NORTON, Mass. – While the vast majority of the United States enjoys BBQs, football, fireworks and the swan song for white shorts, the PGA Tour and those in the traveling circus’ radius will be enduring a quintessential manic Monday.
There will be a champion crowned at the Deutsche Bank Championship, some clarity added to the U.S. Ryder Cup picks race, a potentially dramatic FedEx Cup shuffle and a dead sprint to beat Post-Tropical Cyclone Hermine to the clubhouse.
So much for holidays.
Of course, all of those plans could get blown off course if Hermine, which is forecast to turn to the northeast and just brush New England, blows the best-laid plans into a Tuesday finish.
Officials made the proactive move to send players off earlier than scheduled in threesomes from the first and 10th tees with the hope of finishing at 2 p.m. (ET), but with gusts expected to reach 45 mph around brunch time it promises to be an eventful day whether they complete the second playoff stop as scheduled or not.
But the forecast, and the prospect of a Tuesday finish, was the last thing on most players’ minds, not with so many other moving parts to track.
For the likes of Kevin Chappell, who is tied for third place heading into Monday’s tempest, the final turn at TPC Boston represents yet another chance to break through the grass ceiling after finishing second three times this season.
“I have stuff to pull from in my past so in that sense it's easier,” said Chappell, who shot a third-round 71. “Answering these questions every week doesn't make it any easier though. I look forward to getting [a win] tomorrow and hopefully having it stop.”
Or Smylie Kaufman, the rookie who is tied for third with Chappell and Jimmy Walker, to pick up where he left off when he won his second start as a Tour member last October.
Both will be chasing Paul Casey, your 54-hole leader at 15 under par and three strokes clear of the field following a torrid finish that included an eagle at the last hole. The endearing Englishman has three consecutive rounds of 66 in his search for his first Tour victory since 2009, if not the final chapter of a comeback that has been ongoing for the better part of two years.
“There were many a times that I questioned not if I was going to play golf but certainly to what level I would play golf,” said Casey, who leads Brian Harman by three strokes. “Sometimes I believed I could get back to a certain level and other times I didn't see much hope.”
It’s been a strange year for Casey, who turned down his European Tour membership this season and with it a potential spot on the Continent’s Ryder Cup team. He replaced the lingering drive to play for country and cup with a different goal – advance to the Tour Championship with a chance to win the FedEx Cup.
A victory on Monday would vault Casey from 59th on the points list to fourth with two stops remaining on the 2015-16 schedule.
“I've been to the Tour Championship before and you just want to be there in the top 5 and control your own destiny,” he said. “Being outside that top 5 and having other guys in control is not something you really want to be part of.”
Jim Furyk will also have an eye on the FedEx Cup algorithms, but for vastly different reasons.
Furyk is 84th on the points list and unless he finishes inside the top 20 this week his season, and perhaps his Ryder Cup hopes, are over. U.S. captain Davis Love III has repeatedly mentioned Furyk, who is currently scheduled to serve in the role of vice captain at Hazeltine National, as a potential pick, but if the veteran failed to advance to the final two postseason events it would be difficult to justify him as a selection.
If the math and leaderboard holds, there are currently six players projected to play their way into the top 70 and next week’s BMW Championship, including Billy Hurley III and Steve Stricker, adding an entirely different level of intrigue to an already busy and blustery day at TPC Boston.
And if all that wasn’t enough, Rory McIlroy moved to add a measure of star power to the proceedings with a third-round 66 that moved him to within six strokes of the lead and into a tie for seventh place.
The guy who teamed with a new putting coach last week and has repeatedly said it’s going to be a process – adding that he hopes to be back to his old self by next April – has rolled in 178 feet of putts the last two days to post his first back-to-back sub-pars rounds on Tour since June.
Not bad for a player who started his week 4 over par through his first three holes.
“The way I'm looking at it is how good a tournament would this be to win being 4 over through three,” said McIlroy, who is 9 under. “It's a great opportunity to do something that I've never done before.”
It’s all part of a potentially frenzied day at TPC Boston. That is, of course, if Hermine cooperates.