The FedEx Cup Playoffs are here as a short, three-week sprint to the $15 million finish line begins at possibly the most expensive golf course ever built. The Northern Trust will be played at Liberty National this week — price tag: $250 million — and nearly all of the best players from this year’s PGA Tour will be in attendance.

Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.

Event information

What: The Northern Trust | When: Aug. 8-11
Where: Liberty National Golf Club — Jersey City, New Jersey

Ranking the field (odds)

  1. Rory McIlroy (12-1): He has a hilarious 12 top 10s in 16 starts.
  2. Brooks Koepka (10-1): On a scale of 1 to the Masters, how much is he going to care this week?
  3. Webb Simpson (25-1): Come at me! Two straight top-two finishes, and three in his last five.
  4. Adam Scott (40-1): Only one of the top four in strokes gained who hasn’t won this year.
  5. Jon Rahm (16-1): Five straight top 11s worldwide.
  6. Dustin Johnson (16-1): Quietly having maybe one of the best statistical years of his career.
  7. Justin Rose (20-1): Finished second to Scott the last time a pro event was held here in 2013.
  8. Justin Thomas (18-1): There’s a premium on GIR, and Thomas is No. 2 in strokes gained approach.
  9. Patrick Cantlay (20-1): Three top 15s in last five, including a win. Should thrive where GIR matters.
  10. Tommy Fleetwood (25-1): Four straight top 25s and two straight top fives.

Field strength — A+: Of the top 125, only three golfers — Paul Casey, Sam Burns and Henrik Stenson — are sitting this one out. Whereas the old four-tournament schedule may have encouraged some of the players at the top to skip one of the playoff events, 

Three things to know

1. Rory vs. Kuchar: Those two (along with Koepka) have to try and pound out 36 holes together after this assault earlier in the week. I need Kuchar mic’d up for all of it.

2. Presidents Cup watch: The top eight for the Presidents Cup will be solidified after the BMW Championship. It’s a freak show right now, with Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson and Tiger all on the outside looking in. They have 144 holes to play their way in and not rely on the Big Cat (who is captain) for a captain’s pick. Jordan Spieth (currently 29th in the standings)? He might be relying on the Big Cat for a captain’s pick.

3. Bryson Zone: Last year, Bryson DeChambeau won the first two events of the playoffs. This seems to happen a lot. In the last seven years, a golfer has won multiple playoff events in six of them. That’s less likely this time around with the schedule cut from four to three, but if you’re hot, you usually stay hot and you can rip off two of three and count your cash all fall. 

Tiger watch

Tiger Woods will tee it up at just his second non-major since March. The report out of New Jersey on Tuesday is that he looked rusty but fit. Not so much on Wednesday.

I have mixed feelings on all of this. Woods finished second at both the 2009 and 2013 Barclays which were played on this course, but he’s been listless since leaving Magnolia Lane. I don’t envision a scenario in which he finds any kind of meaningful game in August and makes it back to the Tour Championship.

Past winners

  • 2018: Bryson DeChambeau
  • 2017: Dustin Johnson
  • 2016: Patrick Reed
  • 2015: Jason Day
  • 2014: Hunter Mahan

Northern Trust picks

Winner: Adam Scott (40-1) — Man, I love him here. He’s overdue for a win and thrived last time a tournament was played here, holding off Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Gary Woodland for the 2013 Barclays title. Three top 10s in his last five. Tons to love!

Top 10: Rory McIlroy (12-1) — It’s amazing that the guy who has finished in the top 10 in 75 percent of his starts this year is not the favorite. Such is life in this Brooks Koepka World.

Sleeper: Sungjae Im (80-1)Go look at these numbers. Only six golfers have more top 10s on the PGA Tour this season than Im’s seven. And, of course, I’m going to ignore the fact that he has as many starts as Rory and D.J. combined. Coming off a top 10 last week at the Wyndham Championship.



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