The Dell Technologies Championship is the tournament formerly known as the Deutsche Bank Championship. The name might have changed but the host course is still TPC Boston and the event is the second of the four FedEx Cup playoffs. Dustin Johnson leads the standings after winning last week and he is playing well enough to win again and virtually seal the FedEx Cup.
The post season has a history of producing multiple winners. Rory McIlroy won twice at this stage last season to clinch the FedEx Cup and £10 million bonus. Johnson has all aspects of his game in order and after working on his short game he is now the complete player. The world number one hits the ball long and straight which means his driving sets up plenty of birdie and eagle opportunities.
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TPC Boston was designed by Arnold Palmer and was opened in 2002. It is a long course with generous fairways and larger than average greens. The 18 holes were built on wetlands and there are several long carries of the tee. There are just three par 5s in a par of 71 including the 18th which is a great risk/reward test. Overall, this is a long hitter’s course and the key skills for good scoring are driving distance, greens in regulation and putts per round.
The field is made up of the top 100 players in the standings after last week’s event. The top 70 progress to the next Playoff tournament of which 30 players qualify for the Tour Championship two weeks later. This week’s tournament runs from Friday to Monday to coincide with a public holiday at the start of next week. TPC Boston has hosted a tournament since 2003 so there is plenty of course form to assess. Longer hitters have a considerable advantage but players must also putt well to contend.
The average winning score at TPC Boston over the last 10 years is almost 18 under in a range from 15 under to 22 under. The winning score in the last three years was 15 under. There has been one playoff in that spell and 7 wins by one or two shots. Six US players have prevailed in the last decade when Henrik Stenson and Vijay Singh also won for the overseas contingent. Six of the last 10 winners were current or future major champions so the cream often rises to the top.
McIlroy won the tournament last year after an opening round of 71 and three scores in the 60’s. He was also the champion in 2012 so he has a game suited to the course but his form is not strong enough to contend this week. McIlroy was fancied to win the USPGA Championship on a course that fits his eye. However, he was never a factor in the final major of the season and talked about taking an extended break. However, he is defending the FedEx Cup title with some injury niggles that have not yet cleared up. After the Tour Championship he might not play again until early next year.
Jordan Spieth is good enough to win on any type of course. He looked the most likely winner of the Northern Trust but was beaten by Johnson on the first extra hole. The winner hit a monster drive at that hole in the playoff which set up a crucial birdie. Spieth didn’t do much wrong down the stretch and in the playoff but was beaten by a better man. However, mental letdown will make it a tough proposition for Johnson to win again and other players are preferred. Adam Scott has the right profile to win.
Putting has been an issue but Scott seems to have adjusted to the rules regarding belly putters. The Australian has a light schedule and has a game suited to the course. In the past he has been a top 50 player for driving distance, greens in regulation and average putts per round. Scott has won at the highest level so he has a game and temperament to win the 2017 Dell Technologies Championship.
Back next Thursday.