2020 Northern Trust outright winners betting preview

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  • Field: 125 golfers / top 65 and ties make the weekend
  • Course: TPC Boston
  • Greens: Bent
  • Length: 7,216
  • Par: 71
  • Defending Champion: Patrick Reed (played at Liberty National)

Being the last tournament of the regular PGA Tour season, last week’s Wyndham Championship saw a scramble to the finish with many golfers trying to fight their way into the top 125 and secure a spot in the playoffs. Our strategy of betting on the favorite at 10/1 almost came through with Webb Simpson finishing in 3rd place. In the end, the battle for the title came down to Billy Horschel and tour vet Jim Herman, with ultimately Herman taking down the victory. It was one of the bigger long shots we have seen in quite some time with Herman coming in around 500/1 at the beginning of the event. You have to feel good for the 42-year-old tour veteran who, prior to last week, had a T-27 as his top finish of 2020 and had only made 5 of 13 cuts throughout the year. But with this win he will be heading to Boston for the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Playoff overview

The Northern Trust will act as the first leg of the three-part playoffs that annually conclude the PGA Tour season. Throughout the year, golfers are accumulating points based on their finishing positions each week. When the Wyndham Championship concludes, the top 125 golfers in the standings will advance to the first round of the playoffs. Following the Northern Trust, the top 75 remaining players will head to the BMW Championship with the hopes of being one of the 30 golfers left standing to go play for the Tour Championship at East Lake in Georgia. 

These three tournaments offer arguably the most premier fields based on the world golf rankings and typically contribute to some of the more competitive finishes seen all season. The mission of all PGA Tour golfers is to make it to East Lake with the goal of hoisting the FedEx Cup and claiming the $15 million check that comes along with it. 

The field

As mentioned above, the top 125 golfers from the regular PGA Tour season will all square off this week in Boston. This means that the field for the Northern Trust will rival any major field that can be assembled in terms of strength. The most notable golfers to miss the cut and not qualify for the playoffs are Sergio Garcia, Henrick Stenson, and Charl Schwartzel. Fabian Gomez was in the unfortunate position of being the last man left out as Wyndham Clark claimed the final spot and ended as the 125th ranked golfer in points. A few golfers who needed strong finishes at the Wyndham and ended up playing their way into the Northern Trust were Zach Johnson, Shane Lowry, and last week’s winner, Jim Herman

The course

TPC Boston will be the host for the first round of the 2020 FedEx Cup playoffs. The Northern Trust rotates the course at which it hosts this event each season. This year the tournament will be played at a par 71 course stretching to just over 7,200 yards. The greens will be made from bentgrass and will run at a pace faster than the average greens on tour. The rough is long in length and will certainly penalize golfers hitting wayward drives off the tee. Tree lined fairways and protective greenside bunkers will also add to the difficulties the golfers will find. The last time this course saw a PGA Tour event was in 2018 for the Dell Technologies Championship which concluded with a slim Bryson DeChambeau taking home the title. 

The scorecard offers three par 5s which play as some of the easiest holes on the course, including the closing 18th hole that saw an eagle rate of over 4% in 2018. Scoring on these three holes will be crucial to finding success this week in Boston. The par 4s are the real challenge around this track. They range from 350 yards all the way up to over 500 and account for four of the six hardest holes the golfers will face. There are also three par 3s that play over 200 yards in length which will put an extra emphasis on long irons. 

The previous winners at this course have combined a stellar approach game with the ability to hit long and accurate drives off the tee. Around the green is not taken into account too heavily but the ability to get hot putting on bentgrass will definitely be imperative. 

Notable stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
  • Par 4 Scoring
  • Proximity 150 – 175 yards
  • Par 3 Scoring over 200 yards

Favorites to win

There are two key names at the top of the betting board for this week: Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas. It should come with no surprise that these are the names up top with how they have been playing as of late but with my rule of not betting golfers below 15/1 (which, yes, I broke this past week) let’s see if we can find some value with either one of them. 

Justin Thomas +1200

A slow first two days ultimately lead to Thomas not being in contention at the year’s first major a couple weeks ago. However, this should not overshadow just how well he has been playing as of late. In his three starts before the PGA Championship he had finishes of 2nd, 18th, and 1st. The victory came at WGC – Memphis which was the strongest field of the year at that time. When compared to the rest of the field over the last 3 months, Thomas is 1st in approach and 3rd in Par 4 scoring. He lost 3.5 strokes putting at the PGA and still managed a top 40 finish. If looking for value with a favorite, Thomas may be just that. With how strong this field is, I won’t be betting anyone with this low of odds but the stats do align for him. Head to head matchups may be the better place to target him this week.

