For the first of four events for The FedEx Cup Playoffs, we head to Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey for The 2018 Northern Trust. (formally known as The Barclays) The top 125 players of The FedEx Cup standings are eligible to compete at The Northern Trust and the top 100 after this event then will move on to The Dell Technologies Championship next week. As of Monday night, Rickie Fowler (oblique), Henrik Stenson (rest), Rory McIlroy (rest), Patrick Rodgers (personal), and Bud Cauley (ribs, lung) all will not tee it up this week, trimming the field down to only 120 players. Even with a smaller field, there is still a standard cut line of top 70 and ties, meaning a higher amount of players will be competing on the weekend, compared to your normal 140+ player field. As for the course, Ridgewood has held this event three previous times, in 2008, 2010, and 2014. It is a par 71, that comes in at 7,835 yards in length. Hunter Mahan won in 2014 at -14, Matt Kuchar in 2010 at -12, and Vijay Singh in 2008 at -8.
In those three tournaments, the main skills that led to wins at Ridgewood were your approach game and par four scoring. Mahan led the field in greens hit in 2014, Kuchar ranked T15, and Singh ranked T6, good enough to give them a high average GIR rate of 75%. Also, all three of them did most of their damage on the par fours, ranking T10 or better in par four scoring. As for your game off the tee, distance hasn’t been much of a factor at Ridgewood. The rough was rather thick in 2014 and most of these fairways are surrounded by trees, leading me to favor accuracy over distance. Finally, this course has played as a difficult test in the past and I think it is smart to target players who have been avoiding the big numbers, with each of the last three winners at Ridgewood ranking in the top five in bogeys avoided. @Hunta512.
Justin Rose: (9,900)
Rose has been a player I have relied on all season and I don’t see any reason to stop now. Yet again, DraftKings has made him slightly too cheap compared to the other high end talents in the field. He is the 7th highest priced player on the board, but ranks 4th in the official world rankings and FedEx Cup standings. He has yet to miss a cut this season, with 12 top 25s, eight top tens, a 2nd place at The Open Championship, and two wins. Over his last 50 rounds, he ranks in the top seven in SGT2G, SG gained on par fours, BOB%, and bogeys avoided. (via Fantasy National)
He has shot under par in 10 of his last 12 rounds, is averaging 9.6 strokes gained in his last 10 tournaments, and has five top tens in his last six starts. Lastly, he played in the last two Barclays at this course and posted a T15 in 2010 and then a T30 in 2014. These are solid showings, but the truth of the matter is that Rose is a far superior player now. As I have preached multiple times this year, he is playing the best golf of his career and the small discount he presents is something that needs to be take advantage of this week.
Gary Woodland: (7,700)
Woodland has always been an elite tee to green player (20th in SGT2G and 2nd in ball striking this season), that lacked consistent putting, but after working with putting expert Phil Kenyon and taking his advice to use a bigger grip on his flat stick, Woodland looked a whole new player on the greens at The PGA Championship. He decided to put a SuperStroke grip on his putter that Tuesday before the tournament and never looked back, leading the major after the second round and eventually finishing T6, behind 1.8 SGP, which was the most strokes he has gained with his putter in over six months. He also posted a 28 average putts per round, good enough to rank him T19 in the stat. Now, with a new found confidence in the weakest part of his game, Woodland looks primed to make a run in these FedEx Cup Playoffs. (currently #33 in points)
He has made seven straight cuts and has finished T22, T17, and T6 in his last three starts. In that span of those high finishes, he ranks 3rd in SGT2G, 15th in SG APP, 1st in GIR, 14th in fairways gained, 4th in ball striking, 53rd in SG on par fours, 19th in BOB%, and 30th in bogeys avoided. (via Fantasy National) Plus, he played Ridgewood in 2014, finishing T13th, while ranking T8 in greens hit and T1 for the least bogeys of the week. At a modest price tag, Woodland is a very strong target in all formats.
