Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's The Northern Trust Tips 2021

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It’s been a while but it was great to see Kevin Kisner land a win for this column at 50/1, with our Golf Betting System podcast colleague Barry O’Hanrahan continuing his hot form as well with Kisner. Congratulations if you were on-board.

On the PGA Tour we now move into the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The FedEx Cup has grown massively in popularity since its inception in 2007 – the spectacle of watching the world’s best golfers fight it out has become a real highlight of the golfing calendar, and that spectacle is now packed into just 3 events across consecutive weeks.

The top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings are eligible to play this week’s Northern Trust in New Jersey, with the top 70 then moving onto the BMW Championship hosted for the first time at Caves Valley Golf Club, and then the top 30 qualifying for the Tour Championship at East Lake. We will know who the 2021 FedEx Cup champion on the 5th September.

In essence, this week is where the PGA Tour gets serious as the winner of The Northern Trust and BMW Championship will receive 2,000 points (regular season winners receive 500 points), plus each tournament has a yet again increased prize fund of $9.5 million with $1.71 million going to the tournament winner – that’s not too far away from a Major victory in cash terms. The Tour Championship will also see the FedEx Cup Starting Strokes index used, with the FedEx Cup standings leader starting the tournament at -10, FEC Number 2 at -8, FEC Number 3 at -7, cascading down to those ranked 26th to 30th starting at Even.

Louis Oosthuizen has chosen not to play this week at The Northern Trust, but will play the BMW Championship next week, leaving a field of 124 players for this week.

Before we go into the detail surrounding the Northern Trust we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System, Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, 5,900+ strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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Course Guide: We last saw Liberty National on the PGA Tour in 2019 when it hosted this tournament, having previously hosted The Barclays (same tournament – different sponsor) in 2009 and 2013. It also hosted the 2017 President’s Cup, where Team America gave the International Team a heavy beating.

Situated on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, this old refuse site is set on an exposed piece of land on what is classified Upper Bay. Like any coastal course, Liberty National is susceptible to wind and rain but is not a links golf course. The course record is held jointly by Kevin Chappell (2013) and Troy Merritt (2019), both of whom shot a -9/62.

Liberty National Golf Club, Jersey City, New Jersey: Designer: Bob Cupp & Tom Kite, 2006, with Steve Wenzloff, PGA Tour Design Services re-design 2010; Course Type: Coastal; Par: 71; Length: 7,410 yards; Number of Holes with Water In-Play: 12; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Graduated Kentucky Bluegrass 1.25″; Greens: 4,653 sq.ft average featuring A4 Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 12.5ft; Scoring Avg 2009: 72.28 (+1.28), Rank 8 of 51 courses. 2013: 71.15 (+0.15), Rank 22 of 43 courses. 2019: 70.25 (-0.75), Rank 26 of 49 courses.

Widths Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Liberty National Golf Club and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • Liberty National: 250 yards from tee: 37 yards wide; 275:33; 300:30 325:31; 350:27.
  • Sedgefield: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:26 325:23; 350:22.
  • TPC Southwind: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:28; 325:31; 350:25.
  • Old Greenwood: 35-40 yards.
  • TPC Twin Cities: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:38; 300:31; 325:30; 350:36.
  • TPC Deere Run: 250 yards from tee: 41 yards wide; 275:40; 300:36 325:33; 350:30.
  • Detroit Golf Club: 250 yards from tee: 34 yards wide; 275:34; 300:35 325:34; 350:33.
  • TPC River Highlands: 250 yards from the tee: 38 yards wide; 275:36; 300:29; 325:29; 350:28.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • Ocean Course – Kiawah Island: Up to 50 yards wide.

Course Overview: Naturally we’ve now had 3 renewals at Liberty National. The course was heavily overworked between the 2009 and 2013 Barclays tournaments and it’s also worth remembering that the 2017 Presidents Cup was also played here. The course itself is a lengthy enough Par 71, which features 2 par-5s (maybe 3 with the right wind) which are reachable for top ball-strikers who can drive the ball straight and long. Pure Bentgrass greens are the order of the day, with green complexes being described as contoured and tricky. Indeed Webb Simpson likens them to they type of greens you find on Donald Ross designs such as Pinehurst Number 2.

