THE NORTHERN TRUST Preview

08-22-17

DON’T WORRY I WON’T BE USING ALL CAPS.

FedExCup Playoffs I have a new home since Liberty National will be hosting this edition of the Presidents Cup.

Glen Oaks has been dubbed the “Augusta of the North”.

You be the judge!

THE NORTHERN TRUST

Glen Oaks Club

Old Westbury, Long Island, N.Y.

 

Yards: 7,346 per the official scorecard;

Par: 70 (35-35);

Course Architect(s): Joe Finger (1971); Joel Weiman, Craig Currier (2011);

Greens: Poa annua with Bentgrass running at tournament speed.

Rough: Poa annua, Bluegrass

Purse: $8.75 million; $1.575 million (winner) plus 2,000 FEC points.

Defending Champion (event):  Patrick Reed carded a final round 70 to post nine-under-par 275 to defeat Emiliano Grillo and Sean O’Hair at Bethpage Black, also on Long Island.

Notes: 120 players; 72-holes, stroke-play; top 70 and ties play the weekend.

Notes II: The FEC Playoffs are for the top 125 players after the conclusion of the regular season. There are no alternates for the Playoffs or individual events. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Notes III: This is the first time Glen Oaks has hosted a PGA Tour event so there’s no course history to worry about.

 

2016-17 PGA Tour Winners

Frys.com: Brendan Steele,

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

Farmers: Jon Rahm*

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama

AT&T Pebble Beach: Jordan Spieth

Genesis Open: Dustin Johnson

Honda: Rickie Fowler

WGC-MC: Dustin Johnson

Valspar: Adam Hadwin*

Arnold Palmer: Marc Leishman

WGC-Match Play: Dustin Johnson

Shell Houston Open: Russell Henley

Masters: Sergio Garcia

RBC Heritage: Wesley Bryan**

Valero Texas Open: Kevin Chappell*

Zurich Classic: Cameron Smith* & Jonas Blixt

Wells Fargo Championship: Brian Harman

THE PLAYERS: Si Woo Kim

AT&T Byron Nelson: Billy Horschel

Colonial: Kevin Kisner

Memorial: Jason Dufner

FESJC: Daniel Berger

U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka

Travelers: Jordan Spieth

QLN: Kyle Stanley

Greenbrier: Xander Schauffele**

John Deere Classic: Bryson DeChambeau**

The Open Championship: Jordan Spieth

Barbasol: Grayson Murray

RBC Canadian: Jhonattan Vegas

WGC-BI: Hideki Matsuyama

Barracuda: Chris Stroud*

PGA Championship: Justin Thomas

Wyndham Championship: Henrik Stenson

*-First-time winner

**-First-time winner AND rookie winner

 

Recent NTO Winners:

2016: Patrick Reed (Bethpage Black), -9

2015: Jason Day (Plainfield CC), -19

2014: Hunter Mahan (Ridgewood CC), -14

2013: Adam Scott (Liberty National), -11

2012: Nick Watney (Bethpage Black), -10

2011: Dustin Johnson (Plainfield CC), -19

2010: Matt Kuchar (Ridgewood CC), -12*

2009: Heath Slocum (Liberty National), -9

2008: Vijay Singh (Ridgewood CC), -8*

2007: Steve Stricker (Westchester CC), -16

* – playoff

Who’s not here:

No. 22: Sergio Garcia skips this event for the third consecutive season.

No. 64: Brandt Snedeker released a message last week via social media that he’s done for the year to heal for next season.

No. 66: Adam Scott is home as baby No. 2 is on the way.

No. 85: Scott Piercy missed The Open and PGA Championship so this isn’t a surprise.

No. 115: Dominic Bozzelli hasn’t played in a month so this isn’t surprising either.

The Particulars:

Glen Oaks Club was designed by Joe Finger in the early 70’s but didn’t come of age until Craig Currier showed up from Bethpage Black in 2011. He hired Joel Weiman to help him evolve the course into its newest format. The property contains 27 holes that were all tree-lined and quite similar from tee-to-green in shape and distance. These two, with help of two hurricanes, removed a ton of trees, opened sightlines and did what no modern courses were doing: making sure it was perfectly manicured.

That last part shouldn’t come as a surprise as Currier spent part of his youth at Augusta National so he knows manicure. Ironically enough, he was the superintendent at Bethpage Black, a rustic Tillinghast redesign that featured rough edges, bunkers and fescue. He’s seen the best of both worlds and decided to provide Long Island with a perfectly manicured “Augusta of the North”.

