NORTON, Mass. – While TPC Boston is playing firmer and faster than in years past, there were still plenty of birdies to go around during the opening round. Here’s how things look at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where Ryan Palmer leads by two shots:
What it means: Palmer contended earlier this month at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth, and the veteran is at it again following an opening 63. Palmer is on the fringe of the discussion for a Ryder Cup selection, while players likely ahead of him in the conversation – Bradley and Simpson – are only a couple shots back after one round.
Round of the day: Palmer hit only 11 of 18 greens in regulation, but he was lights-out with the flat stick. He took only 21 putts to complete his round, capping it with an 18-foot birdie on No. 9, his final hole of the day. Palmer didn’t miss from inside 15 feet, and he now holds the early lead as he looks to win for the first time since 2010.
Best of the rest: Bradley likely needs a strong showing to punch his ticket to Gleneagles, and he got off to an excellent start after a bogey-free 65. A favorite among the partisan New England crowds, Bradley birdied four of his first seven holes before closing with back-to-back circles on Nos. 17 and 18.
Biggest disappointment: Phil Mickelson admitted earlier this week that his game was a “crapshoot,” and it showed on Friday. Mickelson got off to a disastrous start, playing his first seven holes in 5 over, and despite birdies on three of his final four holes, he carded a 3-over 74 that put him well off the pace and outside the projected cut line.
Main storyline heading into Saturday: It remains to be seen how Palmer can handle the pressure of the pole position, but the main focus in the second round will be on Bradley and Simpson, as each vie for one of Tom Watson’s three Ryder Cup selections. While Bradley likely has the inside track at the moment, Simpson could make things interesting if he continues the form that yielded an opening-round 66.