NORTON, Mass. – As if grinding away to advance in the FedEx Cup playoffs wasn’t enough of a chore, some players had added pressure in Monday’s final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The deadline for tickets to Melbourne is fast approaching.
That would be Australia and the upcoming Presidents Cup, an affair that may lack the buzz of the wildly popular Ryder Cup, but it sure rates with those who are eligible. Especially Aussies who want nothing more than to play the international match before their countrymen Nov. 17-20.
“I’d really be disappointed if I didn’t play,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “I’d be home anyway, and it would be tough to not be part of it.”
But Ogilvy (11th), like fellow Aussies Robert Allenby (14th), and Aaron Baddeley (15th), ranks outside the top 10 with just one tournament left to try and make the team on his own. The three of them are all going to play in the BMW Championship (Sept. 15-18), but barring something dramatic – like a victory – they appear destined to cause Greg Norman some sleepless nights.
“Right now, today, I’d pick me,” Ogilvy said.
Yet Ogilvy, who has played in each of the past two Presidents Cups, understands Allenby and Baddeley could make strong cases, too. Then there’s the intriguing presence of Vijay Singh, a short while ago seemingly an afterthought but suddenly in the mix.
Or is he?
While Singh has an impeccable resume and provides great experience, it’s hard to believe that Norman wouldn’t want to pack his lineup with a little more Aussie power to give the home folks even more to cheer about. Jason Day and Adam Scott are on the team, but presently the roster is filled out with three Koreans (K.J. Choi, K.T. Kim and Y.E. Yang), four South Africans (Charl Schwartzel, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen), and the teenage star from Japan (Ryo Ishikawa).
Ogilvy, who won the 2008 Australian PGA, pointed out that Allenby has played beautifully in his homeland (he’s won the Open, the PGA and the Masters in Australia), and Baddeley is no slouch, either (two Aussie Open titles dot his resume), thus has their inability to crack the top 10 provided Norman with a dilemma.
“He’s done an excellent job (communicating) with us,” Baddeley said. “He emails us all the time.”
Of course, Baddeley feels a bit responsible for making Norman do all this emailing and calling. He felt he could have won The Barclays “and that would have locked up a spot, but I putted so bad. And I’m hitting the ball the best I’ve ever hit it.”
Ogilvy and Allenby could have done more, too.
In his past 12 PGA Tour starts, Ogilvy has missed five cuts – including the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship – and been top 10 just once. There was a nagging finger injury to start his year and a shoulder problem after that, “so I feel those have hurt me and I haven’t had a proper chance,” Ogilvy said.
Allenby has finished top 10 just once in his past 14 PGA Tour stops and hasn’t had a top-25 finish in his last five.
Tough decision, but at least Norman has two picks. His counterpart, U.S. captain Fred Couples, has just one left. That’s his own doing, of course, because Couples has already committed one pick to Tiger Woods. It’s still a choice that makes a lot of sense, but it’s perhaps painted Couples into an uncomfortable corner, especially since, like Norman, he’s not getting anyone to step up.
Brandt Snedeker (11th) and Rickie Fowler (14th) are young guys showing some sizzle, except for when it comes to finishing things. Keegan Bradley jumped into the picture by winning the PGA Championship, only to then miss back-to-back cuts in the FedEx Cup playoffs. And Bill Haas, whose father, Jay, is Couples’ assistant captain and good friend, has fallen out of the top 10 (he’s 12th) by going MC, T-24, T-61 in his last three tournaments when he could have perhaps locked something up.
Tough choices for both captains, no matter how you look at it. Then again, they do get the big bucks.
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This isn’t the Masters: They don’t hand out crystal for making an eagle at the Deutsche Bank Championship, but if they did, the glass-maker would be working overtime right now. When a dozen eagles were recorded in Monday’s fourth round, it improved the four-day total to a whopping 47.
Three players made three eagles apiece – Bubba Watson, Brendan Steele and Adam Scott. Give Scott the nod, however, because he made them on three different holes, Nos. 2, 4, and 18. Watson made his at the seventh (two) and the 18th, while Steele did it twice at 18 and once at the par-5 second.
Seven players made two eagles and another 24 made one apiece.
The par 5s (12 at No. 2; 7 at No. 7; 19 at No. 18) yielded the bulk of the eagles, but there were sixth at the short fourth, two aces at the par-3 16th, and Phil Mickelson’s hole-out from left rough at the par-4 12th.
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Sorry to bring this up: Chez Reavie may not want to be reminded, but the par-5 18th, which he bogeyed to allow Webb Simpson into the playoff, was clearly the easiest hole at TPC Boston. It played to a field average of 4.551 in Monday’s fourth round (4.5 overall) when there were more than five times as many eagles and birdies (36) as bogeys (seven).
Think Reavie would like a mulligan on that wedge shot from about 117 yards?
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Location, location, location: That usually refers to what realtors tell you about buying a house, but it holds true to where tournament officials decide to put the day’s holes on the putting greens. And to demonstrate how crucial this is, we present TPC Boston’s par-4 10th.
Hardly an intimidating hole, it becomes exponentially more demanding depending upon where the flagstick is located. In Sunday’s third round, players had their way with the hole and recorded 30 birdies against just six bogeys for a field average of 3.692.
Ah, but with the hole tucked and a firmer green waiting, the field made just 13 birdies while recording 11 bogeys and two doubles. The field average was 4.026.
The eventual winner, Webb Simpson, made bogey there, while his playing competitor, Luke Donald, had to work hard to make par.
“Neither Webb nor Luke could figure out how to hold that green with a wedge,” said Paul Tesori, Simpson’s caddie.
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Strap in for a bumpy finish: Scott at one time early in Round 4 had the lead, but when he fell back with a bogey at the par-3 eighth, he might have felt he had to make things happen on the back.
How else to explain his wild stretch coming home – four birdies, four bogeys and one double. That’s right, the young Aussie failed to make a par on his homeward holes as he finished birdie-birdie to shoot even-par 71 and finish joint eighth.
Scott clearly was in an aggressive frame of mind, because he had made just four bogeys over his first 54 holes. You have to give him credit for trying to win, which is what a player of his ability needs to do. He played similarly at The Barclays when entering the third and final round he was several strokes back and said the goal was to try and shoot something in the very low 60s.
Unfortunately, you can shoot 76 – as Scott did in the final round at Plainfield CC – when you’re pushing hard to shoot 61, and if you’re trying to shoot 31 or 32, as he was on TPC Boston’s inward holes, the 37 he put up is easy to explain.