Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, August 23 at 12:00 PM EST.
The Northern Trust
The top 125 in the Fed Ex Cup standings are confirmed and this week’s field is locked in place. The nature of how the rankings system works means we’ve got the most consistent players on Tour taking their place in NYC; for what it’s worth, the FedEx Cup standings, as of right now, serve up a top-10 that reads:
Hideki Matsuyama (1), Justin Thomas (2), Jordan Spieth (3), Dustin Johnson (4), Rickie Fowler (5), Jon Rahm (6), Brooks Koepka (7), Daniel Berger (8), Kevin Kisner (9), Brian Harman (10).
Don’t forget, the harsh nature of the playoffs means that only 100 players will tee up at Deutsche Bank Championship next week, which puts the likes of Emiliano Grillo, Branden Grace, Jimmy Walker, Luke Donald, and Bubba Watson in the spotlight but there are plenty of points to play for this week.
Glen Oaks will be a new course for the vast majority in this field, and information regarding its layout is scarce. The PGA TOUR website is running a piece at the moment which features some nice quotes – most notably from Scott Brown, who played the stretch 12 months ago, as well as the thoughts from course superintendent Craig Currier. To offer a sort of potted view of Glen Oaks, this is a fairly typical Par 70 at 7,300 yards, and it has been renovated with the help of Joel Weiman to produce a classic test of ball-striking. Trees have been removed – partly by design, partly by hurricanes Irene and Hermine, and fairways widened a tad.
The greens are described as pretty fast and are Bentgrass (Poa) in nature, and you don’t have to look too far for the first correlating course. Both Currier and Weiman worked together on a revamp of Bethpage Black, a course that hosted the 2009 US Open and two editions of the Barclays Championship. When researching the track, another name crops up on a number of occasions: Augusta National. Mark Brown, who won the 101st Met Open, which was hosted by Glen Oaks, has described it as the ‘Augusta of the North,’ and namesake Scott Brown agreed: “It’s a fabulous golf course, similar to Augusta National in that you have to play shots to certain quadrants of the greens.” In conversation with the New York Post Currier continued with the theme. “The bunker styling is similar to Augusta,” he said. “They’re really deep, flashed sand. We have a lot of great vistas where you can see across three, four, five holes and the bunkers are popping out at you.” In a week in which we are grasping wildly for course-based information, we’ll take this gladly.
The forecast is for sunshine and cloudy weather all week, with temperatures ranging from 77 degrees (Sunday) to 82 degrees (Thursday). Wind speeds will max out at about 10 mph, and so really the only weather-related item of note is the humidity. It’s set to be a sultry week in NYC, and that humidity should enable the golf ball to travel further than normal. That set-up could help Glen Oaks to provide a stern test this week. Scott Brown suggested his associates will be tested. Greens will surely be as fast as they can be, while the shaved run-off areas around the dancefloors could really make any errant balls fly far from the putting surface.
In the 2016 season, the Northern Trust Open was played in February at Riviera CC in the Pacific Palisades. Consequently, it was not part of the FedEx Cup, and so it is of very little relevance this week. The relevant tournament in last year’s campaign was the Barclays Championship, which was the first event of the FedEx Cup in 2016 and played on the Black course at Bethpage State Park (the same one mentioned earlier in this preview).
There, Patrick Reed bagged the full 2,000 FedEx Cup points and the trophy, seeing off the challenge of Emiliano Grillo and Sean O’Hair by a solitary stroke. Scott, Jason Day, and Gary Woodland rounded out the top five but they could not catch Reed, whose rounds of 66-68-71-70 suggest he was clinging on by the close of play on Sunday. With so little course information to work with – albeit form at Bethpage Black and Augusta duly noted – we must seek out new ways to formulate our picks this week.
We can use current form as a guide. The Wyndham Championship was a birdie-fest played out by a mostly weak field, so that’s of minimal relevance, but the PGA Championship (quality field) and WGC Bridgestone Invitational (tough course) are certainly worth a look.
