Winner’s Share – $1,440,000
Hunter Mahan made it another win for us after a stunning final round at the Ridgewood Country Club. And with that, he remains the only person to have played all FedEx play-off events in their short history while also propelling himself above Rory McIlroy in the FedEx standings.
So with our 100% record in this year’s play-offs, we move confidently to TPC Boston. The Arnold Palmer designed 7,200 track is one where it does not particularly suit a style of golfer although aggressive, low scoring is the order of the day. Henrik Stenson (-22) and Rory McIlroy (-20) have both reached -20 or lower on the way to their victories in the past two events here. Both are known for their big hitting but Stenson last year averaged just over 280 yards off the tee suggesting positional play on the fairways, especially with the number of doglegs, beats length.
As long as you average between 280-290 yards off the tee, yardages left will rarely require more than an 8 iron. Approaches from 150-175 yards is a key area for us this week. Putting with any low scoring event is paramount alongside other key areas: scoring average, total birdies, par 5 performance, GIR and driving accuracy.
Except for Graham DeLaet last year, everyone who did well this week put in a solid finish the week before without really contending. To contend back to back in the play-offs is tough.
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Matt Kuchar (20/1 Various)
Mr Nice always finds himself on our radar and we were close to backing him last week, but question marks surrounded his fitness following his withdrawal from the USPGA.
Kuchar finished with rounds of 68 and 67 last week and played solid all four days without ever really mounting a serious challenge. He ranked inside the top 25 for driving, GIR and putting showing all facets of his game were in tip-top condition. Any fears over his fitness were dispelled.
Until last year, Kuchar hadn’t recorded a top 10 around this track. But a T4, including three rounds of 66, showed the true class he possesses. Perhaps a little harsh to call him a late bloomer, but the last couple of years have shown Kuchar to be a player who belongs with the elite of golf.
In statistics he looks like this: 4th scoring average; 38th birdies, 49th par 5, 46th GIR, 22nd driving accuracy and 8th strokes gained-putting.
Jordan Spieth (33/1 Various)
If you were lucky enough to get on it, Spieth came out early doors at 40/1 which we thought was tremendous value, and we’ll tell you why. The American has suffered the inevitable slump over the past month or so after what was unbelievable form in the mid-part of the season. But question marks were raised over whether he can get the job done after a string of last day heartbreaks. It wasn’t in Jim Furyk’s league mind.
Spieth is getting on now after all, he recently reached the grand old age of 21. Undoubtedly, he came to TPC Boston with better form last year after his maiden PGA Tour victory but we saw enough last week to suggest this is the week we remember this guy is good.
Last week, he finished with his best round of the week, 67, to secure his first top 25 in over a month. Although let’s not forget his ‘slump’ has only been 3 tournaments – 2 majors and a WGC. Even more impressive was that he finished 5th in putting. When the young man putts well he inevitably contends. He comes to the Deutsche Bank after finishing with a 62 and T4, so he will be confident. And naturally, he fits the statistics too.
Zach Johnson (66/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)
A course like this plays exactly into Zach’s hands. Notorious for his short length off the tee, this is a week where that length is needed and everyone has to play it Zach’s way. 8 iron and below, you will struggle to find many better than this man. Just like Spieth, he also finished T22 last week, ranking 4th driving accuracy and T27 GIR on what was ultimately a tougher course.
He still finds himself 12th in the FedEx rankings after a scintillating early season and is very much still in contention for the overall prize. Not since his 2nd at the John Deere Classic in July have we really seen his name on the top of the leaderboard but we believe, like Spieth, this is the ideal time and course for Zach to show what he is all about.
Ranks: 23rd scoring average, 22nd birdies, 8th par 5, 21st GIR, 13th prox to hole and 9th driving accuracy.
Brandt Snedeker (40/1 Various)
A man with a point to prove. Much was expected last week as Sneds recorded finishes of 12th, 13th and 5th coming into it. He responded with a missed cut… So the pressure really is on as Mahan essentially booked his place at Gleneagles. He needs to show Tom Watson why he should be picked over the likes of Simpson, Bradley and Moore – and time is running out to do so.
TPC Boston is a track that saw record him three consecutive top 6 finishes between 2010 and 2012. So he loves it around here. Being a shorter hitter, it plays perfectly into the yardages he feels comfortable at. We are willing to forget about last week’s display considering the form he had before that and the form he has around this course. With Butch Harmon taking Brandt under his wing, a win will not be far away. The putter needs to get hot once again and these familiar greens could be the perfect place to do so.
Ranks: 55th scoring average, 33rd birdies, 26th par 5, 17th strokes gained-putting.
John Senden (125/1 BetVictor)
The Aussie is much fancied coming into this week, which makes us slightly wary of how he is going to fare. But at these odds, it’s worth the punt.
He has only finished outside the top 25 once in his last 6 appearances at this event. He is arguably having the season of his life with a win at the Valspar Championship and 8th at the Masters. So confidence is high in the Senden camp.
Last week on the way to his T22 finish (it seems most of our picks finished T22) he ranked T3 GIR and T23 driving accuracy. A few more dropped putts and Senden could have contended.
Ranks: 34th scoring average, 31st birdies, T2 par 5, 30th GIR, 54th driving accuracy and 9th strokes gained-putting.
Bo Van Pelt (100/1 BetVictor)
The American will be confident after starting last week 104th in the FedEx rankings and now finding himself in week 2 of the play-offs. His 13th last week, where he was 1st round leader, followed up a 14th at the Wyndham which has signaled an impressive return to form for the American.
At the Barclays he ranked T5 in driving accuracy, 30th putting and 2nd GIR. He has 2 top 10’s to his name at this event and interestingly ranks T16 in approaches from 150-175 yards, our outlined yardage.
Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th