Since the course re-work, winning scores of -11/273 and -16/268 here at Liberty National point to this test being tough enough overall. Both tournaments featured wind up to 20mph at times and that certainly took the edge of off the scoring, especially at 2019 saw a very soft golf course. But with both Kevin Chappell and Troy Merritt shooting -9/62s here, supported by 63s and 64s across both 2013 and 2019, scores are available and will be available this week if the conditions lie down a little.

Linking Liberty winners Heath Slocum, Adam Scott and Patrick Reed isn’t that easy, but up until this point Liberty National has rewarded accuracy off the tee – a rarity on the PGA Tour. That kind of makes sense as hitting +70% of Greens in Regulation here is no mean feat. Approaches from off the fairway are difficult, and ultimately those players with the best Tee to Green game on the week are the ones who will contend come Sunday.

the northern trust tips

Winners: 2020: Dustin Johnson (-30); 2019: Patrick Reed (-16); 2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-18); 2017: Dustin Johnson (-13); 2016: Patrick Reed (-9); 2015: Jason Day (-19); 2014: Hunter Mahan (-14); 2013: Adam Scott (-11); 2012: Nick Watney (-10); 2011: Dustin Johnson (-19); 2010: Matt Kuchar (-12).

Liberty National Lead Score Progression:

2019: Round 1 -9; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -16.

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay.

Winners & Prices: 2020: Dustin Johnson 20/1; 2019: Patrick Reed 55/1; 2018: Bryson DeChambeau 100/1; 2017: Dustin Johnson 14/1; 2016: Reed 50/1; 2015: Day 10/1; 2014: Mahan 50/1; 2013: Scott 16/1; 2012: Watney 70/1; 2011: D Johnson 35/1; 2010: Kuchar 40/1. Past 7 Renewals Average: 43/1; Overall Average: 42/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: On Wednesday, the course received 1.5 inches of rain. Partly cloudy, with a high of 87. Wind WSW 10-18 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 86. Wind WNW 8-16 mph. A storm passed through suspending play from 4 p.m. until 4:37p.m., a delay of 37 minutes. Saturday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 84. Wind WNW 12-22 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 83. Wind WNW at 6-12 mph.
  • 2013: Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with periodic thunderstorms and showers. High of 86. Winds SSW at 10-18 mph. Officials suspended play due to a dangerous weather situation at 8:33 a.m., with play resuming at 11:05 a.m. Play was suspended due to bad weather again at 12:47 p.m., resuming at 4:15 p.m. Play was suspended due to darkness at 7:43 p.m. Friday: Partly cloudy and less humid. High of 85. Winds N at 10-20 mph. The first round resumed at 7:02 a.m. The second round began at 10:20 a.m., and was suspended due to darkness at 7:45 p.m., with 40 players yet to finish their rounds. Saturday: Mostly sunny and pleasant. High of 80. Winds E at 6-12 mph. The second round resumed at 7:27 a.m. and the third round began at 10:43 a.m. The third round was played in threesomes off of split tees. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 82. Winds SSE at 8-15 mph.
  • 2009: Thursday: Partly cloudy and cool in the morning and sunny in the afternoon with a high near 80 degrees. N-NE winds at 6-12 mph, shifting to SE later in the day. Friday: Showers throughout the day. A total of 2 inches of rain fell. Cold and blustery conditions with high of 70. Easterly winds at 6-12 mph in the morning and 10-20 mph in the afternoon. Saturday: Due to the weather forecast for rain overnight and early Saturday morning, tee times were delayed to 10:48 a.m., with threesomes off No. 1 and No. 10. Sunday: Light rain in the morning before 7a.m. The sun broke through at midmorning. High of 85. Winds W 12-22 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Jersey City, New Jersey is here.

2019 here was memorable for a very soft golf course, but I’m expecting slightly more speed in the course this time around. Hot weather in the New Jersey will have baked this course over recent weeks, and despite their being rain, there has been nowhere near the amount we saw preceding 2021. However with thunderstorms a threat from Wednesday onwards, who knows!

