2018 Northern Trust picks, predictions, odds: Ranking the field at Ridgewood 2018 Northern Trust picks, predictions, odds: Ranking the field at Ridgewood
Tiger Woods returns to action for the first time since his thrilling PGA Championship performance a few weeks ago as he headlines the first... 2018 Northern Trust picks, predictions, odds: Ranking the field at Ridgewood

2018 Northern Trust picks, predictions, odds: Ranking the field at Ridgewood

Tiger Woods returns to action for the first time since his thrilling PGA Championship performance a few weeks ago as he headlines the first FedEx Cup Playoff event, The Northern Trust, at Ridgewood Country Club. Some stars (like Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler) won’t be attending for various reasons, but this field is loaded with most of the top 125 in the FedEx Cup rankings.

Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.

Event information

What: The Northern Trust | When: Aug. 23-26
Where: Ridgewood Country Club — Paramus, NJ

Ranking the field (odds)

  • Justin Thomas (12-1): The guy I trust most in the FedEx Cup is also the one I trust most this week.
  • Dustin Johnson (9-1): Technically the defending champ here (even though it was on a different course). Putting will be paramount at Ridgewood, and he’s been one of the best on the PGA Tour this season.
  • Jason Day (12-1): The best putter on the PGA Tour this year (also one of the best playoff players).
  • Brandt Snedeker (40-1): Come at me. Great putting, riding an unreal heater. I’m in.
  • Justin Rose (18-1): He’s finished in the top 30 here in the last two events and has top 25s in every PGA Tour event he’s played going back to the Masters.
  • Tiger Woods (14-1): I think it helps him that this course won’t really be overpowered. Maybe he can put away driver.  
  • Brooks Kopeka (12-1): My pick to win the FedEx Cup. Weird that I’m still not sure I trust a three-time major champ in non-major events.
  • Zach Johnson (80-1): Two top 25s here. Six straight top 20s (including three majors).
  • Webb Simpson (33-1): Like D.J., he’s turned putting perception around. Terrific summer and maybe his best all-around season.
  • Jordan Spieth (20-1): For the first time in a long time, I honestly don’t know what to expect.
  • Francesco Molinari (22-1): Raise your hand if at the beginning of the year you would have thought Molinari and Spieth would have similar odds of winning the first FedEx Cup event.
  • Jon Rahm (20-1): Quiet top five at the PGA. Not having the best putting season, or I would rank him higher.
  • Phil Mickelson (100-1): No. 2 in strokes gained putting this year. 
  • Alex Noren (75-1): No. 5 in strokes gained putting this year. 
  • Tommy Fleetwood (33-1): He’s missed one cut in 15 events and has five top 10s on the PGA Tour this year.
  • Field strength — A: It’s really strong, but it’s probably a good thing that this time next year the Tour Championship will be taking place as attention is just not as strong on golf at this point in the year.

    Three stories to watch

    1. What’s up with Spieth? The former FedEx Cup champ and three-time major winner goes into the playoffs outside the top 40. It’s weird to say that someone with three top 10s at majors is “struggling,” but that’s sort of what it feels like with him (given what we’ve come to expect). The primary issue remains the putter, where he’s ranked No. 140, even though that part of his game has been improving slightly throughout the year. Spieth will figure it out at some point because he’s generationally great, but I’m not sure if that will be this week, next week or in 2019.

    2. Tiger fatigue: I’m not talking about our perception of him, but rather his ability to close out a season in which he’ll end up playing close to 20 (!) events in the same calendar year. Woods said on Tuesday that it’s certainly an issue but one he’s monitoring.

    “I’m playing the first three right now and that should get me into Atlanta and on the back side is obviously The Ryder Cup,” Woods said. “Yeah, that is a lot of golf. As I was explaining to you guys back in Akron, it’s about pacing myself and making sure I don’t practice too much, don’t overdo it, and make sure my training schedule goes well. That’s one of the hard things this year is trying to find the right balance, and as the summer has gone on, I’ve gotten better and felt better, and this is a pretty important stretch.

    “So yeah, the discipline has changed,” he added. “It’s certainly become more cautious. I can’t go out there and start sprinting with the kids at home. I’ve got to take it easy, and so that part, my mind still wants to do things like that but just being more disciplined.”

    3. First one: How important is it to win the first playoff event? Not very if your goal is to win the FedEx Cup. Only one of 11 Northern Trust champs have gone on to win the FedEx Cup. Compare that with the Dell Technologies Championship (4), BMW Championship (3) and Tour Championship (8), and you get an even that feels more like an extension of the regular season than a full-fledged part of the playoffs. 

    Past winners

    • 2017: Dustin Johnson
    • 2016: Patrick Reed
    • 2015: Jason Day
    • 2014: Hunter Mahan
    • 2013: Adam Scott

     

    Northern Trust picks

    2018 Northern Trust picks, predictions, odds: Ranking the field at Ridgewood

    Brandt Snedeker

    Winner: I think he’s on a Billy Horschel-like run (from 2014 when he won two playoff events as well as the FedEx Cup). I’m not sure Snedeker is going to repeat that, but I don’t think we’ve heard the last from him after his 59 and Wyndham win.    

    2018 Northern Trust picks, predictions, odds: Ranking the field at Ridgewood

    Justin Thomas

    Top 10: Eight top 10s in 19 events thus far. Only Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose have better percentages. Has all the tools (obviously), and it’s easy to see him going back-to-back for $10 million.    

    Zach Johnson

    Sleeper: How is Zach Johnson 80-1? I know he hasn’t won since the 2015 Open and only has three wins since 2009 overall, but his short game will carry the day, and it’s not a course that players will necessarily overpower. I like him a lot at that number.    
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