Lots at stake in Deutsche Bank finale


NORTON, Mass. – Because of a scheduling change this week championship Sunday will beget manic Monday, the byproduct of a cascading collection of deadlines and this week’s Labor Day finish.

Because of a parade of storms that doused New England on Sunday and are forecast again into Monday, the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship will be a sprint – with  threesomes going off both sets of tees starting at 8 a.m. ET.

Before brunch on the West Coast there will be clarity for at least a dozen Presidents Cup hopefuls, if not two captains who will officially go on the clock to prepare their picks, the PGA Tour’s postseason field will be whittled down to the top 70 who advance to the next playoff stop, and perhaps even the cluttered Player of the Year picture will come into sharper focus.

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Not your normal Monday, but then the Deutsche Bank finale rarely is.

More so than any other event, the DBC is every bit the hard deadline. How pressing that end game turns out to be is a matter of perspective.

Marc Leishman, for example, is eyeing the daily double – any finish inside the top 20 Monday afternoon and he advances to playoff stop No. 3 in Chicago; anything inside the top five and he may be bound for his first start on the International Presidents Cup team.

“I’m aware of the Presidents Cup especially,” said the Australian who is tied for ninth after a 64 on Sunday. “I’d rather have a really good day tomorrow and try to get in that top 10 and take a piece out of it. Who knows, if I have a good round and don’t get in the top 10 maybe I will be one of those captain’s picks.”

But Leishman will have to wait for International captain Nick Price to make that call on Wednesday when he unveils his picks. His BMW bubble will be much more immediate after he began the week 76th on the points list and is currently projected  at 54th.

Ian Poulter, whose 66 moved him into eighth place, is similarly positioned, projected 45th after starting the week 77th, not that the Englishman has much use for the Tour’s math or projections.

“I play well or I have seven weeks off, it’s simple,” he reasoned.

Brian Davis took a similarly simplistic approach to his FedEx Cup plight.

“I’m not the smartest cookie in the bunch; the simple fact is play well,” said Davis, who is tied for ninth and projected at 60th. “If things aren’t going well and I’m struggling I look at my caddie and he says, ‘Play better.’”

Ditto for Kevin Stadler, who also played his way onto the doorstep of the BMW with a 64 after starting the week 75th in points.

Even for your 36-hole pacesetter Sergio Garcia (65) there is a deadline of sorts. A victory at the DBC would move him into the picture for the FedEx Cup crown and maybe, just maybe, change the conversation after perhaps his most trying year, at least off the golf course.

“Everything has been kind of a little bit difficult, but it's good. It's been a good learning experience,” said Garcia, who became embroiled in a public spat with Tiger Woods at The Players earlier this year and then compounded his problems with a racially insensitive comment directed at the world No. 1 a few weeks later.

“You always have to try to take the positives out of all those things and learn from your mistakes. And hopefully make you a better player, a better person. So hopefully I'll be able to take that out of it.”

Across the Deutsche Bank marquee, there are thresholds to reach, mountains to climb for goals large and small.

Even Steve Stricker – considered by many a lock for a Presidents Cup pick on Wednesday – seems more interested in playing his way onto the U.S. team.

At 11th on the points list, the part-timer probably needs to earn about $180,000 more than No. 10 Zach Johnson to secure his spot at Muirfield Village later this season.

“My goal this week was to make the team on my own merit,” said Stricker, whose 63 moved him into a tie for third.

It is strange, however, that with all of Monday’s moving parts the one storyline that everyone anticipated faded into the stormy gloom on Sunday. While Woods and Phil Mickelson made things interesting for two days at TPC Boston, neither will be part of the picture when officials race to finish the event on Labor Day.

Woods carded one of just 11 over-par rounds (72) on Day 3, turned in his worst putting performance of what has been a poor week on the greens (31 putts) and begins the final lap tied for 47th, 13 strokes out of the lead and off the 10th tee.

“I just didn’t have it today,” said Woods, who would likely maintain the top spot in the FedEx Cup rankings if Garcia wins. “I didn’t make anything. Just one of those days I had a bad day at the wrong time.”

Mickelson could say the same thing after his second consecutive 71 to drop into a tie for 29th, although a solid round by either player, or world No. 2 Adam Scott (T-41), could help decide a decidedly muddy race for the Tour’s Player of the Award with just two events remaining.

Yet what the Deutsche Bank lacks in star power it more than makes up for in subtext, with players across the tee sheet vying for varying degrees of validation that go well beyond a single scorecard.

And, if the weatherman cooperates, manic Monday will be over before you know it.