2019 Northern Trust Open Picks, Predictions, Preview

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 Northern Trust Open Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Liberty National.

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2019 Northern Trust Open Field

Field: 121 Players | Top 70 & Ties after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday, Aug. 8 at 7:15 a.m. ET
Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau

The 2019 Northern Trust Open signals the commencement of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Only, this year, the format has changed a bit. This season’s incarnation sees the move from four to three playoff events (take a hike Dell Technologies Championship), with the Top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings advancing to the BMW Championship next week, and the Top 30 following that event will head to East Lake for the TOUR Championship. FedEx points are quadrupled for the first two playoff events, like always, but the massive change comes in determining an overall winner of the playoffs.

Beyond getting a cool $15 million for winning it all, gone are the different scenarios of FedEx Cup points to establish a champion. Think of last year, we watched Tiger and Rory walk side-by-side in the final grouping at East Lake with Tiger eventually notching his first win since his most recent comeback. That was the story. Not Justin Rose’s tap-in for par 30 minutes previous, which had him tie for fourth place in the event and win the FedEx Cup. In 2019, the 30 players advancing to the final will be spotted strokes at the beginning of the event, and the lowest score for the week, along with their starting score will be the recipient of $15 million (and a five-year TOUR exemption). The points leader enters East Lake already starting at -10 to begin the tournament. Second will start at -8; third -7; fourth -6, fifth -5, all the way down to players 26-30 beginning at even par. It’s exciting to find out if this type of format will be a YUGE success or just another failed method of manufacturing drama and making the playoffs mean something to the golf viewing audience. Because, since the first moment of the playoff format, it has not.

The Top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings are eligible for the field at Liberty National, but only 122 will be competing. Of the Top 10 — Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlory, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Gary Woodland, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Webb Simpson and Jon Rahm — only Casey is taking a pass at the first event. Casey’s 1,629 points should be enough to let him coast into the TOUR Championship so, while skipping the event will put him at a disadvantage in gaining priority in the standings at the final event, it’s not imperative he plays. Henrik Stenson has decided he doesn’t care about the playoffs this year. Currently No. 85 in the standings, by failing to compete in New Jersey he won’t give himself the opportunity to advance into the Top 70 for next week. Ditto for Sam Burns. Burns broke his ankle rebounding for kids in his neighborhood towards the end of July, which ended his season. Making the playoffs earned him a TOUR card for next season, so he’ll be back after rehab.

Oh, Tiger Woods is playing, too. Don’t want to forget that. This will be just the second non-Major where Tiger has laced up the spikes since The Masters. In two previous turns at Liberty National (2009, 2013) he tied for second place.

NOTE: Rafa Cabrera-Bello has withdrawn.

2019 Northern Trust Open: Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
Par 4s Gained
Greens in Regulation Gained
Par 5s Gained
Sand Saves

Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from FantasyNational.com

2019 Northern Trust Open: Course

Course: Liberty National GC
Par: 71
Yardage: 7,370
Greens: Bentgrass
Rank: 22/43 in 2013 difficulty (+0.151)
Par 5 Eagles in 2013: 36

2019 Northern Trust Open: 2013 Barclays Leaderboard

1st Adam Scott -11
T2 Graham DeLaet -10
T2 Tiger Woods -10
T2 Justin Rose -10
T2 Gary Woodland -10
T6 Jim Furyk -9
T6 Phil Mickelson -9
T6 DA Points -9
T9 Nick Watney -8
T9 Rickie Fowler -8
T9 Jason Kokrak -8
T9 Matt Every -8

2019 Northern Trust Open: Notes

Heavily renovated before the 2013 Barclays. Twelve greens and 12 tee boxes were altered before that event. Thirteen fairways were re-contoured, bunkers were repositioned and an intermediate cut of rough was grown as a buffer area between the fairways and the fescue. The fescue is only in play after a fairly wayward shot.

There are 90 bunkers and 10 water hazards across the course.

