PGA Tour Picks: Northern Trust Open Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Tough for golf to make much noise on the American sports calendar this time of year with everyone amped about the NFL preseason and NCAA fall camps. However, Brandt Snedeker made some news last week by shooting a first-round 59 on the way to leading wire-to-wire to take the Wyndham Championship, the final event of the PGA Tour's 2017-18 regular season.
Snedeker, who wasn't having a very good season partly due to injury, closed with a 65 for a three-stroke victory, breaking a tie with C.T. Pan on the final hole with a birdie and Pan's double bogey in the group ahead. It was Snedeker's first win since 2016 and his second at the tournament -- but first at Sedgefield Country Club. He jumped from No. 80 in the FedEx Cup points to No. 30.
One might think that every guy who shot a round under 60 won that tournament, but that's not the case. Jim Furyk didn't win when he fired a record 58 a couple of years ago. In fact, only Al Geiberger (1977 FedEx St. Jude Classic), David Duval (1999 CareerBuilder Challenge), Stuart Appleby (2010 A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier) and Justin Thomas (2017 Sony Open in Hawaii) were previously able to post sub-60 scores on Tour and win that week. Snedeker was only the third player to shoot sub-60 with a bogey on his card.
My winning choice Rafa Cabrera-Bello, and he missed a Top 10 by one shot despite shooting 65-64 on the weekend. I did recommend Webb Simpson for a Top 5 finish and he got one, finishing tied for second three shots back with Pan.
The other big story line last week was guys who were trying to play their way into the Top 125 in points and this week's first FedExCup playoff event, the Northern Trust Open from Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. Seamus Power finished as the No. 125 player, dropping two spots. Tyrone Van Aswegen had been No. 125 but fell to 127. Martin Piller went from 124 to 126. Harris English and Nick Taylor both jumped from outside the Top 125 to in. Sergio Garcia is the biggest name out, finishing at No. 128. He was one of just a handful of guys who had reached the playoffs every year of their existence. Furyk didn't make it, either.
The Northern Trust Open has been around since 1967 and used to be called the Barclays. Beginning in 2008, it started rotating among courses in the New York metro area. This is its first visit to Ridgewood Country Club since 2014 when Hunter Mahan (missed these playoffs) won at 14-under 270. It's a par 71 measuring 7,385 yards and one of the oldest clubs in the USA.
Only players in the Top 100 in the points advance to the next event of the playoffs, the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston. This is the last year that the playoffs are four events; the Northern Trust will still open it next year but will start rotating between the New York area and Boston in 2020. The Dell event vanishes. Currently sitting at No. 100 is Ryan Palmer, with Richy Werenski at 101. Really no big stars in the group between 100-125.
Golf Odds: Northern Trust Open Favorites
World No. 1 and FedExCup leader Dustin Johnson is the +900 favorite to win this tournament for the third time. He did in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club and then last year at Glen Oaks Club, beating Jordan Spieth in a playoff.
Defending FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Jason Day are all +1200. Day was the 2015 winner at Plainfield and was a runner-up at Ridgewood three years ago. Koepka pretty much wrapped up PGA Tour Player of the Year by adding the PGA Championship to his U.S. Open win.
Tiger Woods plays the postseason for the first time in five years and is +1600. He had that stirring runner-up finish at the PGA and was 12 th the last time he played Ridgewood in 2010.
Golf Odds: Northern Trust Open Picks
Always tougher to handicap an event that isn't played yearly at the same course. Have to like Johnson (-125) for a Top 10; incidentally, his four career playoff tournament wins are tied for first with McIlroy. Also like Day (+120) and Jon Rahm (+160).
Go Rahm at +400 for top European and Day at -120 for Top Aussie. Head-to-head, lean Paul Casey (-120) over Alex Noren (-110), Tony Finau (-120) over Patrick Reed (-110), Tommy Fleetwood (-120) over Webb Simpson (-110), Johnson (-130) over Thomas (even), and Day (-115) over Koepka.
We'll go with Finau at +5000 as the winner - he's the highest-ranked player in the FedExCup points standings without a victory this season but has been runner-up twice. He's due.
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