Apart from that, the wind will lie down this week and temperatures will be between 28-30 degrees Celsius throughout. So scoring may well be the lowest we have seen here at Liberty National.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Travelers Championship / BMW International, which includes PGA Tour, European Tour events and the Olympics. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Jon Rahm; 2) Collin Morikawa; 3) Viktor Hovland / Brooks Koepka; 5) Bryson DeChambeau; 6) Sergio Garcia; 7) Alex Noren; 8) Patrick Cantlay / Scottie Scheffler; 10) Abraham Ancer / Justin Thomas; 12) Corey Conners; 13) Harris English; 14) Bubba Watson; 15) K.H. Lee; 16) Rory McIlroy; 17) Billy Horschel; 18) Sebastian Munoz; 19) Sungjae Im / Xander Schauffele; 21) Joaquin Niemann / Jhonattan Vegas; 23) Jason Day / Carlos Ortiz; 25) Anirban Lahiri.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Jon Rahm; 2) Shane Lowry; 3) Brendan Steele; 4) Paul Casey; 5) Keegan Bradley / Xander Schauffele; 7) Hideki Matsuyama; 8) Sam Burns; 9) Cameron Smith; 10) Adam Scott; 11) Daniel Berger / Patrick Cantlay / Sergio Garcia; 14) Abraham Ancer; 15) Viktor Hovland; 16) Jhonattan Vegas; 17) Harris English; 18) Collin Morikawa / Seamus Power; 20) Talor Gooch / Zach Johnson / Brooks Koepka / Cameron Tringale; 24) Russell Henley; 25) Matthew Fitzpatrick.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Jon Rahm; 2) Jordan Spieth; 3) Harris English; 4) Tyrrell Hatton; 5) Si Woo Kim; 6) Paul Casey; 7) Sergio Garcia; 8) Abraham Ancer / Ryan Palmer / Patrick Reed; 11) Justin Thomas; 12) Ian Poulter; 13) Luke List / Brendon Todd; 15) Kevin Kisner; 16) Hank Lebioda / Marc Leishman / Joaquin Niemann; 19) Brian Harman / Cameron Smith; 21) C.T. Pan; 22) Matt Jones; 23) Daniel Berger / Corey Conners / Kevin Na.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Jon Rahm; 2) Harris English; 3) Paul Casey / Sergio Garcia / Brendan Steele; 6) Justin Thomas; 7) Abraham Ancer / Sam Burns; 9) Patrick Cantlay / Russell Henley; 11) Jhonattan Vegas; 12) Keegan Bradley; 13) Daniel Berger / Collin Morikawa; 15) Shane Lowry / Xander Schauffele; 17) Tyrrell Hatton / Hideki Matsuyama; 19) Seamus Power / Cameron Smith; 21) Viktor Hovland; 22) Joaquin Niemann; 23) Jason Day / Brooks Koepka / Scottie Scheffler / Jordan Spieth.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Jordan Spieth; 2) Charley Hoffman / Ian Poulter; 4) Harris English; 5) Ryan Palmer; 6) Abraham Ancer / Lee Westwood; 8) Kevin Kisner; 9) Jason Day / Branden Grace / Brian Stuard / Matt Wallace; 13) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Viktor Hovland; 15) Marc Leishman / Joaquin Niemann; 17) Cameron Smith; 18) Hank Lebioda / Kevin Na / Adam Scott; 21) Jhonattan Vegas; 22) Pat Perez / J.T. Poston / Xander Schauffele; 25) Cameron Davis.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Harris English; 2) Abraham Ancer / Jon Rahm; 4) Sam Burns / Jhonattan Vegas; 6) Jason Day / Russell Henley / Jordan Spieth; 9) Ryan Palmer / Cameron Smith; 11) Paul Casey / Joaquin Niemann; 13) Viktor Hovland / Ian Poulter / Adam Scott / Matt Wallace; 17) Patrick Cantlay / Tyrrell Hatton / Kevin Na; 20) Xander Schauffele / Justin Thomas; 22) Daniel Berger / Kevin Kisner; 24) Maverick McNealy / Brian Stuard.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the past 3 winners here, gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2019, Patrick Reed (-16). 302 yards (9th), 78.6% fairways (8th), 70.8% greens in regulation (5th), proximity to hole 35’2″ (25th), 81.2 % scrambling (2nd), 1.69 putts per GIR (30th).
  • 2013, Adam Scott (-11). 299 yards (21st), 75.0% fairways (11th), 69.4% greens in regulation (4th), proximity to hole 33’5″ (30th), 68.2 % scrambling (15th), 1.70 putts per GIR (22nd).
  • 2009, Heath Slocum (-9). 284 yards (22nd), 80.4% fairways (11th), 63.9% greens in regulation (6th), proximity to hole 31’7″ (10th), 69.2 % scrambling (9th), 1.74 putts per GIR (33rd).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 17th, Driving Accuracy: 10th, Greens in Regulation: 5th, Proximity to Hole: 21st, Scrambling: 9th, Putting Average 28th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Patrick Reed (-16). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 27th, SG Around the Green: 21st, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 20th.
  • 2013, Adam Scott (-11). SG Off the Tee: 26th, SG Approach: 7th, SG Around the Green: 6th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 32nd.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 14th, SG Approach: 17th, SG Around the Green: 14th, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 26th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how Liberty National has set up in the past and what specific skills it requires:

