NOTE: For the three events determining who advances in the FedExCup Playoffs, Rob is focusing only on golfers outside the latest bubble. In this second edition, all five below enter THE NORTHERN TRUST outside the top 70 in points.
Ian Poulter (+500 for a Top 10) … On the cusp to qualify for the European Ryder Cup team for the seventh time, the 45-year-old from England opens his 14th Playoffs (he missed only the 2016 edition) slotted 79th in FedExCup points. He’s recorded a pair of top 10s at Liberty National, the more recent just two years ago (T10). In his most recent start, he posted a T10 at TPC Southwind where he had hung up top 10s on two prior occasions. His 2021 also includes a T3 at Colonial at the end of May and a T4 at the Scottish Open in July. Sits a distant 198th on the PGA TOUR in greens hit, but he’s more than covered by ranking fourth in Strokes Gained: Putting, ninth in scrambling and 31st in adjusted scoring. But most of all, it’s that dangling Ryder Cup spot that warrants an elevated expectation at THE NORTHERN TRUST.
Matt Wallace (+1200 for a Top 10) … No matter the fact that FedExCup points were quadrupled in 2019 and tripled last year, exactly one guy rose from outside the top 100 upon entry to inside the top 70 to advance to the BMW Championship. Seeded 102nd, Harold Varner III turned the trick with a T3 at Liberty National in 2019, and Russell Henley (101st) replicated with a T8 at TPC Boston in 2020. Wallace currently is 107th and the only Sleeper featured here outside the top 90. The 31-year-old Englishman also is making his Playoffs debut. He’s a long shot to qualify for the European Ryder Cup team, but a strong performance at THE NORTHERN TRUST is all but necessary to force the hand of captain Padraig Harrington. Wallace is rested since a T8 on his home circuit three weeks ago. He’s 21st on the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 44th in adjusted scoring.
Seamus Power (+1100 for a Top 20) … With six consecutive top 20s punctuated by his breakthrough victory at the Barbasol Championship a month ago, the Irishman is recently familiar with crashing leaderboards. He’s among a seriously quiet smattering of rank-and-filers responsible for gaudy analytics this season. Before you look up the backs of the trading cards of guys like Hank Lebioda and Brice Garnett, Power will match across the board. He’s 28th in greens hit, 24th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, fifth in scrambling and T1 in par-4 scoring. He’s just 73rd in the FedExCup in part because he has been limited to 16 starts due to conditional status pre-victory.
Harold Varner III (+900 for a Top 20) … He’s 72nd in the FedExCup, so he might as well just leverage that position into one more start. In fact, as noted in Matt Wallace’s capsule above, HV3 was a force at Liberty National two years ago, finishing T3 to advance from the 102-hole. Strongest tee to green, but that’s not a backhanded way of saying that he loses strokes with his putter. He doesn’t. Top 15s in two of his last four starts this summer.
Henrik Norlander (+2000 for a Top 20) … The 34-year-old Swede has rested a sore back for a couple of weeks but it’s fair to respect his personal time to enjoy the afterglow of competing in his first Olympics. Two weeks before that, he placed T5 at the Barbasol Championship with an uncharacteristically strong game on the greens. Typically, he’d need to contend to lead a field in scoring opportunities so as to see how much sticks, er, drops. At 87th in the FedExCup, he’ll need another good week with the putter to compliment his ball-striking that ranks 15th on TOUR. Liberty National is the kind of stage that rewards it more often than others.
Odds were sourced on Tuesday, Aug. 17. For live odds, visit betmgm.