DraftKings preview: THE NORTHERN TRUST
August 05, 2019
By Pat Mayo, DraftKings
- August 05, 2019
Daily Fantasy preview for THE NORTHERN TRUST
The top 125 golfers in the FedExCup standings are eligible for the Playoffs, but just 122 will be competing this week at THE NORTHERN TRUST. Of the top 10 — Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlory, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Gary Woodland, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Webb Simpson and Jon Rahm — only Casey is taking a pass at the first event. His 1,629 points should be enough to reach the TOUR Championship, so while skipping the event will put him at a disadvantage in gaining priority in the standings at the final event, it’s not imperative he plays.
Henrik Stenson 85th in points and by failing to compete in New Jersey, he won’t give himself the opportunity to advance into the top 70 for next week’s BMW Championship. Ditto for Sam Burns at No. 89. Burns broke his ankle rebounding for kids in his neighborhood towards the end of July, which ended his season. Making the playoffs earned him a PGA TOUR card for next season, so he’ll be back after rehab. Beyond that trio, everyone else is slated to tee off at Liberty National.
Despite infrequently popping up as a venue, we do have history at Liberty National to work off. The FedExCup Playoffs opened at this venue in both 2009 and 2013, and the 2017 Presidents Cup was hosted on the grounds. The course underwent a massive renovation just before the 2013 event: 12 greens and 12 tee boxes were altered; 13 fairways were re-contoured; bunkers were repositioned; and an intermediate cut of rough was grown as a buffer area between the fairways and the fescue. The fescue is only in play after a fairly wayward shot.
Looking back on the 2013 tournament, it’s clear what Liberty National rewards: Ball-striking. Adam Scott won that year despite gaining just +0.9 Strokes Gained: Putting on the field. Five of the 11 par 4s measure more than 450 yards and were ranked among the six most difficult holes in 2013, so players equipped with quality longer irons and a dash of extra distance will go a long way in moving up the leaderboard.
Targets from the Range
Justin Thomas ($10,000)
Time for another trip down the JT hole. At a course that rewards elite ball-striking, Thomas hopes to rediscover his putter and make enough 10-footers. Per www.fantasynational.com, JT is averaging +5.3 Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green over his past three starts and had been mashing it off the tee before his trip to Memphis two weeks back. The issue has been the devastating bad -2.5 Strokes Gained: Putting he’s averaged in his past five tournaments.
While he lost some gusto with the driver at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, it was the first time he’d gained on the greens since the Genesis Open in February. Wouldn’t go as far to say his putting stroke is back, but it’s an encouraging sign. And like we saw with Scott’s win in 2013, it doesn’t take much with the putter if the elite ball-striking is present.
Patrick Cantlay ($9,200)
He fits the trend of a previous winner this year (the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide) and enters No. 6 in the FedExCup standings. Additionally, in the key stats for the week, he rates out as the best player in the field over the past 24 rounds, ranking top 10 in approach, off-the-tee, par 4s between 450-500 yards, sand saves (!!!) and par 5s gained.
Billy Horschel ($8,200)
It’s that time of year when Horschel starts getting hot. With a T6 finish at last week’s Wyndham Championship, that’s now consecutive top-10s to close the season and his fifth top-20 result in his past seven starts. The 2014 FedEx Cup winner, Horschel has gained ball-striking in six of past event starts and gained with his putter in his past four measured tournaments.
Despite being just 47th in this field in par 4s gained over his past 50 rounds, he’s quietly fifth in par 4s measuring 450-500 yards and has been consistent across the past two years. Be it the past 24 rounds or the past 100 rounds, Horschel ranks inside the top 10 on par 4s from that range. The only other players in the field who can make a similar boast are Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.
Corey Conners ($6,500)
Top 10 in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and greens in regulation over the past 50 rounds, if you want a deep flier, the Canadian is the best ball-striker from the bottom of the pricing. In 18 starts in 2019, Conners has gained strokes on the greens just three times, and two were on bentgrass, including his win at the Valero Texas Open. His short game is serenely problematic, but when you get to the bottom of the pricing, you’re not going like the other options any better. You might as well pray he can stay on his elite ball-striking roll.
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Writer’s profile: I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.