Five former Deutsche Bank Championship winners will be in the field when first round play starts Friday at the in Norton.
“It’s a major on the PGA Tour, for the most part,” said last year’s winner Charley Hoffman, who will be looking for the repeat. “It’s the road to the FedEx final. “It’s the road to the FedExCup final, and it’s a big event. It’s a climax to the year.”
Other former Deutsche Bank winners, Phil Mickelson, who will draw huge crowds on the Norton layout, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh and Steve Strickler are all hoping to win the 2011 tournament.
Only two former champions, Tiger Woods, who won in 2006, ended his year early after battling injuries, while Olin Browne, the 2005 winner, is now playing on the Senior Tour and doing broadcasting.
Hoffman is hoping to capture the same major he had a year at the DBC. He was red-hot in the finals with a tournament record and personal-best 9-under par 62 Labor Day.
“I haven’t played a better round of golf given the situation,” Hoffman said. “It’s definitely the top victory in my career. It was a lot of fun knowing that I could do that coming down the stretch in a big-time playoff event like the Deutsche Bank Championship. I think I was, sort of, the poster child last year for the FedExCup. I think what the TOUR is looking for is for someone to come from behind and have a chance to compete for the FedExCup, which I did.”
US Open champion Keegan Bradley, who played for Hopkinton High in the Tri-Valley League, the same league as Norton plays in, will be a crowd favorite in his first year in the tournament. Another tour rookie Scott Stallings, who was born in Worcester and has relatives in the Norton area, should draw a big crowd and would like to be on top when the tourney ends on Labor Day.