Glen Oaks is a hybrid course featuring nine holes from their Blue course and holes from the Red and the White nines. It features crisp, deep white bunkers and perfectly manicured fairways, greens and rough. The Poa greens and rough are the perfect grass for potentially harsh winters. They are also the major defense of the course after the tree removal. Currier said on a recent podcast that the greens will be the only defense here as there are no blind shots and the place is “wide open” and “there won’t be any lost balls this week”.

Roger that.

At 7,346 and par 70, I could see Firestone coming to mind as a comparison. Muirfield Village is Jack Nicklaus’ homage to Augusta as well so that could work too. I guess I could argue Oakmont as well but they have their own strain of Poa and their greens aren’t from this planet so maybe not. Two weeks ago these dudes played a big, long, perfectly manicured course designed by the guy who redesigned Augusta at Quail Hollow. Last year, this event was played at Bethpage Black after the PGA Championship was played at another Tillinghast design, Baltusrol. With the absence of course history, these are dots that are plausibly connected and will be my angle this week.

If the greens are going to be the defense this week I better find guys who are going to hit them. With complexes that are going to be brand new to almost everyone, the expert putters won’t have an advantage and the field should catch up. I’ll also point out that “wide open” means swing it off the tee so guys who were put off by the difficult fairways at Firestone and Quail Hollow will breathe a sigh of relief. Currier also remarked that the course will play toughest if firm and fast are possible. The forecast, listed below, might just help that happen…

New Courses Recently Used on Tour (winner):

WGC-Mexico: Dustin Johnson

Eagle Point: Brian Harman

QLN: Kyle Stanley

Open Championship: Jordan Spieth

WGC-Match Play 2016: Jason Day

Albany Club 2015: Bubba Watson

Olympic Games: Justin Rose (g), Henrik Stenson (s) and Matt Kuchar (b).

Oakmont: Dustin Johnson

I could go on. Henrik Stenson and Jimmy Walker won majors on hardly familiar courses last season as well.

Shane Lowry winning at WGC-BI two years ago is probably the biggest upset on that board.

Conclusion: Big boys on big boy courses in big boy fields tends to be the rule, not the exception to it.

Weather:

Absolutely perfect.

Sunshine mostly the four days of tournament play with temperatures ranging from 76-80 and nothing more than 10% chance of rain over the four days.

This will win you a bar bet I:

Rory McIlroy has won two of the four events in the FEC Playoffs twice yet he’s only one the title once, last season. Bizarre.

This will win you a bar bet II:

Camilo Villegas won the BMW and Tour Championship in 2008 and did NOT win the title.

This will win you a bar bet III:

Last year was the first year that TWO rookies made The Tour Championship. If you have a good enough lawyer you can probably argue it should have only been one “true” rookie. #Clue.

Fact and figures

  • This is the first Tour event hosted by Glen Oaks.
  • The FedExCup began in 2007 and nobody has ever been crowned champion twice besides Tiger Woods.
  • Rory McIlroy’s four wins are the most in FEC history.
  • In 10 Playoffs, there have been six multiple winners in a year, including the last five seasons (McIlroy twice, Stenson, Horschel and Spieth).
  • Of those five multiple winners only three, Stenson, Horschel and McIlroy have been crowned FedExCup champion.
  • Of the nine title winners prior to this season, only Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth have returned to East Lake to defend their titles. Bizarre. McIlroy starts his defense from position No. 44.
  • The last five seasons have produced five different players entering the FEC Playoffs at No. 1. #Parity.
  • There has been a rookie appear at East Lake every year with the exception of 2014. Emiliano Grillo and reclassified rookie Si Woo Kim kept the trend alive last year.
  • Only Jordan Spieth and Billy Horschel have MC at The Barclays and have gone on to win the title.
  • Only three players who began outside the top 100 have made it to East Lake. Heath Slocum (No. 124) in 2009, Kevin Streelman (No. 102) in 2010 and Morgan Hoffman (No. 124) in 2014.

 

Bubble Boys:

Only the top 100 advance to the Dell Technologies Championship next week at TPC Boston.

No. 105: Ryan Blaum MC last week but didn’t need it as he was safely in. He has two top 10’s on the year and he shot 64 on Sunday in both.

No. 104: D.A. Points has plenty of history at Quail Hollow and was in the fight until a 73-70 weekend knocked him to T-69. He hits a ton of fairways and greens and was T-12 at Eagle Point earlier this year on a brand-new venue.

No. 103: David Lingmerth has rattled off 11 weekends in a row that include eight T-27 or better.

