The humid, soggy, drizzling to raining, and overcast conditions at TPC Boston on Thursday couldn’t dampen the spirits of the 108 amateurs who teed it up with the 52 professionals in the Pro-Am round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The one best ball net of the fivesome allowed for some really low scores while it also allowed for a lot of great fun and camaraderie. The pros, well, they acted like pros and made the 18 holes as enjoyable
for their four partners as they possibly could. The pro would read putts for his teammates, walk beside them, talk and laugh with them incessantly, and, for the most part, act like one of the guys out there just having a good time. The pros also signed autographs and posed for selfies with an incredibly large number of fans for such a dismal day.
Phil Mickelson on the first tee and Adam Scott on the 10th led the charge of 26 teams from 6:50 until 8:50 when Vijay Singh and Hideki Matsuyama closed out the morning round. Jason Day on one and Jordan Spieth on 10 teed off at noon, and the remaining 26 teams entered the fray with Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell closing out the afternoon tee times at 2:00 p.m.
And the Bragging Rights Belong to . . .
The a.m. contingent suffered the worst of the atmospheric conditions, but Gary Woodland’s team of Mark Cullen, Andrew Hunter, Andrew Mathias, Charles Davis shot a 54 to win by two shots over Hideki Matsuyama and Rick Miller, Bill Taylor, Mark Felix, and Chris Berman. (Chris Berman? Has ESPN’s “Boomer” finally got game?)
The afternoon crowd had better control of the elements, and the results proved the difference with three teams tying at 53. Charley Hoffman and Larry Burak, Bruce Mittman, David Place, and Dirk Koopman eked out a matching-of-cards win over Harris English and Rob Edwards, Michael Nadeau, Matt Martino, and Mike McCarron.
Spieth, Reed, and Fowler Tell It like It Is
Obviously, the Pro-Am was the highlight of the day, but three of the tournaments top players joined the golf writers in the Media Center for some very enlightening interviews: Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, and Rickie Fowler. Their thoughts about the next four days of the DBC, the final two tournaments of the FedExCup, and then the Ryder Cup made for some extremely provocative fodder.
Jordan took center stage before his noon tee time and was promptly presented with his bobblehead doll likeness. He accepted it good-naturedly and placed it beside him on the podium for the duration. His top-ten finish at The Barclays initiated his session:
“It was a good start last week. I struck the ball really nicely but struggled a bit on the greens. I made a few nice putts. I am so confident coming back to TPC Boston where I’ve had some pretty special memories going back to 2013.Yeah, the FedExCup is a huge goal of everybody’s. Guys talk about it constantly. They talk about it like they talk about majors. It’s a life changing type of event to win. It was really special last year and, yeah, it would be really cool to add another one of those. And this year, things seem to be really falling in place. My swing seems to be getting into the position that it was last year.”
What about the Ryder Cup, Jordan?
“That’s a team that everybody wants to be on. Now the guys in consideration [for the four Captain’s picks], they pretty much have a playoff with each other over the next couple weeks. It certainly adds excitement for those watching, but for those guys, that’s tough. We haven’t done much talking as players to the captains. As Captain Love said, the first three picks might be a bit easier than the last one because with the first three, it’s not final. The last one is going to be the toughest.”
The eight current members of the Ryder Cup squad had dinner Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium as guests of Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. Mike Eruzione of the 1980 Winter Olympic hockey team spoke to the golfers. How did that affect Jordan?
“It was really inspirational. Mike showed us a video. I only know it as the Miracle on Ice, the movie, which is one of two movies that I cry every time I watch it. Remember the Titans is the other one.”
Jordan Comments on His Relationship with #12
During a tour of the stadium, Jordan took a selfie in front of TomBrady’s locker and sent it to him. Tom called him right back.
“Yeah, Tom called me back immediately and asked me, ‘Where’s the security?’ We stay in touch. He wishes me well. He’s somebody who, if it’s a really off week, he’ll be a guy who reaches out to try to help me rebound. He’s been through it all. It’s really cool to have a guy like him, that I’m such a huge fan of, in my corner and supporting me. Because of Under Armour we’ve made that connection, and I certainly hope the best for him.
“I root for the Pats in the AFC. The Cowboys are my team, and Tom knows that. He calls me out on it, but if we’re not playing the Pats, then I root for them. I have since I was probably seven, eight years old, and I’m not saying that because I’m here—it’s true.”
