It’s time for the first event of The FedEx Cup Playoffs and below are my sleeper picks for The 2018 Northern Trust. For some more picks and a course write up for Ridgewood Country Club, be sure to check out some of my core plays through this link. @Hunta512.
Richy Werenski: (6,200)
After missing the cut at The Barracuda Championship, Werenski rebounded with a T53 last week at The Wyndham Championship. The 26 year old out of Massachusetts has now successfully made seven of his last ten cuts, with five top 30s included in that time. The fields and courses he faces on a regular basis are much easier than the test he will take on this week at Ridgewood, but when we look at his last 12 rounds of golf, Werenski rates rather well, ranking 13th in SGT2G, 20th in SG APP, 4th in GIR, 11th in fairways found, 15th in ball striking, and 9th in bogeys avoided. (via Fantasy National)
He missed the cut in his only major of the season at The U.S. Open in June, but he produced a very solid T23 at his first ever Players back in May. Two elite fields is obviously a small sample size, but I think the T23 at TPC Sawgrass at least shows you he has the confidence to compete in these type of fields and that he can handle strategical courses like Ridgewood. Last, but not least, he is sitting at 101 in The FedEx Cup standings and if he wants to move on to TPC Boston next week, which would be a homecoming for him (originally from Springfield, MA), he must make the cut and have a somewhat decent finish this week, to stay inside the top 100. With solid form and that extra incentive, I don’t see how you can do any better than Werenski for $6,200, which is tied for the lowest salary on the board this week.
Billy Horschel: (7,300)
Horschel is a very tough player to predict, but his form is trending up at the right time heading into these playoffs. He has missed one cut in his last five events and in those made cuts, he posted finishes of T17, T2, T35, and T11, in that order. The T11 was at The Wyndham last weekend, where he ranked T10 in greens hit and second in fairways found. His irons have been the key to this run, with him gaining strokes when approaching the green in six straight starts. To get into even further detail, his GIR percentage has been an excellent 77.3% in these past six events. As I said above, he ranked T2 in fairways hit last week and he ranks 15th in fairways gained in his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National)
This is big news for Horschel heading into Ridgewood, because at The 2014 Barclays, his lone start at the course, he only hit 16 fairways in his first two rounds (57%), eventually leading to a missed cut. I am sure he is excited for a second shot at this track, as this was the only playoff tournament he missed the cut at in his FedEx Cup winning run that season. If he can keep it in the fairway, like he has been, Horschel has top 20 upside with the way he has been striking it with his irons. He is currently at 80/1 to win (via Bovada), which are the best odds for any player priced lower than $7,700.
Xander Schauffele: (7,800)
As he always seems to be, Schauffele is simply mispriced. He is listed at 60/1 to win on Bovada, which are the 19th best odds in the field and he is the 17th ranked player in the world right now, but is the 26th highest priced golfer on DraftKings for The Northern Trust. He is in solid form, making five of his last six cuts, including a T6 at The U.S. Open and a T2 at The Open Championship. As you can see from those impressive finishes, the 24 year old knows how to step up in the biggest moments.
He went 4/4 in the playoffs last season and shocked the golf world with his Tour Championship win. He isn’t right now and has never been the most exciting statistical player (averaging 1.7 strokes total in his last five starts), but it’s hard to ignore how good Schauffele plays in the toughest fields. I haven’t seen many people talking about him this week and this seems like an ideal time to attack the defending Tour Championship winner in GPPs. (9-12% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Tyrell Hatton: (8,100)
Very quietly, Hatton is on a great run of golf right now. He hasn’t missed a cut in six starts, with finishes of T6, T16, T9, T51, T28, and T10. Two of those top tens were at The U.S. Open and The PGA Championship, and in his last five events, he is averaging 4.1 strokes total. He has never played here and this is his first playoff appearance, but I think Hatton has the pedigree to make a nice run in the next couple of weeks. He is currently 92nd in FedEx Cup points and I think a top 20 is very possible from Hatton at Ridgewood.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello: (7,900)
RCB seems to be fully back. He has made four cuts in a row, with finishes of T17, T10, and T11 in his last three. In those top 20s, he ranks 12th in SGT2G, is gaining 7.0 strokes total per start, and has shot under par in 10 of last 12 rounds. He is hot right now and I think the upside is immense for RCB at this type of course.
Louis Oosthuizen: (7,700)
Even though this is a smaller field, I think we will see Loui at a sub five percent ownership in GPPs after his WD from The PGA Championship two weeks ago. He withdrew right before teeing off due to a back injury, but is listed in this week’s field and is “Ready for The Playoffs” according his latest Instagram post. With two weeks of rest, I think his health should be good enough for him to play and just like with Schauffele, Oosthuizen always steps up in strong fields. He finished T12th at The Masters, T16th at The U.S. Open, and T28th at The Open Championship this season. Furthermore, he has finished T18th and T10th in his last two Northern Trusts/Barclays. He missed the cut here in 2014, which is obviously not a positive, but this just another thing that should keep his ownership very low. He could come last and he could finish in the top five, but with a low expected ownership of 3.7% (via Fantasy National), that is a risk I am willing to take with Oosthuizen in GPPs.
Daniel Berger: (7,000)
He is volatile right now, missing two of his last four cuts, but this is a very soft salary for Berger. In fact, this is the lowest he has been priced since last year’s Tour Championship, where he finished with a solid T15. He missed the cut at The Wyndham last week, but in his prior start, he put up a T15 at The PGA Championship. At Bellerive, he produced a very strong 7.9 SGT2G and 8.5 SG APP, which was the most strokes a player gained with their approaches in that major championship. If he can get back on track with his irons, Berger will easily outproduce this price tag.
Harold Varner III: (6,900)
The fields are weaker than this one, but HV3 has now made five consecutive cuts, with one top 20 and two top tens. In his last 24 rounds, he ranks 21st in SGT2G, 24th in SG APP, 27th in GIR, 76th in fairways gained, 30th in ball striking, 90th in SG on par fours, 12th in BOB%, and 18th in bogeys avoided. (via Fantasy National) He has made his last two cuts in this opening playoff event, with a solid T20 showing at last year’s Northern Trust. He is 106th in the point standings and needs a respectable showing to move on to The Dell Technologies Championship.