This article is part of our Golf Picks series.
The Northern Trust Betting Preview
Playoffs?!? Who's ready to talk about playoffs?!
The 2020-21 regular season came to a close at last week's Wyndham Championship, and the top 125 players in the FedExCup Standings have qualified for the season-ending playoffs while also locking up a PGA Tour card for another season.
The Northern Trust features a star-studded field that is highlighted by 29 of the top 30 golfers in the Official World Golf Ranking. Louis Oosthuizen is the only eligible player not in the field. Last year, Dustin Johnson -- at 18-1 odds -- cruised to a resounding 11-shot victory over Harris English at TPC Boston.
One of the few events played yearly in the northeast, this year's version switches back to Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. This course has hosted this event three times before: in 2009 and in 2013 when it was known as "The Barclays," and in 2019, when Patrick Reed took home the title. Liberty National is a scenic course with views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, and players will fire many approach shots from over 175 yards, as the course has three long par-3s and five par-4s over 465 yards. This is certainly a track that will test ball striking, as water comes into play on about half the holes. Scrambling will also be key, as hitting the green in regulation will be particularly challenging on several holes.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 4:00 PM ET Tuesday.
Deserving of Trust
The following five golfers have the lowest scoring average at The Northern Trust since 2016:
Although only one edition of this event has been played at Liberty National during this stretch, there's still plenty to take away from these numbers, which highlight golfers that play well to start the playoffs and on a difficult golf course in this part of the country. At the top of the list we find Johnson, a three-time Northern Trust winner who held the 36-hole lead here in 2019 before faltering over the weekend. Although this should be a good spot for him to get back on track, it's hard to ignore that DJ has failed to record a top-5 stateside since a dominant performance at the Masters last November. Also near the top of the betting board is Spieth, a player who's had three top-10s over the last five years in playoff-opening events, including a T6 finish at Liberty National. He should be one of the freshest golfers in the field, having teed it up only twice since the U.S. Open in June. With a pair of runner-up finishes over his last five starts, Spieth is a prime target at 12-1.
The following players, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes from tee to green over their last 20 rounds:
Often outshined by some of the flashier players on Tour, the stats don't lie when it comes to Cantlay. He's gaining 1.1 shots per round this season with his driving and approach play, which has led to four top-3s, including a pair of wins. Cantlay's lone trip to Liberty National resulted in four subpar rounds and a T12 finish, and he presents good value on a win bet at 30-1. The lone player to show up on both lists is the tournament favorite, Rahm, who clearly hasn't been forgotten by the oddsmakers despite having last played at The Open Championship and dealing with COVID-19 since. Rahm gained over a stroke per round both off the tee and on approach here in 2019 en route to a T3 finish, and he has been the best player in the world this summer.
Daniel Berger (28-1)
Having missed the playoffs in 2019, Berger is making his Liberty National debut, but there's little reason to think he won't be a great fit for the course. He ranks top-40 in three different Strokes Gained categories, and he has a good combination of distance and accuracy off the tee. Berger comes into the event in good form, with a top-10 in three of his last four starts.
Tyrrell Hatton (55-1)
I've taken Hatton a few different times this year and have only wound up disappointed, but these are also the highest odds he has been priced at in a long time. Let's not forget he peaked at No. 5 in the world earlier this year and the only weakness in his game is seemingly between the ears. This course grades similarly to Bay Hill, where Hatton picked up his lone PGA Tour victory.
Shane Lowry (70-1)
Lowry plays his best golf on the bigger stages, as evidenced by his two PGA Tour victories coming in a major and a WGC event. He's had a resurgence this year, posting four top-10s since March, and he was in contention for a medal at the Olympics before faltering in the final round. This is too good a price to pass up for someone that excels both with his irons and around the green.
Jason Kokrak (11-2)
Kokrak carded four subpar rounds at this venue last time he was here, which is no easy task with all the trouble out there. He's also playing at a much higher level than he was back then, having won twice this season. An outright win bet would probably be a stretch with him cooling a bit recently, making a top-10 bet the preferred play.
Cameron Tringale (7-1)
We know at this point that Tringale can't seem to win, but he does know how to find himself in contention and finish in the top 10. This is too tantalizing a price for someone that has recorded a top-20 finish in 40 percent of his starts this season. He's gaining shots on the field in every Strokes Gained category.
Talor Gooch (12-1)
Gooch seems to spring to life and contend every so often, and he's certainly overdue to be in the mix. It's not that he's played poorly recently, as over his last eight starts he missed only one cut and notched a pair of top-20s. Gooch should be a good fit for the course, as he brings above-average distance to the table and ranks 36th in SG: Approach.
It's kind of surprising to see that Casey hasn't teed it up at Liberty National before, but there haven't been many courses that have given him trouble this year. He ranks second in SG: Approach and has re-emerged as one of the best players in the world. I'll fade Ancer in a letdown spot coming off his first Tour win.
Streelman is a great target in H2H matchups due to his consistency -- six of his last eight starts netted a top-20 finish. Bradley, on the other hand, has cooled off since a hot stretch of golf this spring, missing three cuts over his last five events. Plus, his two starts at Liberty National have been mediocre at best, with finishes of T33 and T64.