Queue the Jim Mora press conference clip from a mere two decades ago that thousands of people will be using this week. The Northern Trust kicks off the FedEx Cup Playoffs as 124 of the top-125 players on the PGA Tour will be teeing it up in the first playoff event of the season. With only Louis Oosthuizen taking the week off, this has the potential to be the strongest field of the year as players will jockey for positioning ahead of the TOUR Championship.
Playing host to the first playoff event is Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey. Sitting on the Upper Bay and just south of Ellis Island, this Tom Kite and Robert Cupp design boasts skyline views of the Big Apple. With Lady Liberty in the distance, players will need to contend with numerous water hazards and fescue at The Northern Trust.
Yet some will be accustomed to the challenge as this will be the fourth time (2009, 2013, 2019) that Liberty National hosts some variation of The Northern Trust. Couple that with the 2017 Presidents Cup taking place here and there is a route through which we can find some success.
The Northern Trust betting odds have been posted at Bovada with world No. 1, Jon Rahm, leading the way at +1000, with an implied probability to win of 9.09 percent. If successful, a $100 bet on him would net you $1,000 profit. He'll have to contend with a number of great players such as Patrick Reed who won the last iteration of The Northern Trust at Liberty National in 2019.
Who Leads The 2021 Northern Trust Odds To Win?
Odds as of August 17 at Bovada
Will Another Elite Player Be Victorious?
Since its inception in 2007, the FedEx Cup Playoffs has had a way of rewarding some of the game’s best. Outside of say, Heath Slocum at the 2009 Northern Trust, there haven’t been too many surprises when it comes to winners in the playoffs.
When looking back to 2015, the year after Billy Horschel won the final two events of the playoffs to lay claim to the FedEx Cup, this sentiment is hard to deny. Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, and Rory McIlroy are all multiple-time playoff event winners, with the likes of Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, and Xander Schauffele all mixed in.
Of those 22 events in that time span, only three have been won by current non-major winners, with those being Rickie Fowler, Marc Leishman, and Schauffele. So, with all of this information right in front of us, it’s important to not be too cute at The Northern Trust. While I understand the PGA Tour is as competitive as ever, a victor from the top of the odds board is the most likeliest outcome at The Northern Trust.
2021 Northern Trust Odds, Course And Analysis:
At just over 7,400 yards Liberty National is sure to be a proper test of golf for The Northern Trust. Most players have had enough reps on their course to squash any concerns, yet for us, there are still questions that remain.
The 2019 Northern Trust leaderboard can answer a lot of inquiries that we may have coming into the week. Patrick Reed won that year in Jersey City, posting 16-under and getting the better of Abraham Ancer by a single stroke. Yet past the Mexican on the leaderboard were a number of elite players.
Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Rose rounded out the top-10 that week in 2019. When looking for a potential course with similar results, Torrey Pines immediately comes to mind as Rahm and Oosthuizen occupied the top-two spots at the U.S. Open, with the Spaniard getting the better of the South African. Beyond that, Reed, Scott, Snedeker, and Rose all have claimed victory in La Jolla, so some similarities to that June leaderboard may pan out.
When a course such as Torrey Pines is mentioned, an all-around tee-to-green test is likely to present itself. With trouble lurking off-the-tee, accuracy will be ticked up a notch in comparison to the San Diego track. Besides that, it will likely be a thorough examination of one’s entire bag, with the standard emphasis on par-4 scoring and approach play as the greens at Liberty National are a bit smaller than Tour average.
There’s nothing new to our analysis, but there’s is nothing to warrant anything new. Other courses that come to mind when hearing this include Shadow Creek, Bay Hill, and even Pebble Beach to some extent, as accuracy off-the-tee and precision iron-play is needed there as well.
As for the 2017 Presidents Cup, we won’t be putting too much stock into the team event as the United States Team throttled the International Team 19-11. As you can imagine, the big-time players for Team USA all posted strong records that week, so it won’t do us much good.
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2021 Northern Trust Expert Picks:
Daniel Berger (+3300 To Win):
It feels as if it’s just a matter of time for Berger. Playing some of the most consistent golf on the PGA Tour and of his career, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner is on the cusp of breaking through in one of these elite-field events.
With three top-10 finishes over his last four events, coming at the likes of the U.S. Open, The Open, and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Berger has proven that his best is right up there with the world’s best. Now he arrives to Liberty National off the best iron performance of his career, posting +9.9 Strokes Gained: Approach at TPC Southwind.