Joel Dahmen: (6,800)
This will be his first appearance in The FedEx Cup Playoffs, but I think Dahmen is just too good of value to pass up on this week. He has made six cuts in a row, is nine for his last 11, and has eight top 25s in those nine made cuts. There has only been one event he hasn’t gained strokes at in his past ten starts and he is averaging a whopping 8.3 strokes gained total in his last five. When we breakdown all of these players last 24 rounds of golf, Dahmen has been the best approach player (1st in SG APP) and an awesome ball striker. (3rd in SGT2G and 2nd in ball striking)
Additionally, he has been a strong par four player (30th in SG on par fours) and birdie maker (7th in BOB%), who doesn’t blow up often. (25th in bogey avoidance) Not only do I think he should make the cut, but Dahmen has excellent upside for a player of his price. In his last ten made cuts, he has posted an average finish of 17.2. His well-rounded game should be a fine fit for Ridgewood and with a higher percentage of players making the cut than usual, Dahmen is a very intriguing option at only $6,800.
Tiger Woods: (10,100)
Call it trendy, call It cliché, I don’t really care, I will be playing Tiger this week. The man has four top sixs in his last four events, which was obviously capped off by the runner up finish at The PGA Championship at Bellerive. That last round six under 64 was vintage Tiger and if his T6 at The Open Championship wasn’t enough, this was a clear sign that he is almost certainly back. The majors are always the primary focus, but he is 7/7 at Northern Trusts/Barclays, with two top tens, and a T12 at this venue in 2010. He gained 13.8 strokes total at Bellerive and in his last five he is averaging 6.9. On top of that, he ranks 11th in SGT2G, 4th in SG APP, 20th in GIR, 24th in ball striking, 9th in SG on par fours, 2nd in BOB%, and 9th in bogeys avoided over his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National)
His lack of control with his driver can be concerning, but I think this is a course that he can go less than driver at and keep it in the fairway with his driving iron or fairway woods. Tiger is currently at 20th in the FedEx point standings and if he wants to make a legitimate run at The FedEx Cup and the ten million dollar prize, he needs a high finish this weekend. He knows what’s at stake and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if this was was the week we finally see Tiger win again. (16/1 via Bovada)
Francesco Molinari: (9,500)
Molinari has never competed at Ridgewood, but he seems like a perfect fit for this course. In his last 24 rounds, he has been accurate off the tee (24th in fairways found), a superb ball striker (2nd in SGT2G, 3rd in SG APP, 4th in GIR, and 3rd in ball striking), and par four scorer. (3rd in SG on par fours) He hasn’t missed a cut in eight starts, with a outstanding six top sixs in that stretch. To top it all off, he has only shot over par in two of his last 20 rounds of golf. Right now, he is a very safe option and I think there is a chance he goes under owned in this star studded field. (13-16% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Tony FInau: (8,500)
After looking like an epic chalk fail, Finau rallied after his opening round 74 at The PGA Championship and carded a ten birdie 66 in the second round to make the cut, eventually finishing T42nd and scoring 81.5 DK points. He has only missed one cut in his last 12 starts and he has already shined in some very strong fields, making 4/4 cuts in the majors, with three top tens. He has gained strokes in 12 consecutive events and ranks 11th in SG on par fours, 7th in GIR, and 6th in BOB% in his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) This will be his first time at Ridgewood, but I don’t think that will be any issue for him and I am expecting at least a top 30 from Finau.
CT Pan: (7,000)
Pan’s finishes have been getting better each week, leading to a T2 at The Wyndham last weekend, which was his best finish of the season. At Sedgefield Country Club, he ranked T14 in greens found, but more importantly led the field in par four scoring and birdies made. His form is at an all time high and he has now made nine of his last ten weekends, including five top 20s. He is the 10th best birdie maker and 6th best approach player over his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) Last season was his first Northern Trust and he finished T49th. In this form, I don’t see how Pan doesn’t top that finish at Ridgewood this week.