New York City is known for maintaining a certain pace. After all, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. The spirit of that lyric of the eponymous song about the largest city in the United States is baked into the new format of the FedExCup Playoffs.
THE NORTHERN TRUST leads off what is now only three tournaments, and instead of only 25 golfers eliminated from the qualifying field of 125 after it concludes, 55 won't advance to next week's BMW Championship.
Liberty National Golf Club is in Jersey City, New Jersey, but the Statue of Liberty and NYC skyline is visible across New York Harbor. For more on the Playoffs opener, scroll past the projected contenders.
NOTE: A special Power Rankings for the FedExCup Playoffs will publish on Tuesday.
POWER RANKINGS: THE NORTHERN TRUST
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Louis Oosthuizen 19 Collin Morikawa 18 Jason Day 17 Rory Sabbatini 16 Sungjae Im 15 Dustin Johnson 14 Adam Scott 13 Tommy Fleetwood 12 Patrick Reed 11 Matt Kuchar 10 Francesco Molinari 9 Billy Horschel 8 Patrick Cantlay 7 Rickie Fowler 6 Justin Thomas 5 Jon Rahm 4 Justin Rose 3 Webb Simpson 2 Rory McIlroy 1 Brooks Koepka
Open champion Shane Lowry, U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Masters champion Tiger Woods and defending champion Bryson DeChambeau will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
The second time proved to be the charm at Liberty National. After a rough debut as host of the 2009 edition of THE NORTHERN TRUST, fairways were widened and a dozen greens was softened for its return in 2013. As a result, scoring improved without forfeiting the challenge.
The 2013 field scored 71.151 on the par 36-35—71. It split 9.56 (of 14) fairways on average (ninth-most of all courses in 2013) but hit only 10.8 greens in regulation (eighth-lowest). The latter reflects small, undulating targets exposed to wind beside open water.
Keeping one's ball on the shortest grass always has value, but with the gnarliest rough allowed to grow no longer than an inch and a half – that length also was in response to the grumbles of four-inch rough framing tighter fairways in 2009 – there's a more valuable premium on GIR. It's multiplied when you add the consideration that THE NORTHERN TRUST is the site of the last cut of the season (the 54-hole/MDF cut provision does not apply, if otherwise triggered) and only 70 advance to the BMW Championship.
Of the 12 golfers who finished inside the top 10 on the 2013 leaderboard, 10 ranked inside the top 20 in GIR, including champion Adam Scott, who returns this week. Forty-nine from the 2013 field are committed, 26 of whom also competed here in 2009. (Overall, 29 qualifiers from the 2009 edition are here.)
Liberty National also hosted the Presidents Cup in 2017. Of the 24 golfers who competed in it, 20 are in this week's field, but 10 didn't play Liberty National in 2009 or 2013. What greets them this week is a different routing than what was used for the biennial competition, which is to say that its back to how it played in 2013.
The only change to the course since 2013 is a longer seventh hole. Now stretching 484 yards – an increase of 17 yards – Liberty National tips at 7,370 yards. Bentgrass blankets the tightest lies and the greens, which could exceed 12 feet on the Stimpmeter. The rough is bluegrass.
Paul Casey (rest), Henrik Stenson (rest) and Sam Burns (broken ankle) are the only three qualifiers who are not committed. Stenson (85th in the FedExCup) and Burns (89th) cannot advance, but Casey (eighth) will tee it up in the final two events.
Those who are on site will be competing in terrific conditions. Save a threat of rain on Thursday that'll melt away, beautiful weather is on tap. Sunshine and daytime highs in the 80s are forecast throughout. Gusts of winds can't be ruled out given its location, but if any of the golfers need to back off, he'll just make a brand, new start of it.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.