The 2021 Northern Trust odds, preview, and course notes
The PGA Tour's postseason ritual will commence Thursday at the Northern Trust, the first of three legs of the 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs.
For the fourth time, Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey will play host to the opening event of the playoff, which will welcome the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm, who ranks fifth in FedEx Cup points, is the +900 favorite to win the Northern Trust, his first tournament back in the United States since he won his first major, at the U.S. Open in June.
This season's Open Championship winner, Collin Morikawa (+1800) leads all golfers with 2,171 FedEx Cup points. Other players in the top 10 of the FedEx Cup rankings include Jordan Spieth (+1600), Patrick Cantlay (+2800), Harris English (+4000), Bryson DeChambeau (+2200), and Sam Burns (+5000).
The Northern Trust 2021
Sun, August 22 2021, 8:00 PM
Louis Oosthuizen, at No. 8, is the only player in the top 10 who will not compete at the Northern Trust, after he withdrew from last week's Wyndham Championship because of a neck injury.
Defending FedEx Cup Playoff champion Dustin Johnson is the second choice (+1600) on the odds board to win in Jersey City.
Northern Trust course notes and relevant statistics
The last player to triumph at Liberty National during the FedEx Cup was Patrick Reed (+4000), who finished 16-under to defeat Abraham Ancer (+3300) by one stroke.
One of the best putters in the game, Reed excelled on Liberty National's fast bentgrass greens. He also ranked first in ball striking the week of his win, as well as second in strokes gained off the tee, par 4 scoring, and scrambling. He ranked in the top five in greens in regulation percentage and strokes gained tee to green.
A Bob Cupp and Tom Kite design, Liberty National is a par 71, 7,410-yard layout that features just 23 acres of fairway, which makes accuracy off the tee essential.
Name a better view… we’ll wait. pic.twitter.com/BlRp95Jchq— Liberty National Golf Club (@LibNatGolf) August 12, 2021
The layout also includes 98 bunkers and 13 water hazards, which come into play on 12 holes, plus three inches of bluegrass rough, and smaller-than-average (4,500 square feet) greens.
Historically, strokes gained approaching the green is the most predictive statistic for this course, and strokes gained tee to green is a close second. In 2019, the top five on the leaderboard each gained more than 10.4 strokes tee to green.
Golfers will also get a tough test from Liberty National's 11 par 4s, five of which measure more than 450 yards and play as five of the six most difficult holes.
Best bets at the 2021 Northern Trust
Since the inaugural FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2007, the first leg has been won by a player inside the top 25 of the world golf rankings in all but two of the 14 tournaments.
Five of the last six winners also entered the week ranked in the top 10 of the FedEx Cup standings, while four of the last six won a PGA Tour event earlier in the calendar year.
The Northern Trust @TheNTGolf— Ron Mintz (@MintzGolf) August 17, 2021
One player who comes in hot, off his first tour win at the St. Jude Invitational, is Ancer.
The 30-year-old from Texas has played some of his best golf of late, with four top-five finishes since late April, including a fourth at the Travelers Championship. He also placed eighth at the PGA Championship in May.
Ancer ranks in the top 30 on tour in strokes gained approaching the green, ball striking, greens in regulation percentage, and strokes gained tee to green. He is also tied for third in par 4 scoring and ranks near the top 10 in scrambling and driving accuracy.
For a longshot to finish high, look to Jason Kokrak (+6600), a bentgrass specialist.
Ranked 12th in the FedEx Cup standings and 25th in the World Golf Ranking, Kokrak has won twice on tour this season and has posted some of his best finishes against elite competition, including top 10s at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players Championship, and the WGC-Workday Championship.
In his two most recent appearances at Liberty National, Kokrak placed ninth in 2013 and 12th in 2019.
How to watch the 2021 Northern Trust
The winner of the 2021 Northern Trust will receive $1.7 million of a $9.5 million purse, plus 2,000 FedEx Cup points, and will join the other top 70 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings at next week’s BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland.
The top 30 at the conclusion of the BMW Championship will head to East Lake in Atlanta for the Tour Championship, the final leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
You can catch the Northern Trust on the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET, Saturday, 1-3 p.m. ET, and Sunday, noon to 2 p.m. ET. CBS will provide live coverage 3-6 p.m. ET Saturday and 2-6 p.m. ET Sunday.