The Northern Trust is the first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Only the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings are eligible and there are no replacements for those that sit out this event. This year’s event is at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. This is the first time that Liberty National has held The Northern Trust. It was previously known as the Barclays and played there in 2013 and 2009.
So, we don’t have a whole lot of course form data for this event. The rotating courses makes tournament form almost obsolete. That means we have a lot of work to do this week in handicapping the field.
As usual, the focus will be on finding the top DFS value players to fill out your lineup with some cheap upside. Salaries are from DraftKings. (And, check out Brian Blessing’s picks in the linked YouTube video above)
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,400) – Hideki Matsuyama sits just below the “average” salary for those filling out a six-man roster in DraftKings. This is a flat and long course with stunning views of New York City and a lot of elements of coastal courses, as the track is mostly free of trees and other obstructions. The most errant of tee shots are going to be hit from the forest, but this is a full-fledged ball strikers course, where aggressive players can really get after it. That seems to fit a guy like Matsuyama. He hasn’t been great of late, with two MCs and a 43rd, but he is a top-10 ball striker in SG: Off the Tee and SG: Approach. The flatstick has been a problem, and that makes Matsuyama a scary proposition, considering the winner here in 2013 was Adam Scott, but this is a course built for a guy like Matsuyama and we’re getting elite ball-striking ability at a discount.
Gary Woodland ($7,800) – Gary Woodland is back where he likes to be. His triumphant victory at the US Open led to a bunch of media appearances and a spotlight that isn’t for everybody. Woodland has missed two cuts and finished outside the top 50 in his last three events, so he’s not in very good form. In fact, he had five double bogeys at TPC Southwind two weeks ago. But, he skipped the Wyndham Championship and comes back to Liberty National with some good memories. He was second here back in 2013. Woodland ranks inside the top 15 in ball striking this season. If this thing becomes a putting contest, it may not bode well for him, but guys can certainly shoot darts at this green and a guy like Woodland really excels in that area, as he ranks inside the top 25 in SG: Approach.
Byeong Hun An ($7,800) – Rafael Cabrera Bello was previously here, but he has withdrawn from the event with a baby on the way. So, we’ll look to Byeong Hun An at a similar price point. An had 22 birdies last week against just two bogeys at Sedgefield Country Club in the Wyndham Championship. It wasn’t one of the toughest courses that he has played by any means, but An has had a much better statistical profile than his finishes would indicate. That third-place finish was only his third top 10 of the season, but he has three additional top-20 finishes over his last four events. The flatstick is what we’ve been waiting for. He ranks T-188th in SG: Putting. It is all that has held him back. He’s eighth in SG: Tee to Green, 31st in SG: Total, 1st in SG: Around the Green, and also top 40 in Approach and Off the Tee. The putter has failed him this season, but he was on point at Sedgefield. If he can roll some putts home, he’s got a great chance to contend this week, with an elite statistical profile outside of that.
Brandt Snedeker ($7,600) – Few non-elite players are as consistent as Brandt Snedeker. He played well last week at the Wyndham Championship, but didn’t card enough low numbers. He had 16 birdies against just four bogeys and a double, but guys were playing with optimal conditions over the weekend and just made more putts than he did. Making putts hasn’t been an issue for Sneds most of the year, as he ranks 12th in SG: Putting. Speaking of 12th, that’s where Snedeker finished in 2009 at this event. He did miss the cut in 2013, but his 54 holes played here are a lot more than most of the field, so hopefully that gives him an edge. He’s just solid week in and week out and if you want a guy that you can trust to fill out the lineup and get you some points, Snedeker is the right type of guy.
Jason Kokrak ($7,400) – How solid has this cat been this season? Jason Kokrak has made 19 of 20 cuts and fired a 16-under 264 last weekend at the Wyndham Championship. A lot of guys skipped that event last week, but Kokrak played it and got into the top 50 in FedEx Cup points. There are a lot of guys that will be playing with pressure to get into the top 70 to advance to the BMW Championship. Kokrak will not be one of those guys after last week’s result. With the pressure off, maybe he can return to his early spring form. Kokrak, who was third last week in SG: OTT, had four top-10 finishes in the first half of the year. He also snagged a top-10 here back in 2013. For this price point, you could do far worse than a guy that ranks sixth in SG: Approach and had a phenomenal week off the tee last weekend at Sedgefield.