Golf: Fleetwood, Scott in the right spot at The Northern Trust

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August 7th, 2019

The first leg of the FedEx Cup starts Thursday at New Jersey's Liberty National Golf Club, which provides a spectacular view in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline. The course, built on what was once a landfill, opened in 2006 and has hosted this event twice (2009 and 2013). Two years ago the Robert E. Cupp/Tom Kite-designed venue hosted the Presidents Cup.

Liberty National, played at a par of 71 and listed at 7,370 yards, will have 122 players vying to get into the top 70 in FedEx Cup points to advance to next week's BMW Championship in Chicago. Three players eligible for The Northern TrustHenrik Stenson, Sam Burns and Paul Caseywon't be at Liberty National. Stenson is 85th in the standings and Burns is 89th, so their seasons are over. Casey is eighth and is safe to advance even without participating.

Big money up for grabs

For the first two FedEx Cup playoff events, the points are quadrupled, and since they aren't major championships, a lot of money had to be put up to lure the top players when the playoff concept started 12 years ago. The FedEx Cup went from four events to three this season, which places even more of an emphasis on participating in The Northern Trust. Not only is there a lot of money at stake, but qualifying for the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup's final leg, also guarantees an exemption into all four majors next year.

Fleetwood is due for a win

While many competitors from the 2009 and 2013 editions of this tournament (then known as The Barclays) are in the field, the one I'm promoting the most wasn't here for either editionTommy Fleetwood (+2200). The native of Southport, England, is the most overdue player I've seen in years to get his first PGA Tour win. Ever consistent, he has the longest active consecutive cuts made streak on tour at 25, and is a top-10 machine, with six this season. He is seventh in strokes gained total, and 11th in strokes gained tee to green. Fleetwood has no glaring weaknesses and rarely gives a poor effort. He offers nice odds and should be considered in matchup scenarios.

Scott back for more in New Jersey

Australian Adam Scott won on this course in the 2013 edition and merits consideration for all wagers at +4000. Like Fleetwood, he also has six top-10 finishes this season and is overdue for a win. His last came in the 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. That win occurred one week after he annexed the Honda Classic, but he's amazingly not come out on top since.

Scott's game has always been phenomenal tee to green, but his putting has generally been an issue. He ranks 45th this season in strokes gained putting, a hefty improvement from the last two seasons, when he was 165th and 128th in that same category. He's too good a player to have gone this long without a win, and with his flat stick straightened out, another trophy is probably in his near future.

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