Monday, September 07, 2015

Deutsche Bank Championship

Rickie Fowler, motivated by talk about new 

Big Three, moves into contention 

By Jason Sobell
NORTON, Massachusetts -- Golf's original Big Three was a triumvirate of players named Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, not that full names were ever necessary. 
Known worldwide as simply Jack, Arnie and Gary, they weren't just the most talented players of their generation, they were the most influential of all-time, ushering the game into the television era and serving as icons long after their playing careers had concluded.
By comparison, it feels silly at best and irresponsible at worst to designate the current trio atop the world ranking as some sort of new Big Three. Don't get me wrong: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are big-time talents in their own right, already with accomplished pasts in their young careers and even brighter futures. 
They just aren't Jack, Arnie and Gary, a point which should remain inarguable.
And yet, that hasn't stopped many observers from dubbing the three 20-somethings who have combined to win five of the past six major championships with exactly that nickname.
 As if to drive home the point that they aren't worthy of Big Three categorization, so far at this week's Deutsche Bank Championship, McIlroy hasn't broken 70, Spieth failed to make the cut and Day charged into contention only to tumble far down the leaderboard.
That's hardly the lone reason why these three shouldn't be hailed with the same moniker as their predecessors. Even though that makes for a tidy nickname and even though they're the top three right now, the status of the game's elite-level players fluctuates so much that no club deserves to be so exclusive.
Enter Rickie Fowler as Exhibit A.
Fresh off a 2014 campaign during which he finished in the top-five at all four majors -- the first player ever to accomplish that feat without winning any of them -- Fowler won this year's Players Championship, which boasts the year's best field, and followed up with a triumph at the Scottish Open, with a strong field in its own right prior to the Open Championship.
Fowler now finds himself in contention yet again, posting three consecutive matching scores of 67 to trail by just a single stroke entering Monday's final round here at TPC Boston.
If he's able to win this tournament just eight days after Day won the first FedEx Cup playoff event, that might not be enough to allow those calling it a Big Three to expand their list -- perhaps such inclusion only comes with some major championship hardware -- but it would at least give them pause for reflection, which is just what Fowler wants.

"I want to sneak in and be the fourth," he said after Sunday's third round. "And there's a few other guys you can probably add to it. The three of them have distanced themselves a bit. But there's a lot of good players right now."
Legendary golfer Bobby Jones once wrote, "Golf is such a curious game and form is so fleeting." In a pursuit as fickle as this, it shouldn't take one or two wins or even an entire season full of them before we should be able to make such definitive proclamations.
On the heels of the Big Three nickname gaining steam, it was Fowler, one of those guys on the outside looking in, who put into perspective what so many seem to be missing.
"Those three guys have probably played the best out of everyone in the past year or two," he explained. "But no guarantee that one of the three are going to win every week. There's a lot of guys that are here and ready to play."
Earlier this year, Fowler shared "honours" as the US PGA Tour's "most overrated" player, as voted by his peers for a national magazine. At the time, he publicly shrugged off the insinuation and simply went on to win at TPC Sawgrass later that week.
This time around, he similarly doesn't appear fazed by any conversation that excludes him from a conversation about the world's best players -- especially one that includes fellow 20-somethings who tend to play their best golf at the biggest events, all just like him.

Don't be surprised, though, if once again Fowler is using it as motivational fuel for his inspired play on the golf course.
This much, he'll admit.
"Yeah, it's definitely been motivational to go out and get to the same level or be on the same level as those guys," he said. "They're playing some great golf. But those are the guys that I want to go head-to-head against and come out on top."
The so-called Big Three have already done their part, leaving the stage open for a Labour Day performance that won't further the narrative. Now it's time for Fowler to prove, yet again, that being overlooked will only drive him further.


- Associated Press
 Henrik Stenson wants to be at his best for tournaments that offer the “biggest prizes.” He would prefer the majors, though that didn’t work out well for him this year. The FedEx Cup is a small consolation, but only in history, not prize money.The $10 million bonus is still a long way off. It won’t be decided for three more weeks at the Tour Championship, and even though Jordan Spieth has missed his last two cuts, he still has just as good a chance as anyone.
Even so, Stenson is in position to take another shot.
The first step was to make sure he returned to East Lake for the Tour Championship, which he hasn’t played since he won two years ago to claim golf’s biggest prize. He locked up a spot with a runner-up finish at The Barclays last week that moved him to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup.
Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship would be a big step, assuring the Swede of being among the top five.
Stenson blistered the front nine of the TPC Boston and played bogey-free on Sunday for a 6-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead over Rickie Fowler (67) going into the Labour Day finish of the second FedEx Cup playoff event.
Here’s what is at stake on Monday:
STENSON REPEAT?: The last time Stenson won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2013, he was considered one of the hottest players in golf. He was runner-up at the Open and tied for third in the US PGA Championship, so he was trending.
That might still be the case, even though the majors were a bust for him. He finished at least 10 shots out of the lead in each of them.
Even so, it’s setting up nicely for Stenson. He’s hitting it crisp. The TPC Boston typically favours big hitters. And the rotation in the play-offs is the same as two years ago by going Plainfield, TPC Boston, Conway Farms and East Lake.
“I should win this every second year,” he said.



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