August 05, 2014

Labor Day’s hardest working crew takes shape

Some of golf’s biggest names have come up big so far this season.

The always entertaining and wildly talented Bubba Watson showed the world his 2012 Masters win was no fluke, as he blasted past the field at Augusta National this year to become a two-time Masters champion.

Like Watson, Martin Kaymer came into this season with one major championship, but many wondered if he would ever repeat the feat and win another major. When Kaymer won this year’s PLAYERS Championship, it reminded many people about the talent he has. But when he dusted the field to the win the U.S. Open, he silenced the critics and made everyone realize he’s one of the best players in the world.

With two majors to his credit heading into this season, Rory McIlroy was already regarded as one of golf’s best players. But after his phenomenal wire-to-wire performance at The Open Championship, McIlroy has experts comparing him to Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Watson, Kaymer and McIlroy would love nothing better than to cap off their seasons by claiming the FedExCup championship. Each figures to be in the field at the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship. A strong performance over Labor Day weekend at TPC Boston would put any of them in great position to take home the year’s final big prize.

Neither Rickie Fowler nor Jim Furyk has won a tournament this season, but they have arguably been the two most consistent players on TOUR. Fowler has finished in the top five in all three majors, and Furyk has three second-place finishes, including one at the RBC Canadian Open.

Both Fowler and Furyk are strong candidates to make a run at the FedExCup title, and of course, to be in contention to win the Deutsche Bank Championship.

With the season nearly done, the battle to be among the top 100 players that will qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship has heated up. Last week’s Bridgestone Invitational provided another opportunity for players to increase their FedExCup ranking and several players took advantage of that situation.

Defending Deutsche Bank champion Henrik Stenson was one of those who made a big move. Stenson entered the Bridgestone outside of the top 100 at No. 102, but following the tournament, he has climbed all the way to No. 92.

John Huh made an equally big jump. Huh started last week at No. 111 in the FedExCup rankings, and by end of play last Sunday, he had jumped to No. 93.

Four-time major winner Ernie Els was at No. 105 when the Bridgestone began. Four days later he is at No. 98, making him eligible for the Deutsche Bank Championship if he can hold or improve on that ranking through this week’s PGA Championship.

There is also plenty of movement going on for the final few spots. Boo Weekley held down the final spot heading into play last weekend but now finds himself at No. 104. Weekley is 13 points behind Michael Thompson who actually dropped from No. 96 to No. 100.

Stewart Cink and Brian Davis are the closest competitors to Thompson, each five points out of the last qualifying spot for the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Camilo Villegas, who started last week at No. 99, now finds himself on the outside looking in, standing seven points out of the No. 100 spot.

Lee Westwood actually improved his ranking by 11 spots from last week to this, but still has more work to do as he is currently in the No. 111 spot. Westwood has played his best golf in the biggest events, so perhaps he can make another big jump with a strong performance at the PGA Championship.

And then there’s Tiger Woods. While back surgery hurt his chances of reaching the FedExCup playoffs, the tournament host is still hoping to make a late-season charge.

With so many stars certain to be involved, golf fans should buy their tickets now to ensure they have the chance to be there to watch the action unfold.