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Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Notes

"T-Off" at Deutsche Bank Championship


Rory McIlroy enjoys playing in Boston (Getty Images).
NORTON, Mass - Surprise leaders Russell Henley and Billy Horschel are atop the Deutsche Bank Championship leaderboard as final round play was underway Monday morning in Boston where the PGA Tour's FedExCup playoffs continue on a busy sports holiday weekend in the USA.  The more familiar names of Rory McIlroy, the soon-to-be-crowned 2014 PGA Player of the Year and Aussie long-baller Jason Day are two strokes back from the lead. Day was in control after 54 holes at last week's Barclays championship but fell two strokes shy of Hunter Mahan's winning score. Mahan came to Boston as the FedExCup points leader after being rewarded with 2,500 points and vaulting from 62nd to first place on the leaderboard, besting PGA player of the year Rory McIlroy.

ON to DENVER: The top 70 players on the FedExCup points list will travel to Denver, Colorado for next week's BMW Championship, the semi-finals of the annual PGA Tour countdown to the season finale TOUR Championship at East lake CC near Atlanta, Georgia. ... Here in Boston, the top 100 players advanced to play but only 22 were eliminated after the cut and another seven players were shaved from competition yesterday evening after a rare modified cut-line was established to get the field of play down for Monday's final round. One of the players cut, Patrick Reed, shot an unspeakable 82 on Sunday after openings rounds of 68-68. Reed was No. 8 on the FedExCup points standings list coming into Boston. Reed is projected to drop to No. 14 after the rough round at TPC Boston.

BACK 9 NETWORK? - Jason Day has played the front 9 at the TPC Boston at -12 but the back nine at 2-over. "The front fits my eye," said Day on Sunday. "I like the front nine. The back nine, you've got to pay a little more respect, because it's a little tougher. Throughout the PGA Tour, normally, the harder holes are towards the end of the round. With that said, I feel I need to play the 18th hole a little better."

RYDER on the HORIZON: Although the PGA Tour playoffs are in full swing, the golf world seems to be more focused on the upcoming Ryder Cup tournament featuring the best players from Europe versus the USA in match play. Largely because the Ryder Cup is played every two years, the special nature of the tournament takes precedent over the regular season and playoffs in golf, much like the World Cup in soccer seems to dominate the news over the top European leagues. Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tries not to get caught up in the mix. "I won;t say I haven't thought about it," said McIlroy. "I'll think about it more the week before, maybe the weekend before we get there. Right now, I'm thinking about myself. I've got (this tournament in Boston), and then two very important weeks to think about before I pay any attention to the Ryder Cup."

TOUGH COMPETITORS: Billy Horschel is known on the PGA Tour as a tough-minded competitor who might be playing his way on to the USA Ryder Cup team as a Captain's pick. Horschel was asked if it was a surprise to see R3 leader Russell Henley and himself atop the leaders going into the final round. "I'm not surprised to be here," he said. "If people are surprised that I'm in second place, then they must not know what kind of person I am. Obviously, my season hasn't been anywhere as good as last year, but I'm a guy that's going to keep working hard, keep grinding until they tell me the season is over and I can't play anymore. I've put a lot of time in the last few months, and it's just now starting to pay off. ... On Russell Henley: "He's a guy who comes from a basketball background. He's like a three-point shooter, he's going to keep shooting, and they're going to start falling sooner than later. That's his kind of mentality. I like that. He's a guy who is never going to give up."

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