At Deutsche Bank, pros hope to advance in playoffs and catch captain Love's eye

Fresh off a win at the Barclays, Nick Watney leads the FedEx playoffs and has also inserted himself into the conversation for a Ryder Cup selection.
Chris Chambers / Getty Images

Fed up with his poor play, Johnson Wagner shaved his mustache after his second-round 79 to miss the cut at the Barclays last week. Don't tell rookie Jonas Blixt, who is growing a "rally stache," which seemed to help as he did just enough at the Barclays (T46) to advance to this week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

Graham DeLaet, who fired a six-under 65 to tie for fifth at the Barclays and advance to Boston -- he went from 106th to 44th on the FedEx Cup points list -- is growing a playoff beard. And Jason Day, who shot the second lowest round Sunday at Bethpage Black, a 66 that moved him up to 88th in the FedEx Cup standings, spoke Wednesday about the ever-changing length of his locks in 2012.

Two things are clear heading into the second week of the FedEx Cup playoffs at TPC Boston: Men's grooming is more important than ever, and one great round can change everything. On Sunday morning, DeLaet was just another promising young Canadian. By the afternoon, after he'd made a flurry of birdies and an eagle (9-iron, 161 yards, 15th hole), he was the poster boy for FedEx euphoria.

He'd beaten Tiger and Phil by 11 shots apiece on Sunday. He'd made $281,000, bringing his season total to more than $1 million. And unlike his rookie year in 2010, when he missed the cut at the Barclays to end his playoff run, he'd punched his first ticket to the Deutsche Bank at TPC Boston, a course that caters to big hitters like DeLaet. (He missed almost all of last year after early-season back surgery.)

DeLaet, a 10-time winner at Boise State, couldn't hide his elation on Twitter on Monday, especially since he and his wife, Ruby, were set to watch that night's U.S. Open tennis action in Queens: "College football in 3 days! Boise State kicks off in 4! Watching Federer tonight! Playoffs in Boston! Shopping today! #NYC #lifesgood"

As with the Barclays, the Deutsche Bank gives us two races to follow: the one to advance to next week's tournament -- the top 70 in FedEx points advance to the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana -- and the race to catch the attention of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III. He will announce his four captain's picks on Tuesday, after the Deutsche Bank's Monday finish. The leading candidates are believed to be Brandt Snedeker, a nice putter who is coming off a second-place finish at the Barclays; Steve Stricker, another good putter and Friend of Tiger who won the '09 Deutsche Bank; veteran grinder Jim Furyk (missed cut at Barclays); Dustin Johnson (T3 at Barclays); Barclays winner Nick Watney; two-time 2012 winner Hunter Mahan (missed cut at Barclays); and Rickie Fowler (T24).

That's seven guys for four spots, but then all that could change by late Monday. Watney was on no one's short list, but then he won. Boston could bring yet another name into the mix, although for Love's sake let's hope not.

As usual, the FedEx Cup leaders will tee off together, which means the power threesomes in Boston are taken straight off the points list: Watney, Snedeker and Tiger Woods; Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner (who is fresh off a week of rest); Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Carl Pettersson; Matt Kuchar, Mahan and Keegan Bradley; and Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Stricker.

Players like Blixt and Day, who begin the Deutsche Bank outside the top 70 on the list, will need to have a big week to move on to the BMW. Day likes his chances, having finished T3 at the 2011 Deutsche Bank and T2 in 2010.

How exactly their hair, facial or otherwise, affects the outcome has yet to be determined.

Short game: Deutsche Bank has extended its sponsorship of the tournament through 2016. ... Scott Stallings, a Red Sox fan who was born in Worcester, Mass., and whose mother's family is from New Hampshire, will play with a lucky baseball in his bag. The ball was autographed by former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice. ... Stallings's caddie, Josh Graham, returns to the bag this week. Graham took a few weeks off after his wife, Stephanie, gave birth to an eight-pound boy, Caden, the week of the PGA. ... Dufner revealed in his press conference Wednesday that the best score he's shot left-handed is 46. ... Mike Weir tied for 39th place at the Utah Open. ... Thomas Bjorn, who shot a final-round 62 to win last year's Omega European Masters in Crans Montana, Switzerland, returns to defend his title, although some of the big names he beat (McIlroy, Lee Westwood) are playing in Boston this week instead. ... Casey Wittenberg, who tied for 10th at the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in June, has won twice under the tutelage of Adam Schriber on the Web.com tour and trails Luke List by $4,500 atop the money list. The Web.com tour stops outside Pittsburgh for the Mylan Classic this week.

 

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