By Dave Essler
Without question, the toughest handicap this week is how the Northern Trust's Monday finish affects players going forward. Those that didn't make the cut that have opportunities to win going forward would certainly be at an advantage, which is especially true since very few golfers have much exposure to this course. The first guys that fall into this category are Colin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, and Jason Kokrak.
Morikawa was #1 in Fedex points going into the Northern Trust while Kokrak was 12th and Johnson 17th, and they will all get extra rest and obviously more practice rounds heading into this weekend's BMW Championship. If I bet nothing else than those three as first round leaders, then I believe we'd have an edge. Colin's game fits any course and Kokrak is a notoriously fast starter. DJ just happens to be the #2 golfer in the Official World Golf rankings, so we're not asking any of them to play above their pay grade.
Picking a winner this week isn't going to be that simple though. In the playoffs, the winner is awarded 2,000 points as opposed to 1,500 during the season. That means that even the 70th and final golfer to make this no-cut event can win and be #1 going into the finals next week. With $15 million dollars going to the eventual champion, there's "no holes off" for most. With that said, and because it's a no-cut tournament, we'll see guys that don't get the start they want and start taking chances sooner rather than later. That can lead to big numbers and playing yourself out of contention, which means there should be excellent value AFTER Thursday when we see the guys that struggled and rather than expecting them to rebound as most will (and the sports books will reflect that) we'll be looking to fade them going forward.
Jon Rahm beat Johnson in a playoff at the BMW last year, so here we are trying to figure out if Rahm's extra energy expended in the Northern Trust is a factor. Personally, if it is, I believe it will show up later in the week. And of course we already mentioned DJ having extra prep time, and the books have clearly factored all this into DJ's odds. And then there's Louis Oosthuizen. He was the only golfer that qualified for the Northern Trust that chose not to play. That gives Louie even more practice times AND in the last two BMW's he finished T25 and T11. There are guys that typically do play well in "strong field" events, but Louie isn't one of them. That won't preclude me from looking at him given the aforementioned, however.
And, as fate would have it, Jon Rahm IS one player that excels in those tournaments. Others that warrant consideration based solely on that are Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, and Brian Harman. With that said, Harman played awful last week, so there's either more value on him or it's simply a waste of money.
So, all things not being equal, my best bets this week are as follows:
Viktor Hovland +110: He’s getting a bad rap for last Sunday
Hideki Matsuyama +130: See his stats in full-field events
Louis Oosthuizen -125: He had a plan all along
First Round Leaders:
Alex Noren +5500: A 66 on Sunday, and aside from one bad round he could have won last week
Jordan Spieth +2500: An +8 Sunday was predictable with nothing to gain. Also a 62 on Friday
Tournament Head To Head:
Casey -110 over Scheffler: Give me experience over talent at this point
Colin Morikawa +2500: We can’t forget #1 at this price
Dustin Johnson +2800: Give me that extra rest from missing the cut last week