Patrick Reed (2019): “For me, it’s just continue playing how I’ve been playing the past month, month and a half. I’ve been hitting the ball great. It’s just the putter’s been a little flat, and my knees have been hurting because of all the knee-jerks from lipping out. Finally got to a golf course where the greens are fast, a lot of break in them, so I’m not having to sit there and look for the perfect read. I can actually use my eyes and be creative and kind of feel putts. Because of that, I’m able to hopefully get that putter on the right side where it needs to be. The biggest thing is just go out and continue playing solid golf. Continue getting the ball in the fairway, being able to attack this golf course because from the fairway, you can attack it. It’s one of those things that you just have to be smart and play this golf course smart. You have to give yourself opportunities and I feel like I’ve been doing that this week.”

Justin Rose (2019): “This golf course offers you the opportunity to attack because it’s soft right now. You feel like you can make birdies, but you’ve got to respect it, too. You start missing your iron shots in the wrong spots to the wrong pin and it’s very tough to get the ball up-and-down. There’s a lot of slope around the greens here. So no, I’m still trying to be, pick my moments, really, I guess, but I’m hitting a lot more quality shots which is nice.

Rory McIlroy (2019): “You know, didn’t get off to a great start this morning. Bogeyed the first hole, which was the 10th, but played really well after that. Played 7-under from there on in with no bogeys. I saw some better iron shots than I did in Memphis. I drove it just as good. I putted nicely. It’s so soft out there, you need to shoot low scores this week to have a chance. Obviously I’m still three shots behind the lead at this point and there are some pretty good players that have shot good scores, so just going to try to have to keep the foot down. It was soft, any ways, with all the rain over the last 24 hours. It’s even softer. Obviously a few mud balls out there, which put you in two minds a couple of times. Yeah, look, there’s not much rough out there, anyway, so it’s sort of bombs away with the driver and try to get it up as far as you can and go from there. It’s definitely a golf course that you’re going to have to keep being aggressive on this week. But scores are out there. The par 5s are all reachable. There’s a couple of shorter par 4s, and if you take care of your business on those gettable holes– it’s so soft, it’s sort of hard to get yourself really out of position or short-side yourself that you’re struggling for pars.”

Brandt Snedeker (2019): “It does for a guy like me who is not cutting off doglegs and flying it 300 yards, I’m hitting a lot of mid- to long-irons into these holes. Done a really good job of leaving myself with some opportunities to get up-and-down. I’ve been smart about my placement and relied on my short game, which I have to do to compete on this golf course. Hopefully I can rely on a little bit less tomorrow and hit a few more greens that takes the stress out and it was just tough today, with the wind blowing the way it was, I don’t see a lot of guys hitting a lot of greens today. On 7, I hit a 280-yard 3-wood to three feet. That’s about all I got. That’s all I got.”

Kevin Kisner (2019): ” Yeah, I have drove it well in the fairway, which I have to do with the longer golf course, and on the harder holes, you have to be in the fairway and I was able to do that. It’s a weird mix of holes, probably a handful of birdie holes or seven birdie holes and there’s seven or eight holes you feel like you have to make par. I was able to play aggressive on the easier holes and play my way around for par on the harder ones. Yeah, I hit more 3-irons in than I wanted to. The conditions are soft and guys are going to tear it up. With the greens being that soft and that pure, you can fly it right at the hole and make a lot of putts. So you’ve got to be aggressive and shoot low.”

Adam Scott (2013): “No, the course is in perfect shape here.  They can get them as fast or as slow as they want. The greens are not very big, so if you’re hitting the green, I think you’re going to see a lot of birdies because they are not going to be long putts.  And they are in perfect condition, and I don’t see no matter what they do to them, to getting to a state like Bethpage was last year.”

Webb Simpson (2013): “Yeah, I don’t know what it is.  I love being here.  I love this city.  You know, I don’t think this is Donald Ross, but the greens remind me of Donald Ross greens.  I grew up in Raleigh playing on Pinehurst and playing a lot of Donald Ross courses.  They are undulating; the putts break a lot and you have to use a lot of imagination around the greens.”

