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End of the line for Deutsche Bank Championship?

August 30, 2016

The Deutsche Bank Championship, the second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, might be played at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., for the last time this week for a couple of reasons.

Deutsche Bank's contract as title sponsor ends this year, and Bill Woodley, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank Americas, wouldn't say recently if the German banking giant, which has had problems, will renew.

"We haven't made a decision about that at this point," Woodley told reporters. "The Tour is looking forward to giving some news on tournament week."

In addition, there was talk earlier this year that the PGA Tour might shorten the playoffs from four events to three, and if that happens, it seems that the Deutsche Bank Championship might not make the cut.

The players have taken to the concept of the playoffs, which are in their 10th year, but almost everybody agrees that the golf season is too long -- and things were complicated this year by golf's return to the Olympic Games.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem acknowledged earlier this year that the players find the four-pronged playoff can be arduous, saying that other options are being considered.

The 2016-17 PGA Tour schedule has been released, and the Deutsche Bank Championship is listed in its usual spot on Sept. 1-4, Labor Day weekend, with its usual Friday through Monday format.

However, it is early and that could change, especially if Deutsche Bank pulls out.

One thing that will change is that the Tiger Woods Foundation is leaving as the tournament's management team and primary charity, taking over the same duties at what is now the Genesis Open, the PGA Tour's Los Angeles-area event at Riviera Country Club.

However, if the tournament at TPC Boston survives, the first step is to land another title sponsor.

The tournament has produced a top-drawer list of champions since it was first played in 2003, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott of Australia, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Vijay Singh of Fiji, Steve Stricker, and last year, Rickie Fowler.

Fowler, who had a chance to win the Barclays last week but faded to a tie for seventh, scored points with the New England media when he showed up for Deutsche Bank Championship media day earlier this month at TPC Boston because few of the other former champions have done so the following year.

And that was before he headed to Rio de Janeiro to play in the Olympics.

Fowler survived a riveting head-to-head battle with Stenson to win by one stroke a year ago, coming from three strokes down on the back nine in the final round.

"It basically became kind of a two-man race," Fowler recalled. "I remember making the turn ... and at that point we had kind of distanced ourselves a bit, and I thought if him and I could get out front, it would just be match play between the two of us.

"Came down to the last few holes, and he ends up kind of having a little bit of a miscue on 16, hitting one in the water, and I snuck out front and luckily held on."

Fowler hadn't enjoyed much success previously at TPC Boston, as his best previous finish was a tie for 23rd in 2014.

"I hadn't had a good tournament here until last year, so I finally started to like this place more," said Fowler, who is 16th in the FedEx Cup standings. "No, I never could figure it out. These guys were shooting low scores. I would go out and shoot a few under, and I felt pretty good about it and I was losing ground. It was hard.

"I like the look of this golf course; it's always in great shape. I was walking past the putting green on the way up here and it looks like you guys are going to have some perfect greens to putt on. No, there's nothing really bad to say about it other than the fact that I hadn't played well up until last year. So we've got that out of the way, and I love this place now."

We'll find out of the PGA Tour does, too.

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