Liberty National Golf Club welcomes the return of the PGA Tour for the second time in the last three years this week as the Northern Trust kicks off the FedEx Cup Playoffs action. The Tour also went to Liberty National in 2009, 2013 and most recently in 2019 when Patrick Reed took home a victory. Though it is not the most architecturally-renowned golf course, the aesthetics are very nice — New York City in the background, the Hudson River in the foreground and the best players on the planet for four straight days.

Let’s take a closer look at this week’s contest with odds provided via Caesars Sportsbook.

Event information

Event: The Northern Trust | Dates: Aug. 19-22
Location: Liberty National Golf Club — Jersey City, New Jersey
Par: 72 | Purse: $9.5 million

Three things to know

1. Jon Rahm returns: It has been such a strange summer for Rahm. Since Phl Mickeslon won the PGA Championship, we have only seen Rahm complete a single stroke-play event in the United States. That was the U.S. Open, which Rahm won. Other than that, he had to withdraw with a positive COVID-19 test with a six-stroke lead after three rounds at the Memorial Tournament, he played twice in Europe (top 10s at the Scottish Open and Open Championship) and then had to withdraw from the Olympics because of another positive COVID-19 test. He also did not play the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational two weeks ago. By most metrics, he’s been the best player in the world so far in 2021, but he’s had very few opportunities to prove it this summer. Still, he’s been beaten by just 15 golfers in his last five events and will be a factor this week at Liberty National.

2. Extra importance of winning: Since the FedEx Cup Playoffs went to three events two years ago, winners of the first two events have started no worse than fourth at the Tour Championship. Why is that a big deal? Well, remember the Tour Championship starts with staggered scores, and the top players receive a greater advantage going into the finale with $15 million on the line. The four winners of the first two playoff events over the last two years have gone on to net $22.3 million in combined bonus money at the Tour Championship. So a win goes a long way toward the bank account right now but also several weeks from now when everything gets counted up at East Lake.

3. Cinderella stories: We’ve also seen some players who were a bit buried going into the playoffs emerge at the Tour Championship and cash in on a perfectly-timed hot streak. Kevin Kisner was 40th last year going into the playoffs and finished 23rd at the Tour Championship. Mackenzie Hughes went from 52nd to 14th. Scottie Scheffler from 24th to 5th. The year before, Reed went from 50th to 9th and got nearly $1 million in bonus money. Jason Kokrak went from 42nd to 14th. Abraham Ancer, who is a fun sleeper this week, went from 67th to 21st. There will be a few guys this week who pull themselves out of the 60s or 70s and ride some great golf all the way to the Tour Championship. It’s always going to be tough to surpass the top-10 guys in the standings, but there’s plenty of money to be had for players who are not necessarily superstars as well.

Rick Gehman (RickRunGood) is joined by Greg DuCharme and Sia Nejad to preview The Northern Trust from a DFS perspective. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Grading the field

It’s as good as non-major fields get with pretty much everyone who’s done anything on the PGA Tour this year in attendance. Collin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth go into the week in the first and second positions, respectively, in the FedEx Cup standings, but that will almost certainly change over the four-day event. As noted above, Rahm is making his first appearance since nearly stealing the Open Championship, and Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy will be there as well. Louis Oosthuizen is the only player in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings who will not play. He withdrew from last week’s Wyndham Championship with a neck injury. Grade: A+

2021 Wyndham Championship picks

By admin