Keegan Bradley (2013): “Well, I do see that they put some of the pins in some bowls and I know they want to get us around the course and finish up as early as possible, but this is not an easy golf course.  If you hit the ball, I mean, it’s very easy to short‑side yourself, and, you know, make a bogey.  So it’s not, 62 or 63 is not an easy score no matter what the conditions.

Gary Woodland (2013): ” It sets up really good to my eye.  Obviously the greens are great.  You get in the right spot, you can make putts.  I feel like I putt fast greens pretty well but off the tee box, I can really use my length to my advantage.  I can hit irons off a lot of holes where guys are hitting driver, 3‑wood, I can get the ball in play with iron.  And when I do hit driver, the par 5s, I can get to all of them, which I think is a huge advantage out here.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 10 winners of this event:

  • 2020 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 20th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2019 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: 9th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 18th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2016 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2015 – Jason Day: Round 1: 18th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2014 – Hunter Mahan: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 12th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2013 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 32nd, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 13th.
  • 2012 – Nick Watney: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2011 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 8th, Round 2: 2nd
  • 2010 – Matt Kuchar – Round 1: 20th, Round 2: 7th, Round 3: 5th.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 10 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2020 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 5 ahead.
  • 2019 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2018 – Bryson DeChambeau: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2017 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2016 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: level, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2015 – Jason Day: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2014 – Hunter Mahan: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2013 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 6 back.
  • 2012 – Nick Watney: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2011 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 back.
  • 2010 – Matt Kuchar: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 5 back.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Dustin Johnson: 2nd PGA/12th St Jude/WD 3M Open/MC Memorial.
  • Patrick Reed: 22nd Wyndham/12th St Jude/10th Open/23rd 3M Open.
  • Bryson DeChambeau: MC PGA/30th Bridgestone/13th European Open/51st Open.
  • Dustin Johnson: 13th PGA/17th Bridgestone/8th Canada/ 54th Open.
  • Patrick Reed: 22nd Wyndham/11th Olympic/11th Travelers/13th PGA.
  • Jason Day: 1st PGA/12th Bridgestone/1st Canada/4th Open.
  • Hunter Mahan: 7th PGA/15th Bridgestone/MC Canada/32nd Open.
  • Adam Scott: 5th PGA/14th Bridgestone/3rd Open/57th Quicken National.
  • Nick Watney: 31st Wyndham/MC PGA/19th Bridgestone/23rd Open.
  • Dustin Johnson: MC PGA/48th Bridgestone/6th Nordea/2nd Open.
  • Matt Kuchar: 10th PGA/9th Bridgestone/21st Greenbrier/4th Canada

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2019. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2020 – Davis/English/Henley/Streelman – 1AM/3PM -8/62 – 100/1, /80/1, 80/1, 100/1.
  • 2019 – Merritt – AM -9/62 – 125/1.
  • 2018 – Lovemark/O’Hair/V Taylor/Tway – 3AM/1PM -5/66 – 125/1, 200/1, 175/1, 125/1.
  • 2017 – Henley – AM -6/64 – 125/1.
  • 2016 – Laird/Reed – Both AM -5/66.
  • 2015 – Finau/Levin/Villegas/Watson – 3AM/1PM -5/65.
  • 2014 – Van Pelt – PM -6/65.
  • 2013 – Stadler – AM -7/64.
  • 2012 – Harrington – AM -7/64.
  • 2011 – Kuchar – PM -8/63.
  • 2010 – Taylor/Woods – Both AM -6/65.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 7 – Rory McIlroy.
  • 6 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 5 – Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Kevin Na, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson.
  • 3 – Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott.
  • 2 – Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Sergio Garcia, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Russell Knox, Martin Laird, Marc Leishman, Troy Merritt, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas.
  • 1 – Daniel Berger, Cameron Champ, Dylan Frittelli, Charley Hoffman, Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner, K.H. Lee, Joaquin Niemann, Seamus Power, Chez Reavie, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley, Kevin Streelman, Brendon Todd,  Matthew Wolff.

