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PGA Golf DFS Advice

DFS Golf Picks For THE NORTHERN TRUST July 19-22, 2021

Jon Rahmbo Rahm winning last week at the BMW
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 30 : Jon Rahm of Spain reacts to his putt on the 18th hole, the first and only playoff hole, during the final round of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club (North) on August 30, 2020 in Olympia Fields, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

What to make of the FedExCup Playoffs? The PGA TOUR craves drama at the conclusion of its season, but it would be a giddy golf fan who could say that the weekly cull from 150+ to 125 to 70 to 30 has him or her on the edge of their seat. True, Chesson Hadley made a hole-in-one last week to confirm his participation this week, but it was only confirmed much later, after Justin Rose had missed a putt. No matter, for our purposes nothing much changes this week. There is a field of 125 in The Northern Trust and that’s not so different to most weeks.

Liberty National Golf Club
This Tom Kite and Bob Cupp design was introduced to the world in 2006 and first hosted the PGA Tour three years later. There was much discussion about the plot of land’s history, most particularly the fact that it was landfill and therefore full of rubbish. It’s safe to say that after the first renewal many of the players had an opinion of the test that needed burying too.

The par-71 plays to around 7,400 yards, depending on the tee boxes selected, and it has bent grass greens. Those putting surfaces represent a key part of the examination with Webb Simpson saying of them: “They are undulating; the putts break a lot and you have to use a lot of imagination around the greens.” Jason Dufner added: “The green complexes and the approaches are very, very challenging.”

Phil Mickelson likened the challenge to Augusta National while Simpson believed the greens were very like the Donald Ross designs he played in Georgia. What we do know is that it was hard to hit the greens that first time the course was used and the players hated that. Ever since (in 2013 and 2019) the rough has been down and players have been happier.

In addition to the fast, slopey greens, there is plenty of water in play and 90 bunkers. It just didn’t need thick blue grass to add to the difficulty. The views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty are stunning from the course and may have played a factor in Captain America, Patrick Reed, winning two years ago. If ever a man was likely to stick his chest out at the first sign of patriotism it is surely he.

Weather
The weather for Jersey City, New Jersey is potentially gnarly. There is unlikely to be much wind all week (nothing above 10 mph) and that means little chance of the expected thunderstorms being blown through at pace. There is a threat on all four competition days. Temperatures will be in the high 70s with humidity starting in the 80s on Thursday but dropping to 60% on Sunday.

Past Champions at Liberty National Golf Club
The first winner here 12 years ago was Heath Slocum who pulled off a big surprise, not least in relegating Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and this year’s Ryder Cup captains – Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker – into a four way tie for second (the PGA loved him for fouling up a great play-off). Slocum was no mug, but his forte tended to be tight and tricky tests on Bermuda grass when the big boys weren’t in town – perhaps the importance of staying out the rough that first year gave him a helping hand.

In 2013 Adam Scott claimed the honors and oddly Tiger Woods was yet again pushed into second, even sharing it with three others to make it doubly Deja vu-like. Four years after that the course hosted the 2017 Presidents Cup and Louis Oosthuizen starred as the International Team’s top scorer, earning two and a half points from his five matches. For Team USA Dustin Johnson won four and a half points, with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson gaining three and a half, the latter going undefeated.

Two years ago Scott was fifth on his return to the course, but Patrick Reed claimed the win from Abraham Ancer. Jon Rahm shared third with Harold Varner III, Rory McIlroy was sixth alongside Oosthuizen and Spieth (proving they both like the joint).

Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)

A listJ. Rahm $11,500
B listA. Ancer $9,400
B listP. Reed $8,600
C listJ. Kokrak $7,700
C listC. Champ $7,300
AvoidM. Leishman $7,200
    


Jon Rahm ($11,500) The Spaniard is a monster from the tee and I don’t just mean his ability to pound the ball. He does it with a purpose and he gains strokes on the field doing so. He ranks second for SG Off the Tee this year and also second Tee to Green. Then there is his course form. He was third in his only previous showing two years ago and played most of the back nine in third gear. He left frustrated and can bounce back this week (doubly so for he is back after a Covid brush again). Has also made eight top 10s in his last 10 starts, not counting when he would have won The Memorial but for an enforced withdrawal. 

Abraham Ancer ($9,400) 
He’ll be fresh off a win, but he’s had a week off to digest that. And now he’s returning to a track where he was second in 2019, ranking first for SG Off the Tee. He’s 23rd for that category this season and all parts of his game were in great nick at the WGC St Jude Invitational. With his long term consistency I can see the breakthrough win prompting more of that, with more contending at the very top, rather than a hangover period. 

Patrick Reed ($8,600) A fine winner of this tournament, on this track, two years ago and I don’t believe it is entirely coincidental that he can walk with his chest out, glancing at the Statue of Liberty, thinking Captain America thoughts. It’s the stuff that gets his blood pumping. He’s played a lot of golf recently, playing the weekend in 10 of his last 13 starts, but he needs a kickstart and a return to a winning course can do it. A bonus that his fine short game is a good fit for fast, slopey greens and he plays Ross tracks well, too. Has eight top 25 finishes in 11 starts in New York and New Jersey.

