This is my first time back in Boston since the Ryder Cup at Brookline in 1999, which was the most exciting tournament I have ever played in as far as atmosphere goes. Everyone remembers that one for various reasons but for me I loved the atmosphere. It was so noisy you couldn’t hear yourself think, it would be great if we played in conditions like that every week. This time I am here for the Deutsche Bank Championship, it is the second of the Fed Ex Cup play-off events. I have never played in the event so I am at a bit of a disadvantage to the rest of the field as the majority of them will have played here over the last few years. I arrived in Boston on Sunday night having driven up from New York after the final round of the Barclays; it’s nice to be able to drive to an event as opposed to having to fly. This week’s tournament is slightly different as it doesn’t start until Friday as it is a Bank holiday here in the States on Monday. As I had some extra time I arranged to do a company day for Wilson on the Monday here in Boston. I played a couple of holes with a number of different groups and put on a clinic beforehand. It was a good day all round, nothing too stressful.
I took Tuesday off from golf, I had a number of interviews to do in the morning and then I spent the afternoon with my family. It was great to just get away from everything and take it easy.
I came to the course on Wednesday for the first time. I had taken Tuesday off so as to try and be fresh for this and next week. As I don’t know the course I wanted to play it twice so I played it for the first time on Wednesday. I did a small bit of practice in the morning and then went out and played on my own, taking my time going round, trying to get a good mental picture of the greens in my head. If find that it is the greens that are the hardest to get to know on a new course, not so much for putting but more for the shots into them. Trying to figure out where is the best place to hit in from and where is best to miss them, so as to give yourself the best chance of getting up and down. After playing I did a bit more practice.
Thursday was pro-am day this week, due to the Friday start; I played early in the morning. It is always good to get out in the pro-am early as it means that you can get all your work done after the round. The pro-am is always beneficial for me as it gets me into scoring mode as I have to try and make birdies and hole putts for the team. It is a format of golf that I particularly enjoy; it is especially good on a course that I don’t know as you can often learn more when you are trying to shoot a score than when you are just hitting a few shots from everywhere. My team finished second in the pro-am, I played fine but nothing special. After the round I spent a bit of time practicing my wedge play, chipping, bunker shots and putting. These were the areas that I felt could be improved on from last week. My putting was poor enough last week but you always get a couple of weeks in the year like that. I worked on trying to roll my putts in rather than hitting them in; I always putt better when I am rolling rather than trying to force them in.
This is my first time playing this course but the tournament has been here for the last few years. The course measures in excess of 7,400 yards and plays as a par 71. The good thing is that it is firm and so the ball is running quite a bit so it doesn’t seem that long. A number of players have complained over the past few years that this course really suits the long hitters and having played it I can see that it does, however they have made a few adjustments to it from last year which helps to bring the shorter hitters back into it. They have removed over 50 bunkers and changed a few greens to try and make it fairer for everyone. It has definitely helped but it is still a course that it is a huge advantage to be able to hit it 300 yards plus.
The way that the course is playing, hard and fast, it will suit the guys that can use the shortest clubs for their approach shots as the greens are very firm. It will be very hard to come into some of these greens with long irons, yet there is plenty of trouble on the course for anyone that is spraying their driver. With the finish on this course there will definitely be excitement come Monday evening. The 17th is a 412 yard par four with a funky green; it has a big mound in the middle of it that you won’t want to be putting over. It doesn’t play a driver off the tee as the fairway runs out at 300 yards, it is merely a position shot and then a short club to try and set up a birdie. The 18th is a 528 yard par five that is reachable in two, however it has a number of fairway bunkers that are well positioned and it also has a hazard short of the green, so anything short will end up in the hazard. It is a good chance for a birdie but equally you can make a six on it without hitting too bad a shot. There will plenty of excitement on these two holes during the week. I like the course, it is tough but fair; the fact that it is playing hard and firm means that there will be plenty of chipping required as it will be hard to get the ball to stay on the greens. This is the second week of the Fed Ex Cup and I am looking for a good week so as to try and move up the table after dropping a couple of places last week. I am playing with Justin Rose and Aaron Badly for the first two rounds; at 1.07 pm Friday and 8.22 am Saturday. As ever all I am trying to do is get myself into the mix come Monday afternoon and then see how it goes. I will take my chances with nine holes to go.