Is motivation a factor? The FedEx Cup points get reset after the BMW Championship in three weeks’ time, so those already near the top of the standings have little to play for here. That didn’t stop Patrick Reed, who was seventh at the point he won the Barclays 12 months ago, although O’Hair (108th), Kokrak (65th), Woodland (42nd), and Grillo (32nd) clearly made great strikes with their top-10s at Bethpage.
We may be clutching at straws here, but three players finished inside the top-10 at both the Northern Trust Open and the Barclays in 2016 – despite the two events taking place six months apart. Decide for yourself whether there’s a valid connection between the two courses (Riviera and Bethpage) that drove Adam Scott, Jason Kokrak, and Ryan Moore to perform admirably in both. We’ll consider everything and go after some long shots but also note that we have won five of six head-to-head matchups since switching to 2 units on our three top H2H’s.
Unless otherwise stated, the following bets to win outright will be placed at Bet365 because of their cash-out option during the event.
Daniel Berger 66-1
Of all the things that have shocked us this season, Dan Berger missing the cut at the PGA Championship was right up there. Since winning the St Jude Classic in June, Berger had made four out of five cuts (just missing that of the US Open), recorded three top-20s and two top-5s. So there was absolutely no reason for him to flop at Quail Hollow. The 24-year-old had last week off, a smart move, and will hopefully head to New York revitalized and confident after some range hitting in the past few weeks. He has a top-10 to his name at Augusta (2016), and that might just be an omen for a good week at Glen Oaks. Already in his third playoffs, he's logged five top 15s in eight events during the series. Berger is under the radar to be sure because of his last two missed cuts at the past two majors (U.S. Open and PGA Championship), he sets up as a threat to take it all the way to the house (Risking 0.2 units to win 13.2 units).
Brian Harman 100-1
Harman bagged a long overdue second PGA TOUR title earlier this season at the Wells Fargo Championship and that was the icing on what has been a particularly consistent campaign. Some 50% of his 26 starts have been converted to top-25s, and since lifting the trophy at Eagle Point he’s delivered top-10s at Dean & Deluca and the John Deere Classic, as well as finishing second behind Brooks Koepka at the US Open. His last start was a T13 at the PGA Championship so there’s plenty to like about Brian Harman this week. Harman just keeps delivering. He’s a top-10 machine with seven this season but he’s priced like he’s Phil Mickelson. With Harman on your side, you almost always get a good run for your money. He’s ranked 5th ON TOUR in SG: Putting and 19th ON TOUR in SG: Around the Green. Overlay (Risking 0.2 units to win 20 units).
Kyle Stanley 200-1
We bet Kyle Stanley last week and he didn’t even make the cut at a venue that was being slayed by so many. That has most gamers steering clear of Stanley and we can understand why. He’s been missing in action for weeks with three missed cuts with a T55 and a T41 over his last five events played. That doesn’t mean he should be 200-1. In late June, Stanley won the Quicken Loans. He finished T4 earlier in the year at the Players Championship. It's not a stretch to state that he's the last winner on a course unfamiliar to just about everyone in the field, as TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm was making its debut as a PGA TOUR host site. That's where the 29-year-old prevailed for the Quicken Loans National. It's also not a stretch to attach to the theory that he's bided his time since. Currently second on TOUR in total driving, first in greens in regulation and third in proximity to the hole, he presents strongly once again at Glen Oaks. With key stats like that, Stanley holds too much value at this price and if he comes alive, we don’t want to miss out (Risking 0.2 units to win 40 units).
Xander Schauffele 150-1
It’s only his first full season on the PGA TOUR so we must refrain from judgement too quickly, but Schauffele is turning into a threat almost every week and is too good to ignore at this price. From his T24 at the Wells Fargo, the 23-year-old has followed up with T5 at the US Open, T14 at the Travelers, T13 at the WGC Bridgestone and, of course, his maiden tour title at the Greenbrier Classic. This young man’s game has gone from strength to strength in the past few months with so many good outings that has been his catalyst to his ascent to golfing manhood. Schauffele has delivered some outstanding tee-to-green stats this season with some of his key stats including being ranked 26th ON TOUR in SG Putting, 27th ON TOUR in Greens in Regulation – 27th ON TOUR in SG: Off the Tee. It doesn't hurt that he's long off the tee and rates extremely high in Par 4 efficiency. This is another big overlay (Risking 0.2 units to win 30 units).
