The Northern Trust Preview & Betting Tips9 min read
The revamped FedEx Cup playoffs begin this week with the leading 125 players competing in New Jersey. Only the top 70 in the rankings will advance to the BMW Championship, indicating there is far more at stake than simply contending for the trophy.
Liberty National hosts a PGA Tour event for the third time with Adam Scott prevailing at the 7,370 par 71 in 2013. It was also used in 2009 and the scenic course, which has views of downtown New York and the Statue of Liberty, also hosted the President’s Cup victory for the United States two years ago.
Breezy conditions are a frequent factor on the links-style layout and players adept at handling wind will be at an advantage this week. A strong tee to green game is required for this demanding track where low scores are at a premium. Brooks Koepka is the 8/1 favourite although the world number one has yet to excel in the playoffs during his career and can be swerved at short odds.
Simpson knocking on the door for another win
Webb Simpson comes into this week in blistering form and the American has a great chance of claiming another victory. Simpson did very little wrong at the Wyndham Championship, shooting 21-under-par to finish runner-up to JT Poston on Sunday. He also came second in his previous start at the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational and is 34-under-par for his last eight rounds.
Simpson also has encouraging form at Liberty National, having finished 15th in 2013 and eighth in 2009. Both results do not tell the full story either as he was nine and eight-under-par respectively after the opening two rounds before slipping back at the weekend. The five-time PGA Tour winner comes in this time in significantly better shape, sitting second for scoring average and scrambling this season, suggesting he will perform consistently across all four rounds. Few players in the field come in with more momentum or confidence and Simpson rates a strong bet at 22/1 each way.
Tiger Woods appears to have been overlooked this week but the 15-time major champion certainly should not be discounted. Woods has finished runner-up on both starts at Liberty National and will feel he should have added to his 81 PGA Tour titles with victory in New Jersey. He is 18-under-par for eight rounds on a difficult course and comes in this week with unfinished business at the track.
Woods has failed to fire this summer but it is less than four months since his remarkable triumph at the Masters. The 43-year-old has lacked sparkle in his few starts lately but should have his game face on for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Woods won the Tour Championship last season and knows he can finish off the job if he gets into contention. Warm conditions are probably necessary at this stage of his career and the heat on his back in New York will aid his challenge. Assuming he is fit enough to compete at full throttle, Woods is an appealing price at 25/1 each way.
Schauffele can shine again in playoffs
Xander Schauffele has demonstrated a ruthless edge in contention during the FedEx Cup and more playoff success could be heading his way this weekend. The American produced an outstanding performance to win the Tour Championship in his first appearance in 2017. His comfort level at this stage of the season was highlighted again last year with third place at the BMW Championship and seventh in his title defence at East Lake.
Schauffele has a big chance of taking the FedEx Cup crown, currently sitting fourth in the standings, with full focus assured for the playoffs. The 25-year-old has already won four times in three years on the PGA Tour, with two of these victories coming this season at the HSBC Champions and Tournament of Champions. Second place at the Masters and third at the US Open is exceptional form in the biggest events and there are no weaknesses in his game. Schauffele is a fearless competitor and merits support at 28/1.
Collin Morikawa has been one of the revelations of the season with the rookie making a quick breakthrough for his first PGA Tour title. It took the 22-year-old just six starts to get off the mark with victory at the Barracuda Championship last month. This was no surprise though with the American’s superb ball striking showcased in the weeks leading to his win.
Morikawa, who turned pro in June, made an early impression with 14th place at the Canadian Open and a tie for 35th in the US Open underlined his undoubted ability. He was only denied victory at the 3M Open after Matthew Wolff’s dramatic finish saw him edged out into second place. The Californian followed this up with fourth at the John Deere Classic before his win in Nevada. His last 13 strokeplay rounds have seen him shoot no worse than 70 and he is a combined 51-under-par. Morikawa has no limits to his potential and looks worth backing at enticing odds of 45/1 each way.
Gary Woodland seems like the forgotten man already but the US Open champion can rediscover his major-winning form in New Jersey this week. The powerful American was outstanding at Pebble Beach in June as he held off the challenge of Koepka for his maiden major. Two missed cuts and 55th place since have seen him tumble down the betting but he has been wrongly dismissed.
Woodland admitted Liberty National fitted his eye during an excellent showing six years ago when joint second. His long game class is well suited to this week’s assignment and he is ranked 12th this season for strokes gained tee to green. The 35-year-old was eighth this season at nearby Bethpage Black in the PGA Championship and will be hunting more success in the New York area.
Woodland, whose wife has just given birth to baby twins, will be buoyed by his new family members and should tee off in great heart. Woodland can make a mockery of the odds at 66/1 and challenge for his second win of the year.
Webb Simpson Each Way
Tiger Woods Each Way
Xander Schauffele Each Way
Collin Morikawa Each Way
Gary Woodland Each Way