Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are among the stars who have descended on Jersey City, N.J., this week for The Northern Trust, the first of three events in the 2019 FedEx Cup Playoffs. The must-see tournament begins Thursday from Liberty National Golf Club, which also hosted in 2009 and 2013. Woods tied for second in each of those years, but he’s played a very limited schedule this season and missed the cut in two of his last four tournaments. Bookmakers list Koepka as the 8-1 favorite in the latest 2019 Northern Trust odds, followed by McIlroy (12-1), Dustin Johnson (16-1) and Jon Rahm (16-1). Woods has fallen to 30-1 behind 11 other golfers. Before you make your 2019 Northern Trust picks, you need to read the PGA predictions from SportsLine’s resident golf insider, Sal Johnson.

A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson is red-hot this year. He featured Woods in his best bets for the Masters, and Woods walked away with his fifth green jacket. Then, Johnson promoted Koepka in his PGA Championship best bets, and Koepka made a mockery of that major, building a seven-shot lead entering the weekend and cruising to victory.

At the Travelers Championship in June, Johnson promoted 50-1 long shot Chez Reavie as a possible winner, noting his game suited TPC River Highlands to a tee. The result: Reavie cruised to a four-stroke victory, finishing 17-under for his first PGA title in 11 years. Two weeks ago at TPC Southwind, Johnson again promoted Koepka as one of his PGA best bets. The result: Koepka won the WGC-FedEx Invitational at 16-under.

Now, Johnson — the first producer of “Inside the PGA Tour,” a longtime ABC Sports golf producer and the founder of the world’s biggest golf stats database — has issued his highly confident picks for The Northern Trust 2019 at Liberty National.

We can tell you he wants no part of Dustin Johnson, one of the top Vegas favorites at 16-1. In fact, he says Johnson doesn’t even crack the top 10. “The story of his year is putting. He comes into this week 187th in putting inside 10 feet, and he also has been poor at scrambling, tied for 100th,” Sal Johnson told SportsLine. “Since his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, he hasn’t been better than 20th in his last five starts. His game just seems lost right now, so it’s best to pass on him.”

Sal Johnson also has a strong read on Woods, who did not look ready to play the last time he competed. At last month’s Open Championship in Northern Ireland, Woods stumbled to an opening-round 78 and was gone by the weekend. However, Sal Johnson says Woods’ recent problems appear to coincide with cooler temperatures that make his surgically-repaired back act up. “It’s going to be 90 each day this week in Jersey City, and that could heat up Tiger’s game,” Johnson told SportsLine.

Johnson also has locked in the fate of Koepka, who won the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic and missed only two of 65 putts within 10 feet. “When he’s putting well, he’s nearly impossible to beat,” Johnson told SportsLine, while also admitting that Koepka might be tired from his historic year of chasing major titles.

Strikingly, Johnson is high on a colossal long shot who’s been surging in the FedEx Cup standings. This overlooked player has a game that’s “perfect for Liberty National.” Anyone who backs this underdog could hit it big. 

So who wins the first tournament of the FedEx Cup Playoffs 2019? Where do Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods finish? And which long shot stuns the golfing world? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson’s full leaderboard, picks and analysis, all from the PGA Tour insider who nailed the Masters and PGA Championship among other tournaments this year.

Brooks Koepka 8-1
Rory McIlroy 12-1
Dustin Johnson 16-1
Jon Rahm 16-1
Justin Rose 20-1
Patrick Cantlay 20-1
Justin Thomas 20-1
Rickie Fowler 20-1
Tommy Fleetwood 25-1
Webb Simpson 25-1
Rickie Fowler 25-1
Tiger Woods 30-1
Xander Schauffele 30-1
Jason Day 33-1
Francesco Molinari 40-1
Adam Scott 40-1
Collin Morikawa 50-1
Jason Day 50-1
Hideki Matsuyama 50-1
Byeong Hun-An 50-1
Bryson DeChambeau 50-1
Tony Finau 50-1
Matt Kuchar 50-1
Patrick Reed 50-1
Jordan Spieth 50-1
Billy Horschel 50-1



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