After months of jockeying and jostling for position, we have finally arrived at the FedEx Cup Playoffs with 125 men now left standing, all dreaming of the $10 million playoff prize. Some notable names have failed to make the cut with Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, and Rickie Fowler all looking in from the outside.
The hard work starts now as The Northern Trust will see the 125 man field reduced to 70 ahead of next week’s BMW Championship, with each putt and final position meaning something the stage looks perfectly set for four days of gripping action.
Before we preview this year’s Northern Trust, let’s quickly reflect on last week’s Wyndham Championship.
It was another mixed bag of results for our selections with main bet Jason Kokrak and long shot J.T Poston both missing the cut, quick bets Sungjae Im and Will Zalatoris playing well but only finishing 24th and 29th respectively. But it was our dark horse bet Russell Henley, tipped at +3000, who came closest to sealing victory finishing in T7th. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story!
Henley jumped into a four-shot lead after round 1 and held his position and a three-shot lead going into the final round. A shocker of a final round, which included a missed par putt to make the playoff was to follow, sadly leaving us short of what would have been a great victory.
However, the show goes on and after last week’s near-miss, we are hoping to get back into the winner’s circle this week.
This Week: The Northern Trust
The Northern Trust, formerly known as The Barclay’s (change of banks), has been the first stop of the FedEx Cup Playoffs since 2007. The Northern Trust this year is being held at Liberty National. The course has quickly become an iconic stop on the PGA Tour, located just three miles across the Hudson River from New York, the course offers some spectacular views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty herself.
The course sits on top of what was formerly an industrial wasteland and its transformation to an internationally recognized top-tier golf course was one of the most expensive in history, costing original owner Paul Fireman almost $300 million to complete its drastic makeover.
This week Liberty National will play at a touch over 7,404 yards and will play as a par 71. It is a course that requires real efficiency from tee to green. There are five par 4s that measure between 450 – 500 yards and the greens are going to be a fast bentgrass surface.
These playoff events are often where the best players dominate. The last ten winners of the playoff events, The Northern Trust and BMW Championship read as Johnson, Rahm, Reed, Thomas, DeChambeau, Bradley, Johnson, Leishman, Reed, and Johnson. Therefore to try and find a winner outside of the favorites will be a challenge.
However never to be deterred and determined to try and find a winner, here are this week’s selections!
MAIN BET: PATRICK CANTLAY +3000
Our main bet for this week is Patrick Cantlay. Liberty National is not an easy golf course and it will require a player who is efficient from tee to green to be successful. Cantlay is currently ranked third in strokes gained in that category. He is ranked behind both Collin Morikawa (+1600) and John Rahm (+800) but I think at the prices, the value play has to be Cantlay.
Cantlay so often flies under the radar when it comes to these types of events but the understated American is currently ranked 3rd in the overall FedEx Cup rankings and is the 9th best player in the world. He has had a great season, winning the Zozo Championship and The Memorial, he has also finished 2nd at The American Express and 3rd at The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Interestingly the statisticians have determined that 31% of approaches to the greens this week will be over 200 yards. Here Cantlay excels, as he currently ranks in 12th for greens hit with approach shots at over 200 yards, so the course this week could be set up perfectly for him.
Cantlay has only played The Northern Trust once back in 2019 where he finished 12th, so he has the game to contend this week. Odds of +600 for a top 5 and +275 for a top 10 finish could be a bit of a steal.
DARK HORSE: VIKTOR HOVLAND +3000
In a field as loaded as this one, trying to find a dark horse bet that has a genuine chance of winning is tricky, but I think big-hitting Viktor Hovland has a chance to win the biggest title of his career so far.
Currently, you can back Hovland at odds of +3000 and I think this offers some really great value.
In keeping with my theme of trying to find players that are efficient from tee to green, Hovland currently ranks in 12th place and ranks in 6th place for overall strokes gained from off the tee. In approaches to the green with yardage between 200 – 225 yards, Hovland is ranked in third place – so his game could be perfectly suited for Liberty National.
The slight unknown factor for Hovland is that he is yet to play a competitive round at Liberty National and he can be a little off with the putter at times. However, I am boosted by the fact that Hovland is ranked 9th in birdie averages, averaging 4.32 per round. Hovland has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his relatively short pro career and is currently ranked 11th in the FedEx Cup standings and 14th in the world rankings. Hovland has two PGA Tour titles but that breakthrough victory is still to arrive, I am hoping however that the young European star can claim it this week.
LONG-SHOT: SEAMUS POWER + 13000
Unheralded Irishman Seamus Power enters this week’s Northern Trust fresh off the back of three top tens in his last five events, which includes a win at The Barbasol Championship. Keeping consistent with the key metric of tee-to-green efficiency, Power ranks in 24th place which I think belies his pretty large odds.
Power’s game relies on his accuracy, the Irishman is ranked in 28th position for total greens in a regulation hit and from approaches ranging between 225 – 250 yards, Power is ranked in 15th position for finding the putting surface.
What also appeals about this weeks’ long-shot bet is Powers’s ability to score. Power is ranked 11th in scoring average, averaging a score of 69.76 and scoring just under four birdies per round.
It will be a huge ask for Power to win this week, but currently ranked just outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup rankings at 73rd, Power will be looking to secure his place at next week’s BMW Championship. Odds of +2500 for a top 5 and +1000 for a top 10 finish could be a fantastic way to play.
Our quick bet this week is Paul Casey at +2800.
Casey has often been troubling the top of many leaderboards this season without quite getting over the finish line. Casey has achieved seven top 10 finishes this year, which includes a 4th place finish at the PGA Championship, a 5th place finish at The Players, and a 5th place finish at The St Jude Invitational. His time must be close and I wonder if this week could finally be his week.
Casey ranks 7th in strokes gained from tee to green and 2nd in strokes gained through his approach to the greens. Between 200 and 250 yards he is deadly accurate, ranking in 2nd in approaches between 225 – 250 yards and 7th in approaches between 200 – 225 yards.
It’s the putter that can let him down, particularly on Sundays. But if Casey can keep the putter hot throughout all four rounds he must have a real chance of success this week.
Passionate writer about golf and the PGA Tour, you won’t find me on the fairway but instead hacking my way round the course. Terrible driver of the ball, even worse putter.
Love all sports but have decided to make my sporting life as miserable as possible by supporting Tottenham Hotspur and the Dallas Cowboys, who between them have gone almost a century without a major league title.