The Ryder Cup will have an impact across both The Northern Trust and the BMW Championship next week. Automatic qualification is available into both the Europe and United States teams, with 6 automatic spots for Team USA and 9 automatic spots for Team Europe. I won’t go into the points systems, but the milestones for selection are worth noting. Automatic selection for Team USA will complete following the Tour Championship with Steve Stricker announcing his 6 captain picks then. Padraig Harrington announces his 3 picks after the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

It’s noticeable that Patrick Reed (made Presidents Cup as a Captain’s Pick), Abraham Ancer (made Presidents Cup as an automatic selection, after finishing runner-up at Northern Trust), Bryson DeChambeau (made Ryder Cup as a Captain’s Pick), Tony Finau (made Ryder Cup as a Captain’s Pick), Jhonattan Vegas (entered tournament at position 9 in President’s Cup rankings), Patrick Reed (made Ryder Cup Captain’s Pick), Hunter Mahan (made Ryder Cup Captain’s Pick), Graham Delaet (made President’s Cup), Nick Watney (failed) and Brandt Snedeker (made Ryder Cup Captain’s Pick) across the past 9 (excepting 2020 for obvious reasons) renewals all produced late charges to make their respective Ryder Cup / President’s Cup teams.

In terms of other factors to look out for, the initial FedEx Cup Playoff tournament – since the FedEx Cup Playoffs have only encompassed 3 legs – has been won by players ranked 50th and 15th going into the tournament.

These events are big tournaments to win and all Barclays/Northern Trust winners in the Playoff era have been multiple PGA Tour event winners, with 9 of the past 10 renewals all being won by players who had previous ‘up-state’ victories on the PGA Tour in North America. Patrick Reed broke that trend in 2016, but the Texan had already finished 4th at Firestone, 4th at TPC Boston and 9th in this tournament prior to locking up his Ryder Cup spot when winning at Bethpage Black.

My Final Northern Trust Tips Are As Follows:

Rory McIlroy 2.5pts EW 22/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

We are very much accustomed to the trials and tribulations of Rory McIlroy in recent Major Championship campaigns, but one thing you can’t argue about is his propensity to play well in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

2nd (2012), 3rd (2014), 1st (2016), 1st (2019) and 8th (2020) in the FedEx Cup across his past 9 seasons is an excellent haul. And when you dig a little deeper taking his 2 successful FedEx Cup campaigns into account, 2016 saw him enter the first Playoff event in 36th spot – after no victories in that season. 2019 was very different with Players Championship and RBC Canadian Open titles, sending him into the Playoffs in 2nd position behind Brooks Koepka.

Now granted we aren’t betting this week on who will win the 2021 FedEx Cup, but for me Rory has the perfect combination of motivation and a rounding game to challenge for victory at Liberty National. At 26th in the current standings, he is undoubtedly the elite player who is way out of position and who needs a result imminently. Lets not forget that he currently sits on 19 career PGA Tour victories and his first ever win in the Big Apple area would be a sweet way to make it to 20. In my mind that idea isn’t totally fanciful either.

3rd across 72 holes at the Olympics and 12th a fortnight ago in Memphis were notable on the basis that Rory’s ‘bread and butter’ driving and approach play looks to be back. 3rd for Greens in Regulation across both Kasumigaseki Country Club and TPC Southwind, Rory was 1st for Total Driving and Ball Striking at the WGC in Tennessee last time out. From a Strokes Gained perspective, that equated to 1st for Off the Tee, 3rd for Approach and 2nd for Tee to Green.  He’s undoubtedly ready to challenge and I reckon a boisterous New York crowd at a course where he’s finished 19th (2013) and 6th (2019) across 2 visits could well get his competitive juices flowing. RESULT: T43

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Scottie Scheffler 1.5pts EW 30/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

I’m not a great fan of the price, but it’s purely a result of this guy’s amazing results in 2021. 7th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, 5th at the WGC Workday Championship, runner-up in the WGC Dell Matchplay, 8th at the PGA Championship, 3rd at The Memorial, 7th at the U.S. Open, 8th at the Open Championship and 14th at the WGC St Jude Invitational. He’s still winless on the PGA Tour, but Scottie Scheffler stacks-up very, very nicely for The Northern Trust this week.

The 25 year-old, who was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, sits just about 1,000 points behind Tony Finau in 14th spot when it comes to Team USA Ryder Cup qualification. Now a point equals a $ dollar of prize money, so Scheffler who sits 21st in the FedEx Cup standings has this week and the BMW Championship next week to firstly tie-up his 2nd Tour Championship start (in his first 2 seasons on Tour), in the process earning enough money to break into the top 12 in the Ryder Cup points. With Tony Finau horribly out of sorts and Webb Simpson hardly the ideal fit for Whistling Straits, it would be hard for Steve Stricker to deny Scottie a pick, especially as the Texas based Scheffler has finished 4th, 19th, 18th, 8th, 7th and 8th across his past 6 Major Championship starts.

