THE NORTHERN TRUST 2018 Course Preview

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Course: Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, NJ; designed by A.W. Tillinghast

-Par 71, 7385 yards

-Hosted tournament (Barclays) in 2014, 2010, and 2008

-Previous winners and top 5 finishers:

2014: Mahan (-14) over Appleby, Day, Tringale at -12; T5 by Els, Kuchar,McGirt at -11

  2010: Kuchar (-12) over Laird in playoff; Players to finish Top 5 include Streelman,    Stricker, Day, Palmer, Sabbatini, and Vaughn Taylor

  2008: Singh over Garcia and Sutherland in playoff (-8); Top 5 finishers include Ben   Curtis, Matthew Goggin, and Kevin Streelman

-Fairways: Bentgrass/Poa mix

-Rough: Rye

-Greens: Bentgrass/Poa mix that run about 12.5 on the stimp (in 2014); faster than usual

-Average Green Size is around 4,800 sq. ft. the SMALLEST on tour

-Field: 125 players; Cut is Top 70 and ties with possible MDF

Ridgewood Country Club

Well the end of the PGA TOUR’s “regular season” has concluded and this week we get the Top 125 in the FedEx Cup rankings (or most of them as I know Rory and Rickie are skipping) to tee it up in the first of 4 legs that concludes with the TOUR Championship at East Lake and a $10 million winner. Ridgewood CC, as I mentioned above, was designed by A.W. Tillinghast and actually consists of 27 holes (3 different nines), and this Championship Course, if you will, consists of what seems like the 18 hardest holes of the 27 total available. This course has hosted the previously named “Barclays” on 3 separate occasions, in 2014, 2010, and 2008 and has definitely yielded some interesting winners and even more interesting Top 5/Top 10 finishers. I think the first place to logically dissect this course is to look at other Tillinghast Designs, which include: Baltusrol, Bethpage Black, Winged Foot, and Medinah. As we know, all of the majors with the exception of the PGA Championship don’t track advanced stats (for some unknown reason) and so looking at Fantasynational.com we can look at Baltustrol, Ridgewood, and Bethpage Black for SG: Total over the last 100 rounds or so, in which Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Emiliano Grillo, William McGirt, and Jordan Spieth lead the category. Notables who have not excelled on these courses: Marc Leishman, Chris Kirk, Kevin Chappell, Billy Horschel, and J.B. Holmes. Now this is not to say that these are the players you take, and these are the ones to avoid, but rather an interesting deep dive into the type of player and similar designed courses. Next, we need to look at these greens. They’re small. Like tiny. With an average green size of about 4,800 sq. ft., hitting greens this week will be as important as ever but with the expectation that even the top studs will be missing plenty of them, Scrambling, SG: Short Game, SG: ARG (Around-The-Green), etc. will be of the utmost importance as well. Sticking to the theme of the greens and scrambling, I’m never one to put a ton of emphasis on putting but this week it sticks out like a sore thumb as one of the more important stats. Looking at the 2014 leaderboard, every player in the Top 14 gained a minimum of 2.1 strokes putting with Stuart Appleby (T2) gaining 9.8 strokes, Jason Day (T2) 9.2 strokes, and Ernie Els (T5) gaining 7.4 strokes. By the way, Mahan also gained 11.5 strokes in GIRs Gained, with the next closest being Bo Van Pelt who gained 8.5 and finished T13. With regards to putting, although I think looking at SG: P will be important I would also mix in SG: P from 5-10 feet as I think saving par from that range and making those 8-10 foot birdie putts will separate you from the field. Let’s take a look at the scorecard from Ridgewood which I want to point out the 2nd column on the left which says, “Hole in 2014.” Since the tournament 4 years ago they changed 8 holes around, I believe, and I have tried to peg which changed and although I think they are correct with both the 2018 order and the 2014 holes, I am not 100%. The BoB and stroke averages are from the 2014 tournament and are linked to the original hole. For example, the drivable par 4 12th (this year) was the 5th hole in 2014 and the stroke average was predictably quite low, but I wanted to make sure to link it to the correct order.

Hole Hole # in 2014 Par Length Rank Avg. Strokes BoB (2014) O/U Par
1 1 4 380 14 3.819 107 -0.181
2 2 3 190 11 2.931 71 -0.069
3 3 5 588 12 4.883 105 -0.117
4 4 4 444 3 4.133 45 0.133
5 9 4 440 6 4.112 54 0.112
6 10 3 230 5 3.117 46 0.117
7 11 4 485 4 4.125 56 0.125
8 12 4 475 1 4.217 31 0.217
9 6 4 471 8 4.092 60 0.092
10 7 4 486 9 4.087 60 0.087
11 8 3 217 7 3.107 47 0.107
12 5 4 291 17 3.778 138 -0.222
13 13 5 626 18 4.755 138 -0.245
14 14 4 412 10 4.033 56 0.033
15 15 3 155 14 2.819 100 -0.181
16 16 4 431 16 3.814 105 -0.186
17 17 5 594 13 4.824 121 -0.176
18 18 4 470 2 4.163 47 0.163
71 7385 70.809

So, what’s it going to take to compete? Once again, as we see as a common theme, Par 5 scoring is very important and with 3 this week, the players that can make consistent birdies, especially with 2 of them being mostly unreachable in 2 for the field, will be paramount. Bogey avoidance will be key along with scrambling and SG: Short Game as those players who hit the thick rough off the tee and subsequently miss the small greens will need to save as many pars as possible. As I look at 2014, it seems like SG: Short Game and Scrambling are more relevant than SG: ARG so those first 2 are what I will be using in my stat model. I will also make sure to target good ball strikers, players who excel at Fairways Gained, and a putting blend that includes 5-10 feet and maybe 3 putt avoidance.

Stats I think I’ll be targeting include SG: Ball Striking (Player’s rank in both total driving AND GIR), SG: APP (with emphasis on 75-100 and 200+), Bogey Avoidance, GIRs Gained, SG: Par 5, BoB Gained, SG: P blend, SG: SG, and Scrambling. Please note that there should always be some emphasis on SG: T2G but since that is used each and every week I don’t include it in stats that I’m “targeting.” I will go into more depth on my finalized stats, players who’s form I like, course history, and more in my DFS article in the next day or two.

 

That’s all for the course preview! Follow me on Twitter @sscherman and follow @AmateurHour_Pod too for picks, podcasts with FIRE guests, and weekly picks to win.

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