NORTON, MA – Barring another injury, Tiger Woods will return to New England this Labor Day weekend for the first – and possibly last – time in five years.
When Woods last appeared at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., for the then Deutsche Bank Championship, he was never in contention, finishing in a tie for 65th place at 4-under-par 280, a whopping 18 strokes behind winner Henrik Stenson.
At the time, the Tiger Woods Foundation managed the tournament and was its chief beneficiary, but all that changed last year when longtime tournament sponsor and Founders Cup partner EMC (now Dell EMC, a part of Dell Technologies) became the title sponsor of an event managed by the PGA Tour.
What hasn’t changed is the $9 million Dell Technologies Championship will be played for the 16th consecutive year on Aug. 31-Sept. 3 and is still the second of four FedEx Cup Playoffs events with a field of the top 100 players in the FedEx Cup points standings. The top 70 after play at TPC Boston will advance to the BMW Championship on Sept. 6-9 at Aronimink GC in Newtown Square, Pa. The top 30 qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship on Sept. 20-23 at East Lake GC in Atlanta, Ga., with the Dell event the only one on the PGA Tour with a scheduled Monday finish, Labor Day.
But this could be the final PGA Tour stop at TPC Boston. The PGA Tour’s revamped 2018-19 schedule has The Players Championship moving to March and the PGA Championship to May, and it will end with the FedEx Cup events being played in August, so there won’t be a Labor Day weekend date for the playoffs.
Plus, Dell’s contract with the PGA Tour ends this year. There has been talk of FedEx Cup events possibly being reduced from four to three and rotated to different venues, but PGA Tour officials declined to discuss specifics of the schedule, which usually isn’t announced until the fall.
Rich Brady, executive director of the Dell Technologies Championship, said the tournament’s future is in limbo.
“We understand the speculation of shortening the 2019 season, with the big pieces, The Players and the PGA Championship, already in place,” Brady said in an email. “Currently, we don’t have any updates we can share on Boston’s future with the PGA Tour. Our focus is making the 2018 Dell Technologies Championship a tremendous event for our fans, our sponsors and our players as we welcome the top 100 players in the FedEx Cup standings to Boston for the second playoff event.”
Since Adam Scott won the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003, the tournament has generated more than $27 million for local and national charities. Other winners have included Woods, fellow Hall of Famers Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, New England native and 1998 Greater Hartford Open winner Olin Browne and defending champion Justin Thomas, who pulled away down the stretch to beat Travelers Championship titlists Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman.
Singh and McIlroy are the tournament’s only two-time winners, and Thomas prevailed two weeks after capturing the PGA Championship, joining Spieth, Woods and Jason Day as the only players with five victories in one season in the past decade. Singh (2008), Charley Hoffman (2010) and Stenson (2014) share the tournament’s 72-hole record of 22-under 262, and Singh (2006) and Mike Weir (2008) each have a piece of the 18-hole record of 10-under 61.
Players generally enjoy the tree-lined, par-71 TPC Boston course designed by architect Gil Hanse and Rhode Island native Brad Faxon, whose eight PGA Tour victories include the 2005 Buick Championship, now Travelers Championship.
“This is one of my favorite courses on Tour, and I think it’s one of the best courses we play,” Mickelson said. “It’s got a lot of character and definition, but more than that, it’s got a great mixture of holes, from long par-5s to reachable par-5s to drivable par-4s, the fescue grass, the rough.
“It’s just a wonderful way to play the game where you have such a great mixture of every club in your bag. You have birdie opportunities, you have tough pars as opposed to some courses nowadays where it’s just hard, hard, hard. Hard is hard, but it’s not great, it’s not fun. But this golf course is a great golf course, and it’s a fun course to play.”
Said Woods: “I want to get back there, it’s one of my favorite tournaments. And a golf course I like. I’ve played well there over the years. The greens are perfect, the fairways are in great shape.”
The tournament was originally introduced as the PGA Tour returned to the Boston market for the first time since the last New England Classic was held in 1998 at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Mass. It replaced the Air Canada Championship in British Columbia on the PGA Tour schedule and became part of the new FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2007.
Youngsters 15 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult, and there’s complimentary admission for military members and discounted admission for veterans. Tickets allow access to the grounds and the Birdies for the Brave Military Patriot Outpost presented by United Rentals. The Outpost is located on the 17th tee and offers complimentary snacks, discounted beverages, air conditioning and great views of the competition.