Shotgun Start: Previewing the Deutsche Bank Championship

It's tournament time! The top 100 players in the FedExCup standings make the trek up I-95N to TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second phase of the PGA Tour playoffs. Here's a tournament primer to get you prepared for the week.

The course: Last week at the Barclays it was all about surviving on Bethpage Black's baked-out greens. This week at the Deutsche Bank Championship? Well it's a completely different story.

As opposed to the Barclays and BMW Championship where the host course has bounced from one location to another over the years, the Deutsche Bank Championship has been played at TPC Boston since the Arnold Palmer design opened in 2003. And if there's one thing we've learned from past statistics, it's that birdies and eagles are the name of the game if you want to contend.

TPC Boston has ranked as one of the top 5 easiest par 71 layouts on the PGA Tour over the last five years -- including 2008 when it ended the season as the easiest par 71. Of the four tournaments on the FedExCup schedule, the Deutsche Bank Championship is the one event where golfers can go wide open and take some risks. Needless to say, the course will be a welcomed sight for a few notable players who were in the Barclays field.

There's no question the course is lacking in the defense department. At 7,214 yards, it's slightly above average in length and offers five par-4s over 460 yards and a par-5 that plays an even 600 yards. But just having a few lengthy holes isn't enough these days; you have to find other ways to combat par, and based on TPC Boston's history, the course hasn't found a solution to the birdie binges that occur on a yearly basis.

If there's one hole you should keep an eye on throughout the week -- especially on Sunday afternoon -- it's the par-5 18th. The risk/reward hole has been the site of some fantastic finishes over the years. Just 530 yards, it's usually an easy driver, mid-iron into the green for some of the longer hitters in the field.

This week could be a different story. Gil Hanse redesigned the hole at the end of last year's tournament, cutting the size of the green in half while also raising it two feet. The 18th has played as the easiest hole on the course over the last three years, but based on the talk surrounding Hanse's changes, it may not be a pushover this year.

The schedule: The tournament runs Friday-Monday and is one of two events on the PGA Tour that ends on a Monday (the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is the other). You know what that means: Golf fans will have something to watch on Labor Day!

It'll be broadcast on the Golf Channel from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, and 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. Monday; and on NBC from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday and 2 to 6 p.m. Monday.

The field: The top 100 players in the current FedExCup points list will be in attendance at TPC Boston, with only the top 70 going on to next week's BMW Championship at Crooked Stick. Nick Watney, who moved up 48 spots following his win at the Barclays, is the current FedExCup leader; he'll be paired with Brandt Snedeker (No. 2 in the standings) and Tiger Woods (No. 3) for the first two days of the tournament. Sergio Garia (No. 10) is the only notable name skipping out on the Deutsche, after he confirmed he'd be taking a break before starting a stretch of golf that will likely see him play two FedExCup events and then head to Medinah for the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar are just a few of the notables in the field.

The video: Check out some of the memorable moments from the Deutsche Bank Championship's history.

Your turn. Who are your picks for this week? Swing away!

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