Northern Trust Open Preview

It’s playoff time! This week, the TOUR heads to New Jersey at Liberty National Golf Club.  Built in 2006 and located just 1,000 yards from the Statue of Liberty, it has been the host to the Northern Trust Open three times (2009, 2013, and 2019) as well as the 2017 President’s Cup.  Distance off the tee is not required to win, and I will be looking at those who are solid off the tee, accurate on approach, and can convert when in position.  Liberty National is a Par 71 with tiny bentgrass greens, and past winners have triumphed by hitting greens in regulation and feasting on Par 5s.  

Top 20/10/5/Win

Xander Schauffele (+135/+270/+500/+2300)

I am going back to the well with my favorite guy on TOUR.  I think he’s a perfect statistical fit here as he’s 31st in SG-Tee, 17th in SG-Approach, 15th in SG-Putting, and 6th in par breakers.  A tournament like this where the winning score is around -12 is perfect for him, as he is what I like to call a high upside grinder.  No one is better than X at grinding out difficult par fours, but simultaneously, very few can make birdie as well as him.  I think this tournament combines both of these abilities perfectly.  It is an added bonus that he will be putting on bentgrass greens, in which he is the fourth best player in the field on this surface.  

The X-Man is now well-rested after the chaos of his gold medal victory and should be locked and loaded this week.  His record in elite events speaks for itself and I think he is priced far too cheap this week for a player of his caliber.  He is also only 13th in the FedEx Standings, so he has plenty of work to do to be in position for the $15 million pay day and cannot afford to take his foot off the gas. 

At plus money to Top 20, I will be riding with the X-Man this week.

Daniel Berger (+130/+285/+650/+3500)

Very few have been better than The Rabbi this year on TOUR, and this is probably my favorite play of the week.  Berger is a perfect statistical fit at Liberty National, as he’s 39th in SG-Tee, 6th in SG-Approach, 30th in SG-Putting, and 12th in par breakers.  

He has been on fire of late, especially in elite fields, with finishes of 5th at the WGC, 8th at The Open, and 7th at the US Open.  This has been reflective of his entire 2021 season, in which he has made 16 starts and finished in the Top 20 11 times, with eight of those being in the Top 10, plus a win at Pebble Beach.  Despite being the 16th ranked player in the world, he doesn’t have the name recognition of many of those ranked around him, thus creating value in his price.  Take me to the promised land, Rabbi!

Scottie Scheffler (+140/+300/+650/+3500)

If Daniel Berger is my 1A, then Scottie Scheffler is my 1B this week.  The Texas Flood is back in another elite field, and if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  In his 14 Major/WGC/playoff starts, Scheffler has an average finish of 11.07, and as a rookie last year, he finished T4-T20-5 in his three playoff events.  He plays better when the stakes are high, and Scheffler may just be the new Brooks Koepka.  

He has had an incredible 2021 year with 12 Top 20 finishes in 20 starts, including five of his last six.  His game is well-suited to Liberty National as he’s 17th in SG-Tee, 7th in par breakers, and 22nd in ball striking.  If his mediocre putter cooperates, watch out for Big Game Scottie this week, as you may never see him above 30-1 again.  

Patrick Reed (+230/+400/+800/+4500)

Patrick Reed is a guy very few are lining up to bet, and that is just why I like him.  The 2019 Northern Trust champ (held at Liberty National) and 17th ranked player in the world is priced in a range this week that is just inaccurate for someone of his class.  In the seven elite events (Major/WGC/Players) held stateside this year, Reed has an average finish of 19th, an accurate reflection of his career trend when the field is stacked.  His form of late has been nothing to write home about, but he is finally well-rested after a whirlwind July, which I believe contributed to a decline in his recent results (T31-T22-T34-MC-T32).  

His stats off the tee are concerning, but he has already proven he has what it takes to play well here, as evidenced by his 2019 win and 2017 President’s Cup performance.  No one converts birdie at a higher rate on TOUR than Patrick Reed, and if he can put himself in position to hit greens this week, look out for Captain America at a very generous price.

Bonus Picks

Viktor Hovland (+150/+300/+575/+3500)

I think Hovland is perfectly suited for success this week and will look to continue his breakout season.  Hovland is a menace off the tee and on approach (6th and 20th, respectively), and is 10th on tour in par breakers.  He is 16/17 on the year with an average finish of 22nd, and has won twice this season.  He is going to be a name to remember on TOUR for quite some time, and an appealing proposition at +150 to Top 20.

Patrick Cantlay (+140/+300/+500/+3000)

Cantlay is T16th in ball striking on TOUR, reflecting his ability to stripe it off the tee and hit greens, a recipe for success at Liberty National.  His last five events stateside have been T23-T13-T15-Win-T23, so his game is rolling again after an early-summer slump.  He also is second on tour in scrambling, so if his streaky putter cooperates, Cantlay should be on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday.  A T12 here in 2019 is an added bonus. 

MY CARD (Total Risk 8.25 Units):

Xander Schauffele (Risk 1.5U)

0.5U to win 0.67U to Top 20

0.5U to win 0.5U over Dustin Johnson

0.5U to win 0.5U over Rory McIlory

Daniel Berger (Risk 1.5U)

1U to win 1.3U to Top 20

0.2U to win 0.6U to Top 10

0.15U to win 1U to Top 5

0.15U to win 4.5U to Win 

Scottie Scheffler (Risk 1.5U)

1U to win 1.4U to Top 20

0.2U to win 0.6U to Top 10

0.15U to win 1U to Top 5

0.15U to win 4.5U to Win

Viktor Hovland (Risk 0.66U)

Risk 0.66U to win 1U to Top 20

Patrick Cantlay (Risk 0.7U)

0.7U to win 1U to Top 20

Patrick Reed (Risk 0.66U)

Risk 0.5U to win 1.15U to Top 20

Risk 0.16U to win 0.65U to Top 10

Jordan Spieth (Risk 1.75U)

Risk 0.5U to win 0.55U to Top 20

Risk 0.6U to win 0.5U over Dustin Johnson

Risk 0.65U to win 0.5U over Rory McIlroy

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