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northern trust

DraftKings Picks for The Northern Trust 2021

It’s FedEx Cup time! With a thrilling end to the 2020-21 PGA Tour season last week at the Wyndham Championship which featured a six-man playoff for the win, the regular season has come to a close. The first stop in the FedEx Cup Playoffs is Liberty National in New Jersey for The Northern Trust. Let's get you set to see some green screens on DraftKings this weekend.

What's up golf addicts! AC here, checking in week to week to provide a quick preview of the upcoming PGA Tour event. I’ll give you the lowdown on the course, the players, some key stats, and our favorite DraftKings picks for the week. 

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With all of the storylines heading into last week, the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club really delivered. You had Chesson Hadley shooting the round of the day which included his first hole in one ever that came all the way down to Justin Rose missing a put on 18 for them to swap positions in the FedEx Cup rankings with Hadley getting the final spot, sitting 125th. Hadley was emotional after the round and I’m sure broke down a bit more knowing his job was secure for next year after Rose missed the short putt.

Once again we had a playoff to determine the champ but this time SIX, yes six guys were tied at the top of the leaderboard. Which should have been seven if Henley, yes the Henley we were all over last week, didn’t miss a four foot putt on the 18th hole to fall out of the lead. But fortunately, Adam Scott, who needed a big week to make the playoffs, missed a four foot putt on the first playoff hole and Kevin Kisner made him pay, making a birdie on the second to claim the victory. Congrats to the Kiz backers!

The Northern Trust. The first stop in the 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs takes the top 125 in the season long rankings to Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey. Liberty National has hosted The Northern Trust three times with Patrick Reed taking down the last installment in 2019 at -16. Adam Scott was victorious in 2013 at -11 and Heath Slocum won at -9 in 2009. Reed and Scott are both in the field again this week with Scott just squeaking in over the weekend. Liberty National was also the host of the 2017 Presidents Cup where most of the players will tee it up this week.

The rest of the field is as stacked as you would expect. Only Louis Oosthuisen inside the top 25 in the world is not in attendance. Presumably Oosty is just sitting out as he is comfortably inside the FedEx top 10. World #1 Jon Rahm headlines the field with Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, FedEx Cup standings leader Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Viktor Hovland, Abraham Ancer, Scottie Scheffler, Daniel berger, and Hideki Matsuyama round out the $9k and above range.

Liberty National Golf Club Course Breakdown

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The picturesque metropolitan track hasn’t been around for long with Bob Cupp and Tom Kite as the architects, opening in 2006. Liberty National sits on the New York harbor and will play as a 7,400 yard par 71 this year, about 200 yards longer than 2019.. The course features A-4 bentgrass on the greens and L-93 in the fairways and on the tees. The rough is bluegrass, cut to 3” but does have some gnarly fescue in some native areas. The course is susceptible to the unpredictable coastal wins but the main defense will be the water hazards in play on 12 holes and 98 bunkers protecting the greens and landing zones.

For a par 71, the course will play as one of the longest on tour relative to par with some of the smallest greens which produce below average green in regulation (GIR) percentage compared to the tour average. The fairways are decently large and pretty easy to hit. The first cut is light and the rough can be trouble but for the most part, compared to tour averages, driving accuracy and hitting out of the rough tends to not be as penial here.

This is definitely a second shot golf course so go heavy on approach stats. Holding the greens will be tough as well which makes strokes gained around the green a bit more meaningful. Off the tee can be a huge bonus. Although distance might not be a key factor, being able to bomb it with some control can make the approach shots easier with so many guys needing to pull out the long irons to get in. Fantasy National’s good drive % and opps gained provide some great insight on who is making GIR while also putting it tight to the pins. Birdies will be important but I like bogey avoidance this week as well. Finally, par 5 scoring is key and par 4s with an emphasis on 450-500 yards should also be looked at.

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The Picks & Fades

Each week I will give you my plays and a fade from each DraftKings salary range.

$9k+

DB: Play - Daniel Berger | Fade - Bryson DeChambeau

Pat: Play - Collin Morikawa | Fade - Bryson DeChambeau

AC: Play - Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer | Fade - Viktor Hovland

The strength of this field is well... the greatest non-major field ever assembled. Even then, with all of the qualifiers, field sizes, etc in majors, this field is STACKED. I first had Jon Rahm in here but nobody wants to see me cop out with Rahm. He’s the best golfer on the planet right now and he’s got some studs hot on his heels. Play Rahm if you want. I’ll go to Xander first. He just won the Olympics which I think will severely boost his confidence and closing ability. It apparently is also causing people to jump ship cause his ownership is insanely low. Brooksy next. No shocker here. It’s BK. It’s the playoffs. Big prizes. Big stage. Abe finally did it at the WGC and I think that win was the first of many. Over his last 50 rounds he is 5th in strokes gained total and 4th in ball striking. He also finished runner up here in 2019. Hovland is gonna be the fade. He doesn’t have any course history, bent is by far his worst surface, and overall the stats just aren’t tickling anything.

$8k

DB: Play - Harris English | Fade - Tony Finau

Pat: Play - Webb Simpson | Fade - Joaquin Niemann

AC: Play - Paul Casey, Adam Scott | Fade - Cameron Smith

I am a big fan of the studly Harry English this week but since everyone has been talking him up I’ll make a case for Casey. His recent form is great but doesn’t really have a great Northern Trust record. This course however should really set up well for Pauly. His play on bent though is pretty solid and comes in overall with an elite tee to green game, stellar GIR%, and fantastic par 5 scoring. It was awesome to see Adam Scott compete for the win last week and although I was happy he missed the putt (Kiz ticket!), some form leading into a place where he won in 2013 and finished 5th at in 2019, sign me up for a Scott week.

$7k

DB: Play - Sungjae Im | Fade - Matthew Fitzpatrick

Pat: Play - Cameron Champ | Fade - Keegan Bradley

AC: Play - Kevin Kisner, Jason Day, Seamus Power | Fade - Si Woo Kim 

Kisner is a gamer and found it last week. We go to a place where he has success and a drive to not only compete for the FedEx Cup but to make his case for a captain’s pick on the Ryder Cup team. Jason Day. This is definitely my most eyebrow raising pick but something is telling me he is going to return some value. Day is great on Bentgrass and has had some time off with some new baby swag and before the MC at The Open, had a T14 and a T10 at the Rocket Mortgage and Travelers. Power has been phenomenal lately. Before the 60th at the Wyndham, Seamus knocked off six straight top 20s including a win at the Barb and three other top 10s. Dude is feeling it. I can’t get behind Si Woo this week. He’s too volatile. 

$6k

DB: Play - Maverick McNealy, Luke List, Hank Lebioda

Pat: Play - Matt Wallace, Aaron Wise, Erik Van Rooyen

AC: Play - Alex Noren, Adam Hadwin, Troy Merritt

Noren has been pretty solid lately and bent is his best surface. He can play if the wind gets up and knows how to pile up birdies when he needs em. Hadwin was a favorite play of mine last week and it paid off. One thing Canadians love is playoffs and I think he continues his recent form. A good week will set him up for next week. Merritt is kind of a flyer but has the course record, decent results over the last few months, and pulled off a T12 in 2019.

That’s all I have for you this week. Don’t overthink anything. These guys earned their spot and with the pressure some of them have relieved with their tour cards secured for next season and the potential of some major paydays across the playoffs, there is magic to be made. 

THE INS & OUTS

Louis Oosthuizen has decided to sit out the first round. The field is set at 124 with the top 65 and ties making the cut. The top 70 after this week in FedEx Cup rankings will move on to next week’s BMW Championship.