PGA Tour Picks: The Northern Trust Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Yes, Sweden's Henrik Stenson was the winner of last week's Wyndham Championship, but he was never in danger of missing the FedExCup playoffs. So a close No. 2 on the list of big winners would have to be J.J. Henry, who entered the tournament in North Carolina No. 134 on the points list but played well enough to land right on the bubble at No. 125 to advance to golf's postseason.
At Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, Stenson shot a final-round 64 to reach a tournament-record 22 under and edge rookie Ollie Schniederjans by one shot for his sixth career PGA Tour title and first on American soil since 2013. The 22-under 258 broke the course's 72-hole record set by Carl Pettersson in 2008 and matched last year by Si Woo Kim.
Stenson originally wasn't going to play the tournament - his previous three starts at the Wyndham had yielded two missed cuts and a WD with the flu -- but was a late add because he needed to reach 15 starts on the PGA Tour to keep his card for the 2017-18 season. It was his 13th tournament and now he's assured of at least two more in the playoffs (barring injury). Stenson said it was the first of his 20 professional victories that came without a driver in the bag.
I took a Bovada prop of Webb Simpson and Bill Haas at +1100 to win against the field (-2800). Simpson finished third at 18-under so that paid out at +175 for a Top 10. Haas was an MDF after 54 holes.
But other than at the top of last week's field, all the drama was at the No. 125 number as only the players inside that advanced to this week's Northern Trust at the Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y. Henry jumped up by finishing T16. Geoff Ogilvy had been at No. 125 but moved to 116. Martin Flores jumped from 139 to 118, Rory Sabbatini from 148-122 and Harold Varner from 138-123. Zac Blair was the big loser, missing out on No. 125 by just 1.13 points. David Hearn dropped from 121 to 128. Seamus Power and Daniel Summerhays also fell out.
Hideki Matsuyama has the points lead as the playoffs begin, followed by Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. It's important to be in the Top 5 by the season-ending Tour Championship because if you are and win that tournament, you are the guaranteed FedExCup champion. Only the Top 30 play there.
The playoff field is cut to Top 100 after the Northern Trust, not to be confused with the West Coast Swing's former Northern Trust Open. This used to be called The Barclays. It was supposed to be held at Liberty National nearby, but that's hosting the Presidents Cup next month so Glen Oaks does for the first time. I'm sure this has happened before, but I can't remember it: the course is made up of three nines and parts of all will be used. The entire Blue Course, seven holes on the White and two on the Red. It all adds up to a par 70 at 7,350 yards.
Not all of the Top 125 are playing. For example, Sergio Garcia is skipping the playoff opener for the third consecutive year. He's 22nd in the standings and thus has no worries for a while. The defending champion is Patrick Reed, but that was at 9-under at Bethpage Black. If you are wondering, Sueng-Yul Noh is currently at No. 100 in the points with Jimmy Walker at 101. Bubba Watson (113) is the biggest name who has to make a move to advance.
Golf Odds: The Northern Trust Favorites
Matsuyama is the +1000 favorite at Bovada. He might win PGA Tour Player of the Year if he were to take the FedExCup. Two of his three wins this season are big-money WGC events. He comes off a fifth at the PGA Championship. Matsuyama missed the cut at this tournament last year, but Bethpage Black is way harder than this track.
Spieth and Rory McIlroy are each +1100. Spieth won the FedExCup in 2015 and is also in the running for Player of the Year. He hasn't really contended in two tournaments since a British Open victory. McIlroy talked about skipping the playoffs to rest his injured rib but will try to defend his FedExCup title. He has had a rather middling year without a victory.
Fowler is +1200 and Johnson +1400. Fowler has finished in the Top 10 of five his past seven tournaments. He has three Top 10s at this event but at other courses. Johnson won this in 2011 but hasn't been the same guy since his Masters fall.
Golf Odds: The Northern Trust Picks
Being honest, this is largely a shot in the dark because there's no course history to base my picks on. For a Top 10, I like Matsuyama (-120), Spieth (even) and Fowler (+120). Not high on McIlroy as I don't think he's healthy. But I don't blame him for trying to at least qualify for the Tour Championship as you get paid simply for showing up.
Go with Matsuyama at +200 as top rest of the world, Paul Casey (+600) as top European and Jon Rahm (+220) as top continental European. Fowler (+900) as top American. Head-to-head, I like Rahm (even) over Stenson (-130), Brooks Koepka (-115) over Thomas (-115), Spieth (-110) over Matsuyama (-120), Fowler (-115) over McIlroy (-115), and Jason Day (+105) over Johnson (-135).
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