The First Look: THE NORTHERN TRUST
August 17, 2018
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- August 17, 2018
Dustin Johnson wins in a playoff at THE NORTHERN TRUST
The 12th edition of the FedExCup postseason begins, as points leader Dustin Johnson and No. 2 Justin Thomas top the marquee for Ridgewood Country Club’s fourth turn in hosting the FedExCup Playoffs opener.
Brooks Koepka, now just the fifth man to sweep the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year, tees up for the first time since his triumph at Bellerive. THE NORTHERN TRUST also marks the end of Tiger Woods’ postseason drought, back after a five-year absence.
FIELD NOTES: Justin Rose and Bubba Watson, also multiple winners this season, are among nine players set to extend perfect records of teeing it up in every postseason. That doesn’t include Brandt Snedeker, who has qualified for all 12 but sat out last year’s FedExCup Playoffs with a sternum injury. … The Ridgewood lineup presently shows 122 players. Rickie Fowler will rest his partially torn oblique an extra week; Rory McIlroy is opting to sharpen his game with an eye on the Ryder Cup. Patrick Rodgers (undisclosed) is the other who will sit out. … No.121 Bud Cauley, out since May to recuperate from an auto accident, will give it a go if he stays in the top 125. … Spring winners Aaron Wise (AT&T Byron Nelson) and Satoshi Kodaira (RBC Heritage) head a list of eight rookies expected to grace the 2018 playoff lineup.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 2,000 points.
STORYLINES: Johnson and Thomas, both triple winners this season, are separated by just 83 points atop the FedExCup points chart. A gap of 622 points follows down to Koepka in third. … Johnson owns four FedExCup playoff victories, sharing the all-time lead with McIlroy, and is the only player to win in each of the past two postseasons. … Koepka hopes his summer sizzle will get him out to a faster start in the FedExCup Playoffs. He has yet to crack the top 40 in three starts at THE NORTHERN TRUST. … Thomas begins his Cup defense on a run of three top-10s in his past four starts, including victory in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. He had just one finish lower than sixth in last year’s FedExCup Playoffs. ... Woods makes his first postseason start since the 2013 TOUR Championship, where he tied for 22nd among 30 players. … At the back of the points list, the goal is cracking the top 100 for another playoff round at the Dell Technologies Championship. Last year three men moved in from outside the top 100; the average is 5.8.
COURSE: Ridgewood Country Club (Composite), 7,385 yards, par 71. One of the oldest clubs in the United States, Ridgewood dates back to 1890 and has occupied its current site since 1929. A.W. Tillinghast laid out the New Jersey club’s 27 holes, with three separate nine-hole loops running away from the clubhouse. THE NORTHERN TRUST’s course enlists the best of all three loops, including the 291-yard dogleg 12th that holds distinction as one of golf’s first drivable par-4s. Ridgewood welcomed the Ryder Cup’s fifth edition in 1935, a 9-3 United States victory in what was Walter Hagen’s final Cup as a player. The club also hosted the 1974 U.S. Amateur, 1990 U.S. Senior Open and 2001 Senior PGA Championship before joining THE NORTHERN TRUST rota in 2008.
For those visiting the area, must-play courses include Pelham Bay GC (Bronx, N.Y.), The Golf Club at Mansion Ridge (Monroe, N.Y.) and Galloping Hill GC (Kenilworth, N.J.). Book your reservations via www.teeoff.com.
72-HOLE RECORD: 261, Bob Gilder (1982 at Westchester CC), Jason Day (2015 at Plainfield CC). Ridgewood CC record: Hunter Mahan (270).
18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Brandt Snedeker (3rd round, 2011 at Plainfield CC). Ridgewood CC record: 62, Hunter Mahan (1st round, 2008).
LAST YEAR: Johnson outlasted Jordan Spieth in a back-nine duel that went overtime, forcing extra holes by coaxing home an 18-foot par and delivering the clinching blow with a 341-yard drive to set up a playoff birdie. Johnson went his final 29 holes without a bogey, erasing a five-shot deficit to Spieth early in the final round before the duel began. They matched pars at Nos. 17 and 18, though Johnson had to lay up at the 18th after slicing his drive into the rough. Going back to No.18, Johnson’s booming drive left him just a lob wedge to 4 feet. The birdie sealed Johnson’s first win since being knocked out of the Masters by a slip-and-fall mishap in Augusta.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, noon-1:45 p.m. (GC), 2-6 p.m. (CBS).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (featured groups), 3-6 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (featured holes).
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com)