Golf Preview: FedEx Cup play-off & The Made in Denmark

The FedEx Cup play-offs begin in America this weekend, whilst the European Tour heads to Denmark.

The FedEx Cup is the PGA Tour’s end of season championship which is based over four close tournaments.

The top 125 players on the points list qualify for the first event, which is the Northern Trust this weekend. That is followed by the top 100 players going forward to the Dell Technologies event next week, and then the top-70 who compete at the BMW Championship the following week.

The month long cup then finishes with the Tour Championship, which is limited to the top-30 players and is considered one of the biggest prizes in golf after the majors.

So first up is the Northern Trust Championship, which moves on a yearly basis and this time around is going to New York’s Glen Oaks Club – who locals refer to it as ‘The Augusta of the North’.

Current number one in the FedEx power rankings is Japanese superstar Hideki Matsuyama and he is rated favourite for the event alongside Jordan Speith.

The Asian ace is looking forward to the event, having shocked the press pack this week be revealing he got married after the recent US PGA.

“No-one really asked me if I was married, so I didn’t have to answer that question,” revealed the world number 2.

“But I felt that after the PGA would be a good time because our baby is born and I thought that would be a good time to let everyone know.”

The 25-year-old arrives in confident mood after coming close to winning his first major at Quail Hollow and added: “I did play well at the PGA…I had a chance.

“Unfortunately Justin Thomas played better than I did, and it was a bitter defeat for me.

“I was really hoping and praying and doing my best to win the PGA. But hopefully, I can take that experience, what I learned there, to play better in majors to come. And hopefully some day, that first major will show itself.”

The field is a who’s who of golf with every top player joining the FedEx run-in – with 2016 FedEx champion Rory McIlroy hoping to lead the charge to the Tour Championship at East Lake in late September, but he is then planning on take a break until the New Year.

McIlroy suffered a rib injury earlier this year which also brought on a back problem and he admits he needs some time off once the FedEx is finished.

“I’m OK to play these next four out of five weeks, but then I do need a prolonged period off at some point in 2017 to be ready for 2018,” confirmed the Northern Irishman.

Whilst most of the golfing world will be watching how the FedEx play-offs unfold in New York, Europe has the Made in Denmark to look forward too, with defending champion Thomas Pieters a huge fancy.

And the Belgian is eager to take his first win of the year in Himmerland.

“Golf has been all right this year, I haven’t won, that is my main focus to win a golf tournament and I haven’t done that,” he said.

“I’ve gotten into contention a bunch of times and not finished it off. I’m not happy this year, not yet, it’s not over yet.

“I have good memories and the course looks in very good shape, looks very similar to last year’s set up. I’ve played well, I’m swinging it well, I just need to putt well this week and there’s plenty of birdies out there. I don’t know if I’ve got a 62 in me like last year.”

The pro’s point of view…

Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.

So in America, looks a great line-up and I think Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed could very well handle the pressure.

In Denmark, it is very hard to look past Thomas Pieters.

The Bookie says…

We caught up with BetVictor’s Jack Milner – an expert in the golfing markets

Thomas Pieters heads the betting as the 8/1 favourite on the European Tour, and is a very worthy market leader for the Made In Denmark. Pieters, officially ranked the 29th best player in the world, won the corresponding tournament 12 months ago to ensure a place in the 2016 Ryder Cup side and became Europe’s leading point scorer in the 17-11 defeat to the Americans at Hazeltine.

He was 10/1 on Monday afternoon when prices were first out and, whilst normally strongly oppose backing favourites in competitive tournaments, couldn’t resist in what looks a weak field. The two biggest dangers on paper, and in the market, will both feel the pressure of playing in front of local crowds. Both Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen showed glimpses of class in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow but have historically disappointed in the event and must be opposed.

At bigger prices I like the price of recent Italian winner Renato Paratore and Englishman Eddie Pepperell, who looked back to his best in recent efforts at the French Open and US Open across the pond.

The first of four Fedex Cup play-offs begins this week at the Northern Trust, which has always traditionally been played around the New York or New Jersey area. This year’s tournament is no exception with Glen Oaks Golf Club attracting a ‘who’s who’ of world golf with all four major winners in attendance at a course referred to as ‘The Augusta of the North.

Former green jacket winners Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson will be no doubt licking their lips at the prospect of the par 70 course, with an on-form short-game essential this week.

Lefty looks a terrific price at 100/1 and six places, given his record in the corresponding tournament in it’s previous guise (The Barclays) and likewise a terrific record in front of New York fans. He is likely to have a wonderful following over the four days and, whilst admittedly perhaps past his prime, looks a ridiculous price at three figures.

The big names at the front of the betting only serve to offer plenty of value elsewhere, and I’m happy to swerve the likes of Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler all priced below the 20/1 mark.

Matt Kuchar could go well but is skinny enough at 35/1 and I’m more interested in those at three figure prices. After putting up the pair of Jason Dufner and Ollie Schniederjans last week, I’m happy to go in again at 100/1 and 80s respectively. The pair were outstanding tee-to-green, with Ollie’s putter seeing him better the field by three shots… if it weren’t for last year’s Open Champion Henrik Stenson.

‘The Iceman’ was nothing short of magnificent on the back nine, making birdie on five of the last nine holes, to win his first Title since last year’s Claret Jug but that shouldn’t detract from four brilliant rounds of golf from Ollie Schniederjans. It is admittedly a much stronger line-up this week, but nevertheless, he should be buoyed by last week’s efforts and remains in good nick.

Similar comments apply to Jason Dufner, who shot four rounds in the 60s to finish T14; with the putter deserting him throughout all four rounds. Providing his flat-stick finds form then he is a very dangerous player indeed.

I’ve had a couple of savers on big-hitting lefties Bubba Watson and Brian Harman, whilst Martin Flores and Camillo Villegas should likewise out-perform their respective odds of 300/1 and 400s.


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