This week players head to TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts, for the Northern Trust. The FedEx Cup Playoffs’ first leg returns to what used to be an annual stop on Tour after a two-year hiatus.
The start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs means this field is absolutely stacked. Players have been accumulating points based on their finishes since the 2019/20 season started back in October and this first stage of the 3 tournament playoff will feature the Top 125 on the points list.
The top 70 after this week’s event will move onto the BMW Championship hosted at Olympia Fields next week then the top 30 after that will qualify for the Tour Championship at Eastlake CC.
What brings the stars out for this series of events is without a doubt the final purse. The 2020 FedEx Cup champion will receive a $15 million overall prize with the runner up receiving $5 million.
It is no wonder why we will see the likes of Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Xander Schauffele, PGA Champ Collin Morikawa, Jason Day, Patrick Reed and winner of the last event held at TPC Boston, Bryson DeChambeau, amongst others in attendance.
Onto TPC Boston!
The 7300 yard Par 71 was once a regular stop on tour, hosting 12 previous events. Past winning scores fall between 15 and 22 under showing that players will have no problem producing low scores on this Arnold Palmer design.
With that being said, where within that range will be dependent upon the firmness of the course. It looks as if there has been very little rain leading up to this week’s play, and the forecast is calling for hot but dry days. This leads me to think the winning score should fall into the 15-18 range rather than into the 20s under par.
Off The Tee
Off the Tee TPC, Boston has turned into a bombers paradise, as evidenced by Fowler, Rory, JT, and Bryson claiming the last four wins here. The course is by no means short. It features four Par 4s that play between 450 and 500 yards, and all 3 Par 5s are extremely easy to score on.
The driving distance here is slightly above Tour average, which means players will consistently have a driver in hand, and fairways are hit slightly above the Tour average. This accurately paints the picture that there is little from stopping the bombers from being successful.
On The Greens
TPCs typically offer very little in terms of a challenge on greens as they are public courses that are not meant to provide an extremely tough challenge to the average golfer. TPC Boston is no different. The pure bentgrass complexes are average by Tour standards and don’t feature a severe undulation degree.
Bentgrass is the most welcomed surface players see as it runs incredibly smooth, unlike Poa and without much grain, unlike Bermuda. Look for these greens to be similar to what we saw a few weeks back at another TPC, Harding Park, where reasonably easy to read greens led to players who typically aren’t extremely efficient with the putter to have excellent putting performances.
This Week’s Statististics
As always, strong approach players will be highlighted this week. I also want guys who consistently gain strokes off the tee as TPC Boston is a driver heavy track. Since we have seen scores from 15 to 22 under, players will need to give themselves plenty of birdie opportunities so I will add opportunities gained which measures birdie attempts from inside 15 feet.
Finally, the par 5s are where a ton of scoring will be done, so it will be essential to pinpoint players who will excel on the three that TPC Boston will offer.
Onto the Plays!
The Northern Trust Golf Tournament Outright Plays
⛳ NOTHERN TRUST PLAYS ⛳
The Northern Trust Head To Head Plays
|TOURNAMENT HEAD TO HEAD
⛳ NOTHERN TRUST PLAYS ⛳
|English o Speef
|Palmer o Reavie
|Tiger -1.5 o Fleet
|Redman -1.5 o Phil
|JT o Rory
|Rahm o Rory
|Byson o Rory
Bryson DeChambeau +1200 at MyBookie.ag
I want to start this week’s plays off by saying the market is priced incredibly well this week, and I found far fewer edges than I am accustomed to seeing. When that is the case, I typically find myself heading up the board and grabbing a smaller margin with one of the favorites.
This week, Bryson DeChambeau is a clear choice. In less than a year, DeChambeau has transformed himself from an above-average off the tee player to the best off the tee player on the planet, and it isn’t particularly close. I’ve highlighted the fact that TPC Boston has turned into a bombers paradise over the years, and in his win here in 2018, Bryson gained three strokes off the tee.
That was “Baby Bryson”. “Beefy Bryson” is a whole different player, leading the Tour in strokes gained OTT in 2020, averaging 1.2 strokes gained in the category per round. That number is a half a stroke better per round than 3rd place Rory, Rahm and Xander (Cam Champ is slightly behind Bryson in 2nd). At a course where drivers will be hit in abundance, DeChambeau immediately has an advantage on the field.
However, Bryson excelled in his win here in 2018 with his putter, gaining seven strokes in the category en route to a relatively easy win. While everyone is enamored with the distance Bryson is getting with his driver, it is usually overlooked that he is simply one of the best putters on Tour.
He is currently ranked 2nd in the category on the season, gaining almost a full stroke on the field with the flat stick per round, including 4.8 at the PGA and ten at the WGC St Jude in his last two starts.
Bryson’s week will come down to his ability to hit his wedges close, but don’t necessarily rely on his recent approach numbers to draw conclusions on his short game. Bryson is hitting it so far off the tee, close to the greens, that ShotLink counts it as an approach rather than a drive, skewing his approach numbers.
If Bryson can consistently stuff wedges this week, he could absolutely run away from this field. Even without doing so, his ability to gain strokes off the tee and with the putter raise his floor so high that he can win with even an average week on approach.
Victor Hovland +6000 at BetOnline.ag
It is only a matter of time before the former #1 Amateur in the world and former United States Amateur Champion breaks through on Tour for his first win. Hovland has sat back and watched his former teammate at Oklahoma State, Matthew Wolffe win in just his 4th start and has been front row to his fellow 2019 Rookie Collin MoriMazzola’s 3 wins including the PGA Championship two weeks ago.
Coming out, Hovland was thought to be the most skilled of the three by many, and he has shown an ability to compete on Tour. He is 4th in 2020 in Strokes Gained Ball Striking which combines SG:OTT and SG:APP and coming off the suspension he had 5 straight finishes of 23rd or better.
The last of those finishes was a 3rd at the Workday event where he gained over 12 strokes ball striking and his outright number immediately skyrocketed to the top of the betting board. This was just incorrect. He went on to play a 6th straight event at Jack’s Tournament, a lackluster performance, took a week off then played both the WGC event and of course the PGA and wasn’t overly successful in either.
His last three performances were all fatigue driven. Hovland was driving from stop to stop (yes driving, being from Norway he wanted to see the country so he rented a car and drove to and from each event, taking only a week off in 2 months) which will take a toll on anyone. A guy who was once in the 30s to win Jack’s tournament, and not betable, is now in the 50s at a tournament with a similar field strength and fully viable to back.
This week, Hovland will be able to let the ball striking shine and his biggest struggle, putting, will be mitigated by the easy greens of TPC Boston. He is coming off gaining 5 strokes on the greens at TPC Harding Park and anywhere near that performance coupled with his post-suspension ball striking will land Hovland in the winner’s circle for the first time.
That is it for this week’s write up. Thank you for reading! I am free all week for any questions and be sure to check out the FORE! Profit Podcast, my full card on Wednesday Afternoon and my live Q and A Wednesday Evening. All of my weekly content is available via @jmazzjd on Twitter.