By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
For those players currently not inside the top 70 in FedExCup points, this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston represents a last chance to move up and secure a spot at the third stop in the Playoffs, next week’s BMW Championship.
Here’s a closer look at five players who I think could move from outside the top 70 in the FedExCup standings to inside the top 70 and advance to Crooked Stick. Fill out the form below and let me know if you agree or disagree with my picks.
Charl Schwartzel (No. 71): The biggest reason I think Schwartzel moves on? He’s just one spot outside the magic number. The South African doesn’t have much of a Playoffs history -- last year was his one and only year in it -- but he’s missed just one cut since April. If that trend continues, he should move up at least one spot and advance. Three of Schwartzel’s last four finishes have been in the top 25.
Roberto Castro (No. 80): The 27-year-old already busted the bubble once, tying for 24th at The Barclays to move up 20 spots in the FedExCup standings and advance to TPC Boston. Prior to that, the rookie had missed his last three cuts. But in the two starts before that, he finished seventh and 18th. More to like about Castro: He’s 19th in total driving and 13th in greens in regulation.
Charley Hoffman (No. 86): After missing his fourth consecutive cut last week, Hoffman fell from 67th to 86th. On the bright side, a return trip to TPC Boston should conjure up some good memories and hopefully good play. Hoffman won the Deutsche Bank Championship two years ago and earlier this year he finished second at the nearby Travelers Championship. Whatever the reason, the Californian seems to play well in the New England area.
Jason Day (No. 88): Like Castro, he tied for 24th at The Barclays to make it to the Deutsche Bank Championship. Last year, Day tied for third at TPC Boston. Of course he was also playing a lot better then, too. The Aussie has good history there, however, tying for second in 2010 and 19th the year before.
Jonas Blixt (No. 97): A rib injury derailed what was a successful rookie campaign for Bilxt, who was sidelined two months. Prior to getting hurt, Blixt had strung together three straight top 10s at the Wells Fargo Championship, HP Byron Nelson Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He also tied for 13th at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. He’ll need a similar performance to advance, but as one of the game’s best putters he certainly has a chance.
Five players -- Troy Matteson, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby and Charl Schwartzel -- currently share the clubhouse lead at 5-under 65 in the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open, where they’re playing lift, clean and place after an overnight storm swept through the area and soaked the golf course.
Here’s what some of the leaders had to say about the opening round:
Vegas on the course conditions: “It is really soft. You can really throw anything at the pins and it's going to stop there.”
Vegas on how much of a difference there is between playing lift, clean and place and playing the ball down: “You take the doubt out of your mind. When you have your eye on the ball, you don't know which way the ball is going to go. So cleaning it takes it completely out of your mind. You can put a good spin on it, and usually you can get a result. It's huge.”
Appleby, who shot a 59 in the final round to win at The Greenbrier two years ago, on the similarities between that course and this one: “The greens, probably similar speed. The topography of this course is a lot hillier, a lot more demanding I think on the tee shots. The golf course now at Greenbrier is a lot more demanding than it was when I shot it.”
Schwartzel on being healthy again after missing a month between the U.S. and British Open due to a rib injury: “Before I had the injury, that second Masters before the British Open I thought that was the best I've hit the ball in my career. I hit it so good. Then the injury came and I was pretty upset about it because I thought I was really close to breaking through and winning again. I had to sit around for three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks without being able to hit a ball. I had sort of a rushed recuperation for the British Open, wasn't quite 100 percent. But at the British Open I didn't hit it as good as I did when I took off, but I kept practicing, and on Monday when I came here, things started falling into place.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Charl Schwartzel won’t be preparing the food for tonight’s Champions Dinner as he’d originally wanted to do, but he will be serving a traditional South African barbecue consisting of marinated and grilled filet mignon, lamb chops, chicken breast and boerewors (minced beef sausage) with monkey gland sauce, dauphinoise potatoes, sauteed sweet corn and green beans.
Other items on the menu for the dinner, which will take place Tuesday evening at Augusta National, include:
-- Iced Seafood Display: Shrimp, lobster, jumbo lump crabmeat, oysters, king crab legs with lemon, Louis sauce, cocktail sauce, mignonette and mustard sauce
-- International Cheese and Crudite: Mortadella, Swiss, aged cheddar, brie, gruyere, morbier, chevre, chilled grapes, celery and assorted crackers
-- Featured specialties: Sliced biltong (cured meat), biltong sticks and droewors (dried sausage), Philadelphia cream cheese topped with Wellington sweet chili sauce and assorted crackers, 2010 Cape of Good Hope Serruria Chardonnay and 2007 Anthonij Ropert Cabernet Franc
The dinner menu also includes a traditional Caesar salad and for dessert a vanilla ice cream sundae with Hot Bar One Sauce and crispy meringues along with 2010 Cape of Good Hope Van Lill & Visser Chenin Blanc and 2007 Anthonij Rupert Cabernet Sauvignon.
