Since 1967, the Northern Trust has been one of the highlights of a Jersey summer. It’s had a number of sponsors over the years (Buick, Manufacturers Hanover, American Express Westchester, Barclays) but they settled on the Northern Trust in 2017.
The tournament typically rotates venues, as this year’s event takes place at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. Liberty National was basically a toxic waste dump prior to the 250 million that was invested into it in 2006.
If you didn’t know that little detail, you would just think it’s a beautiful course that looks like a good place to play. Despite the backstory that could serve as a Mr. Burns sub-plot from the Simpsons, Liberty National is an otherwise decent stop on the PGA Tour.
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The course is a short one by tour standards (6,724 meters) but offers a lot of opportunities for the Strokes Gained specialists to make up ground (it is very much a ball-striker’s course). The last two winners at this venue shot -16 and -11, so it’s not an “easy” course at the highest level.
It’s a bentgrass course offering upside to those with a strong second shot. There aren’t a high number of hazards on this course, but players can really get themselves into trouble going long on most of the greens. Aside from that, the course is a microcosm of America itself. It’s appealing on the surface but the history beneath is terrifying.
This week’s strategy
Last week, we hit on two of our picks (Webb Simpson and Roger Sloan). Though the payoff wasn’t huge, it was nice to have another week of at least two hits. Roger Sloan nearly capped an incredible comeback victory, losing out in a playoff after barely surviving the cut.
Webb Simpson also rallied for a nice Top-10 cash. Unfortunately, Michael Thompson was sitting in the Top-5 after Day 1, needing only a T-40 to cash, but shot a horrifying 74 on Day 2 and missed the cut, barely.
This week, we’re looking at the golfers who stack up well on strokes gained approach, and strokes gained total. We’ll also be looking at the 2019 finishes here, as this course typically doesn’t have an extensive record across the tour. Here’s what we’re prioritizing this week:
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Past performance at Liberty National
- Recent form
- Strokes Gained: Total
Good luck this week as we take a look at the best betting picks with lines from the DraftKings Online Sportsbook.
Middle of the Fairway – Two Players to finish in the top 20
Russell Henley +250
Henley finished 59th here in 2019. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s still a small sample. However, the ancillary numbers suggest he will finish much better this time around, based on his play this season. Henley is 5th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 16th in GIRP, and 24th in Strokes Gained: Total. Don’t expect a high finish this week, but a top 20 seems well within reason.
Patrick Cantlay +120
We may be sandbagging with this pick, as with Abraham Ancer in the top 10. Cantlay finished 12th here in 2019, and he’s another one who has been hot lately. Cantlay has finished inside the top 23 in five of his last six events.
He’s 17th in GIRP, 28th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 4th in Strokes Gained: Total. By the numbers, he’s a great play this week to finish inside the top 20, even if the odds aren’t tremendous.
Edge of the Green – Two Players to finish in the top 10
Abraham Ancer +275
Abraham might be the answer this week, as he finished 2nd here back in 2019 (his best finish that season). Since then, his overall game has improved, as he recorded his first PGA Tour victory at Southwind during the FedEx St Jude Classic, just a few weeks ago.
Ancer has the advanced numbers to back up a claim to finish high this week, ranking 27th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 16th in Strokes Gained: Total, and 7th in Driving Accuracy. He’s also 26th in GIRP. I like Ancer this week as my top pick.
Paul Casey +275
Paul Casey did not play at 2019’s Liberty National for the Northern Trust. Though he has no history at this course, he’s been on a scorching hot streak for the entire year. Casey has finished inside the top 7 in four of his last six tournaments.
He’s 2nd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 9th in Strokes Gained: Total. Even without the track record on this course, it’s not like he’s playing a course others have played multiple times.
Short Putt – Three Players to finish in the top 5
Jon Rahm +175
Jon Rahm hasn’t played since his back-to-back top finishes (1st at US Open and 3rd at the Open). He’s averaged the lowest rounds among every player on the tour this season. Jon is 2nd in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee, 8th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 1st in Strokes Gained: Total.
He finished 3rd here in 2019, so that’s a great sign heading into this weekend. Jon is in elite company this season and playing at a truly elite level.
Xander Schauffele +350
X gave it to the world at the Olympics. He went out and took home the deciding Gold medal for Team USA, which clinched the gold medal count for the US. Prior to that, Xander has six of eight finishes inside the top 15. Since then, Xander finished 46th at St Jude.
The question this week is whether he can get back on track. Xander’s advanced stats project well this week. He’s 17th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 5th in Strokes Gained: Total. In 2019, Xander failed to make the cut at Liberty National in 2019, but it’s just too small of a sample to draw a great conclusion.
Daniel Berger +550
Daniel Berger is quietly having a strong resurgence late in the season. After starting hot, Berger cooled for a while but has now finished inside the top 8 in three of his last four events.
Berger competed at Liberty National in the Northern Trust in 2019 and finished 3rd. Berger is 6th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 8th in Strokes Gained: Total. Berger is primed for an excellent finish in Jersey City this weekend.