Since the inception of the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2007, the opening event has been won by a player inside the Top 25 of the world rankings 10 of 12 times. Hunter Mahan was ranked 41st when he won The Barclays (now The Northern Trust) in 2014, with Heath Slocum being the massive outlier. Slocum was 197th in the world rankings when he outlasted Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and Paddy Harrington by a stroke in 2009.

Three of the past four winners already had notched a victory in the calendar year. Each of the past four winners entered the week ranked Top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings.

The Par 4 16th is a drivable at 325 yards. However, there were only three eagles made on No. 16 in 2013, when it played at 320 yards.

Hole Nos. 9 and 15 were ranked inside the Top 50 toughest holes on TOUR in 2013.

Five of the 11 Par 4s measure more than 450 yards. They played as five of the six most difficult holes in 2013.

In 2013, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (OTT + APP) was almost double Strokes Gained: Short Game (ATG + PUTT) among the Top 5 finishers — +1.88/round to +0.976/round.

Rickie Fowler (T9), Jason Kokrak (T9), Bubba Watson (T13), Lee Westwood (T25), DA Points (T6), Tiger Woods (T2), Adam Scott (Win), Gary Woodland (T2) and Rory Sabbatini (T13) led the field in SG: Approach in 2013.

Beyond the 2009 and 2013 Barclays, Liberty National GC hosted the 2017 Presidents Cup. From the two teams that year, only Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Charl Schwartzel and Anirban Lahiri are not in the field this week for the 2019 Northern Trust Open. Team USA thumped the International squad 19-11 that year. Dustin Johnson went 4-0-1, leading all players with 4.5 points. Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler were tied for second with 3.5 points. Louis Oosthuizen (2.5) was the only member of the International team to score more than two points.

2019 Northern Trust Open Picks — Targets From Each Range

Justin Thomas

Time for another trip down the JT hole. At a course that rewards elite ball striking, you pray Thomas can rediscover his putter and make enough 10-footers to coast to the top of the leaderboard. Per www.fantasynational.com, JT is averaging +5.3 SG: Approach over his past three starts and had been mashing it off the tee before his trip to Memphis two weeks back. The issue as been the devastating bad -2.5 SG: Putting he’s averaged over his past five tournaments. Now, while he lost some gusto with the driver at the St. Jude, it was the first time he’d gained on the greens since the Genesis Open in February. Wouldn’t go as far to say his putting stroke is BACK, but it’s an encouraging sign. And like we saw with Adam Scott’s win in 2013, it doesn’t take much with he putter if the elite ball striking is present.

Patrick Cantlay

He fits the trend of a previous winner this year (The Memorial) and enters No. 6 in the FedEx Cup standings. Additionally, in the key stats for the week, he rates out as the best player in the field over the past 24 rounds, rankings Top 10 in approach, off-the-tee, Par 4s between 450-500 yards, sand saves (!!!) and Par 5s gained.

Billy Horschel

It’s that time of year when Horschel starts getting hot. With a T6 finish at last week’s Wyndham Championship, that’s now consecutive Top 10s to close the season and his fifth Top 20 result in his past seven starts. The 2014 FedEx Cup winner, Horschel has gained ball striking in six of past event starts and gained with his putter in his past four measured tournaments. Despite being just 47th in this field in Par 4s gained over his past 50 rounds, he’s quietly fifth in Par 4s measuring 450-500 yards and has been consistent across the past two years. Be it the past 24 rounds or the past 100 rounds, Horschel ranks inside the Top 10 on Par 4s from that range. The only other players in the field who can make a similar boast are Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.

Corey Conners

Top 10 in SG: APP, SG: OTT and Greens in Regulation gained over the past 50 rounds, if you want a deep flier, the Canadian is the best ball striker from the bottom the pricing. In 18 starts in 2019, Conners has gained strokes on the greens just three times, and two were on Bentgrass, including his win at Valero the week before The Masters. His short game is serenely problematic, but when you get to the bottom of the pricing you’re not going like the other options any better. You might as well pray he can continue his roll as an elite ball striker.

Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Joaquin Niemann, Webb Simpson, Collin Morikawa, Brian Harman 

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2019 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year). His 17 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.