A smaller 18th green at TPC Boston

The latest tweak by Gil Hanse at the TPC Boston was to the 18th

green, which has proven to be pivotal in recent years.

It’s where Chris Stroud hit a 3-iron to 3 feet last year for

eagle to narrowly advance to the next round in the FedEx Cup

playoffs, and where Ernie Els and Geoff Ogilvy both got up-and-down

from behind the green for birdie to advance.

This year, the par-5 closing hole might be a little tougher in

the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The green not only is a smaller target, it has been elevated by

a few feet and drops off severely behind and to the left of the

green. The putting surface used to be larger, and rough to the left

made it an inviting place to miss.

”The green is way different. We can’t bail left,” Tiger Woods

said. ”Based on the pin, we’ve got to figure out where the spot is

to miss it. The good news is we’ve got probably another 8 or 10

yards from over the hazard to the front edge of the green that we

can land the ball in, and hopefully that’ll be enough to keep it on

the green.”

Nick Watney said he considered the 18th hole more like a par 4

if the drive was in the fairway, because even though it was a long

iron or hybrid for the second shot, missing to the left was still a

fairly simple up-and-down for birdie.

”Now, I bet there will be a lot of guys who hit the fairway and

lay up, just because it’s really difficult to hit it on the green

with a 4- or 5-iron,” Watney said. ”So I think it’ll add at least

half a shot or three quarters of a shot to the scoring average for

the tournament, just because there’s going to be guys that go for

it, miss it to the left and make a 6, whereas that would rarely

happen before.

”I think it’s a huge change for that hole,” he said. ”If a

guy is down by one in the last group … that’s a lot more

difficult these days.”

FOUR MORE YEARS: Deutsche Bank has renewed its title sponsorship

of its playoff event with a four-year extension that goes through

2016.

The tournament began in 2003, with proceeds going to the Tiger

Woods Foundation, and it became a central piece of the playoffs

when the FedEx Cup began in 2007. It already has delivered an

impressive list of winners at the TPC Boston, which includes Tiger

Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh (twice), Steve Stricker and Adam

Scott. U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson won last year.

The announcement Monday evening means that three of the four

playoff events – Barclays, Deutsche Bank and the Tour Championship

– have sponsorship locked up through 2016. The BMW Championship

sponsorship is through 2014.

”We are extremely proud of the success and positive impact the

Deutsche Bank Championship has had over these first 10 years,”

said Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas. ”The tournament’s

growth and ascension to the FedEx Cup playoffs is a testament to

the great fans of New England and terrific partnership with the PGA

Tour and Tiger Woods Foundation, as well as EMC as the local

presenting sponsor.”

The tournament traditionally ends on Labor Day.

NO LOVE: Nick Watney got no love from his win at The Barclays –

not even a text message.

Watney won the opening FedEx Cup playoff event last week to get

his name into the Ryder Cup mix as a potential captain’s pick, but

he said Thursday he never heard from U.S. captain Davis Love

III.

”I haven’t spoken to Davis,” Watney said. ”I got a text from

Freddie.”

That would be Fred Couples, his captain at the Presidents Cup

last fall and a vice captain for the Ryder Cup. Watney wasn’t

reading too much into that. He is downplaying the Ryder Cup hype

that hit him after his big win, especially because no one talked to

him about the Ryder Cup all year until Sunday.

Even so, the text from Couples fired him up.

”He’s a vice captain, right?” Watney said, grinning.

NICE TO MEET YOU: Tiger Woods has made a lot of new friends this

year during some of his weekend pairings. He played with Tom Gillis

in the Honda Classic, Thorbjorn Olesen in the British Open, Branden

Grace for two rounds at Firestone, and two other new faces (for

him) at The Barclays – Gary Christian and David Hearn.

”The tour is getting deeper,” Woods said. ”Most of the guys

that I grew up playing with and know better are actually on the

Champions Tour now. I know that leaderboard. I know all the guys on

that leaderboard. I look at our fields, and I don’t know some of

these guys.”

All of them have been complimentary, especially Christian last

week at Bethpage. Woods wonders if they aren’t hurt by playing

before such large galleries for the first time.

”When played with me on the weekend rounds, they’re not quite

used to the amount of movement and … well, now the new thing are

the cell phones going off,” he said. ”It costs them a shot here

and there, and that’s what it’s done to me in most of the

tournaments I’ve played.”

DIVOTS: Caroline Wozniacki, an early departure at the U.S. Open,

walked the pro-am round with boyfriend Rory McIlroy. … Keegan

Bradley held a fundraiser in his hometown of Woodstock, Vt., for

the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. The event raised more than

$100,000 for victims from last year’s flood brought on by Hurricane

Irene. ”There was pretty serious damage up there,” Bradley said.

… Scott Stallings keeps a baseball signed by former Boston Red

Sox great Jim Rice in his golf bag. …A year ago, Ernie Els was

No. 99 in the ranking and tied for 16th to move on to the third

round of the FedEx Cup.