We had an extra day to digest everything we saw at the Northern Trust on Saturday when Hurricane Henri hit the Jersey City area and poured more than six inches of rain on Liberty National. The tournament has been scheduled for this edition and has postponed the finals on Sunday early in the hope of being able to play it in full on Monday.
At the moment, players are scheduled to play three from both tees from around 7:30 a.m. ET. I doubt this start time a little with the amount of rain the course has received and is yet to get, but I assume they will end the first playoff event of the season at some point.
Cameron Smith made on Saturday the greatest noise and made it into the last group with an incredible and almost flawless 11-under 60. After five birdies in his first six holes, he went bogey-free and just never slowed, finishing with four more in his last six.
He nearly finished his round when Jon Rahm tee-off, causing Rahm on Moving Day had to catch up with him, and that’s exactly what he would do with a 4 under 67 to tie the Australian to 16 during the week. They are supported in the last group by Erik Van Rooyen, who took his first TOUR win at the Barracuda Championship a few weeks ago. He has continued to play well since then, putting together a 9-under 62 to make his way to the finals.
There are several names to look out for further down the ladder as Justin Thomas and Tony Finau are only two Shots lurk back. Three more, including Shane Lowry and Viktor Hovland, are another shot behind them, creating an interesting scenario on what we know is a soft and scoring course on Monday.
Let’s look at the punches that come in three rounds at Liberty National to select our winner.
Strokes Gained can give golfers, DFS players and fans much more detail on how a golfer is actually played by measuring each stroke in relation to the rest of the field.
From the millions of data points collected, the TOUR calculates from every distance and situation how many strokes a player needs on average to get the ball into the hole. If a player beats these averages, he will win strokes on the field.
Every golfing situation is different – Strokes Gained measures the player’s performance in relation to the situation.
In general, ball-striking and tee-to -Green are the most stable over the long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.
You can often find benefits in live betting by identifying golfers who hit the ball well but don’t drop putts. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers can get backward.
Simply put, Jon Rahm is a closer one. He’s the best player in the world right now by ranking and eye test, and I can’t find any reason why he doesn’t win the Northern Trust on Monday (or Tuesday). He also ranks fifth on the TOUR on average in the finals, and with him I don’t need to see how many of those came in the competition as the sample size is ample. Rahm is my unexciting pick to win the first playoff event, but you could do worse than redeeming a 140 ticket to start your week.
After three rounds, Rahm takes second place on the blows from the tee to the green, the fifth from the tee and the fifth on the approach. The only category where he loses strokes is on the green, which isn’t too much of a problem as he ranks 4th on the greens in regulation. The Spaniard also wins more than one stroke per round on the greens, which shows that he has just played his game and is ready to cross the finish line whenever that can happen.
This weather just seems to Shane Lowry to please. He’s someone I know the rain and wet don’t scare him, and it helps that he really showed great form at Liberty National this week.
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He compared EVR with his own 9-under 62 on Saturday in order to climb into the penultimate three with Thomas and Finau. Lowry starts the final round just three strokes behind and is in the mix for victory with another strong round on Monday.
The Champion Golfer of the Year 2019 approached the best player in the field on Saturday and won 4 , 89 strokes. It was hands down his best iron game of the week, but he won shots in that category in each of his first three rounds and has been very solid all week. I assume we’ll see him with an offensive mentality for the final round and give himself some opportunities to put pressure on the leaders.
He’s an easy pick-and-steal in the DFS final round with only $ 7,300, and I even like him in matchups, especially with a guy like Finau. Lowry looks like a really solid top 5 pick at 180 at BetMGM, but he also has a value of 3100 to take the win at FanDuel.
One of the most consistent and formidable players this season has been Sam Burns . He has repeatedly brought his name into the mix, which goes back to the Genesis Invitational on the Riviera. Burns finally prevailed for his first win at Valspar and was in the playoff of the WGC St. Jude two weeks ago.
Burns once again brought his name into the conversation when he shot a 7-under 64 on Saturday and switched to T11 to go into the final lap. He is capable of another top finish and the way he turned his irons on lap three makes me believe that he will only go up.
The former LSU Tiger lost strokes on approach in each of his first two rounds, but he found something on Saturday to win 3.18 in that category. I really like Burns as an underdog to get a top 5 finish and certainly to be a strong player in DFS and matchups for the finals.
Cameron Smith has been one of my favorites since the Olympics. He played really great golf, usually one category or another, but surely he put it all together on Saturday. His 11-under-62 was extremely impressive and it’s really not like it came out of nowhere for the Australian.
My concern for Smith in the finals is more about his recent performances in the finals than anything what leads to this place. In his last three measured competitions, Smith has lost more than one full stroke to the field of strokes won in total. In two of these three he lost more than four shots, which absolutely destroyed his chances in the competition. Now he has to do it while staring at Jon Rahm, and because of that, it seems like a pretty straightforward fade to seeing them performing on the opposite ends of the spectrum with their performances in the final round.
I do it a little easier for me with this next fade, but the reality is that it’s hard to trust Tom Hoge on the final round with the names around him. He hasn’t been in this position often, and certainly not with so many of the top players in the world circling his place on the leaderboard.
Hoge has done it too, although he doesn’t have his usual sharp iron game. He lost 1.59 strokes on the approach on Saturday, but made up for it in the last two laps with a ridiculous putter. He’s taken over seven strokes of the field on the putting greens over the last 36 holes, and that’s for a 152nd player.
Hoge might just see those greens very well, but I do his ability to keep that up will fade on the final lap. We know the speed of the greens will change with all that rain, and with a lack of ball strokes and some extra pressure near the top of the leaderboard, he’s an easy fade.
Another player who came out on Monday Keegan Bradley is especially popular in the DFS. He makes it to the finals within the top 20 but is struggling to complete tournaments.
Bradley had a strong 4-sub on Saturday but his hit was starting to fade. It was the first round of the week that he lost strokes on the field from the tee, and he only won 0.81 strokes on the approach. His putter picked him up to still climb the leaderboard. If there is one thing we know about Keegan after all these years, it is that we can never trust his putter, and since hitting the ball seems to be struggling a bit, I won’t be able to get him into the top 20 this week.
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