NORTON — Even though it’s been more than four months, the Deutsche Bank Championship will offer visible signs this week that its thoughts are with the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Players, caddies, volunteers, and sponsors will be given blue and gold ribbons to wear during the tournament at TPC Boston, and spectators also have been asked to wear those colors for the final round on Monday, which has been designated as Boston Strong Day. Blue bracelets stamped with “Boston Strong” will be available at the tournament for $3, with proceeds benefiting One Fund Boston.
On Wednesday, a few people who were seriously injured in the bombings were recognized by tournament director Eric Baldwin, and will receive new sets of Nike clubs through a custom fitting at Golfsmith. J.P. Norden, who lost his right leg, and Mery Daniel, who lost her left, will also receive Nike golf bags and apparel packages.
“Golf is a game I’ve always wanted to play,” said Daniel, who lives in the South End and, like Norden, has been treated at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. “I realize the dedication and challenges I’ve overcome, and despite my injuries I’m eager to use adaptive golf as a way to rehabilitate and move forward.”
Daniel and another amputee, former University of New Hampshire football player Muji Karim (injured in a 2011 car accident), spent time in one of the hitting bays at TPC Boston getting some quick swing tips from PGA Tour player Robert Garrigus.
Of the 125 players eligible for last week’s Barclays, only two chose not to play. Steve Stricker has cut back on his schedule, and elected to skip the playoff opener. Zach Johnson really didn’t have a choice. His brother was getting married in Chicago, and Johnson was serving as best man.
“Obviously he’s aware, you don’t touch the majors,” Johnson said. “But bottom line is it’s their week, it’s their day. And it’s my brother.”
Johnson said the week off came at a good time, because he had played three weeks in a row, and five of the past six, including an overseas trip for the British Open. But he’s been playing well. Since losing in a playoff at the John Deere Classic, he’s never been outside the top eight. He tied for sixth at Muirfield, tied for fourth at Firestone, tied for eighth at the PGA, and tied for fifth in Greensboro.
“My last five starts have been solid, but also frustrating, in the sense that I feel like I’m playing well enough to certainly win,” Johnson said. “I think any time you see someone win, they’re putting pretty good. I’m not putting poorly, I just haven’t made the putts coming down the stretch that it takes to win golf tournaments.”
According to PGA Tour projections, the top 60 players on the points list already have enough to safely advance to the third playoff event, so Johnson, at No. 25, didn’t have to worry about missing last week. Nor Stricker, who is No. 28 and also playing this week.
Had Johnson been on the bubble, would he have made the same decision to skip the Barclays?
“I’m glad the scenario didn’t surface, it would have been rough if I was 120 or 125 in the FedEx,” Johnson said. “But still, even then, it’s one golf tournament.”
Martin Kaymer has been ranked No. 1 in the world, is a major champion (2010 PGA), and sank the clinching putt for Europe in last year’s Ryder Cup. But he’d never played full time on the PGA Tour before this year, and had never qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs. He was one of five players to make the jump into the top 100 at last week’s Barclays, and was scheduled to get his first look at TPC Boston on Wednesday afternoon.
He’s also one of the rare tour pros without a corporate sponsor on his hat. Kaymer has been wearing a cap with the logo of Whisper Rock, a club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“It’s not always about the money, you know. I want to feel comfortable,” Kaymer said. “I was lucky enough to play good golf the last few years. And I play golf for the reason of winning, to have time to prepare as good as possible, and not do corporate days every week, because that’s not why I play. It’s not a matter of not finding a sponsor. It’s just a matter of the right fit.”
No Tiger Woods sightings on Wednesday. He’s scheduled to play in Thursday’s pro-am, going off No. 1 at 6:50 a.m. That should be the first concrete sign this week whether Woods, who fought back spasms while finishing in a tie for second at the Barclays, will attempt to play this week . . . Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, Brandt Snedeker, and Graeme McDowell were among those who either played a few holes or spent time practicing at the course on Wednesday. Bradley hosted an outing at Woodstock Inn & Resort on Monday, with the proceeds benefiting pediatric cancer centers in Vermont . . . The Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund is once again supplying many of the caddies for Thursday’s pro-am. Roughly 110 caddies — many of them current and former Ouimet Scholars — will be working for the amateurs in the event . . . Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, was at the course and attended a scheduled afternoon meeting with the tour’s player advisory council . . . The title sponsor of the developmental tour, Web.com, will host a free small business forum on Thursday at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham. Breakfast is at 8 a.m., with the program running from 8:30-10 a.m. Advance registration is requested at www.smallbusinessforum.web.com.