Major season might be over but the best golfers in the world will be gearing up for the $10 million Fed Ex Cup playoffs which get underway this weekend with the Northern Trust!
The top 125 ranked players in the world over this season will battle it out in the three tournament playoff stretch that culminates with the Tour Championship in a few weeks’ time. Check out our preview and tips for the Northern Trust below.
Before we get into the Northern Trust preview, we thought we would run you through some of the changes that have been made to the Fed Ex Cup playoffs this season. The playoffs have been reduced from four tournaments to just three this year. The top 125 ranked players in the Fed Ex Cup standings will start at the Northern Trust, that number will be cut to the top 70 after this weekend and then to 30 after the BMW Championship next weekend. Just 30 players will start in the Tour Championship and battle it out for the $10,000,000 first prize.
The first two playoff events are worth 2,000 Fed Ex Cup ranking points while the Tour Championship will feature a strokes based handicap system for the first time ever. The Fed Ex Cup leader after the first two events will start the Tour Championship at -10 and players will be staggered progressively all the way down to number 26-30 who will start at even par.
Formerly associated with Barclays and named the ‘Barclays Classic’ and simply ‘The Barclays’ for 12 years, the tournament was rebranded in 2017 to be called ‘The Northern Trust. Dustin Johnson took out the first edition at Glen Oaks in New York followed by Bryson DeChambaeu winning last season at Ridgewood in New Jersey.
The tournament remains in New Jersey this season as we head to the Liberty National Golf Club for the four day event.
Liberty National is a country club in Jersey City, New Jersey and is one of the more notable golf courses in the United States to not have a regular tournament on the PGA Tour. It is reported to have cost over $250 million to build, making it one of the most expensive golf courses in the world. This year will mark the third time that Liberty National has host the Northern Trust/Barclays. On both previous occasions, the winner has won by just one stroke over four players who finished tied for second.
American Heath Slocum won the title in 2009 by one stroke over some of the biggest names in golf in Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. In 2013, it was Australian Adam Scott who took out the title by one stroke over Graham DeLaet, Justin Rose, Gary Woodland and again, Tiger Woods.
The course will play as a 7,370 yard, Par 71 this week and has a strong links feel. Good course management will be a main focus for players this week, particularly if there are some high wind numbers in play. Strokes gained from tee-to-green and on approach will be paramount for us this weekend without knowing too much about how the greens will play.
Not hard to assess the starting list for the Northern Trust this weekend, the top 125 golfers for the 2019 season will make the start. Anyone who won a tournament throughout the season will make the start, with No.1 ranked golfer in the world, Brooks Koepka, leading the field. Koepka was the only player to win three tournaments this season with victories at the CJ Cup, PGA Championship and the WGC FedEx Invitational. Three other players picked up two wins in Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Xander Schuffele. Which sees them ranked second through fourth respectively.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Fed Ex Cup standints will be U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Webb Simpson and Jon Rahm.
How can we look past the No.1 player sin the world at the moment? Brooks Koepka has been on an absolute tear of late. He blitzed the field on Sunday of the WGC-FedEx Invitatioanl to win his third tournament of the year and a week earlier at the Open Championship, he became just the fifth player in history to finish in the top five of all four major championships in one year (Nicklaus, Woods, Fowler, Spieth).
Koepka will be disappointed with his result in the Fed Ex Cup playoffs last season. After starting the playoffs in 3rd place, he had a T8 at the Northern Trust, a T12 at the Dell Technologies, a T19 at the BMW Championship and a T26 at the Tour Championship to slide down to No.9 in the final standings and pick up ‘only’ $550,000.
Koepka has been in contention late on Sunday in nearly every important tournament so far this year, including the top finishes at all four major championship as well as a win at the WGC-Fed Ex and a fourth place finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
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