round with birdie at least.

TPC Boston is a far easier course than the one faced last week at The Barclays and the players speak of it fondly. Here's what Phil Mickelson had to say about the place a few years ago.

"This is one of my favourite courses we play on TOUR. I think it's one of the best courses we play on TOUR. It's got a lot of character and definition, but more than that it's got a great mixture of holes, from long par-5s to reachable par-5s to drivable par-4s to really long par-4s, the fescue grass, the rough. It's just a wonderful way to play the game where you have such a great mixture of every club in your bag. You have birdie opportunities; you have tough pars as opposed to some courses nowadays where it's just hard, hard, hard. Hard is hard, but it's not great, it's not fun. But this golf course is a great golf course, and it's a fun golf course to play."  

The bent grass greens are always praised by the players and they'll run at around 11.5 on the stimpmeter. 

Useful Sites
Official Program

Course Site
Twitter Link
Tee Times
Weather Forecast

TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, 19:30 on Friday, 20:00 on Saturday, 18:00 on Sunday and 16:30 on Monday

Last Five Winners

2013 - Henrik Stenson -22
2012 - Rory McIlroy -20
2011 - Webb Simpson -15 (playoff) 
2010 - Charley Hoffman -22
2009 - Steve Stricker -17

What Will it Take to Win The Deutsche Bank Championship?

This is a low scoring birdiefest where a hot putter is usually the secret to success. Stenson ranked number one for greens hit twelve months ago and was ranked just 15th for putting but he's the exception and not the rule. The worst any of the previous eight winners had ranked for putting average was seventh. 

Stenson and 2012 winner, Rory McIlroy ranked first and third for par 4 performance but the six winners before them all ranked inside the top-ten on the long holes.

Is There an Angle In?

Stenson hadn't won in 2013 before victory here and he'd finished down the field at The Barclays the week before but he'd been in red-hot form before that, having finished second at the Open Championship and the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational and third in the USPGA Championship. 

Four of the five winners before Stenson had won an event in the weeks leading up to this event. Rory had won the USPGA Championship, Webb Simpson the Wyndham Championship, Steve Stricker the John Deere Classic (and he'd been second the week before at The Barclays) and in 2008, Vijay Singh was making it back-to-back wins, having won The Barclays. 

When Phil Mickelson won here in 2007, he'd finished seventh at The Barclays the previous week and 2006 winner, Tiger Woods, was winning his fifth event in-a-row! Vijay Singh had won both the Buick Open and the USPGA Championship in the month before he won here in 2004 and in the 11 renewals to date, only the inaugural winner, Adam Scott, and the two shock winners, Olin Browne in 2005 and Charley Hoffman in 2010, can't be described as being at the top of their game.

Steve Stricker said of the venue, "It's a fun course ... I think it's a good test. It's one of those if you're playing well, you can shoot a good number." And that sums it up perfectly. It's somewhere where low numbers are the norm (the course record is 61 shot by two men, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir) and you need to be at your best so don't expect to see someone suddenly find form from nowhere. 

Is There an Identikit Winner?

Those towards the head of the market have won nine of the 11 renewals, the USPGA Champion has fared very well and most of the winners have been household names but I wouldn't want to put anyone off a huge outsider. Browne and Hoffman were very much shock winners and Chez Reavie really should have won the 2011 renewal at a massive price. He hit a low of 1.021/50 before bogeying the very easy finishing hole and then went on to lose the playoff. 

In-Play Tactics

Following an opening round of 67, last year's winner, Stenson, sat tied for 23rd and four off the lead and that's as far back as nine of the 11 victors have been after round one. Scott had trailed by six after day one in 2003 and Lefty was seven back in 2007 but the majority of winners have been fast out of the blocks. 

By halfway, Stenson was up to second and trailing by just a stroke and that's pretty typical -Stricker in 2009 and Simpson two years later both trailed by five strokes at halfway but the other nine winners were all within two strokes of the lead and inside the first four places. TPC Boston is not a catch-up course but being in front with a round to go has been a handicap...

Scott and Singh won the first two renewals having led by three with a round to go but seven solo 54-hole leaders have been beaten since then. Browne was tied with four others with a round to go when he won and Stricker was tied with two others in 2007 but being in front on your own has proven a death knell. 

Market Leaders

So flawed is the FedEx Cup scoring system, that this week's favourite, Rory McIlroy, having won two majors and a WGC event in three of his last four starts, has fallen to second behind Hunter Mahan after finishing outside the top-20 at The Barclays but this is a great opportunity for him to get back to the top of the standings.

Singh, Woods, and Rory, two years ago, have all won this event having just won the USPGA Championship and I can very easily see Rory doing it again. Having won three tournaments in-a-row, he was due a disappointing week and this looks a far more suitable venue than last week's. 

The big negative is that he didn't putt well last week but it would be no surprise at all if he started rolling them in again here and I wouldn't put anyone off backing him at what looks a fair price.

Adam Scott was another to suffer with putting woes last week. He hit the front at halfway despite missing numerous chances last Friday but he followed that with a disastrous 75 on Saturday and he'll have to pick himself up after his lacklustre tie for 15th. 

In addition to his win here in 2003, Scotty has four other top-eight finishes but he's short enough for me given the track suits frontrunners and that's not his forte.

Jason Day went into the final round of last week's Barclays tied for the lead with Jim Furyk but yet again he found one too good. He's one of the numerous third round leaders to have been beaten here too (in 2010) and although he has both course and current form and a most obvious chance, at just 17.5 he has to be swerved. He still has only one stroke play win to his name on the PGA Tour so he's hardly prolific.

Like Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson lost all chance of victory at Ridgewood with an awful third round. He sat two behind the Aussie at halfway but after making a 9 at the 4th hole and four straight bogeys from the 6th, the likable Swede gave himself an impossible task. 

Stenson has had a frustrating year so far and has given up a few chances to win, either side of the Atlantic. Being defending champion isn't a plus and he's another I was happy to dismiss quite quickly.


I fancied a number of players here and in the end have backed just one. I can see Rory bouncing back in style and I really like Rickie Fowler, who's playing some quite spectacular golf of late. Like McIlroy, he was entitled to a slow week at The Barclays after a run of fine performances in the biggest events but without ever being in-contention he still managed a top-ten at Ridgewood. I fancy he'll have a great week but the fact that he hasn't performed brilliantly here before is off putting and so is the fact that he's still only ever won one event on the PGA Tour.

We've only had seven editions of the FedEx Cup Playoffs but we've already seen four back-to-back Playoff event winners, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Camilo Vilegas and Rory have all managed it and Stenson won two of the four events last year too, so the market could easily have dismissed Hunter Mahan too readily.

Patrick Reed caught the eye on Sunday with his fast finish, both Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have form here and are huge prices if they're in the right frame of mind and Ernie Els has most certainly found his touch on the greens.

I may back one or two others before the off, if any I like drifts much, but for now, it makes more sense to wait for the event to start - especially given the fact that a slow start is such a handicap. I have however backed last Sunday's in-play trade - Stuart Appleby.

I like backing great players that suddenly find their form and after a poor opening round of 73 at The Barclays, Apples shot rounds of 66, 68 and 65 to finish tied for second. That may well prove to be a flash in the pan but if it doesn't the 210.0209/1 currently on offer is huge.

For my Deutsche Bank Championship 2016 Preview then you'll find it behind the link.

Stuart Appleby @ 210.0209/1

I'll be back later today with my Open D'Italia preview.

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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