The first FedEx Cup playoff event ended up as somewhat of a procession on Sunday, as Bryson DeChambeau converted his four-shot 54 holes lead into a victory by the same margin, displaying the poise and steely determination that had been so lacking a month earlier at the Porsche European Open. Clearly, a quick study, the 24-year-old firmly closed the door on his opposition in what was his next time in contention, securing his second victory of the season, thereby vaulting himself to number 1 in the FedEx Cup standings and guaranteeing himself a chance at the $10million prize pool at the Tour Championship.
Alongside that, he also virtually locked himself in as one of Jim Furyk’s Ryder Cup Captains picks and achieved a new career high of 12th overall in the world. His three PGA Tour victories in the past thirteen months are more than Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler combined so it’s clear this is a very serious golfer with a huge future in the game. Our cards have been well and truly marked and odds upwards of 100.0 in full-field events are surely a thing of the past.
With event one in the books, the FedEx Cup field is culled to 100 for this second playoff leg, though just 98 players take up the opportunity this week with Rickie Fowler continuing to rehab an oblique injury and Francesco Molinari taking a well-earned rest.
The venue remains TPC Boston, host of this event under its different guises since 2003, so players will be well versed in what it takes to be successful here, namely a strong tee-to-green game, the ability to score well and an affinity for Bentgrass greens.
The 7,342-yard par 71 Massachusetts track tends to be gettable, as winning scores ranging from -15 to -22 attest, and with conditions in the areas reasonably wet of late, greens are likely to be soft and receptive. It is therefore imperative that playoffs are on point with their approach play and aggressive with their putts. Whenever scoring tends to the lower side, I like to consult the birdie or better % stat so that’s one of my two starting points alongside strokes gained: tee-to-green.
I mentioned on the Matchbook Betting Podcast last week that in the history of the FedEx Cup 70% of events had been won by players who were either major champions, went on to be major champions or who were existing or future Ryder Cup players. DeChambeau is highly likely to continue that trend and it pays to look at the classier players in general.
Although major season has been and gone for another season, the world’s best are fully tuned in to their games and with the Ryder Cup just a month away, those who are teeing it up in France will be keen to have their games razor sharp.
Whilst it’s tempting to look for a long odds shot to give us a payday, the value in these events is often to be found towards the head of the market.
My outright picks this week
With the above said, I’m going back to the well this week and chancing Justin Thomas (13.0) to go back-to-back at TPC Boston. The world number three finished a quiet 8th last week, never really threatening to win but showing plenty of encouraging signs that suggest he should contend again this week, shooting four rounds in the 60s.
His win percentage in the past two years is a ridiculous 17.8%, and it’s easy to see why given he ranks 2nd in strokes gained tee-to-green, 3rd in birdie or better % and in the top three of numerous other stats including par four scoring, strokes gained approach and scoring average.
Thomas has proven his ability to repeat as champion, evidenced by his victories in both the 2015 and 2016 CIMB Classics, and he generally goes very well when a low total is required as demonstrated by four of his PGA Tour titles featuring winning scores of -22 or lower (not forgetting his 59 at Waialae Country Club last season). Given the predilection of high class winners of these events, and the fact that despite winning just three starts ago – with both subsequent starts resulting in top 10 finishes – Thomas is priced at more than double the odds of his two year winning percentage, I believe he represents another great value bet and will be investing accordingly.
My next best is Jon Rahm, who I’m tipping to bounce back from a disappointing performance at the Northern Trust. Although it seems like Rahm has been around for years, it’s easy to forget that this is actually only his second full season as a pro and therefore occasional bad weeks are to be expected.
Indeed, one only has to look at the multitude of missed cuts suffered last season by the afore-acclaimed DeChambeau to realise how tough it is to forge a career as a young pro.
However, as Rahm bounded out of the blocks so quickly it now seems a surprise when he doesn’t perform for a week but given he’s just one start removed from a fourth-place finish at the US PGA, matching his career-best major finish from this year’s Masters, it appears an overcorrection to see him available to back at odds of 29.0.
During last year’s playoffs, Rahm finished no worse than 7th across the four events and his 4th placed finish here was particularly encouraging given he led at halfway and talked effusively about how the much the course caught his eye and how comfortable he felt.
Rahm ranks 5th on the year in birdie or better % and 13th in strokes gained tee-to-green on the year and will be looking to prime his game on the run into his debut Ryder Cup so I expect a very strong showing this week. He should outrun his odds.
My final selection is a relative course specialist who fits the mould of a major champion and Ryder Cup stalwart, Patrick Reed (46.0).
This year’s Masters champion raises his game for the biggest events in the calendar, as his CV clearly shows given he’s secured a major, a WGC, a FedEx Cup playoff event win and a Tournament of Champions title as well as being known as Captain America for his Ryder Cup exploits. He just doesn’t seem to be able to bring the same passion to the rank and file events.
Three consecutive top 7 finishes here show a real love for the course and his tie for 25th last week was encouraging given he ranked 10th in strokes gained tee-to-green. An ice-cold putter let him down there but a move back to more favoured bentgrass greens should benefit, and at a decent price he is a very live runner.
Finally, just a reminder that due to the Labour Day weekend in the US, the event does not start until Friday so you still have plenty of time to get your bets on.
- Justin Thomas – 3 points win @ 13.0 (lay 3 points @ 3.0)
- Jon Rahm – 2 points win @ 29.0 (lay 4 points @ 7.0)
- Patrick Reed – 1 point win @ 46.0 (lay 4 points @ 7.0)