The FedEx Cup Playoffs get underway on Thursday with The Barclays. Bethpage Black is the venue for this tournament for the first time since 2012. The course is widely recognised as the toughest course rotating as host for this event, made clear by the infamous sign guarding the first tee warning only ‘highly-skilled’ golfers should proceed. A 121-strong field will need to be up for the challenge come Thursday.
The front of the market is headed up by the usual suspects – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth. But with the nature of the course in mind and only one previous winner here able to get to the 10-under mark, it’s unlikely anyone will run away with it and I expect it to be a competitive week.
My first tip for the week is Hideki Matsuyama. The current world number 16 comes into the tournament off back-to-back top 5 finishes and looks in a great place with his game at present. Bethpage rewards golfers with a strong tee-to-green game and he is currently ranked 4th on the PGA Tour in this category. Best price – 33/1, worst odds – 20/1.
Bubba Watson will be looking to book his Ryder Cup spot this week with victory at The Barclays and I’m certainly not writing this off. By his own admission he’s had a low-key 2016 but his long-game and ability to deal with thick rough should suit around this course. Bubba spoke fondly of Bethpage comparing it to Torrey Pines, where he has an outstanding record. Best – 40/1, worst – 33/1.
Having achieved seven top 10's in his last 11 starts, including four third-place finishes, Matt Kuchar could trouble the top of the leaderboard this week. The American has the seventh best scoring average on the PGA Tour and has a superb record from tee-to-green. I fancy him as an each-way shout. Best – 50/1, worst – 33/1.
My second each-way bet comes in the form of Emiliano Grillo. The Argentine finished eighth in Rio and has achieved excellent results this season so far. He finished 13th in the PGA Championship, 12th at The Open, 14th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational as well as 17th in the Masters earlier in the year. He ranks well in driving accuracy and is earning a reputation as one of the best ball-strikers in the game. There’s no reason he can’t continue to improve here. Best – 100/1, worst – 66/1.
Bethpage was Keegan Bradley’s hunting ground throughout college and shouldn’t be the daunting prospect to him that it might be to others in the field. He also ranks top of the driving charts on the PGA Tour. His impressive long-game and course knowledge might just put him in contention. Best – 200/1, worst – 100/1.