The FedEx Cup Playoffs have arrived and the end of the Super Season on the PGA Tour is coming to an end. The top 125 in the FedEx Cup Rankings tee it up this week to try and get into the top 70 to move onto next week’s BMW Championship.
2021 Northern Trust Betting Preview
Liberty National hosts the first playoff event this year as it did in 2019 and 2013. Liberty National is a par 71, playing around 7,410 yards with bentgrass fairways and greens. Liberty sports some of the smallest green complexes on tour.
Patrick Reed won this tournament in 2019 at Liberty with a host of good ball strikers behind him. Iron play will be key as these small greens are difficult to hit especially because many of the approach shots here come from 175 yards and farther.
This course has an incredibly high amount of approach shots from 200+ yards. This water hazards and fescue surrounding the fairway result in many players positioning themselves on many holes out there.
Driving distance is an advantage on some holes as the fairways are generally wide and the course plays pretty long. Avoiding big mistakes off the tee is the biggest thing that players worry about at Liberty.
Beyond approach play, around the green game is maybe the next place where players will have to be sharp this week. Because the greens are so small, there will be a lot of missed greens and many players will have to get up and down a decent amount this week.
SG: Putting will certainly play a role this week as small greens typically give players more chances to make birdies and lots of makeable par putts after chips. Predicting putting will be difficult without a doubt.
Given the stakes of the FedEx Cup, I would look at some guys outside the top 70 who are in good form to make a big push this week. We saw some experienced guys around the bubble last week like Adam Scott come through and we’re sure to see that again.
Ultimately this field is super strong with every single one of the best players in the world in attendance so cracking into the top of the leaderboard will take some good golf. There are a lot of points on the line this week, a giant pot of money at the end of this so the players are extremely incentivised to perform.
2021 Northern Trust – Outright Picks
The last five winners of this event are Dustin Johnson twice, Patrick Reed twice and Bryson DeChambeau. With an elite field, you usually see elite winners. This event will be no different as the only player in the top 125 not teeing it up is Louis for rest purposes.
There are some pretty nice numbers out there on top players this week and the winner will come from that range. The player who manages solid play with elite ball striking will be the most likely winner.
Collin Morikawa +1800
This one is simple for me, on a course with tiny greens and lots of long irons, Morikawa is simply the best. He is by far the best iron player on tour this year and is playing some special golf over the last few months.
18-1 isn’t the best number in the world but he has proven an ability to win tournaments, particularly ones with good fields. He has an elite tee to green game and his putter has come around a few times recently.
Bent grass is his best surface and his floor is so high. I expect Morikawa to get another win before the season is over as nobody on tour has won more than twice this year and he is the most likely person to get to three and someone always gets to three.
Justin Thomas +2800
This is purely a number play. Thomas wins way too often for the book to lay a number anywhere close to 30. JT hasnt been quite himself recently but the iron form is still popping up and he has shown the ability to win with little form.
His iron play is notoriously elite and he has shown that ceiling recently at the WGC gaining over six strokes on approach that week. Ultimately, this number is way too high for a guy who is one of the most prolific winners on tour over the last several years.
Longshots I like: Harris English +4000 & Tyrrell Hatton +5500
2021 Northern Trust – Top 10 Picks
Xander Schauffele +220
Schauffele is coming off a golf medal performance at the Olympics and maybe that will be a boost to his confidence coming down the stretch to win tournaments. Either way, he is an incredibly consistent player with lots of top 10’s to his name this season.
Schauffele is one of the best in the world in scoring from 175+ yards and is a really good bent putter. Xander is also a proven playoff competitor with his super high finishes the last few years. This course should fit him nicely given his length and ability to score from long approach shots.
Longshot top 10: Jason Kokrak +600
2021 Northern Trust – Top 20 Picks
Paul Casey +160
I love Casey this week. He has been incredible with his irons this season and particularly the six weeks or so. He has gained at least four strokes on approach in five straight starts. That is an unbelievable run of sustained play.
His putting has been up and down but the ceiling is there to compete for the win.His best indicators for this course are his proximity numbers from 175-225 yards ranking top 15 in each stat. His best putting surface is bent and he gained a bunch on the greens his last time out.
It’s lining up for a nice week for Casey to put together a solid top 20 finish.
Sam Burns +280
Burns had a really strong showing at the WGC, losing in a playoff to Abe Ancer. His game is built for this course with long driving and super good iron play. Burns is one of the few players on tour who consistently gains on approach and on the greens.
Burns can get a bit wild with the driver but the fairways are forgiving here as long as his misses are smart. His putting is really good and sustains his floor each week, he ranks top 25 in SG: Putting over the last 36 rounds.
He ranks 15th in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and that should be enough to carry him into contention if he can keep that good form rolling at a course that asks a lot of players’ iron game.
Longshot top 20: Joel Dahmen +700
2021 Northern Trust – Matchup Picks
Russell Henley over Brian Harman -110
Henley broke my heart last week with his weekend collapse, needing to shoot only -2 on the weeknd to win but I am back on him this week in a matchup. Henley’s ball striking is too good to ignore and it will be tested this week.
His iron play has been super strong and his putting has been solid of late. I can definitely see him sneaking into the top 20 this week for another solid finish at a course that suits him well.
Harman on the other hand has not been good on approach. He ranks outside the top 100 in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and his good finishes have been all putting and chipping. This course is long and will demand some quality iron play at some point.
His putting has been carrying him and you can’t count on that week in and week out. His form has been falling off with three finishes outside the top 35 in his last four start with two missed cuts.
2021 Northern Trust – Watchlist
Scott doesn’t fit the typical theme of the watchlist spot but he is in an interesting position this week. He ranks outside the top 70 that get into next week’s tournament so he needs another good week after his performance last week got him into the top 125.
He has had some success at this course with a top five in 2019. His approach play was fantastic last week gaining almost seven strokes on approach. What has been special for him is the putting. He has gained strokes putting in each of his last six tracked events.
His experience and motivation to get inside the top 70 should be key for a good week. He is +160 for a top 20 this week and is positioned well on a course that suits him to do just that and move onto next week.
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