No. 102: Scott Stallings was on tilt with T-5 at JDC followed by a Saturday 60 that led to T-3 at Barbasol. He followed that with T-62, MC and MC. He revs it up just as quickly as he cools it down.

No. 101: Jimmy Walker dreams of two things: WIDE OPEN off the tee and Poa annua. I hope gamers keep staring at the 81 to open at the PGA and forget the other good rounds he’s wedged in during the last month or so. Buying.

No. 100: S.Y. Noh has been wonderfully inconsistent, a microcosm of his career. He finished last season No. 125 in the FEC standings.

No. 99: Robert Garrigus has rolled up three consecutive top 10’s to get hot at exactly the right time. Wonderful long shot play this week as his weakness is finding fairways but is sixth in GIR and 15th in birdie average.

No. 98: Camilo Villegas holds the distinction as being one of three players to win TWO FedExCup Playoff events in the same season and NOT take home the check. In 2008, during the old system, Vijay Singh won the first two events and due to the set up clinched the FedExCup with two events to play. Villegas won those two events. Oops. Needless to say the system has been refined a few times since. He’s made four cuts in a row and will need to make it five to advance.

No. 97: Chris Kirk hasn’t carded anything lower than 69 in a normal format since Pebble Beach. In February.

No. 96: Ben An is another fantasy cut make and heart breaker. Cashing on 17 of 21 weeks is nice but two of his best three results on the season were back-to-back in May.

No. 95: Michael Kim is a wonderful long-term prospect. This season he has seven MC and six top 25’s in 26 events. The downside is his only top 10 was the first event of the season and his last top 25 was April 2.

 

The Field

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and tournament only. Rankings vary week-to-week based on event, course, life, etc.

Hideki Matsuyama: He enters the FEC Playoffs at No. 1 and that’s where he checks in on my list. He turned on the class starting at Erin Hills (T-2) and has been white hot since with T-14, WIN and T-5 in his last three starts. All four of those results are majors and one WGC so he performing on big tracks against the biggest fields. The “weakest” part of his game is accuracy off the tee and this place is “wide open”.

Rickie Fowler: After 17 regular season events he’s cashed 13 top 25’s and nine top 10’s. His only result outside the top 10 in his last five on Tour was T-22 at Royal Birkdale. He leads the Tour in scoring, SG: Total, SG: Putting and Sand Saves.

Justin Thomas: He’s already proven once this season that going back-to-back is possible as he collected both trophies in both events in Hawaii. The second of those two included a 59 in his first round after winning the week prior. I believe that majors do change players but Jordan Spieth and the gang will keep him dialed in. His biggest “weakness” is also missing fairways so he should be excited to see wide open spaces this week. He’s mentioned that Augusta should suit his game perfectly. Well, Quail did and this “Augusta of the North” shouldn’t bother his eye much either.

Henrik Stenson: He plays last week to make sure he’s getting the minimum amount of starts for next season. 29 birdies and an eagle later he set the tournament record at Sedgefield and will cover his minimum start requirement so win/win. It’s not like he picked up Wyndham because he was struggling and needed form. In fact it was the opposite as he rolled in off T-11, T-17 and T-13. He’s been known to get hot at this time of year (2013 FEC Champion) and his 3-wood AND putter have been dialed in.

Jordan Spieth: He’s automatic every week he’s not playing TPC Four Seasons in our world. After back-to-back wins he limped in T-13 at Firestone and T-28 at the PGA Championship. He’s second in scoring and third in birdies while 12th in GIR and that has  resulted in three wins and three other podiums this season. Remember when he was having a bad year?

Rory McIlroy: I’m writing this as he will be healthy and will play. I don’t have any information contrary to his sentiment that he’ll play until he won’t. There is a faction of gamers that are desperate this time of year who will need to take a chance on him. There is a much smaller faction who are content to look in other directions as there’s no point in wasting a start on a possible WD. He’s not played well and finished T-4, T-5 and T-22 in his last three events. Imagine if he figures it out for a weekend. Here’s the rub: He’s No. 44 currently so he’ll need a big result to make it to East Lake to defend his title. You pick which event he makes that move! He’s never MC at TPC Boston and has won twice.

Dustin Johnson: He’s getting close. The last three times out he’s closed 67-66-67 but he’s had one throwaway round in each of those events. He’s mopped up on easy courses, hard courses, new courses and old courses this season. He has no problem going low (-17 at Riviera, -23 last year BMW at Crooked Stick) or chewing up par 70’s regardless of length.

