This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.
The Northern Trust
Ridgewood Country Club - Composite (7,385 yards, par 71)
$1,620,000 and 2000 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Setting the Stage
RIDGEWOOD, NEW JERSEY – One of the eldest clubs in the United States, the revered Ridgewood Country Club holds roots back to 1890, maintaining its current site since 1929. A visionary who loved variety, designer A.W. Tillinghast originally laid out the club as three separate nine-hole loops running away from the clubhouse, naming each hole thoughtfully. This week the event summons the best of all three loops, making for a great variety of holes that includes the famous hole named "Five and Dime" or "Scoonie", a drivable par-4 that is said to be best played with a 5-iron and wedge (or dime, if you will). Expect much drama as the season's top players congregate in a high-pressure playoff situation where only the top 100 move forward. This playoff event is worth four times more FedExCup points than a typical PGA Tour event, meaning higher stakes and higher volatility in the standings. Higher-ranked players like Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Brooks Koepka will seek to gain further separation from their peers while those near the 100th rank or worse will simply try to survive to next week.
2017 – Dustin Johnson
2016 – Patrick Reed
2015 – Jason Day
2014 – Hunter Mahan (Ridgewood CC)
2013 – Adam Scott
2012 – Nick Watney
2011 – Dustin Johnson
2010 – Matt Kuchar (Ridgewood CC)
2009 – Heath Slocum
2008 – Vijay Singh (Ridgewood CC)
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
• FedExCup ranking
Putt for Dough (and FedExCup Points)
Ridgewood plays somewhat short if you remove the four-straight par-4s over 470 in the middle of the round. This means putting will be paramount as a differentiator, which is exactly what happened in the previous two iterations at Ridgewood. For the total field, Strokes Gained: Putting accounted for 49% (2010) and 42% (2014) of the scoring advantage for players at Ridgewood, starkly higher than the TOUR average of 36%. It's even more pronounced when you look at the top-10 finishers from those events. As such, it's a putt-for-dough kind of week as players will look to improve their FedExCup rankings and move on to the second leg. Obviously the highest-ranked players have proven their form over the course of the past year, and this aligns well with world ranking too, so targeting the highest-ranked FedExCup players coming into the week is a generally smart move.
Yahoo Value Picks
Best of the Best
Justin Thomas, $48 – The world No. 2 is also ranked second in FedExCup points heading into the playoffs, where he'll look to defend his FedExCup crown. He's been amongst the most consistent players this season finishing top-25 in 16-of-19 starts. Expect another such finish with upside for a win as the playoffs kickoff the first leg.
Tiger Woods, $44 – Visions of his prime were apparent as Tiger contended for the PGA Championship at Bellerive, coming up a couple strokes short. Though he didn't win, he proved he's ready to raise a trophy again soon and this week would be fitting. Woods will be able to minimize his driving inaccuracy by hitting iron or fairway wood off most tees at Ridgewood, allowing him to take advantage of his world class iron game and solid short game this year.
Matt Kuchar, $30 – Many names overshadow Kuchar this week, but you can't argue with his win here in 2010 and T5 in 2014. Something tells me the smiley-but-competitive Kuchar will take light in being underrated this week and rise to the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday.
Adam Scott, $26 – Scott rings a bell as a great buy this week coming off a top-5 finish at the PGA Championship. In addition, he's cracked the top-15 in each of his last two starts at Ridgewood. His putting really came around at the PGA where he gained nearly a stroke against the field. If he can keep that going, his combination of consistently great ball striking and solid putting will should him a high finish.
Brian Gay, $21 – Just a dollar above the baseline price, Gay could play a great sleeper role in your lineups with a pair of top-6 finishes in his last three events. He's a top-20 putter on TOUR this season, which is not unusual, but his ball striking has shown recent improvement. If you're looking for a middle tier option at a bargain bin price, Gay might be your pick.
Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week (based on $200 standard salary cap)
There is no substitute for the quality of the top 5-7 players in the field this week, so strongly consider grabbing at least one and building your lineup from the top-down. There are very few viable options ranked 95th-125th in the FedExCup this week, so taking a balanced approach to lineup formation appears to be the most prudent option.