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Punch Shot: Who plays way to next round of playoffs?

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Brandt Snedeker hopes to be one of U.S. captain Tom Watson's three Ryder Cup picks. (Getty)

The top 70 players on the FedEx Cup playoff points list following this week's Deutsche Bank Championship will qualify for Round 3 at the BMW Championship. GolfChannel.com writers pick one player currently outside the cut line most likely to break through. (Click here for FedEx Cup playoff points list)

By JASON SOBEL

There's a lot riding on this week for Brandt Snedeker, and I expect him to perform well under the pressure.

He's in the mix to become one of Tom Watson's three U.S. Ryder Cup captain's picks. Snedeker hasn't hidden the fact that he grew up idolizing Watson and would desperately love to play on his team.

He also needs a decent performance to climb into the top 70 on the FedEx Cup points list and qualify for the BMW Championship. At No. 71 on the list, a made cut might be enough to do the trick.

Despite missing the cut last week, Snedeker has been maintaining that after some struggles this season, his game is starting to peak at the right time. I'd be surprised if that doesn't continue this week.


By WILL GRAY

At No. 73 in the points race, Bo Van Pelt doesn’t have much work to do this week but expect him to play well enough to earn a spot in the field at Cherry Hills.

Van Pelt missed five consecutive cuts at one point this spring, but that stretch is well behind him. He has three top-15 finishes in his last four starts, including a T-13 last week at Ridgewood in the first playoff event. He’s shown a penchant for going low as well, with at least one round of 66 or better in each of his last four starts, so he should feel right at home this week at TPC Boston where the winning score often exceeds 20 under.

A top-50 finish will likely be enough for Van Pelt to punch his ticket to Denver, but he should finish much higher than that on a course where he was seventh as recently as 2011.


By REX HOGGARD

Brendon de Jonge has been in this position before, feet square to the challenge with nowhere to go but forward on a TPC Boston layout that is on the racier side of most playoff stops.

It was at the Deutsche Bank Championship last year when the Zimbabwean made his final push to a Presidents Cup pick, closing with a 66 on Monday to tie for ninth and convince captain Nick Price he was deserving of a spot on the International team.

This time de Jonge is fighting for his post-season fortunes. At 79th on the FedEx Cup point list he is in danger of failing to advance to the third playoff event for the first time since 2009.

The margins, however, are on de Jonge’s side. He trails No. 70 Scott Brown by just 59 points. To put that in context, he could, in theory, secure his spot inside the top 70, and a tee time at next week’s BMW Championship, with a 59th-place finish in Boston. But he will likely need to finish much better than that.

In what has largely been a consistent season, de Jonge must avoid his one “off day,” like his third-round 72 at the PGA Championship or his closing 75 last week at The Barclays.

The good news for de Jonge is that he’s done it before.


By RYAN LAVNER

No-brainer here: Brandt Snedeker. 

It’s not just because he’s in good form – last week’s missed cut at The Barclays was only his second time outside the top 25 in his last nine starts. It’s not just because he has the least amount of work to do – at No. 71 in the FedEx Cup standings, he needs only to make the cut at TPC Boston and finish 53rd or better.

Those are good reasons, of course, but Sneds is the best bet to move on to Cherry Hills because of what’s at stake this week in Beantown. The Ryder Cup hangs over the head of every Team USA hopeful this week, and Snedeker is squarely in the mix for one of the three wild-card spots. He seemed in good shape after a top 5 at the Wyndham, but now the decision is a bit difficult. If Keegan Bradley was long ago considered a “lock,” and Hunter Mahan “locked” up his spot with a Barclays W, well, there can be only three “locks,” and Snedeker, one of the world’s best putters, is no longer one. In Boston he’ll be going head-to-head against the Ryan Moores and Webb Simpsons of the PGA Tour in a last-ditch effort to impress Tom Watson.

Every player in the Deutsche Bank field has $10 million reasons to finishstrong. Sneds has even more to play for.