The Northern Trust Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

Dustin Johnson The Northern Trust
Dustin Johnson tees off on the 11th hole during the second round of THE NORTHERN TRUST at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, NY on Aug. 25, 2017. Photo by Ryan Young/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

With J.T. Poston winning his maiden title at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, the PGA Tour regular season reached its conclusion. Thirty-eight arduous weeks of the battle royale known as the FedExCup race have now come to this: a three-week frenzy, starting with the 125 golfers who compiled the most points.

From No. 1 Brooks Koepka to No. 125 Pat Perez, the most gripping postseason in professional sports begins at Liberty National this week with The Northern Trust, the first leg of the three-event FedExCup Playoffs.

Over these three weeks, the 125 will be whittled down to one: a FedExCup Champion, who will be awarded professional golf immorality (not really)… and $15 million dollars (really!).

World No. 4 Justin Rose is well positioned to defend his FedExCup title, but 124 golfers have other ideas.

It all starts this week in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The Skinny

Tournament: The Northern Trust
Dates: Aug. 8-11, 2019
Where: Jersey City, New Jersey
Course: Liberty National Golf Club
Distance: Par 36-35-71, 7,370 yards
Architect: Tom Kite and Bob Cupp (2006)
Format: 125 players, 72 holes, stroke-play
Purse: $9,250,000
Winning Share: $1,665,00
FedExCup Points: 2,000
Defending Champion: Bryson DeChambeau
Top-10 Betting Favorites: Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods, Tommy Fleetwood

TV & Online Coverage

Rd 1: 02-6:00 PM (GOLF)
Rd 2: 02-6:00 PM (GOLF)
Rd 3: 01-2:30 PM (GOLF)
Rd 3: 03-6:00 PM (CBS)
Rd 4: 12-1:30 PM (GOLF)
Rd 4: 02-6:00 PM (CBS)

Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


The Northern Trust trophy
The Northern Trust trophy on display during the third round at Glen Oaks GC in Old Westbury, NY on Aug. 26, 2017. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is the third year the tournament will be titled “The Northern Trust,” but the event itself has been an annual stop on the PGA Tour since 1967. For a long time the tournament was simply known as “The Westchester,” with the first 40 editions contested at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, New York.

Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural tournament in 1967, and over the years, notable winners have included Julius Boros, Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller, Raymond Floyd, Seve Ballesteros, Hale Irwin, Ernie Els, and Vijay Singh.

Singh holds the tournament record for victories with four, most recently taking the 2008 title in a playoff over Sergio Garcia and Kevin Sutherland. Nicklaus, Ballesteros, Els, and Garcia are the other multiple winners with two wins apiece.

Since 2007, The Northern Trust (formerly The Barclays) has been the opening event of the FedExCup playoffs, and for the third time (2009, 2013), the tournament will be contested at Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Recent Winners

2018: Bryson DeChambeau (-18)
2017: Dustin Johnson (-13)
2016: Patrick Reed (-9)
2015: Jason Day (-19)
2014: Hunter Mahan (-14)
2013: Adam Scott (-11)
2012: Nick Watney (-10)
2011: Dustin Johnson (-19)

Playoff Format Primer

Justin Thomas The Northern Trust
Justin Thomas tees off at the 10th hole during the third round of The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks GC in Old Westbury, NY on Aug. 26, 2017. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Players have been accumulating FedExCup points since the Safeway Open last October, and the 125 who did that best are facing off this week at The Northern Trust, the first event of the FedExCup playoffs.

As the first of now three playoff tournaments, players begin this event with the points they earned over the past ten months, but for 55 in the field, the ride will end in New Jersey, as only the top 70 will move onto Medinah, Illinois for the BMW Championship, the second leg of the playoffs. Those outside the top 70 after New Jersey will be eliminated from the playoffs.

A large portion of the field will have enough FedExCup points to move onto round two, regardless of what happens at The Northern Trust, but even those who have locked up later round berths will not be short on motivation.

Cup points are quadrupled for the first two playoff rounds, meaning the player who takes top billing in New Jersey will earn a cool 2,000 points. To put that in perspective, only three players (Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and Matt Kuchar) tallied more than 2,000 points during the entire season, so there is a great deal of potential for playoff movement. A win here makes a player a lock to reach the Tour Championship at East Lake, regardless of whether that winner is No. 1 Koepka or Pat Perez (No. 125).

Perhaps the best example is Heath Slocum, who entered the 2009 playoffs at No. 124, but after a first-round victory, moved up to third-place.

Those top spots are important, especially this year as the Tour Championship will feature a sort of handicap-based system (officially called FedEx Cup Starting Strokes) for the first time.

