The 2018 PGA Tour season has reached its crescendo with the Fed Ex Cup playoffs set to kick off this weekend with ‘The Northern Trust’ event starting on Thursday night AEST. Players racked up last minute points in the Wyndham Championship on the weekend and now the top 125 players in the standings will tee off in the Northern Trust from Ridgewood Championship Course in New Jersey.
There are four playoffs tournaments in the FedEx Cup, and each offer a massive 4x the amount of points that the regular PGA Tour events through the season offer. At the end of the first three playoff events, just 33 golfers will remain, and points will be redistributed into their current seedings before the final event, the Tour Championship. The player with the most points at the end of the final event will be crowned the 2018 Fed Ex Champion.
The Northern Trust (23rd-26th August)
Dell Technologies Championship (31st August – 3rd September)
BMW Championship (6th-9th September)
Tour Championship (20th-23rd September)
Ridgewood Championship Course will host the Northern Trust, formerly ‘The Barclays’ for the fourth time in 2018. Previous editions of the tournament were in 2008, 2010 and 2014 and were won by Vijay Singh, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan respectively. Ridgewood will play as a par 71, 7,385 yard course on the weekend, making it pretty average in length in terms of the PGA Tour events this year. However, the way the course is set up, distance off the tee isn’t crucial at Ridgewood as the last time the tournament was held there, the driving average of the field was just 277 yards.
Putting should reign supreme on the weekend, as the top contenders in 2014 separated themselves from the pack on the greens. 9 of the top 12 in the 2014 tournament gained over 50% of their shots on the green, so it’s likely that the world’s best putters should have a field day at Ridgewood.
Due to the factors we’ve mentioned above, a few players stand out to us this weekend, most notably Jordan Spieth. Spieth was just 21 years old the last time the tournament was held at Ridgewood and he still finished tied for 22nd in that event. He went on to finish the FedEx season in 15th place that year and he’ll be looking for a hot start to the playoffs as he currently sits in 43rd place on the FedEx Cup standings.
Spieth had a bit of a down patch through the middle of the season, missing two cuts in a row at the Memorial and US Open. However, since then he has two top 12 finishes at the remaining majors of the year in the Open Championship and PGA Championship. He is coming off three great rounds in the final three days of the PGA Championship, scoring a 66, 69 and 66 to finish tied for 12th and although his 2018 hasn’t been nearly as dominant has the last few years have been for Spieth, he’s still arguably the best putter in the world.
We’ve liked the look of Spieth over the past few tournaments and should give the Northern Trust a good shake this weekend.
Another who we really like this weekend is veteran Phil Mickelson. Mickelson has been arguably the most consistent putter on tour this year. Ranking number 1 for shots gained on the green and maintaining high tour rankings in puts from nearly every distance.
As we are all aware, distance and accuracy off the tee isn’t Mickelson’s strong suit, but the field should be brought back to his level this weekend and while he missed the cut at the PGA Championship in his last start, finished in 24th spot in both The Open Championship and WGC Bridgestone the two prior weeks.
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