Jason Kokrak ($7,700) The old Jason Kokrak loved Liberty National. He was T–9 there in 2013 and T–12 six years later. Take the hint because Kokrak is a much better performer these days. He won late last year and added the Charles Schwab Challenge in the early summer. He’s played 16 of the last 18 weekends and might arrive off a missed cut, but that could easily fire him forward this week. Ranks 22nd for SG Off the Tee.

Cameron Champ ($7,300) My favorite low salary play of the week. He’s a big-hitter, but not aimlessly so. He ranks seventh for SG Off the Tee this season and yet oddly one of his worst performances in that category was when winning the 3M Open last month. Still, he’s usually gun in that part of the game. He got off to a slow start playing here in 2019, but found his feet at the weekend with 66-69 for T–21.

Marc Leishman ($7,200) The Aussie has never got to grips with this course. His bare record is poor with two missed cuts and a best of T–71. But six of his eight laps have been 72 or worse, and four of them 74+. Stats? On average, he loses three strokes on the field with the putter and another three tee to green. Lovely bloke, not one to have on side this week.

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• We include players to avoid this week and WHY…

Here’s Another Alternate of Core Picks For THE NORTHERN TRUST

A listD. Johnson $11,000
B listP. Cantlay $9,200
B listA. Scott $8,400
C listB. Horschel $7,600
C listG. Woodland $7,000
AvoidS. Garcia $7,600

Dustin Johnson ($11,000) Event form? There have been four editions of The Northern Trust as it currently is. Johnson won the first at Glen Oaks and last year’s at TPC Boston by just the 11 shots. Form? He’s getting there. Slowly, but he’s getting there with two top 10s in his last three starts. Course form? That seems a weak link. But he top-scored for Team USA in the 2017 Presidents Cup and two years ago he held a one shot halfway lead. “The course suits my eye,” he said. “I’ve always liked it since I first played it.”  

Patrick Cantlay ($9,200) On course debut in 2019 Cantlay posted a first round 70 which left him T–65, but he responded with a pair of 67s by the end of the week for T–12. That makes sense. He gobbles up courses from the tee (14th this year for Off the Tee, third Tee to Green) and he knows how to perform on swift slopey greens, most obviously doing so at Muirfield Village (two-time winner). Four top 12 finishes in six starts in New York and New Jersey.

Adam Scott ($8,400) Conventional wisdom would steer clear of the Aussie who missed a four-foot putt to win last week’s Wyndham Championship (not that this column minded, we were supporting the eventual champion Kevin Kisner). But Scott is made of good stuff. He made a mess of the 2012 Open, was right back in the saddle straight after, and won the Masters the following spring. He’s also on a favored track. He won The Barclays here in 2013 and was T–5 two years ago. 


Billy Horschel ($7,600) He dearly wants to make the Ryder Cup team and time is running out. He needs to do something sensational in the Playoffs. Guess what? He has form – back in 2014 he went 2-1-1 in them. He’s also good on Ross courses (9-for-10 with five of his last six starts top 20s). He was T–21 two years ago and has played golf at the weekend nine times in the 10 starts since he won the WGC Dell Match Play. 

Gary Woodland ($7,000) Missed the cut last time out, but before that he was T–11  at the 3M Open and T–7 in the Barracuda Championship. Back in 2013 he was the co-leader after 54 holes here before finishing second with three other. Six years later he made a poor start, but his final 54 holes were excellent. A low salary for a course runner-up with two decent starts in his last month of golf, and a major in his locker. 

Sergio Garcia ($7,600) In theory, the Spaniard should like this course. He’s brilliant off the tee and has a magnificent short game. On the other hand, he can be a very poor putter and, indeed, has always lost shots on the field on the greens when playing Liberty National. He’s played two fine rounds here, but otherwise has struggled. He’s looking for a first top 30 in his fourth visit. Easy to look elsewhere.

Strategy

We don’t have full Strokes Gained data from the first two tournaments hosted at the course, but we do have Tee to Green and Putting numbers – and they are quite revealing. In all, a neat 15 players have finished top five at Liberty National and get this: 14 of the 15 ranked top 10 for SG Tee to Green (all 15 were top 13) and only one (in 2009) ranked top 10 for SG Putting. I will be factoring that in this week, but I will also note that in 2019 – when we did have more SG data – Reed ranked second for Off the Tee and runner-up Ancer was first.

Other Player Options For THE NORTHERN TRUST

•  Pat Perez hasn’t enjoyed his visits to this track. Three starts, three missed cuts, yet to break 70. 
•  Paul Casey likes August golf. He’s finished top 40 in 20 of his last 25 starts in the month, 13 of them top 20s. 

•  Brian Stuard is on a hell of a run. He’s quietly landed five top 30 finishes in seven starts and four top 15s in his last five.

COVID-19 and Injury Warning:

Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup. 

Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that. 

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