Patrick Reed, Barclays Champ and Ryder Cup Member
With his final nine-hole comeback over Rickie Fowler in The Barclays last week, Patrick Reed claimed the #1 spot in the FedExCup rankings and made the Ryder Cup team on points. The outspoken pro was asked how it felt to be leading the pack.
“I’m comfortable, that’s for sure, but I’m treating this week just as I would normally do. I’ll try to play the best I can and just keep on sticking to my game plan and try to build off what I did last week. I love this golf course. It’s one of those that kind of fits my eye pretty well, and I really enjoy it. It’s always nice whenever you’re playing well, especially through stretches. There are about 12 events when I really hope to be playing well—the World Golf Championships, the Majors, and then at the end of the year for the FedEx.”
Patrick’s plans for the Ryder Cup?
“I just want to make sure I’m playing really well during that stretch because it just comes down to who’s playing the best at that time always seems to win the Ryder Cup. Last Ryder Cup I played really well throughout it, but at the same time that’s all old news. I know we finally got together, our whole team did yesterday [at Gillette], and we just talked about doing our jobs, moving forward, and trying to create new history rather than talk about old history.”
What about this Ryder Cup team bonding experience on Wednesday with Mike Eruzione and Robert Kraft at Gillette?
“We did a Tour around Gillette Stadium. That was awesome. We got together, hung out, talked. Didn’t really talk much about the Ryder Cup, just had a good time and got to know the guys a little better. And I think that’s going to be key for us–getting to know our guys a little better so at the end of the day, hopefully, the Cup returns here.
Mike Eruzione and Robert Kraft at Gillette Stadium
“It was great just to hear [about the “Miracle on Ice”] from Mike Eruzione’s perspective, his being an Olympian. He’s explaining and showing us everything that he went through and how it moved the country. It’s crazy how sports does that. It’s kind of one of these things that hopefully we can do the same thing with the Ryder Cup team. Right now we’re America’s team, we’re the American golf team. I know all of us are going to fight to bring the Cup back.
“Mr. Kraft was awesome. He was so much fun. To see your name pop up around the stadium with red, white, and blue colors, it was just so cool. To show us the trophies, all four of them and the four rings. I actually got to try on one of those rings. Just to hang out with somebody like that, you don’t really know what to expect. I mean, for how successful he is, who he is, and all that, he’s just a normal guy. We were just chatting with him as if he’s an old friend.”
Rickie Fowler’s State of Mind
Rickie Fowler led The Barclays with eight holes to go but then shot four over down the stretch. He was disappointed, of course, especially because he did not qualify for the Ryder Cup team on points, but not dejected. Here’s what the DBC’s defending champion had to say.
“It would have been nice to finish up a little better last week to put myself in a better standing not only for the FedExCup but also with the Ryder Cup standings ending. But I’m excited about where the game’s going and trending in the right direction. So with that and being at a place where I’ve played well, it should be a good week. It was close last week so I felt good about the game going into Barclays but I feel even better coming out of it.
“I don’t think I need any extra motivation when the thought of Ryder Cup’s there. The No. 1 priority is to be there. Yeah, it would have been nice to seal that deal last week.”
Rickie’s Opinion of the TPC Boston Layout
“I have always thought it was a fun golf course to play, it’s got a great look to it, and it’s got a lot of good variety. Some holes are longer, some shorter holes, some good par 3s, and some good riskreward par 5s. Just like any course, the biggest thing is just driving the ball well. A lot of guys tend to play well here. It’s a very scoreable golf course from the fairway, so I’ll need to drive the ball well.”
The Green Monster and the Mustache
Rickie always makes it a point to visit Fenway Park, where he is given the VIP treatment. He said, “I wasn’t able to get to the field until about 5:30 and then spent about an hour in the clubhouse. I hung out with Clay [Buchholz] and got to see some of the players in the clubhouse, but it was a quick visit. I wish I could have gotten there earlier to get some time there either shagging balls or hanging with the boys on the field.”
Rickie was asked, “How long do you plan on keeping the Thomas Magnum dirt squirrel?” He promptly responded, “Well, it is a playoff duster, so at least through the FedExCup Playoffs, which I hope means through the Tour Championship.”
Now the Fun Begins
The practice rounds, the Pro-Am, and all the pleasantries ended Friday morning at 8:15 when the first two threesomes teed off one and 10. On the line now is survival for the top 70 and a trip to the BMW in Carmel, Indiana next week.
(All photography by Vicky MacKay)