The FedEx Cup points leader after the first two legs begins the Tour Championship at 10-under par. The No. 2 player will start at 8 under. The No. 3 player starts at 7 under; the No. 4 player starts at 6 under; the No. 5 player starts at 5 under. Players 6-10 start at 4 under; players 11-15 start at 3 under; players 16-20 start at 2 under; players 21-25 start at 1 under; and players 26-30 start at even par.

In the finale at East Lake, the player with the lowest aggregate score over 72 holes when added to his handicap strokes or FedExCup Starting Strokes wins the Tour Championship and is also crowned FedExCup champion.

The Tour Championship win is considered an official PGA Tour victory and the FedExCup champion also earns a bonus of $15 million and a five-year PGA Tour exemption.

Some marquee players who will need a good showing this week to move on include:

Big Names on the Bubble

65 Sergio Garcia
69 Jordan Spieth
70 Matthew Wolff
71 Bubba Watson
77 Tyrrell Hatton
85 Henrik Stenson
88 Branden Grace

Defending Champion

Bryson DeChambeau Wins The Northern Trus
Bryson DeChambeau poses with the trophy after winning The Northern Trust on Aug. 26, 2018 at the Ridgewood CC in Paramus, NJ. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bringing a four-shot lead into a final round at Ridgewood, Bryson DeChambeau never let anyone close, shooting a 2-under 69 to win The 2018 Northern Trust – the first leg of the playoffs. DeChambeau finished at 18-under par, four clear of Tony Finau.

“It’s amazing. This one was different. I had to grind out a couple shots at the end. Wasn’t expecting a couple of the shots I hit; a little nerves here and there,” said DeChambeau, 24 at the time, who became the tournament’s youngest winner in the FedExCup era.

“Not really knowing what to do under the gun like that with that tremendous of a lead, I’m kind of trying to protect a little bit. It was a big learning experience for me.”

It was the second of three victories on the season for DeChambeau, which at the time vaulted him to the top of the FedExCup standings.

Final Top 5

1. Bryson DeChambeau -18
2. Tony Finau -14
3. Billy Horschel -13
3. Cameron Smith -13
5. Adam Scott -12
5. Ryan Palmer -12
5. Aaron Wise -12

The Field: By the Numbers

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka tees off on No. 13 during day one of The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks GC in Westbury, NY on Aug. 24, 2017. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The first leg of the playoffs will feature the top-125 players in the final FedExCup standings, with Bryson DeChambeau defending his 2018 title.

In addition to world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, the field in Jersey City, New Jersey will feature all the big names including Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Rose.

As we do each week, let’s take a look at the field… by the numbers.

FedEx Top 10

All of the top-10 players in the current FedExCup standings will be in the field this week.

  • Brooks Koepka (1)
  • Rory McIlroy (2)
  • Matt Kuchar (3)
  • Xander Schauffele (4)
  • Gary Woodland (5)
  • Patrick Cantlay (6)
  • Dustin Johnson (7)
  • Paul Casey (8)
  • Webb Simpson (9)
  • Jon Rahm (10)
World Top 10

All of the top-10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings will also be teeing it up.

  • Brooks Koepka (1)
  • Dustin Johnson (2)
  • Rory McIlroy (3)
  • Justin Rose (4)
  • Tiger Woods (5)
  • Francesco Molinari (6)
  • Jon Rahm (7)
  • Bryson DeChambeau (8)
  • Justin Thomas (9)
  • Patrick Cantlay (10)
Former FedExCup Champions

There will be nine (9) former FedExCup champions in the field this week, including two-time winner Tiger Woods.

  • Justin Rose (2018)
  • Justin Thomas (2017)
  • Rory McIlroy (2016)
  • Jordan Spieth (2015)
  • Billy Horschel (2014)
  • Henrik Stenson (2013)
  • Brandt Snedeker (2012)
  • Jim Furyk (2010)
  • Tiger Woods (2007, 2009)
PGA Tour Rookies

Just like last season, eight (8) rookies qualified for the playoffs.

  • Sungjae Im (23)
  • Collin Morikawa (49)
  • Adam Long (55)
  • Matthew Wolff (70)
  • Cameron Champ (64)
  • Wyndham Clark (90)
  • K.H. Lee (104)
  • Sepp Straka (111)
Players Who’ve Never Missed

Nine (9) players have qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs in each season since its inception in 2007.

  • Charley Hoffman
  • Charles Howell III
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Ryan Moore
  • Justin Rose
  • Adam Scott
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Bubba Watson

Full Field & Odds

The Northern Trust | Liberty National | Jersey City, NJ | Aug. 11-14, 2019

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