With a 2-1 record at the 2017 Presidents Cup, he will have some good memories to lean on as it was Berger’s lone team event for the United States in his professional career. Sitting 10th in the Team USA Ryder Cup standings, he is in need of a strong two weeks as qualifying ends at the completion of the BMW Championship.
A slight uptick in his short-game could go a long way for the four-time winner on the PGA Tour. While the ball-striking has been exquisite this summer, there have been moments where either his chipping or putting has let him down. There have been some improvements made over the last couple of months and if those come to fruition this week then he will surely be in the mix at The Northern Trust.
Paul Casey (+3300 To Win):
It’s commonplace to see Casey’s name on the leaderboard these days having successfully played his way into the weekend in every one of his PGA Tour starts this summer. Yet when looking at his finishes, his best work is typically done on the big stages, whether that is a major championship or a World Golf Championship.
A top-5 finish at the PGA Championship was followed up with a top-10 finish at Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open. Since June, he has captured a top-15 finish at The Open at Royal St. George’s and most recently a top-5 finish at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in his last outing.
On the shoulders of strong iron-play, posting north of +4.0 SG: Approach in every start summer, Casey has yet to marry his entire game. There were stretches there in the early spring where he suddenly became one of the best putters on Tour and that magic may have found its way back into his bag.
Gaining seven-strokes on the greens in Memphis, this could be a spot where it all comes together for the Englishman. While he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour this season, he has on the European Tour, and Casey’s consistent nature is enough to give him the nod at The Northern Trust.
Harris English (+4000 To Win):
Harris English’s back-nine performance at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational was a microcosm of our last month in the outright department. With painful defeats at The Open, 3M Open, and now the Wyndham Championship to go along with English’s collapse, I have a hard time garnering confidence in any selection, let alone one on the former Georgia Bulldog.
Yet in the past, we have seen just how resilient of a player he is. With a multitude of factors going against him in the final round in Memphis, I am willing to forgive him in a timely manner as he has been one of the best all-around players on Tour over the last couple of months.
Gaining north of five-strokes tee-to-green with regularity, English is just a strong putting performance away from contending at The Northern Trust. It’s not unlikely that he’ll putt well either. Posting north of 3.2 SG: Putting in each of his last four starts in the United States, English could legitimately have three wins this summer if not for two poor back-nines.
While he did finish runner-up in this tournament last season, granted at TPC Boston, it’s comforting to know he’s at least already been in the mix at a playoff event. I don’t expect Dustin Johnson to lap the field this go around and with the way English has been playing, he deserves consideration at The Northern Trust.
Tyrrell Hatton (+5000 To Win):
If there is one non-American who has made a habit of winning big-time events that is possibly going under the radar, it is Hatton who boasts four Rolex Series victories on the European Tour and an Invitational win on the PGA Tour. With results failing to stack up as of late, the quality of his play may seem far off, yet I believe all the pieces of the puzzle are well within reach and ready to be put together at The Northern Trust.
While he is consistently gaining strokes tee-to-green, one aspect of his game, whatever it may be, always seems to let the 29-year-old down. At the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, it was his play from off-the-tee, as he narrowly lost strokes in said category en route to a T-17 finish. In his runner-up performance at the Palmetto Championship, it was his putter, as he posted –3.2 SG: Putting.
A trend appears to be developing, yet holding steady throughout this stretch of golf has been his around-the-green play. That is a page from which he may be able to take out of Patrick Reed’s playbook from 2019. With strong finishes at Shadow Creek and Bay Hill, a course such as Liberty National should be right in Hatton’s wheelhouse.
Ian Poulter (+6600 To Win):
I was heavily debating between three European players in this spot, eventually siding with Poulter as he narrowly edged out Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry. The 45-year-old has been enjoying a summer to remember and comes off a strong performance at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude, yet remains winless both here and aboard.
In fact, it’s been three years since Poulter claimed his last victory at the Houston Open, but is something I am willing to overlook given it is 2021 and weirder things have happened. Not only was he close at the Scottish Open, but he arrives to Liberty National with similar form to 2019, where he finished in a tie for 10th in this tournament, despite losing strokes on the greens.
Clearly comfortable with the sightlines, Poulter posted +9.0 SG: Tee-to-Green that week in 2019. I’d expect something similar in that department this week as he has recent performances of +6.2 and +7.7 SG: Tee-to-Green. What I wouldn’t expect is Poulter to lose strokes on the greens, as he has gained north of four-strokes with his flat stick in six of his last nine starts on the PGA Tour.
Odds Shark’s Golf Pages
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