Matt Kuchar: Remember that disappointing 81 at THE PLAYERS that saw him MDF? Yeah, me neither. Since that aberration he’s only finished outside T-17 once, RBC Canadian Open (T-32), after Spieth donkey punched him at Royal Birkdale. His superb 70-68 to close at Quail Hollow doesn’t hurt and neither does his record in this area. He won his first event at Turning Stone in 2009 and won the 2010 Barclays at Plainfield. He’s also had fantastic results at both Firestone and Muirfield Village.

Brooks Koepka: Speaking of length, make it as long as you want for this guy and he still won’t care. For a guy who is 13th in scoring it’s interesting to see he’s 156th in driving accuracy and 144th in greens. I guess if you make 12 cuts in a row, win your first major and not finish outside T-17 in your last four, stats aren’t much of a worry. Get the ball in the hole!

Patrick Reed: The event defending champion picked up his only win of last season down the road at Bethpage Black. He picked up his best result of this season last time out at Quail Hollow that will look very similar to this week’s track. You don’t think the New York crowd will embrace the Captain America angle much? He closed 68-68 at Firestone the week before the PGA so I’m riding the wave.

Paul Casey: This is a recording. Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. He hasn’t MC since the 2017 opener at Sony. His last finish outside T-26 was in March at Bay Hill. His worst finish in his last four on Tour is T-13 at Quail Hollow. This is a recording. He’s currently No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings.

Francesco Molinari: It’s not a surprise to most of you who read this that when in doubt I lean on ball-strikers and the Italian more than qualifies. He leads the Tour SG: Approach the Green, third SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth SG: Total and enters after his career-best finish in a major, T-2 at Quail Hollow. He almost won two years ago at Memorial before finishing T-3.

Marc Leishman: Looking for his 10th weekend from his last 10 starts, the Aussie’s career-best season doesn’t look like it should slow down. He’s fifth in scoring on Tour and 11th in SG: Total so it’s hardly a surprise that he’s finished outside the top 30 just twice during this stretch.

Jon Rahm: Ok, when everything is new it shouldn’t have been as easy as Rahm made it look earlier in the season. He’s struggled lately because since T-2 at Colonial, not an easy track, he’s played Muirfield Village, Erin Hills, Royal Birkdale, Firestone and Quail Hollow. Getting back on a wide-open track that is not a major and that could throw out some birdies should be exactly the tonic he needs to finish the season strongly.

Louis Oosthuizen: He joined the ranks of infamy after the PGA as he became one of the few to come runner up in all four majors. Pro gamers will point out he’s 44-under in three tries at TPC Boston and I won’t argue that. I’ll point out that he ranks in the top 45 in all six major metrics and has no problem getting low if necessary.

Jason Day: I’ve stuck him on the fades. I’ve stuck him on the favorites. I’ve stuck my finger in my eye because he’s never matched the performance to my prognostication. His record on Poa/Bent is fantastic and is rounding into form with T-27, T-24 and T-9 in his last three. He’s gone low too many times to win and the wide open setup should get his attention.

Kevin Kisner: It’s well chronicled that his preferred surface is Bermuda but he’s shown over the last few years that he’s proficient regardless of surface. Similarly to Kuchar after Royal Birkdale, Kisner had a week to work out the kinks after a disappointing back nine to close the PGA Championship. This won’t be a hit-and-giggle this week but the magnitude of this field might allow him to slide into the shadows and get back to work. If birdies are required, he’ll be in the mix.

Charley Hoffman: With five of his last seven T-20 or better including four top 10’s I’m hopping back on this horse after his T-48 at Quail Hollow. He was solo second on Bent/Poa at Glen Abbey and was solo third at Firestone and was a combined 31-under-par.

Daniel Berger: Last time he played on scoring courses he lost in a playoff to Jordan Spieth at TPC River Highlands and was T-5 at TPC Deere Run. He has plenty of power and makes as many birdies as anybody on Tour.

Zach Johnson: His summer fun run of T-5, T-14 and second was interrupted by big, bad Quail Hollow where he picked up T-48. At big, bad Firestone the week before that he made 20 birdies on 7,400 and made every putt he looked at.

 

Supporting Cast

Just missed and should make excellent support staff for deeper games/tickets.

Brian Harman: His super short game travels and that’s resulted in seven top 10’s this season including three podiums.

Ryan Moore: For three weeks in a row he’s been knocking but hasn’t put all four rounds together.

Jimmy Walker: I get that the Lyme Disease hasn’t helped anything this season. I also get that he opened 68-65 at Firestone and led by two after 36 holes. He also closed with 65 at Greenbrier. He won’t have to worry about defending this week or hitting fairways so double bonus.

