From a major Tiger comeback to Brooks Koepka’s dominance in almost every top tournament, it’s been a wild and thrilling PGA season in 2019. Now all that’s left to be decided is the winner of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which kick off Thursday with The Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey.
The first leg of the tournament series, The Northern Trust will feature a field of 122 players vying for 70 spots in next week’s BMW Championship in Medinah, Illinois. From there the top 30 in the FedEx Cup points standings at the conclusion of the BMW will qualify for the Tour Championship, where the winner will be crowned the FedEx Cup champion.
The par-71, 7,380-yard Liberty National course has played host to The Northern Trust (formerly The Barclays) in the past, most recently in 2013, when Adam Scott (+4000) topped the leaderboard at 11-under par. The Tom Kite- and Robert Cupp-designed venue places an emphasis on driving and approach play, while scrambling ability and par 4 scoring are two other key measures to consider when handicapping the field.
THE 2019 NORTHERN TRUST kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday at Liberty National Golf Club – the closest golf course to Manhattan and just 2,000 yards from the Statue of Liberty! Follow the action @theNTGolf on Twitter and Instagram. #THENORTHERNTRUST. pic.twitter.com/87QEJ8U3fk
— Northern Trust (@NorthernTrust) August 7, 2019
The Northern Trust rotates its course each year, but you can still look to the tournament’s recent past to help predict the winner of the 2019 edition. Since Scott won in 2013, five of the last six Northern Trust champions finished tied for 13th or better at the final major of the year. Six of the past nine winners finished tied for 22nd or better in their previous start ahead of The Northern Trust.
Should those two trends hold true in 2019, you’re left with just eight names to consider: Koepka (+800), who last won the St. Jude Invitational, Jon Rahm (+1400, who placed seventh at the same tournament), Justin Thomas (+1600), Tommy Fleetwood (+2200), Rickie Fowler (+2200), Francesco Molinari (+4000), Patrick Reed (+5000) and Shane Lowry (+6600), whose last start was a win at The Open Championship.
Of those eight there’s a near-obvious choice in Koepka to win, but there’s not much value in betting him at +800. The four-time major winner basically decides when to go all-out for a tournament, and when he does, you’re guaranteed to find him near the top of the leaderboard. With the PGA season down to its final turn, why wouldn’t he lay it all on the line for the FedEx Cup playoffs?
💪 @BKoepka hasn’t taken his foot off the gas all year.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 7, 2019
Another golfer is peaking at the right time and worth considering as a wagering option. Despite an inconsistent season marred by a wrist injury, Thomas has snapped back into top form in his last three tournaments. He finished ninth at the Scottish Open in July, then 11th at The Open Championship and 12th at the St. Jude Invitational. He’s also ranked 23rd in strokes gained off the tee, second in strokes gained approaching the green, second in par 4 birdie or better scoring and 11th in greens in regulation—all stats relevant to performance at Liberty National.
The 2017 FedEx Cup champ has yet to win a tournament in 2019, but lately he’s shown he can once again contend with the best in golf. Now is the time for Thomas to announce his comeback with authority, and you can expect to see him soaring up the leaderboard to put himself in contention for another FedEx Cup to close out the year.