The first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs (FEC) will start at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. The top-125 ranked golfers are hoping to make the top-70 by the end of the week to qualify for the second leg of the FEC at the BMW Championship. Tom Kite and Bob Cupp designed Liberty National Golf Club to one day host a major championship and with Lady Liberty as a backdrop, it’s only a matter of time until it does. Until then, we’ll have to settle for some playoff golf at the Northern Trust Open.
Round 4 Bet
Louis Oosthuizen Top Five +300With a third-round 70, Oosthuizen has a good shot at hitting a top five after the conclusion of the final round. Louis has a knack for playing well on difficult courses gaining close to a stroke on the field. Over the past three rounds, Louis ranks second in SG: Ball Striking and first in SG: Approach. He needs to find a solid putting performance if he wants to have a shot at winning, ranking just outside the top-60 this week, but he has gained a little over three strokes on average with his putting over his last few tournaments. Having faith with an elite ball-striker in this tough wind is the way to go.
Round 3 Bet
Rory McIlroy to Win +1400McIlroy carded a double-bogey from an unfortunate misunderstanding in the greenside sand on hole No. 14 which halted his momentum halfway through his back nine today. Rory is “only” five back from Dustin Johnson coming into the weekend, which will be a tough test, but if there’s a player to do so, it’s McIlroy. Over the past four weekends, Rory has gained strokes through his ball-striking in each round, is third in SG: Around the Greens and is first in SG: Par 5s and birdies or better gained over the field. He’s second in round three scoring average, but close to 50th in round four scoring, which means he needs a hot round tomorrow if he wants to contend at Liberty National. If we need a reminder, Rory’s first win back in 2012 was a come-from-behind victory besting Phil Mickelson at Quail Hollow by shooting a 62 on Sunday. Rory could remind us this weekend just how good he is (if you need a refresher).
Round 2 Bet
Best Score: Emiliano Grillo (+140) over Vaughn Taylor (+130), Cameron Champ (+320)Both Grillo and Champ lost more than four strokes on the greens in Round 1 even though they both hit the ball well tee-to-green. Grillo bested both Taylor and Champ in ball-striking this week, ranking eighth and hitting close to 90% of his greens, but could not get the putts to fall all day. In fact, Grillo was second-to-last in the field in SG: Putting after Thursday’s round, beating only one golfer: Champ. Since 2015, Grillo has had a dozen back-to-back rounds losing strokes on bentgrass greens, but has only lost more than three strokes putting twice and has gained almost a stroke on average with his putter the following day. Grillo has struggled with the flatstick all season, but still ranks inside the top-25 in SG: Putting on bentgrass greens over the last 24 rounds. Rely on his ball-striking and the putting should (hopefully) normalize Friday.
Round 1 Bets
Justin Rose to Win +2500Rose had an inconsistent finish to his regular season, but has been one of the most consistent players on tour with three wins and six runner-ups since 2017. Guys who are elite ball-strikers should find success at Liberty National and Rose ranks inside the top-25 in SG: Ball Striking and 25th in opportunities gained. His Par-5 Scoring has also been improving ranking 41st over the last 24 rounds to first over the last 12 rounds and second over the last eight. We shouldn’t need Rose to have impeccable form on the stat sheet, we’ve seen him have success often and get his game right when he needs to. He’s also done well at Liberty National finishing second in 2013.
Kyle Stanley to Win +11000 | Top-5 +1800Stanley has been churning out solid finishes over the last couple of months and is coming into the week with great form gaining strokes with his ball striking in his last six straight tournaments. Not only is he finding the fairway with regularity, he’s also scoring when the opportunity strikes, ranking 26th in birdie or better gained and 27th in Par-5 Scoring. He’s gained strokes through his putting in three straight tournaments, which is usually not what Stanley does, but with past experience at Liberty National and solid finishes at courses similar to this week — like Muirfield Village and Bay Hill — Stanley could be in line for a great week.
Billy Horschel First Round Leader +6000 | To Win +5800 | Top-5 +1100Horschel finished with another top-10 making it seven top-10s in the months of July and August dating back to 2012. Horschel has a knack for building momentum at the right time, like a seasoned NFL team or a mid-major University during March Madness, and it’s not only his strong play playoffs we should be giddy about (finished first in 2014), it’s also his strong ball striking gaining strokes in seven of his last eight tournaments. He’ll have an advantage going out early and could contend with leading after Round 1, ranking ninth in SG: Ball Striking and inside the top-5 in birdies or better gained over his last eight starting rounds.
Best Finishing Position Justin Thomas +100 over Jon Rahm -110Both Thomas and Rahm are hitting the ball exceptional, ranking inside the top-20 in SG: Ball Striking over the last 24 rounds with Rahm having four top-10s in his last seven tournaments. Thomas hasn’t won since August of last season, but is one of the elite ball-strikers on tour ranking inside the top-3 over the last two seasons and is hitting it great since his wrist injury, ranking second over his last two tournaments. Thomas’ value isn’t great and Rahm could easily torch this course and collect birdies at an impressive clip, but he might get a little testy if he starts missing fairways and greens at a course only six miles away from Manhattan while Thomas should have some positive muscle memory from his experience playing here during the 2017 Presidents Cup.
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