Go figure, I take the week off and Sneds decides to shoot an opening round 59 in route to winning his 9th PGA Tour Event at the Wyndham. Brandt joins the exclusive 59 club and becomes only the 9th player to break 60 in a tour event. Even with that score to open the tournament, he went wire to wire at the end and sealed the victory in incredible fashion with a 15 foot putt on 18. Talk about swagger, putter drop and double fist pumps before it even went in. What a perfect way to close the door on the regular season and launch us into the playoffs.
The first leg takes us to Paramus, New Jersey, the home of Ridgewood Country Club and host of the 2018 Northern Trust Open. Ridgewood Country Club is one of the oldest clubs in America, dating back to 1890. The current club and 27 holes of championship golf were opened in 1929. Famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast was selected by the board of directors because of his long list of successful courses including, Winged Foot, Baltusrol, and Quaker Ridge.
Tillinghast’s hands have touched over 250 courses worldwide and is only the 6th golf course designer/architect to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. This should quench the thirst of the golf course architect junkies as the Championship Course assembled for this event, is among the best out there. David Fherety said after the Barclays in 2008, “Every single hole is individual… no two are alike…it’s uphill, it’s downhill… they’re level… the trees are magnificent…it really is just such a pleasure. Yes, this will go straight into my top ten, the top ten I’ve ever seen. It’s hard for me to think of another golf course I’d rather be on”. High praise from one of the best in the business. The Par 71 course combines the toughest 18 holes from the three nine-hole loops on the property, creating the A.W. Tillinghast Championship Course.
The course plays over 7300 which is plenty long for these modern players. Back in 2010, Matt Kuchar took home the title outlasting a leader board littered with big names. The likes of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, and Tiger Woods were all in the mix. Hopefully we see the course stand up to the stress that will be put on it by the big hitters. The winning score in 2010 was 12 under par which is very encouraging. After another event with the winner finishing sub 20 under par, we can only pray for something similar this go around.
The Top 125 in the FedEx cup standings qualify for the first playoff event with the numbers shrinking with every event that passes, ultimately leaving only the Top 30 moving on to East Lake for the Tour Championship. This is huge for the likes of Seamus Power, Nick Taylor, and Harris English who barely made it in and is tough for guys like Sergio who didn’t qualify. Then there are guys like Rickie and Rory who have decided to sit out of the playoff’s first event. Both of them have already qualified for the next two events with out having to tee it up due to their high finishes in the standings. Rickie chose to sit out because of a strained oblique muscle he has played with for the last few tournaments. Rory on the other hand seems to need a mental vacation and some time to tighten up his game. After a lack luster finish at the PGA and a shank on the range, he needs to work on every club in his bag except the driver. Other than that, the field is stacked. All of the big names are playing because we have double points at stake. Yes, that’s right, the points are doubled so guys can improve their position greatly with a high finish.
As of right now, the course appears wet and lush which leads me to believe a similar style of play to that at Bellerive will be on display. With rain yesterday evening and more forecast today, the course is going to play soft at least the first few days. This bodes well for the long hitters and the better ball strikers who can attack pins. If you look at pictures of the course, the rough is serious and some players are commenting if you are wayward off the tee, you will be doing well to hack out into the fairway. I personally like courses set up with thicker rough, it makes the Dustin Johnson’s of the world sweat a little more on the tee box. It also means that Tiger needs to figure out whatever shaft and loft he is going to play his driver with.
DJ won the event last year however it was played at Glen Eagles so we have to take that into consideration. Here are the betting odds from Vegas for this week’s event:
Dustin Johnson +900
Justin Thomas +1200
Brooks Koepka +1200
Jason Day +1200
Tiger Woods +1600
Justin Rose +2000
Jon Rahm +2000
Jordan Spieth +2000
Francesco Molinari +2200
Tommy Fleetwood +2800
Webb Simpson +3500
Adam Scott +4000
Brandt Snedeker +4000
Hideki Matsuyama +4000
Patrick Cantlay +4000
Matt Kuchar +5000
Henrik Stenson +5000
Patrick Reed +5000
Paul Casey +5000
Tony Finau +5000
No real surprises on this list except, as the playoffs typically play to the advantage of the elite players. It’s tough to really pin down a few guys that have the upper hand. Most of the big names had the week off so they are rested. There are a few guys that were on the leader boards in 2008 and 2010 that could make some noise again this week. Here are the guy’s I’m going to put in my DraftKings line up this week.
Jordan Spieth ($9,600)
This year definitely hasn’t been up to the lofty standards Jordan holds himself to but he has finished in the Top 15 in 3 of the 4 majors, most recently a T-12 at the PGA. He has come into basically every major tournament with little form and has found a way to get in the mix. The 2015 FedEx Cup champion will look to make some noise in the first playoff event. With the Ryder Cup just 5 weeks away, you’d think Jordan will start rounding into form leading up to the event. He is top 50 in all SG stats except one, putting. Even with a struggling flat stick he is 21st in scoring. I see the flat stick heating up this week and Spieth finishing to near the top of the leader board. It wouldn’t even shock me if he snuck out the win.
Tiger Woods ($10,100)
Are you not entertained? Talk about a hell of a performance on the weekend at the PGA. The man shot two under on the front nine with out hitting a damn fairway. The driver has plagued him all year but the rest of Tiger’s stats are thru the roof. He’s top 10 in SG Approach, Around the Green, and Total. The only two-time FedEx Cup chance has exceeded his own expectations but you can tell that he wants that win. The first half of the year was happy to be here Tiger and now it’s I want to beat these guys Tiger. Nothing would send a bigger message than a win in the first playoff event. Big Cat finished T-12 at Ridgewood in 2010 and should draw from that experience to push into the winners circle this week.
Justin Rose ($9,900)
Rosey has been a DraftKings stat stuffer all season long, averaging 92.2 FPPG. He nursed a sore back thru the PGA but still finished T-19. This has been one of his best seasons ever. He has 2 wins, 12 top 25’s, 8 top 10’s, 1 3rd and 1 2nd place finish in 14 starts on the PGA Tour. He is top 15 in all SG stats except approach which he is still in the top 40. Justin, ranked 4th in both the FedEx Cup and OWGR, would likely move into first place with a win in New Jersey. After a week off, the back should be in good shape and look for another strong performance from the Brit.
Beau Hossler (6600):
Beau has played a full slate of events this year and has been a cut making machine, making 21 of 25 cuts. On top of that, Hossler has 8 top 25’s, 5 top 10’s and a second-place finish at the Travelers. His last two starts have been tough, missing the cut at the PGA and finishing T-75 at the Open Championship. Only 23, Hossler seems to have been around for a long time like many of the other great Texas golfers. Look for another solid performance out of Beau as he looks to keep progressing and make a push deeper into the playoff season.
Glue Guys: Kevin Streelman ($6,900) and Ryan Palmer ($6900)
Both of these guys played well here in 2010, with Streelman finishing T-3 and Palmer finishing T-5. Kevin even finished T-4 at Ridgewood in 2008 showing a solid track record at this course. I didn’t get much help from my lower tier players last week, so hopefully these vets can right the ship and contribute.
Looking forward to some playoff golf and a couple of rounds myself later in the week.