The chase for a US $10 million bonus has begun.
The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs get underway this week bringing copious riches to golfers who are already doing pretty well in life.
But there’s nothing like watching the game’s elite play their best with a boatload of money on the line so let’s get in on the fun with PGA DFS.
The Northern Trust takes place at the Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey, marking its fourth appearance hosting the playoff opener.
The course is a classic par-71 track laid out across 7,385 yards with tree-lined fairways and small bentgrass greens.
The par-four 12th hole will play only 291 yards but most of the par fours are a fair length. There’s three par fives and only the longest players in the field can even think about reaching in two.
A.W. Tillinghast designed the course and it last hosted a FedEx Cup event in 2014, Hunter Mahan won. Prior to that it was 2010 when Matt Kuchar ($6,600) emerged victorious.
Last week: The column looked at nine players and eight made the cut. We touched on CT Pan ($5,600) who finished T2 at a bargain price.
There were also solid weeks for Julian Suri (T41, 25th in Moneyball points) and cheapie Sam Ryder ($5,300) who finished T45.
In the FedEx Cup playoffs, the cream tends to rise.
Most of the playoff events in the past few years have been won by players from the world’s top 30.
That suggests a stars and scrubs approach could be effective. There’s always plenty of cheap buys who will make the cut.
There’s 125 players eligible to play this week but only 120 will tee it up. Some are injured, such as Rickie Fowler and Bud Cauley. Others have decided to take week off, like Rory McIlroy.
The top 100 players in the FedEx Cup will move on to next week’s event so there will be motivation for those sitting 101-125. But remember, they’re in those spots because they have not been that good this season.
With the small greens this week, I want good scramblers.
I will also look at those who can put themselves in a good spot on the fairway because having a strong approach game will be valuable.
Good putters have popped here in the past but we know that is a variable metric.
$8 and $9K Range
Tiger Woods ($8,100) – It is Tiger time.
I have held off on tipping Tiger most of the year but this course seems a good fit.
He won’t have to hit his driver if he doesn’t feel confident with it and his approach game will carry him.
Woods was lights out with his irons at the PGA Championship as he finished second. He’s ninth on Tour for strokes gained: around the green.
Hideki Matsuyama ($7,000) – The Japanese star has endured a challenging season after being plagued by a wrist injury.
He looks pain-free now and was in good touch as he finished T11 at the Wyndham Championship last week.
Matsuyama is a great iron player and a good scrambler, just what I am looking for.
Zach Johnson ($7,000) – Johnson enters this week on the back of six consecutive top-20 finishers.
He might not have the upside to win the golf tournament but I love his consistency.
The 42-year-old is one of the game’s best when it comes to his short game.
Patrick Cantlay ($6,900) – I have been all aboard the Cantlay train this season and there’s no point getting off now.
He’s 13th on Tour for greens in regulation percentage.
His short game has improved recently and he’s gone close in a couple of big tournaments. A signature win doesn’t seem far off.
Ian Poulter ($6,100) – Poulter has made 14 of 17 cuts on the PGA Tour this season and has enjoyed a great campaign.
He’s 42 but is playing some of the best golf of his career. His scrambling is always sharp and he is reliable tee to green.
Poulter is playing to secure a Ryder Cup berth and is 34th in the FedEx Cup standings. The top 30 make the Tour Championship so he needs to jump a few spots.
Kevin Na ($6,100) – A steady type who is sixth on Tour for strokes gained: around the green.
Na recorded his second PGA Tour victory this season and has had a solid 2018. He’s also 29th on Tour for strokes gained: approach.
Ryan Moore ($6,000) – Moore’s course history of three missed cuts is surprising to me.
His accurate game should thrive at a place like this so let’s hope he has a short memory.
He’s made five straight cuts on Tour and has a reliable approach game. He’s also a good scrambler.
The American was T6 at the Wyndham Championship last week so is carrying some nice form.
Brian Gay ($5,700) – The wily veteran has quietly put together a consistent season.
The course might be a touch on the long side for his liking but his elite chipping and putting should save him.
Gay has made 10 of his past 11 cuts and is inside the top 29 on Tour for strokes gained: around the green and putting.
Keegan Bradley ($5,600) – This seems a crazy price for the player who is sixth on Tour for strokes gained: tee to green for the season.
Bradley has the tools to return his value here; he is just a terrible putter. He has been remarkably consistent this year with 19 of 23 cuts made.
Piece of Chalk: Embrace the wave of support for Tiger Woods ($8,100).
Scrub-A-Dub: I really like Keegan Bradley ($5,600) to make the cut for us.