17th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 4th for Birdie Average looks like a great combination statistically for Liberty National this week and I much prefer the Dallas, Texas resident in events with lower scoring, which this could well be the case at Liberty with low winds forecast. Both of his 2019 Korn Ferry victories were in the Northern United States in Illinois and Ohio respectively and Scottie also has a decent record by the coast. 3rd in Bermuda (2019), 5th in Sea Island (2019), plus 2021 Major results across Kiawah Island (8th), Torrey Pines (7th) and Sandwich (8th), highlight a highly talented United States youngster who thrives with sea salt in the equation. 4th last year at the Northern Trust played at TPC Boston, I can see some support this week in New Jersey, spurring Scheffler onto great things. RESULT: T43

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Patrick Cantlay 1.5pts EW 33/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Patrick Cantlay ticks a lot of boxes for me this week.

All 4 of his PGA Tour wins have come on greens featuring Bentgrass, with 3 of them on pure Bentgrass putting surfaces. A couple of those wins came in Ohio at the Memorial Tournament (2019, 2021) at Muirfield Village, and that liking for up-state golf can also be seen in and around the Big Apple. 10th at Glen Oaks in 2017 and 3rd at Bethpage Black, when playing in New York State, Cantlay has also finished 8th in 2018 at Ridgewood and 12th here in 2019 on course debut, when playing in New Jersey. It’s typically Patrick Cantlay – solid and professional.

Wins at the 2017 Shriners Open, 2019 Memorial, 2020 ZOZO Championship and 2021 Memorial highlight a player who can win big field tournaments, but until this point he’s largely disappointed in Majors. But his best ever Major finish came at the 2019 PGA Championship played just an hour and half drive away at Bethpage Black, and a win in a FedEx Cup Playoff event would undoubtedly be the biggest of his career.

It’s a logical progression and undoubtedly he could do with a win right now. 11th in the USA qualification standings for the Ryder Cup behind the likes of Spieth, English, Reed and Berger, outside of the top 6 automatic selection spots should be a motivation for Patrick with the likes of Finau, Simpson and Scheffler just behind him in the rankings. RESULT: T11

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Sergio Garcia 1pt EW 90/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

At this price I’m also prepared to have a speculative bet on Sergio Garcia, who undoubtedly needs a result.

With the automatic Ryder Cup 9 spots for Team Europe looking pretty solid, Padraig Harrington’s 3 picks will come into focus. Ian Poulter with 4th at the Scottish Open and 10th at the WGC St Jude Invitational is undoubtedly talking and more importantly playing himself into a pick. How could you deny ‘The Postman’ with excellent recent results. That ultimately leaves 2 picks from 3 most likely players – Sergio Garcia, Robert MacIntyre and Justin Rose.

Now Sergio and Padraig have always had a slightly rocky relationship, but Harrington has been at pains to point out that the pair now get on well. So the door is open for Garcia, he just needs results. At 40th in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he has a definite advantage over both MacIntyre and Rose – i.e. he gets to play in a couple of the biggest OWGR grossing tournaments of 2021, namely the Northern Trust and the BMW Championship, whilst they will make do with the Omega European Masters in Switzerland next week.

And there are also positive signs from the Spaniard, who is going for his 10th Ryder Cup team. 6 consecutive top-26 finishes across the Charles Schwab (20th), U.S.Open (19th), BMW International Open (17th), Open Championship (19th), 3M Open (25th) and WGC St Jude (26th), is undoubtedly consistent and is just about keeping the 41 year old Spaniard on the fringes of the OWGR top 50.

1st (3M Open) and 10th (WGC St Jude) for Strokes Gained Tee to Green in his past 2 appearances, any form of neutral, or near neutral week with the putter would see the Spaniard in the mix. That’s of interest with Sergio on the basis he’s finished 10th (2009) and 3rd (2012) at Bethpage Black and 2nd (2008) at Ridgewood – local Big Apple courses which correlate very nicely with Liberty winners Slocum, Scott and Reed. There have also been glimpses from the Spaniard here, firing a Thursday 65 in 2009 to lead and he was 8th and 13th after 36 and 54 holes in 2013. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:25BST 16.8.21 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.