Northern Trust Open: Glen Oaks Club, Old Westbury, New York
The FedEx Cup Cup Playoff begins this week at the Glen Oaks Club in Long Island, New York. The course at Glen Oaks is not a new one, having been around since 1971, but it is still a course that few of the golfers will have experience with.
The course underwent a major redesign in 2011 for which it was closed for three years. The current course is said to have been modeled on Augusta National with sweeping vistas, quick greens, pristine white sand bunkers, and frequent elevation changes.
The fairways are pretty generous on this course which should allow the players to be aggressive off the tee. This is a relatively long Par-70 playing about 7300 yards for the 18 holes chosen for this tournament. Players are expected to have a tough challenge on the course but the weather will not be an issue at all. Absolutely perfect weather conditions for golf are expected for this tournament.
The top-125 players qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs in a four-week extended postseason with $10 million bonus up for grabs. This also means that almost all of the world’s best players will be playing in this tournament.
Out of the top players, a couple of notable exceptions are Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott.
The field may be restricted as compared to normal PGA events but the top-70 players and ties still make the cut. Players who are accurate off the tee will be rewarded and the Wolf thinks that shots around the green will be absolutely critical.
Even though the length of the course is pretty long, it is not one where bombers will have a huge advantage. Strokes gained off the tee will be important but that can be achieved through other ways than just crushing the ball as hard as possible.
Stats that Matter
The Wolf is going to be looking at these following stats to help find the most promising contenders for this week:
– Ball Striking
– Strokes Gained: Putting
– Par 4 Scoring
This tournament is going to require excellent ball striking form with aggression around the greens. Finding their way out of potentially tricky situations is going to be very important for the golfers and thus the inclusion of the scrambling stat. Putting on the hard and fast greens on this course could actually be the thing that determines the eventual winner.
The defending champion for this tournament is Patrick Reed who won at Bethpage Black last year. The list of past winners here includes Jason Day in 2015, Hunter Mahan in 24, Adam Scott in 2013, Nick Watney in 2012 and Dustin Johnson in 2011.
None of these tournaments were played at Glen Oaks, however, and so past history is not really something that the Wolf can look at for this weekend.
A new course expected to challenge the golfers and a stacked field should make this a very intriguing tournament. These are also the reasons why the Wolf is going to stick the tried and trusted for his picks this week.
Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth are the two most favored golfers this week by the bookmakers and the Wolf has to agree with these choices. Both of the players are in excellent form and should be able to shine in these conditions.
It is difficult to pick between them but the Wolf has Jordan Spieth at $11.00 on top. Statistically Spieth may be ranked 60th in scrambling but the Wolf says he is the best scrambler when under pressure and that is what counts in big tournaments. His par 4 scoring is also off the charts.
With two wins in his last four starts, including a major victory, Jordan Spieth is about as hot as a golfer can possibly be. His stats are pretty sound as well. He is 68th in ball striking (something that the wider fairways on this course should mask), 60th in scrambling, 1st in Par 4 scoring and 49th in strokes gained putting. He also has that special quality lift his game at the big moments.
Those looking for value should get right behind Paul Casey at $34.00. He is one of the few players that really popped when the Wolf was looking at the stats and is also carrying excellent form with him. His last four finishes have been T13, T5, T11, and T5. Consistent and impressive!
Casey has the game to take advantage of the length of the course while getting himself in the right positions to attack and get his putting going. He is 4th in ball striking, 7th in scrambling and 4th in Par 4 scoring. There is a question mark over his putting but if he can get some help from the short stick he is a serious threat. He is at the top of his game at the moment meaning we just have to have something on him.
Francesco Molinari at $51.00 is Wolfy’s roughie for the first leg of the playoffs. Molinari is not the longest hitter off the tee but what he lacks in length he makes up in accuracy. Although the fairways are generous the general consensus is that those who miss will pay the price and this is something that Molinari almost never does.
He was T2 at the PGA Championship thanks to a sizzling final round. Statistically he is consistent across the board: 24th in ball striking, 29th in scrambling and 6th in Par 4 scoring. As we have seen in the past the majority of golfers play at their very best for 4-6 weeks. This could be the time when Molinari gets on a streak!
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