- Farrell Evans, Golf
- 0 Shares
NORTON, Mass. -- There were about 100 storylines when the Deutsche Bank Championship began on Friday at the TPC Boston.
Each player had his own motivation for why it was important to perform well in this second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
For those hovering around the top 70 hoping to move on to the BMW Championship in two weeks, a strong showing was essential to survival in the playoffs.
To others, it was a chance to get comfortably into the top 30 that reach the Tour Championship. And there were Presidents Cup implications for several U.S. and International players.
Not everyone will leave this Boston suburb with what they want, but on Monday in the final round there will be some resolution to many of these lingering questions.
What's certain is that on a TPC Boston course that yielded a 68.211 stroke average (par 71) in the third round, birdies will be plentiful as players go after pins like crazed predators.
For Sergio Garcia, the 54-hole leader after a Sunday 65, a win locks up his place in the Tour Championship, a proposition that was not a given at the start of the week for the 33-year-old Spaniard, who came into the event 55th in the points standings.
Back in May at the Players Championship when he was last in contention in a final round, Garcia's hopes drowned in the water around the island green at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. It was a meltdown that underscored a very difficult week that he hopes to bury with a win on Labor Day.
"At the end of the day the only thing I can do is go out there and give it my best," Garcia said. "Sometimes my best is quite good and sometimes it's not that good.
"Hopefully I'll be able to believe in the way I've been believing this whole weekend. If I'm able to do that I should have a chance, a good chance of winning tomorrow. If not, then I'll fight as hard as I can to get it."
For Henrik Stenson, who has been perhaps the steadiest player in the world of late with top-three finishes in three of his past four events, a win would show that he's more than a top-10 machine. On Monday, the 37-year-old Swede can get his first tour victory since the 2009 Players Championship.
The Deutsche Bank is the last event for players to qualify for the U.S. and International squads for the Presidents Cup, which begins Oct. 3 at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
Graham DeLaet, a 31-year-old Canadian, came into this week 10th in the International team standings. After a 62 on Sunday, he's 3 shots behind Garcia and looking to protect his position on the squad.
"It would mean the world to me to be on that team," DeLaet said. "But at the same time, when I've been on the golf course, I've been focused on what I need to do and I'm proud of the way I've handled it because there is a lot of pressure on the outside.
"I've been playing well, so it's easier to stay in the moment when you're trusting your golf swing and making a few putts as well."
On Sunday, Steve Stricker made a good case for why he should be on the U.S. team after posting a 63. Coming into the week 11th in the standings, the 46-year-old Wisconsin native cannot finish worse than a tie for 11th at the Deutsche Bank Championship to have a chance to earn a spot as one of the top-10 automatic qualifiers. With 18 holes remaining, he is in a tie for third.
"My goal this week was to make the Presidents Cup team, on my merit," said Stricker, who could be a captain's pick without qualifying for the team on points. "So it's provided a lot of incentive to me to play well here."
Stricker, who came into the week $375,678 behind Zach Johnson for the 10th spot, needs to make $187,839 more than Johnson to claim the last automatic spot.
Johnson, who is in a tie for 56th after a 67 on Sunday, could shoot a phenomenal number on Monday with the great scoring conditions. Stricker, thought, is in a very good position to overtake him and make his fifth Presidents Cup team.
At 13th in the standings, Jim Furyk needs no worse than a tie for seventh to have a chance to make the U.S. team. He is in a tie for ninth after a 63 on Sunday.
The final round on Monday could be one of the most exciting in the seven-year history of the playoffs. In the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship, Charley Hoffman made 11 birdies in Round 4 en route to a 62 to win the tournament by five shots after starting the day four shots back of the lead.
With so much on the line on Monday and TPC Boston very receptive to birdies, someone might break 60. It might take a 59 for a player to separate himself on the crowded leaderboard.
"You have to keep making birdies if you want to have anything to do with this tournament," Stenson said. "I'm sure everyone is coming at [the leaders] from all different angles."
7dMike Fish and David Purdum