Jamie Lovemark 125-1
When you look at the list of winners on the PGA TOUR this season, a whole bunch of young players have come of age and grabbed a ‘W’. It’s high time Lovemark did likewise. He ranks 31st for SG: tee to Green and 17th for SG: Around-the-Green – the profile of a class act – and yet he still hasn’t won an event. It will come as no surprise to note that he’s not the best in the world with the putter but we are of the school of thought that putting can click in at any time – the switch to Poa may assist Lovemark, whereas confidence from tee to green takes a whole lot longer to return. There’s plenty of upside to someone who has made 20/25 cuts this form and transferred nine of those to top-25s and four to top-10s (Risking 0.2 units to win 25 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for The Northern Trust
We're sticking with three H2H matchups, all for 2 units because it's working with five out of six winning wagers over the past two weeks.
#7032 G. Woodland -116 over K. Kisner
Gary Woodland is gaining momentum after what has been mostly a trying season. He also has a Presidents Cup spot to play for, too. En route to a T22 at the PGA Championship, he led the field in total driving and ranked T10 in greens hit. Woodland is no stranger to opening the Playoffs strong with four top 15s in five appearances at the migrant opener. Meanwhile, Kevin Kisner finished a disappointing T42 at Sedgefield and on Bermuda greens no less. Back on Poa this week and seeking to end a slump of six straight starts in the Playoffs without a top 25, Kisner’s propensity for fading this time of year is an odd trend worth attacking and that’s precisely what we’re doing. Incidentally, getting behind Woodland at 80-1 is worth a bet too if you’re so inclined. We would have too but we have to draw the line somewhere and he would’ve been one of our next in line of underpriced golfers to win it all (Risking 2.32 units to win 2).
#7007 R. Fowler +105 over R. McIlroy
All Rickie Fowler does is continuously play consistently great golf and it’s only a matter of time before he wins a major. That will have to wait until next year but we’re more than happy to get him at a price against the suddenly inconsistent McIlroy. McIlroy almost decided to sit out the playoffs due to injury. He was never really in the mix at Quail Hollow and his health/schedule at the very least has to be a distraction. Even if McIlroy comes up with one of his strong outings, it doesn’t mean he’s going to beat Rickie (Risking 2 units to win 2.1).
#7036 R. Moore -101 over J. Dufner
Jason Dufner is 40-years-old. At difficult courses, as this one is projected to be, Dufner has not fared well this season with a +5 at the Masters, a missed cut at the U.S. Open, a +6 at WGC-Bridgestone (T50) and a +7 (T58) at the PGA Championship. Dufner isn’t getting any younger and he’s not getting any thinner either. Meanwhile, Ryan Moore, a six-time PGA TOUR winner is somewhere near his best form at the moment and if he could only get the putter working his last three starts of 24-13-28 would look considerably better. He missed five putts within five feet at the Wyndham Championship – just imagine how much better off he would have gained if he’d sunk those and yet he has ranked fourth and seventh for Strokes Gained: Tee to Green at the Wyndham and PGA Championship respectively, which suggests he is striking the ball incredibly well. Six years Dufner’s junior, Moore should not be the underdog in this H2H matchup and so we’ll play it accordingly (Risking 2.02 units to win 2).
#7007 R. Fowler +105 over R. McIlroy = +2.1 units
#7036 R. Moore -101 over J. Dufner = -2.02 units
#7032 G. Woodland -116 over K. Kisner = -2.32 units
5 golfers to win outright at 0.2 units each = -1 unit
Therefore. 5.34 units (losses) - 2.1 units (wins) = a total NET loss for this event of 3.24 units
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
The Northern Trust (Risking 7.34 units - To Win: 0.00)