Apr 12, 2019; Augusta, GA, USA; Bryson DeChambeau hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the second round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Bryson DeChambeau +1200

We once again find the “it” golfer of the year at the top of the betting board. By now everyone has heard plenty about the transformation of Bryson turning into the hulk figure he is today. He certainly is fun to watch when he consistently drives the ball over 350 yards which allows him to play the courses quite differently than anyone else. This new type of game can seem a little gimmicky but it is hard to argue with results. Bryson has only missed one cut since last September. He went on a stretch where he finished inside the top 10 for seven straight events. He also just finished 4th at the year’s first major, silencing the critics saying he can’t get it done against the top tier fields. The off-the-tee numbers are impressive but I will be staying away from betting him until he can sort out his approach game, especially at odds as low as 12/1. 

High end value

Jason Day +2200

After a few years of injuries, swing adjustments, and just some bad play, the former world #1 is back in his old ways. There was a time when Jason Day was almost unbeatable on tour. At one point in 2015 he won four out of six events played, including the PGA Championship. He has battled a number of injuries and swing issues over the past few years and even missed four out of five cuts earlier in 2020. All of that is in the past now as it appears Jason Day is back to his 2015 form. The Aussie has posted four straight top 10 finishes leading into the playoffs (including a 4th in the year’s first major) and his stats line up perfectly with his current form.

Average Strokes Gained Summary
TournamentsSG: TotalSG: T2GSG: OTTSG: APPSG: ARGSG: P
Last 58.55.91.23.11.62.5
Jason Day average strokes gained

In his prime, Jason Day was consistently gaining a ton of strokes tee-to-green but was also considered the best putter around. Looking at the stats above from the past 5 events, he appears to be heading back in that direction. The golf world has been waiting for Day to break through once again and challenge the young up and coming golfers on tour. He hasn’t won since the 2018 Wells Fargo but with his string of top finishes and solid stats, a win shouldn’t be too far away. Let’s hope it is this week at 22/1.

Daniel Berger +2800

If you’ve been following the articles, Daniel Berger is definitely a name you have seen me write up before. I will be going right back to the well with this play because nothing has really changed; Berger is in arguably the best form of anyone on the PGA Tour. He has only missed one cut in his last 11 starts. This stretch has also included six top 10 finishes as well as a 13th at the PGA Championship. He is 12th in this week’s field in approach and has posted positive numbers with that stat in seven straight events. His off-the-tee game has been steadily improving as well. He gained 5.9 strokes off-the-tee at the PGA Championship and has not lost strokes since last October. 

When looking at relevant stats, Berger leads the field in Par 4 scoring over the past three months. His putting has been elite, his short game is solid, and his ball striking is near the top. Daniel Berger has been flirting with victories over the past few months. It would not shock anyone if he pulls away this weekend in Boston. 

Mid tier value

Matthew Wolff +6000

Wolff is typically mentioned in the same breath as Collin Morikawa for the fact that they entered the PGA Tour together. Morikawa just won his first major in impressive fashion and I could see people forgetting the Sunday charge Wolff made to post a 4th place finish. He should be plenty motivated to better his colleague as the playoffs begin but it isn’t just the motivation that could lead to his success. Wolff has been playing some great golf recently. He has only missed one cut in the past six events which has included two top 4 finishes. Throughout this stretch he has been elite with the driver. Over the past three months, he is 6th in this week’s field in strokes gained: off-the-tee. 

Everyone knows about his driving but the part of his game that has been improving as of late is his approach. When looking at the past 5, 10, and even 20 events played he has been gaining more strokes each week.

TournamentsSG: APP
Last 52.7
Last 101.5
Last 200.4
Matthew Wolff strokes gained approached

With only one win on the PGA Tour, Matthew Wolff is looking for a signature victory to add to his resume. Perhaps it could come this weekend and the 60/1 odds could be great value to grab.

Longshots

These sort of events typically go to the elite golfers so there is not too much value in the longshot range that stands out at first glance. A couple golfers with long odds that have been flashing signs of continued success are Doc Redmon (140/1), Harold Varner III (160/1), and Russel Henley (125/1). I will be looking to target these golfers in some head-to-head matchups as well as potentially some top 10 or top 20 bets. 

The playoffs are a great time for golf and with the pause in the season a few months ago, they are being played sandwiched between two majors. The best of the best will be on display in Boston this weekend and we should be expecting some high level play and a competitive Sunday finish with potentially an eagle on the easy par 5 18th to capture the title. 

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