The playoffs are here and the first event has a new name and a new course. The Northern Trust Open (formerly the Barclays) is the first event of the playoffs and traditionally played on a set of rotating courses. This year, the event will be hosted at Glen Oaks, a longer par 70 hidden in Westbury, New York, which has been generating some strong reviews from players in terms of its condition. The field is set at 120 players after some withdraws—note that Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia are skipping for personal reasons—and we’ll have a regular cut after Friday down to 70 players.
The Course: As mentioned above, Glen Oaks is new to the tour, so there is no use in looking for course history stats this week. As far as corollary courses go, the condition has been described as Augusta-like, but a better comparison might be some of the other New York area based courses which are often used to host this event, like Ridgewood; another strong comparison may be the recently used Firestone Country Club in Ohio. As a longer par 70, there is a lot of tough looking par 4’s on Glen Oaks and at least six should fall over the 450 yard mark this week, making par 4 scoring and efficiency stats ones to emphasize. Overall, the course looks to be set up as a place where players will be able to hit driver consistently, but also has some tougher looking tee areas and approaches mixed in. With few easy/simple holes, I’m expecting Tee to Green specialists to really thrive here.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,500): Matsuyama may have a huge salary attached to him this week but he’s not someone I’d necessarily fade on price. The course this week is a tougher looking par 70 which should fall into Hideki’s hands quite nicely. He ranks second on the season in SG: Tee to Green, third in par 4 scoring and first in Birdie or Better percentage. While he may have lost out to Justin Thomas at the PGA, Hideki has been the world’s best player over the past month and he could overtake world number 1 Dustin Johnson with a big playoffs. I don’t mind paying up here.
Jason Day ($9,700): Take away his one bad hole at the PGA Championship and we may have been talking about Jason Day in a much different light this week. While he’s not all the way back, Day had his best week in a while at the PGA and the fact he ranked third in Driving Distance there and eighth in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee is extremely encouraging. If Day has tamed his driver than his record at this event says he can get it done this week as he’s gone T2-win-T4 at this event the past three seasons. At under 10k on DraftKings he’s a player to target for me.
Paul Casey ($9,000): Given the setup this week (long par 70) I am taking Casey over a few other players at similar prices. Consistency aside, Casey’s strength this year has come through killing par 4’s (he’s fourth in season long par 4 scoring) and his approach game is arguably the best in the game right now (sixth on the season). While his work on the greens is a different story, the Englishman’s best results have come on courses similar to this week’s venue, including a T5 at the long par 70 Firestone a few weeks ago, making his upside too had to avoid for me.
Others: Louis Oosthuizen
Ollie Schniederjans ($8,100): While I often fade players seeing huge price increases in strong fields like this, I’m not sure that’s the right play here this week. Schienderjans was brilliant last week and should feel at least somewhat slighted by not getting the win. Ollie has put together some his best results on courses rife with tough par 4’s this year, including a T3 at Hilton Head and a T8 at Riviera earlier in the season. I think there’s a good chance the roll continues here as he tries to make an impression for the President’s Cup selection process and land that illusive first win.
Charley Hoffman ($7,900): While it was a bit of a toss-up this week between Hoffman and his buddy Kevin Chappell, I ultimately sided with Hoffman, who has been on fire to end the season. The 40 year old ranks 11th in par 4 scoring and is all the way up to 13th now in SG: Off the Tee stats for the year. His third place showing at Firestone (another long par 70) bodes well for this week too as I expect Glen Oaks to play at least somewhat similar due to setup.
Francesco Molinari ($7,600): Molinari is one of those plays I won’t take too long to explain. He’s third on tour in SG: Tee to Green, and is coming off his best performance in a major with a T2 finish at the PGA. Molinari should set up well for a course which doesn’t appear to have a ton of easy holes and will require consistent shot-making throughout. He’s simply too cheap at just $7,600 and a player you should be taking advantage of this week on DK.
Ryan Moore ($7,100): Moore has been much improved of late since coming back from his shoulder injury, and has really only been held back by a wonky putter. Even though he was second in SG: Tee to Green last week at the Wyndham, Moore couldn’t crack the top 20 there due to losing an incredible 5.5 strokes on the green. The good news is that Moore is traditionally not that bad a putter and his tee to green game looks remarkable right now. He needs a big week for President’s Cup purposes too and at $7,100 should be viewed as good value in a tough field.
Others: Kevin Chappell
High-upside GPP Picks
Daniel Berger ($8,500): While many people will flock to Patrick Reed this week coming off his big PGA performance, I’d rather take a shot at a Daniel Berger bounce-back in DraftKings tournaments. Berger has done his best work on tougher par 70’s, and the fact he ranks 26th in par 4 scoring and 20th in par 4 efficiency from 450-500 yards shouldn’t be shocking. He had a solid week at the Bridgestone and should be buoyed by seeing his good friend and peer win his first major just two weeks ago.
Martin Flores ($7,400): Flores has had quite the end season run just to make the playoffs. The 35 year old vet has now finished inside the top twenty in his last four starts, and needed a T7 last week to ensure his spot in this week’s field. Flores has been killing it off the tee and with his irons of late, and is actually ranked all the way up at second now in Greens in Regulation for the season. He’s not cheap, but he’s playing with no pressure now and legitimately been one of the best tee to green in the world the past month, why not take a shot here with him in tournaments.
Russell Knox ($6,900): We’ve been waiting all season for the real Russ to show up and it looks like our patience has finally been rewarded. Knox has finished T5 and T28 in two of his last three starts and has looked solid tee to green. While his season long stats are slightly skewed from a prolonged slump, Knox is traditionally a strong par 4 scorer and should be looking at the playoffs this season as a good place to make up for a lost year. I like him as a tournament play this week to keep his end of the season roll going.
Other: Gary Woodland
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Ollie Schienderjans, Charley Hoffman, Francesco Molinari, Ryan Moore
– Kevin Chappell, Daniel Berger, Russell Knox, Martin Flores, Gary Woodland
Jason Day 20-1
Paul Casey 34-1
Louis Oosthuizen 45-1
Ryan Moore 100-1 EW
Ollie Schienderjans 100-1 EW
Martin Flores 300-1 EW and 9-1 top twenty