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Handicapping

The Northern Trust Predictions

Event: The Northern Trust
When: August 24-27, 2017
Where: Glen Oaks Club Ė Old Westbury, NY
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by: Evergreen of Predictem.com

Four weeks. A season that started under the Obama administration is finally coming to an end and it all happens in four weeks. The FedExCup Playoffs start this week in New York with the Northern Trust. The playoff opener might be more familiar to you as The Barclays but no matter what you call it, there is a lot of money on the line. There are not a lot of ďdo-or-dieĒ scenarios on the PGA Tour but we saw some last week in the lead-in to the Northern Trust and four players were able to hit the clutch shots to get them in this field. Martin Flores used a hole-in-one during his Sunday round to sneak into the playoffs and we have another chance to see that kind of drama as 25 players from this field will not be teeing it up in week two. Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker are two of the biggest names on the bubble to make the top-100 and there are several more notable players that need solid performances over the next month if they want to make it to the Tour Championship. Patrick Reed will defend his 2016 Northern Trust title against the strongest 125-man field that you could put together.

Glen Oaks Club on Long Island will host the Northern Trust for the first time in the courseís history. In fact, this will be the first ever professional event at the Club. The 7,350 yard, par-70 layout will be unique in that the eighteen holes will be cobbled together from three separate courses on the property. A few holes each from two different nines will be used to make up the front nine with the entirety of the third nine hole course used as the back side. The course is foreign to all players which makes for a very fair test in terms of previous experience and most of the early reviews have been positive. The prevalent thought is that the front nine will be tougher with some more length in addition to being a bit tighter off the tee. The scoring may come from the back as a result and that should set us up for a nice finish. It will not take these players long to figure out how and where to attack this course but look for the more measured players to see a little advantage in the early going. Once everyone has gone around once or twice, the risk-reward options will start to benefit the power players.

Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight who we think are the best bets. We make some picks to win and break down a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at Bovada Sportsbook (50% bonus up to $250 FREE and your credit card will work there!) . Here are our picks to win the 2017 Northern Trust.

Rickie Fowler (14 to 1 odds to win)

There is a hierarchy among the best golfers in the world and Rickie is soon to be at the top but, for now, he is just in that second tier and that helps him gain some actual value from a betting perspective. Fowler is fresh off a 2017 Major schedule that saw him go T11, T5, T22 and T5. There were no wins however and that is somehow viewed as a negative to his young career rather than simply a sign of future success. Fowler should be a monster this week based on his unique stat sheet that is Tiger-level dominant. He is first in scoring average, fourth in birdie average and first in one-putt percentage. He is 60th in fairways hit, which doesnít sound all that impressive until you factor in his 300 yard-plus average drive. He can bomb it and does so while also finding the fairways. When he is a bit off, he can save par behind the 4th best scrambling percentage and he leads the Tour in sand saves. There is nothing that he canít do with a club in his hand. The winning will come for him and it will likely come in bunches. I think he is a major factor this week and is a favorite to win the FedExCup outright.

Matt Kuchar (33 to 1)

Kuchar is probably a dark horse pick to win the Cup altogether but he shouldnít be discounted as his grinding style and low key personality are perfect for a four-week challenge. Matt is another that has featured prominently in the Majors without a win, racking up four top-16 finishes including a solo 2nd at the Open Championship. He hasnít missed a cut since April and has brushed with a win on so many occasions that it seems like is time is coming. He is 10th in scoring despite being nearly outside the top-100 in birdies per round. He is squeezing every last drop out his rounds and saving par at the 5th best rate on Tour. That ability to limit mistakes should help him figure out the Glen Oaks puzzle and stay in the mix. A top-40 rank in overall putting doesnít sound elite but Matt has been around long enough to know when to lag and when to attack. A good week on the greens is something that is always a part of Kucharís plans and it should help him again as the playoffs open.

Webb Simpson (80 to 1)

Simpson occupies much of the same space as Kuchar does but brings a much bigger potential payday. Webb enters the week 25th in FedEx points so he can still be a factor overall but there have been some bumps along the way. The good news in that he hasnít missed a cut since May and has notched most of his best finishes since that last missed weekend, including a 3rd place run last week. He is 38th in fairways and comes in at 19th in overall tee-to-green performance. Those numbers suggest he will be able to navigate an unfamiliar course in good order. The putting metrics are pretty average for this field but Webb does putt well in the clutch and nets top-6 marks in both overall scrambling and sand saves. Simpson has a little heat to him over the last month or so and his value is huge this week based on his FedEx total to star the playoffs, making for a nice longshot chance.

Head-to-Head Matches

Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with 5Dimes Sportsbook for the best array of single round matches and a the best variety of prop bets.

Justin Thomas v. Brooks Koepka (pick to win: Thomas)

Not having a ton of info regarding the host course limits the ability to handicap head-to-head matches but these guys are so talented that they wind up being coinflip bets anyway. Iím going with Thomas in this case because he has a big advantage in greens hit on a round to round basis and I think that translates better to any course. Both players are long off the tee and not exactly accurate but Justin has found a way to hit more greens under those conditions and that leads to better birdie chances and better chances to save strokes. Clearly, both players can win at the highest level but I will take my money and side with the guy that just won what appeared to be the hardest Major of the season and won three more times in 2017.

Jordan Spieth v. Hideki Matsuyama (pick to win: Matsuyama)

It is always tough to bet against an 11-time champ that happens to be coming off an Open Championship victory but that is what Iím going to do. You got to like Spiethís chances almost every week but Matsuyama has three wins in 2017, including two WGCís, and has proven he can go up against the very best and win. I think Hideki is made for the big events and he matches us well with Spiethís dominant stat sheet. No one is better on Tour in birdies per round than Matsuyama and he gets there without a truly dominant putter. He is aggressive and can pay for that with some untimely three-putts but also scores better than just about everyone when he is on. Spieth has that winnerís instinct as well but I think his ceiling is actually a bit lower this week, something around the top-10, and I think Matsuyama is going to contend for the win.

Good luck and good golf.

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