Major golf names in Boston this weekend: Exclusive interview with Deutsche Bank Championship Director Eric Baldwin - Metro US

Major golf names in Boston this weekend: Exclusive interview with Deutsche Bank Championship Director Eric Baldwin

For fans of golf in New England the PGA Tour comes only once a year, every Labor Day weekend, in the Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC Boston in Norton, Mass.. The event is part of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup, which are four tournaments including the final event, the Tour Championship, where the winner of the $10 million first-place prize is crowned.

The top-125 players qualify for the first event (The Barclay’s) and then the field gets cut down for each of the three tournaments coming after, finishing with only the top-30 in the Tour Championship.

Players are awarded points based on where they finish in tournaments throughout the year to get into the top-125 and into the FedEx Cup. The same goes for the four tournaments in the FedEx Cup to ultimately qualify for the Tour Championship.

This will be the sixth year of the FedEx Cup, and tenth year of the Deutsche Bank. The FedEx Cup has definitely benefitted the Deutsche Bank in many ways.

“I think with the FedEx Cup it’s solidified our field so year in and year out you know exactly the caliber of players that are going to come here,” Deutsche Bank Championship Director Eric Baldwin said in an interview with Metro Boston. “We’re a part of the PGA Tour playoffs and you equate that with a sports side so if you’re a fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics or the Bruins, the season is the season and then you hit the playoffs.

“That is what these professional golfers are doing. They are playing the season and then they come to the playoffs. People recognize that and understand these guys are coming here to compete in the diminishing field week after week and it is an extra special time of the year.”

It is because of the impressive turnout year after year that the PGA Tour and Deutsche Bank announced this week it has extended its sponsorship of the tournament by four years, through 2016.

“Aren’t the fans in New England some of the best in the world? Look at our base and most recently what they’ve had to experience,” Baldwin said. “A New England fan is educated, passionate, and has great energy. You can talk to the players and the energy that the fans bring gets them fired up and they love it. I’ve never had a worry that people wouldn’t want to come out here.”

The tournament has had some big name winners including last year’s champion and winner of this year’s US Open Webb Simpson. Other winners have included Tiger Woods (2006), Phil Mickelson (2007), Vijay Singh (2004 and 2008), Steve Stricker (2009) and Adam Scott (2003).

One major change to this year’s tournament is the 18th green of the 530-yard par-5 has been redesigned and cut down in size by 30 percent as well as being raised by two feet.

Having been the easiest hole on the course virtually every year of the tournament’s existence it will certainly make for an interesting finish, no longer being an almost guaranteed birdie.

“The green is way different,” Woods said. “We can’t bail left. You bail left and that swale is going to be coming in as I said with a long iron or a wood. It’s going to get hot up in that fairway or on the down side in the rough to an elevated green. That’s a really, really difficult shot.

“Based on pin, we’ve got to figure where the spot is to miss it. The good news is we’ve got probably another I think it’s eight or ten yards from over the hazard to the front edge of the green that we can land the ball in, and hopefully that will be enough to keep it on the green.”

The first round is set for Friday morning, with the final round being Monday setting up a special Labor Day finish.Adding another element to the tournament is Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will be announcing his four captains picks following the tournament, which is just something else for the field to think about.

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