Robert Garrigus: With three top 10’s in his last three Tour events, albeit it none of those were majors or WGCs, I did notice they were all low totals. The last two were also on Poa/Bent courses where you could spray it off the tee.

Brendan Steele: Another West Coaster who shouldn’t have any trouble adjusting to the greens, Steele has MC in three of his last four but his make was T-24 at Firestone with his final three rounds under par. I might be stretching but his ball-striking won’t be.

Bubba Watson: Wide open off the tee. Similar in look to Augusta. Perfect weather. I’m not over-thinking this especially after T-17 at Firestone.

Gary Woodland: Plenty of power and went close at Glen Abbey with solo fourth before Firestone and Quail. He closed 70-67 at Firestone and sat T-9 entering Sunday at Quail. Sniff, sniff, sniff…

Tony Finau: Roast it as far as you can. Hit all of the greens. Make birdies on Poa. His last MC was mid May at TPC Sawgrass.

Ollie Schniederjans: The Man Without Hat can dance if he wants to or he can leave his friends behind. Because if his friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance, then they’re no friends of mine. Of his last 12 rounds, seven have been 66 or lower. He posted 21-under and DIDN’T WIN last week but he should be full of confidence, plus overlooked, in this field.

Keegan Bradley: Top 25 in fairways and greens should buoy him to another weekend, his eighth in a row.

Ian Poulter: With seven in a row on Tour of T-35 or better, this is a no-brainer. His solo third at RBC Canadian required 20-under-par.

Kevin Chappell: He probably should be higher up the list after excellent results at Glen Abbey, Firestone and a very solid week at Quail Hollow. He’ll be happy to know as well that not many will have an advantage on the greens.

 

Range Jockeys

Long shots, no-names with names, trending, event jockeys and everyone else with a few warts.

Jason Kokrak: T-33 as one of my long-shot selections at Quail Hollow and backed that up with T-16 last week. Absolutely nothing points to abandoning ship this week!

Rory Sabbatini: He’s top 45 in fairways, greens, birdies and eagles plus he hasn’t MC in his last six events. He closed 66-64 at Wyndham to rack up his first top 10 of the season and fifth top 25 in his last six events.

Peter Malnati: He’s made 10 cuts in a row. X.

Patrick Cantlay: He’s been lightly raced this year with only starts. He’s been lightly raced this summer with only three. He’s collected a check each time and tends to have no problems finding fairways and greens.

Martin Flores: Seven in a row with T-18, T-19, T-11 and T-7 last week that included opening with 64 and closing with 63. Big step up in class but he should be on everybody’s radar in deep formats.

Bud Cauley: Like most, he prefers wide open off the tee. This should encourage him to find even more GIR this week and hence more chances for birdie.

Harold Varner, III: It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he won this week as he’s been rounding into form over his last three events. His power should help him find plenty of greens, as usual, and it should help that putting won’t be the deciding factor.

Webb Simpson: Nine in a row include three in the top 10 and five T-16 or better. He opened 63-64 last week before finishing third.

Jamie Lovemark: He’s played the weekend in 14 of his last 15 and 20 of 25 on the season. Filling rosters with guys who make plenty of cuts isn’t the dumbest idea I’ve had this week.

Graham DeLaet: WD at Barracuda was followed up by a top 10 at the PGA Championship. Of course it was. I’ll point out he was T-10 at Muirfield Village in June as well. Delightful.

Grayson Murray: I hope 70-68 MC from last week pushes even more away from him. That’s hardly a terrible follow-up effort after beginning Sunday of the PGA in the top 10. He makes tons of birdies and shouldn’t be short on confidence. If the price is right, buy all you can get.

Adam Hadwin: Canadians love their Poa and Hadwin’s best finish in sometime was at Firestone South, another big par 70 with Bent/Poa greens.

Folks Listed Above: There are some diamonds in the rough in the Nos. 105 to 95 range that I’ve analyzed. Scroll up!

Fades:

Not this week

Si Woo Kim: He couldn’t defend his only Tour title last week but is going to play THIS week? Wut?

Justin Rose: Nothing he’s done since solo second at Augusta is worth mentioning.

Phil Mickelson: If he didn’t fire at Quail Hollow, I would suggest his game isn’t in a place where he’s comfortable. Some will argue he can spray it this week and that will help. It just might but it’s hardly a major or an attention getter.

 

 

Next:

 

Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @MikeGlasscott and mikeglasscott.com for more information.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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