The 14th annual FedExCup Playoffs opens with a new but familiar backdrop.
THE NORTHERN TRUST will be contested at TPC Boston for the first time. The par 71 was the only host of the Dell Technologies Championship when it was a staple in the 2-hole of the old four-event series from 2007-2018. Eight of the 12 winners on the course during the FedExCup era qualified for the 2020 Playoffs. As of midday Monday, all 125 who are eligible are committed.
Scroll past the expanded ranking of projected contenders for the adjustments made for the Playoffs, details on TPC Boston and more.
POWER RANKINGS: THE NORTHERN TRUST
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Tyrrell Hatton 19 Patrick Cantlay 18 Alex Noren 17 Hideki Matsuyama 16 Gary Woodland 15 Rory McIlroy 14 Daniel Berger 13 Adam Scott 12 Si Woo Kim 11 Billy Horschel 10 Xander Schauffele 9 Patrick Reed 8 Tony Finau 7 Jon Rahm 6 Jason Day 5 Webb Simpson 4 Dustin Johnson 3 Collin Morikawa 2 Justin Thomas 1 Bryson DeChambeau
Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include reviews of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, each of whom is a former winner at TPC Boston, as well as Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood among other notables.
Nothing has seemed to evade the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FedExCup Playoffs included. About halfway into the three-month hiatus, it was announced that the Playoffs would be shifted forward a week on the calendar. In other words, THE NORTHERN TRUST originally was scheduled for last week.
The other modification to THE NORTHERN TRUST and next week's BMW Championship addressed the FedExCup Playoffs points earned. Instead of the usual quadrupling of the points versus what's available during the regular season, they are tripled. For example, the winner of the first two events receives 1,500 FedExCup points instead of 2,000. This helps offset the elimination of 13 tournaments, including THE PLAYERS, three majors and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
What you remember about last year's introduction of the reduction to three Playoffs events hasn't changed. At the conclusion of THE NORTHERN TRUST, the top 70 in FedExCup points will advance to the BMW Championship. It's just that with the points up for grabs shaved by one-quarter, it could be more challenging to survive. (Tuesday's special Power Rankings for the Playoffs will analyze this in greater detail.)
TPC Boston's position on the PGA TOUR schedule dates back to 2003, and it always hosted right around the first week of September. Of this week's field, 86 have competed here before. Save a handful for whom it's been a few years since they qualified, what they'll see isn't much different than how they remember it.
TPC Boston tips at 7,308 yards. The field will average under par comfortably, but the trio of par 5s – Nos. 2, 7 and 18 – are just inside the top-half of the harder par 5s on any course, so capitalizing on them is at a relative premium and more valuable than usual. Distance off the tee in general will carry an additional benefit, but because greens are smaller than average at 5,200 square feet, course management will win the race. THE NORTHERN TRUST will be a borderline shootout during which hitting greens in regulation and connecting with pace and read on the putting surfaces should define the champion.
Aside from combination fescue-bluegrass primary rough allowed to grow upwards of three-and-a-half inches, bentgrass serves as the shortest grass across the property. This includes the greens that are prepped to measure 12-and-a-half feet with a Stimpmeter.
With favorable weather through the 36-hole cut – the last of the 2019-20 season – there is unlikely to be an imbalance in the draw – also the last of the season. Daytime temperatures will rise into the upper 80s on Saturday when winds are expected to freshen. A reasonable chance of rain if not storms elbows its way into the equation on Sunday.
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*: Power Rankings (FedExCup Playoffs), Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.