By Kevin J. Stone/@kstone06
The Bruins and Celtics may not have home playoff games, but there will still be some postseason action in New England this weekend.
If you've ever been to TPC Boston in Norton for the Dell Technologies Championship or the Deutsche Bank Championship, you know what a great time the event is every year.
Usually a staple on Labor Day weekend, the event's name has changed again and so has the date, but that doesn't make the event any less significant.
There won't be fans lining the fairways this weekend, but there will still be a playoff atmosphere amongst the players. Usually, the tournament is one of the last in the Fed-Ex Cup playoff schedule, but this season it is the very first event kicking off the Tour's postseason.
There are plenty of interesting storylines to watch including one local angle. Here's a preview of the event and some predictions:
RECENT CHAMPIONS AT TPC BOSTON
Last season Patrick Reed won The Northern Trust at -16, but it was held at Liberty National Golf Course. The tournament is on a rotation right now between the two courses. No event was held at TPC Boston last year, but Bryson DeChambeau won the Dell Technologies title in 2018 at -16.
In 2017 it was Justin Thomas winning in Norton (-17). Rory Mcllroy won it in 2016 (and 2012) while Rickie Fowler took home the trophy in 2015.
Crowd favorites Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods won at TPC Boston in 2007 and 2006 respectively.
RORY MCLLROY HOPING FAMILIAR LANDSCAPE HELPS HIS GAME
One of the most recognizable and well-liked guys on Tour, Rory Mcllroy met with the media on Tuesday. Mcllroy was asked if he was happy to be back in Boston and if past success here means anything.
"This is usually a time of year where I've historically played pretty well," Mcllroy said. "Boston's a place and a golf course where I've got some nice history, so hopefully that can ignite something for me this week and I can get on a good little run of golf coming up.
'The most important thing is executing the shots, right, and my execution over the last few weeks hasn't been as good as it needs to be. It doesn't matter how good you've played on a certain golf course before. If you're not hitting the shots the way you want, then, you know, it's not going to happen. You're not going to get a chance. It is nice to be back in Boston. We missed it last year. So it's nice to be back in a place where not -- everyone is familiar with it. Most of the field, the TOUR, and obviously myself having won here a couple of times.
"It's always nice to get back to familiar surroundings."
SOUTH HADLEY'S RICHY WERENSKI HAPPY TO BE PLAYING AT HOME
Richy Werenski is in familiar territory this weekend. Werenski Hadley was born in Springfield and grew up in South Hadley. More importantly, Werenski has had some success lately and is hoping it continues even without local support.
"Yeah, it's awesome," he said. "I mean, you know, I grew up about an hour and a half from here, so I've played out here a few times when I was younger. I've just got a lot of family and friends in the area. Like, I've got fans all throughout Massachusetts. So, it's kind of a bummer that there are no fans this week because it would have been really fun. You know, it's still really cool to be playing here and I am excited about it.
Here are the betting favorites, according to Bovada:
Bryson DeChambeau (+1100)
Jon Rahm (+1400)
Justin Thomas (+1400)
Rory Mcllroy (+1400)
Jason Day (+2000)
Xander Schauffele (+2000)
Colin Morikawa (+2200)
Dustin Johnson (+2200)
Patrick Reed (+2500)
Patrick Cantlay (+2800)
I'm pulling the ultimate fence-sitter move here and giving it a top-5. I wouldn't be surprised if any of these guys are raising the trophy on Sunday, but in reality, there are probably 20-25 guys that have a legitimate shot. The amount of young talent right now on Tour is incredible and it's literally a toss-up from week-to-week. You can also never ignore some of the veterans on tour capable of a big week at any point.
- Bryson DeChambeau. It's just impossible for me not to like his distance off the tee. The fact he's won here before also has to play a factor as well.
- Justin Thomas. Arguably the best player on Tour right now and ranked second in the world, it seems like he's literally in every tournament he plays, so why would this week be any different?
- Colin Morikawa. This kid has exploded onto the scene. After a week off following his PGA Championship win, the incredible iron player is in Boston this weekend and I wouldn't be shocked if his name is right near the top of the leaderboard again.
- Rory Mcllroy. As I pointed out earlier he's already won twice here. While he hasn't been as big of a threat lately as he has in years past, he's still ranked third in the world. Rory's due for a big week soon, so why not now?
- Jon Rahm. Rahm is another young guy that's leaped onto the scene over the past couple of seasons and someone who can go very low at any given tournament. Now that he currently holds the top ranking in the world, get used to continuing to see his name at the top of leaderboards for a long, long time.
COVERAGE ALL WEEKEND LONG
Despite not being able to get inside the ropes at TPC Boston this weekend due to Covid-19 restrictions, I'll have coverage throughout the weekend. Be sure to keep checking back with Believe In Boston Sports for all things Northern Trust.