The time has come for the first event of The FedEx Cup Playoffs, The Northern Trust. Briefly I just want to talk about the picks from last week at The Wyndham Championship. I knew going into the event with this weak field that it made sense to not play much bankroll and this turned out to be true with my picks, as only one of my three featured golfers were playing on the weekend. That one player was Soren Kjeldsen, who finished with a T16 and 96.5 DK points. Now let’s move on and bounce at the first stop of The FedEx Cup Playoffs, The Northern Trust, formally known as The Barclays. With a new name, we also get a new course that has never held a PGA event, Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, New York. This track is a par 70 measuring in at 7,346 yards long. Even though most of these players haven’t played here before, they have all been giving it great reviews, and this course sounds like a beautiful but, also challenging venue.
7,346 yards is long for a par 70 and right off the bat it seems like having a little more distance off the tee will be a plus. We clearly don’t have any stats from prior seasons for this course so it doesn’t mean shorter players can’t succeed, but if juggling two players, I might go with the longer player just because of the length of some of these par fours. First off, we know we must put an emphasis on par four scoring because this is a par 70. Next, with no course history to rely on, I like to focus on the main stats of fantasy golf, in strokes gained tee to green, greens in regulation percentage, strokes gained putting, birdie or better percentage, and current form. This tournament has the usual top 70 and ties cut line, but the field is smaller than a normal event, with only the top 125 players in The FedEx Cup rankings being invited, and only 120 of them actually teeing it up. So a larger percentage of the field will make it through the cut, giving us the opportunity to go more with a stars and scrubs approach when building our lineups. So good luck to all of you and as always if any of these picks help your lineups or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter. @Hunta512.
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Rory Sabbatini: (7,100) Sabbatini needed to play well last week to get himself here in these playoffs and he did exactly that, finishing T4th at The Wyndham, putting himself at 122nd in the FedEx Up rankings. Even before this high finish, Sabbatini was playing easily his best golf of the year, making three consecutive cuts, finishing inside the top 25 in all three events. Along with the higher finishes his stats have also improved, with a 68.4 average adjusted round score, a 71.8% GIR, and an average drive of 300.5 yards.
He didn’t play in The PGA Championship which would have hurt this number, but regardless he has been killing it on par fours, averaging -5.6 on par fours per event, which is the second best average of everyone in this field that has competed in the last six weeks. You can argue that he has been taking advantage of weaker fields, which is fair, but he clearly has stepped up his game and is someone I love taking a gamble with in GPPs. (2-4% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Jamie Lovemark: (7,400) Quietly, Lovemark has been playing excellent golf over the last few months. He has made the cut in seven of his last eight starts, finishing no worse than T33rd in these made cuts. Based on the stats, Lovemark checks all the boxes I am looking for this week. For the 2017 season, he ranks 25th in driving distance (303.9 yards), 31st in strokes gained tee to green, 89th in GIR % (66.15%), 91st in strokes gained putting, 43rd in birdie or better percentage, and 6th in par four scoring.
He also has been putting up excellent DK scores recently, averaging 79.4 DK points per week in his last four events, which ranks 6th in this field when comparing all of these players over their last 12 rounds of golf. (via Fantasy National) In this current form, Lovemark is a great combination of safety and upside, that just can’t be ignored at only $7,400.
Ian Poulter: (7,000) At this price, it’s really difficult not to like Poulter this week at Glen Oak. He has now made ten straight cuts and has shown no signs of slowing down, posting some impressive finishes, including two top 25s in his last two majors. He has always been a strong tee to green player (13th this season), but he just recently took his putting game to a new level, putting a low 26.6 average putts per round over his last three tournaments, which is 9th in strokes gained putting during this stretch.
Not only does he have it going on the greens right now, he also has been one of the best par four players on The Tour, ranking 2nd in strokes gained total on par fours, and 1st in par four efficiency on both par fours between 400-450 yards and 450-500 yards during these last three starts. This is a significant stat because 11 of the 12 par fours he will face this week at Glen Oak all land in in between 400-500 yards. I am expecting a nice run out of Poulter in these playoffs and he is one of my favorite overall plays this week at The Northern Trust.
Also Consider: Tony Finau (will be popular but is a very strong value), Chez Reavie, Branden Grace, Graham DeLaet, Xander Schauffelle (love in GPPs with idea people will back off after his MC at The PGA), Brian Harman, Keegan Bradley, and Charl Schwartzel.