Playoff time. Let’s go.
Last season this tournament was played outside Boston, and Dustin Johnson won it by 100. It may not have been that much, but I remember watching the tournament feeling like that was the lead. He was unstoppable, and unfairly locked in that week.
This time around we’re back in NYC. Liberty National has some of the best views of any golf course in America, and I can’t wait for Thursday.
The aforementioned defending champion Mr. Johnson, before recently, hadn’t shown much form since the 2020 Masters. He does however have 2 Top 10 finishes in his last 3 starts. In 2019, the last time this event was held at Liberty, DJ tied for 24th. I have a feeling we won’t have the same result we did last year in Massachusetts.
Patrick Reed is your “defending champion” as well. He was the one lifting the trophy at the end of the week back in 2019 after shooting a final round 69 to beat Abe Ancer by a single shot. He has been struggling of late, and I say struggling reluctantly. He’s being making cuts, finishing inside the Top 40, but his last Top 20 was all the way back at Torrey Pines at the US Open.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm is back after missing some time due to COVID-19. He was forced to miss out on the Olympics, and also pulled out of the field in Memphis. I’m unsure if that had anything to do with the virus, or if he just wanted the week off. We’ll see what kind of form Rahm brings in, but his last 4 starts on Tour: T8, WD (a win), 1, T3).
I’m not going to list out all the big names in this field, it’s everyone. Well, except Rickie.
LN is a long golf course for a Par 71, because of this, there are several Par 4’s that play over 450 yards. Targeting guys who play these types of holes well will be important.
You can see above, putting at Liberty National was vastly more important compared to the average Tour event back in 2019. Targeting good Bentgrass putters will be key this week.
I’m also going to put tee-to-green play. There’s a lot of water around this place (half the holes), nearly 100 bunkers, so staying out of hazards will be important if you want a lot of looks at birdie.
Data Golf Information
Couse Fit: 1. Shadow Creek Golf Course, 2. Olympia Fields CC (North), 3. La Quinta Country Club
Trending (of the players in the field): 1. Jon Rahm (Last 3 starts: 1, T7, 3), 2. Jordan Spieth (T19, 2, T12), 3. Harris English (1, T46, 4)
% Chance to Win: 1. Jon Rahm (10.5%), 2. Jordan Spieth (4.5%), 3. Collin Morikawa (4.3%)
Players to Watch this Week
Gonna start with last week’s winner, Mr. Kevin Kisner. We had him for a Top 40, which may go down as the safest bet I’ve ever made.
He golfed his ball last week. Highest round was a 68 (-2), and shot -4 or better 3 of the 4 days. It’s no surprise he rolled it well on Bermuda greens, as he was 8th in SG: Putting. On the year, he’s 12th in that same category. Although his SG: APP rank over his last 24 rounds is abysmal, he’s hit 70% of greens in 3 of his last 5 tournaments (80% at the Wyndham).
Back in 2019, Kiz finished T12. At the 2017 Presidents Cup, held at Liberty National, Kiz didn’t lose a match (2 wins, 2 ties). I think he likes this place.
He’s currently 29th in the FedEx Cup standings.
+6500 to win.
Next one, the winner from just a few weeks ago, Abraham Ancer. He grabbed his 1st win of his PGA Tour career after battling Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns at the WGC FedEx.
Starting at the RBC Heritage, aside from the US Open and Open, Ancer hasn’t finished outside the Top 15. He’s there week in and week out. Better yet, at the 2019 Northern Trust, Abe was the runner-up to Patrick Reed.
His SG numbers over his last 24 rounds, are honest to god disgustingly good…
He’s currently 6th in the FedEx Cup Standings.
+3100 to win (Fanduel)
I learned my lesson with Abraham Ancer, I was on him every week hoping he would finally get it done – then the one week I don’t put him on the card, he wins. That’s why Scottie Scheffler is on my list once again.
In his last 7 starts, he has 4 Top 10 finishes. To be honest, it should be 5, but he had a terrible round Sunday at the most recent WGC.
He didn’t play here in 2019, but he finished inside the Top 5 last year at the NT- which included a 59(!!!) on Friday. I bring this up to highlight his talent to compete in a loaded field, I know it’s a different course this time around.
SG wise, he’s 25th T2G and 41st Putting over his last 24 rounds. I’ll take that.
He’s currently 21st in the FedEx Cup Standings
+3300 to win (Fanduel)
Is Adam Scott back? Since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, the Aussie has 3 Top 20 finishes – including a T2 at the Wyndham, where he missed a 4 footer to win.
In 2019, finished solo 5th around Liberty National. He also beat Brooks Koepka in solo matches at the 2017 President’s Cup.
He’s currently 82nd in the FedEx Cup Standings, meaning, he has something to play for. Only the Top 70 get into the BMW next week.
+4300 to win (Fanduel)
Daniel Berger didn’t play here back in 2019, but I think he’s in for a big week.
Over his last 24 rounds, he’s 3rd in SG: APP, and 14th in SG: T2G.
He’s finished T8 or better in 3 of his last 4 starts.
Different course, but last season he finished solo 3rd at this event.
Quick notes on Berger, nothing fancy. But it’s easy to see why I think he’ll compete this week.
He’s currently 20th in the FedEx Cup Standings.
+3100 to win (Fanduel)
The Englishman Ian Poulter may be a nice target for us in the Top 30 range.
In 2019, he was able to grab a T10 at this event. He’s also trending in the right direction with 2 Top 10 finishes in his last 3 starts (T10 at the WGC FedEx). Since a missed cut at the Wells Fargo, he hasn’t finished outside the Top 40.
He’s not lighting it up SG wise tee-to-green over his last 24 rounds, but he’s 6th in SG: Putting and 1st in SG: SG over that period.
He’s currently 79th in the FedEx Cup Standings, so he needs a good performance this week to make it to the BMW.
+7500 to win (Fanduel)
Big name related, let’s talk about Jordan Spieth.
Since the PLAYERS, in stroke play events, he’s finished outside the Top 20 once (T30 at the PGA).
At the 2017 President’s Cup, Jordan was undefeated heading into singles where he lost to Vegas. In 2019, he finished T6 at this event.
SG numbers over his last 24 rounds…
He’s currently 2nd in the FedEx Cup Standings, so he’s punched his ticket to Atlanta.
+1800 to win (Fanduel)
Alright, it’s time. Rory McIlroy. God, I love talking about my guy.
I know I said I loved him at the WGC, and to be fair he had a great week. He shot 3 straight 66’s after his tough opening round. But yet again, I love him this week.
He was 2nd in SG: T2G at the WGC a few weeks ago, and he may have been first if his short game wasn’t so bad during Round 1. He was 3rd in SG: APP and 1st Off the Tee that week. He was STRIPPING it. He rolled it well on these greens in 2019, gaining over a stroke.
Back in 2019, Rory finished T6.
He’s finished T18 or better in 4 of his last 5 starts.
He’s getting very close. VERY close. If he’s able to win this week, watch out for Rors in Atlanta.
He’s currently 26th in the FedEx Cup Standings.
+2200 to win (DraftKings)
Kevin Kisner – Top 40 (+110, Fanduel)
Rory McIlroy – Top 10 (+230, DraftKings)
Jordan Spieth – Top 10 (+175, Fanduel)
Daniel Berger – Top 20 (+135, Fanduel)
Abraham Ancer – Top 20 (+145, Fanduel)
Scottie Scheffler – Top 20 (+150, Fanduel)
Cover via Golf.com (Getty)