5 Things: Palmer, Day share Deutsche Bank lead
Saturday, August 30, 2014
NORTON, Mass. – Ryan Palmer has made only one career trip to the Tour Championship at East Lake, in 2010, when he won the Sony Open in Hawaii, his third and last win on the PGA Tour.
That year he finished 23rd in the playoffs.
Through two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Palmer (currently 43rd in FedEx Cup points) is looking to earn a return trip to Atlanta. On Saturday, an even-par 71 left him at 8 under par at the tournament’s halfway mark, and tied with Jason Day for the lead. Billy Horschel and Matt Kuchar are one shot back.
“I just struggled hitting some crisp iron shots,” Palmer said after an eight-shot differential from Friday to Saturday. ”I had a lot of good putts, a lot of good saves, some good long birdie putts. But it was a grind today. I didn't have it all. But I fought hard and stayed patient. And I was able to get in at even par.”
Palmer has not had much success at the TPC Boston. He’s made eight appearances, with not one top 10 to show for his efforts despite the fact he has gone low at TPC Boston on occasion.
In 2004, when Palmer tied for 17th at TPC Boston, he opened with a 65, but shot over par in his last two rounds.
In 2010, Palmer also opened with flair (7-under 64), and he tied for 11th when he shot 69-69 over the final two rounds.
Palmer is looking for two things in the coming days: A better finish than he’s had in the past, and possibly the added bonus of a Ryder Cup berth.
“I guess it's back there, I'm not going to lie,” Palmer said of the possibility of playing in his first post-season cup at age 37. He put himself on the radar with a T-5 finish at the recent PGA Championship. “I'm probably going to have to win to get that. Maybe the top five or three might consider it … but I know I've got to play good golf. And that's the main thing. My main thing is getting myself set up and trying to take care of Atlanta (Tour Championship) this week. That's my goal this week. And win, obviously.”
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1. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Brendon de Jonge’s start to this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship could not have been any more disastrous. Two triple bogeys and three bogeys and the Zimbabwean was 9 over par through six holes.
Only a birdie and eagle on the last two holes of his first nine enabled him to shoot 41, but his 6-over 77 seemed to take him out of the tournament. Well, he made the cut on Saturday, bouncing back with a second-round 67 punctuated by yet another eagle at 18, this one set up with a hybrid to 9 feet.
“I said to my caddie on 17 (his eighth hole of the day), I said, well, if we could somehow pull this one out and make this cut, that would be pretty cool,” de Jonge said. “I had fun. It was nice. It feels pretty rewarding.”
Funny, but it’s not the first time this season that de Jonge has made such a move. In May at the Wells Fargo Championship, de Jonge opened with an 80 and followed it up with a 62 to make the cut. He eventually finished sixth, cashing a check for $239,775.
De Jonge will need some of that magic again if he’s going to make the trip to Denver next week for the third playoff event, the BMW Championship. He stands 79th in the FedEx Cup standings, but could move into the top 70 with a projected finish around T-33.
“I've got absolutely nothing to lose,” he said. “I'm outside the top 70 at the moment, so I figured ... give it everything I had, and worst case I'd get a few weeks off.”
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2. HANGING AROUND: The good news for ticket-holders is that Phil Mickelson will be around for the final two rounds at TPC Boston. As he demonstrated yet again on Saturday, he’s indeed a thrilling ride.
Trying to make amends for his opening 74, Mickelson birdied three of his first seven holes, but slowed his momentum with a sloppy bogey at the par-5 18th. What followed was vintage Mickelson: a fairway-splitting drive of 292 yards at the par-4 first hole, and impressive precision with a wedge from 80 yards.
With the hole location tucked behind a mound, Mickelson had caddie Jim Mackay go to the green and survey what he faced. “Hey, Phil, there’s a touch more room on the right than there is on the left,” Bones yelled down the fairway.
Mickelson nodded, then hit a deft wedge that tracked toward the hole all the way. Having confirmed with the left-hander, Mackay yanked the flagstick when the ball was in mid-air, but it never threatened the hole. It did come to rest a mere 8 feet away; Mickelson made it, and acknowledged the crowd’s appreciation.
It would be his final birdie of the day, but with a round of 2-under 69, Mickelson safely made the cut at 1-over 143.
That’s miles from the lead, but on the bright side it’s presently got him projected inside the top 70 to get into next week’s BMW Championship at Cherry Hills outside of Denver.
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3. ROUGH WATERS: Lt. Billy Hurley started the second round in a tie for 17th after an opening round 69, and as the second round began he was 3 under and five shots off of Palmer’s lead. That would change quickly as Hurley made four birdies on the back nine (his opening nine) and when he made the turn after making a 3-footer for birdie on the 18th hole, he saw he was tied for he lead.
As quickly as Hurley ascended to the top, though, he would plummet back down just as quickly. A 5-footer on the ninth hole left him with a second-round 74 and even–par for the championship, eight shots off the lead.
“Maybe you can argue that I don't know what to do in the lead,”Hurley said afterward. ”You can make that statement if you'd like, but I mean, I don't feel like that. I mean, obviously it's a different feeling. I've only done it a couple of times, but I don't really feel like that influenced how I played.”
Hurley instead pointed to his bunker shot on the third hole, that he characterized as one of the worst plugged lies he had ever seen. After making a double-bogey 5, the round went south fast with a stretch that started with a bogey on the fifth hole, double at the sixth and bogeys at the seventh and eighth.
“Just kind of rattled, just kind of frustrated that the ball had plugged (on 3),” Hurley said. “And then I missed like a 4‑footer on top of it for bogey, and then the next hole I missed a 3‑footer . . . and then I hit it in the trees and then I hit it in the water and then I three‑putted and then I three‑putted (again).”
That kind of day. The best of times, the worst of times.
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4. CRUEL CUT: Only 13 players missed the cut on Saturday, which fell at 3-over 145, but most of those who departed town will be headed to Denver, so the missed cut was not damaging for their FedExCup run.
For one player, it was a cruel cut. Robert Garrigus was 88th in the playoff points list and needed to make the cut for a chance to move on to Denver.
Struggling for most of the round, the long hitter found himself at 5 over for the championship on his 12th hole, two shots outside of the cut line. Garrigus would birdie the fifth (his 14th hole) and then make consecutive birdies on the seventh and eighth holes to move from 5 over to 2 over, and inside the cut.
But as De Jonge was making eagle at 18 to move the cut line from 3 to 2 over, Garrigus was four-putting from 44 feet on the ninth hole. His double-bogey 6 moved to 4 over, and suddenly he had a vacation starting sooner than he’d expected it to start.
On the final hole, Garrigus missed putts of 5, 6 and 2 feet.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: And finally, three players missed the 36-hole cut at the first two playoff events: Harris English, Justin Hicks and Robert Garrigus . . . Scott Brown aced the 171-yard eighth hole with an 8-iron. It was Brown’s second ace on tour and his second this year. Brown made an ace at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial and is the only player on the PGA Tour this year to have recorded multiple aces… Jim Furyk shot a 4-under 66 and now has recorded 87 of his 107 rounds in the FedEx Cup playoffs at par or better… The 3-over cut ties the second highest cut in Deutsche Bank Championship history. In 2006 the cut was 4 over, and in 2012 it was 3 over.
– Alex Miceli, Jim McCabe