The second FedEx Cup playoff event takes us to TPC Boston for the Dell Technologies Championship. The top 100 players in the FedEx Cup standings have all advanced to this stage, although there will only be 98 players teeing it up here in Boston, due to Rickie Fowler and Francesco Molinari withdrawing from the event earlier in the week. The top 70 and ties will all proceed to the weekend in what will be the final cut event of the PGA Tour season. The top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings after this tournament will then advance to the third playoff event, while the rest will be forced to endure a premature end to their season.
In 2017, Justin Thomas claimed an emphatic victory at TPC Boston, seeing off his good friend Jordan Spieth by a three-stroke margin.
TPC Boston is a par-71 golf course that measures 7,342 yards. It's a golf course that is certainly gettable, with 15 under par being the minimum total being needed to claim victory here since 2002. The course has three reachable par 5s that the players can feast on this week, but while length will be an advantage it's not a significant one. Instead, focusing on players currently striping their approach shots seems the prudent play this week as the majority of those who claimed a top-10 finish at this event last year excelled in this department. TPC Boston also has some of the fastest greens on Tour, so those that enjoy faster-putting surfaces will undoubtedly be ones to keep an eye on this week.
Although without a victory since the 2016 Open Championship, Jordan Spieth is long overdue a 'W' and this week's course offers him an excellent opportunity to get back into the winner's circle. Spieth has enjoyed some very good results at TPC Boston, claiming a top-five finish on debut here and then finishing runner-up last year. The reason why Spieth plays this course well may have to do with the fast green conditions which the American is well known for loving. On the four occasions that Spieth has made the cut at this event, he has gained an average of 3.2 strokes over the field with his flat-stick.
Contrary to popular belief, Spieth is currently putting as well as he has done in a long time. Spieth has gained strokes on the greens in his last five statistically recorded events, dating back to May. In this period, Spieth has gained an average of almost 3.5 strokes per event on the greens. It's no surprise then that Spieth sits 10th in this week's field for strokes gained putting over his previous 24 rounds, and the even better news is that his putting is getting stronger. Over Spieth's last 12 rounds, the Texan ranks seventh for strokes gained putting.
Of course, it's not all about excelling on the greens when it comes to Spieth, and there have been times this year when his ball striking has been poor. However, at last week's Northern Trust he recorded his second best performance of the season with his irons, gaining an impressive 4.5 strokes over the field for his approach play. Confidence breeds confidence, and Spieth should be particularly excited that his ball striking and putting are performing in sync heading to Boston. Last week was the first time Spieth gained strokes for both his approach play and putting in a single week since the Genesis back in February. All the signs look good for Spieth to have a big week at the Dell Technologies Championship, and at 22/1 he headlines my plays for the week.
Although Patrick Reed hasn't been hitting his irons particularly well lately, and at the risk of contradicting myself, the American looks excellent value at 40/1 on a golf course that fits his eye. Reed has been brilliant at TPC Boston over the last few years, claiming a top-10 finish in each of his previous three visits to the course. Reed, just like Spieth, putts very well on fast greens and he has certainly shown an affection for the surfaces here over this period. In these three events, Reed has gained an average of four strokes over the field with the flat-stick.
I mentioned that Reed hadn't been flushing his irons lately, but he hasn't been awful in this area either. Reed lost 0.9 strokes for approaching the green last week, yet he was still able to notch a top-25 finish. TPC Boston is a golf course that brings out the best in Reed's game and at a place that fits his eye so well he may be able to freewheel it for the week. Off the tee, Reed has been brilliant all year. Reed has gained strokes off the tee in nine of his last ten events, and at last week's Northern Trust he recorded his best performance in this department of the season. 40/1 on a golf course that shapes up very well for his game is too big a price for a player of Reed's class, and the American can make a statement here in Boston this week before the upcoming Ryder Cup.
Joel Dahmen suffered a disappointing missed cut at last week's Northern Trust; however, a closer inspection shows that it was just one hole that did the damage when the American made a quadruple bogey from the middle of the fairway. Dahmen only made one other bogey all week, so there should be no concern, yet the bookies have priced him up at a ridiculous 9/1 in this market this week. Dahmen has finished in the top 20 in seven of his last 11 events, and over his previous 24 rounds he ranks fifth in strokes gained approaching the green, third in both ball striking and strokes gained tee to green, and 11th in strokes gained total. 9/1 is far too big a price in a reduced field, and Dahmen has the quality to make a mockery of that number here in Boston.
72 Hole Match Bet
Hideki Matsuyama's game is coming around fast, and he looks a great bet to overcome Webb Simpson in a match bet this week. Last week at the Northern Trust, Matsuyama's ball striking was back to its brilliant best, with the Japanese star leading the field for strokes gained approaching the green and finishing third for proximity to the hole. Matsuyama sits second for ball striking and first for strokes gained approaching the green over his previous eight rounds, and TPC Boston is a golf course where he has performed well at in the past. Matsuyama has recorded three consecutive top-25 finishes at this week's event, while Simpson, on the other hand, has struggled here. Simpson has only one top-40 finish in Boston in his last five visits, and his previous two results here were a missed cut and a T75. Take a resurgent Matsuyama to get the better of Simpson this week at 4/5.
2018 Dell Technologies Championship recommended bets
- Outright Winner (All Each Way): Jordan Spieth 22/1 (7 places, Sky Bet), Patrick Reed 40/1 (6 places, Unibet)
- Top 20: Joel Dahmen 9/1 (General)
- 72 Hole Match Bet: Hideki Matsuyama over Webb Simpson 4/5 (BetVictor)