And in case you were wondering, no chimpanzees were harmed in the making of the monkey gland sauce. It's a sweet and spicy concoction of onions, tomatoes, ketchup, worcestershire, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar and tabasco.
“It's got nothing related to the name,” Schwartzel said. “There's no monkey and there's no gland. It is a sauce that's pretty familiar in South Africa in all the restaurants.”
The tee times for the first round of this week’s The Honda Classic have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at PGA National.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Jim Furyk/Y.E. Yang/Henrik Stenson
Yang has owned PGA National in recent years, with a win and a second-place finish.
Kyle Stanley/Keegan Bradley/Rory McIlroy
Three of the best players in the world under the age of 30, and all three bomb the ball.
Mark Wilson/Rory Sabbatini/Camilo Villegas
These three players won at PGA National in 2007, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Villegas and Wilson squared off in a four-man playoff (with Boo Weekley and Jose Conceres) on a steamy Monday in 2007, which Wilson won.
Lee Westwood/Ian Poulter/Tiger Woods
No introduction needed for this trio. Tiger makes his first start at PGA National. This is the third consecutive year Westwood has teed if up here. Tied for ninth in 2010.
John Huh/Charl Schwartzel/Ernie Els
The PGA TOUR's newest winner (Huh) immediately graduates to an A-list tee time with a pair of major champions.
Anthony Kim/Mike Weir/Mark Calcavecchia
Can Kim and Weir get their games turned around at the start of the Florida Swing? And don't count out Calcavecchia, who has lived in Palm Beach for many years. He tied for fourth here in 2008.
Now, it’s your turn: Which groups are you most interested in following this week?
The Masters champ says positioning on the greens is the key to scoring at Dove Mountain.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Charl Schwartzel, the reigning Masters champion, played 15 events on the PGA TOUR last year and didn't miss a cut.
Ditto for the 18 he played on on the European Tour, seven of which counted on both sides of the Atlantic. In retrospect, though, Schwartzel feels like he may have "jumped around too much."
For example, the South African barely missed out on a chance to win the $10 million FedExCup bonus at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola -- finishing 32nd and two spots shy of making the field at East Lake.
"I could play one more event and basically almost finished last and I would have been in the TOUR Championship," Schwartzel said. "I just didn't give myself a fair enough chance to compete, whether it be the (PGA) TOUR or the European Tour.
"You just have to decide. ... I don't want to play around the middle of both Tours. It makes no sense."
Schwartzel said he'll likely play the minimum 13 events in Europe this year and add more in the U.S. He and his good friend Louis Oosthuizen have based themselves in South Florida and the South African has become comfortable on the PGA TOUR.
"I enjoyed playing out here last year," Schwartzel said. "… I feel very at peace with myself out here. I feel like I belong. I want to give myself a chance here.
"I played Europe for nine years, busy with the 10th. I want to challenge myself to new goals and things. I would like to do a majority here."
So what does Schwartzel, who faces Gary Woodland in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship on Wednesday, think of Donald's dual accomplishment in 2011 -- winning the money titles on both the PGA TOUR and European Tour?
"I don't think people actually realize how impressive that was," Schwartzel said. "I try and have consistency. That's one of the biggest things I try and do. ... I thought I did pretty well. I didn't miss a cut out there. I finished mostly top 20 every week.
"And he just took that to a different level and finished the top five every week. It's phenomenal. To do that week in and week out, that takes a lot."
A trio of major champions -- Charl Schwartzel, Trevor Immelman and Louis Oosthuizen -- received honorary life membership on the Sunshine Tour at its annual awards dinner on Tuesday night in Johannesburg.
Schwartzel, the most recent of the three to win a major, also won the Commissioners Award for his contributions to South African golf in 2011. Schwartzel birdied the last four holes at Augusta National last April to follow Immelman as a Masters champion.
Immelman, who will get his PGA TOUR season under way at next week's Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, took to Twitter to express his appreciation. @TrevorImmelman Very humbled by the Honorary Lifetime Membership awarded to me by the Sunshine Tour today. :) #fb
Oosthuizen got a head start on 2012 when he successfully defended his title at last week's Africa Open. Schwartzel will try to do the same this week at the Joburg Open.
Garth Mulroy, the 33-year-old from Durban who graduated from N.C. State, picked up the Sid Brews award as the Order of Merit champ. He is a member of the PGA TOUR in 2012.