Reading the Grain: Northern Trust Open

Glen Oaks Club is a par 70 course that will play over 7,300 yards for the opening leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs at this year’s Northern Trust. Without any PGA history here, the scorecard can give us a look into what to expect. The course features long par 3s (two of which are over 225 yards) and a 600+ yard par 5 to go along with the average length par 4s. As far as the variety of holes and their distances, similar courses that come to mind would be Firestone Country Club (South) and The Old White TPC.

This week’s event at Glen Oaks Club is going to be a driver heavy affair based on what type of course it is. The course has been dubbed the “Augusta of the North” because of its potential fast fairways and greens. The weather looks ideal on Long Island this week which means that the course could shorten up for everyone. As we go with the grain, we’ll be targeting golfers with distance off the tee, skill around the green, and Par 5 Birdie or Better. When we go against the grain, we’ll be looking at golfers who are accurate off the tee, on approach, and can score well on par 3s.

Going With The Grain

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  • Driving Distance
  • Scrambling
  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green
  • Par 4 Birdie or Better
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better

This week is typical in that I simply can’t quit Jon Rahm ($8,900). His unique skill set can make him a threat at any course, but Glen Oaks seems particularly well suited for his game. Rahm’s currently 16th in Driving Distance and 33rd in Scrambling. If he can just play par golf on the par 3s, he will be able to go low on this course.

StatRahm’s Rank# of Holes at Glen Oaks Club
Par 4 Birdie or Better (400-450 Yards)5th5
Par 4 Birdie or Better (450-500 Yards)6th5

Rickie Fowler ($11,300) has put together one of the best seasons on the PGA Tour and has to be motivated after seeing Justin Thomas earn his first career major before Fowler got his first. It’s nearly impossible to fit him into a category at this point. He’s in the top-50 on tour in just about every meaningful stat and has finished 22nd or better in every start he’s made since the beginning of June. I’d recommend playing Fowler and differentiating elsewhere.

Speaking of the most recent major tournament winner, Justin Thomas ($9,400) is worth a look this week. Thomas vaulted into the Official World Golf Rankings top-10 after his win at Quail Hollow and should be in contention given his course fit this week. If you follow his Snapchat, you know he’s been working out with the Wanamaker trophy and even snuck in a round at Shinnecock this past week. Thomas is fifth in Driving Distance this year and scores as well as anyone on tour.

StatJustin Thomas’ Rank
Par 3 Birdie or Better21st
Par 4 Birdie or Better1st
Par 5 Birdie or Better39th

Hideki Matsuyama ($11,500) is another golfer that is becoming increasingly difficult to fade. He hasn’t missed a cut since February and has peaked recently with five straight top-15 finishes. Coincidentally, he also fits many of the against the grain key stats this week. The fact that he’s the most expensive golfer this week could lead to some people not paying up.

StatHideki Matsuyama’s 2017 Rank
Driving Distance21st
Greens in Regulation10th
Scrambling23rd
Par 4 Scoring3rd
Par 5 Scoring1st

Honorable Mention: Jamie Lovemark ($7,400) & Xander Schauffele ($7,000)


Going Against The Grain

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  • Driving Accuracy
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Par 3 Birdie or Better
  • Par 4 Birdie or Better

Last week’s winner, Henrik Stenson ($9,800), clearly dialed in his irons as he missed only a handful of greens at Sedgefield Country Club. Playing him on a driver heavy course might not seem like the best idea, but when you break down his current form and how he looked last week, he should be in consideration. Stenson’s last six starts have resulted in T26 or better. Regardless of course length, he finds ways to score on any type of hole, this week should be no exception.

StatHenrik Stenson’s Rank
Par 3 Birdie or Better9th
Par 4 Birdie or Better37th
Par 5 Birdie or Better25th

Lucas Glover ($7,200) has found some form once again and is on a streak of four made cuts. Glover has a great off the tee game as he ranks 56th and 36th in Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy, respectively. His driving distance allows him to take advantage of the par 5s better than most “accuracy” golfers. Glover is a good, likely low-owned play to pair with some of the more expensive chalk this week.

Francesco Molinari ($7,600) is coming off of a performance at Quail Hollow where he finished runner-up. Molinari is 15-of-18 in his starts this year including four top-10s. He’s one of the most accurate golfers on tour. Molinari finished the regular season seventh in Driving Accuracy and first in Strokes Gained: Approach.

Kevin Kisner ($8,000) struggled a bit at the Wyndham Championship after narrowly missing out on his first major victory two weeks ago. He’s ninth in the FedEx Cup Standings for a reason, though, as he’s had an impressive season. Kisner has managed to make 18-of-20 cuts this season with six top-10s including a victory. I’m comfortable firing up Kisner in any format.

Honorable Mention: Jason Dufner ($7,600) & Kyle Stanley ($7,500)

 


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is matt13jones) 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.