The FedEx Cup playoffs kick off with The Northern Trust at Liberty National and the European Tour visits the Czech Republic. Steve Rawlings has outsiders to trade in both tournaments here...
"Lefty is a member at Liberty National and his form figures in the first three editions here read 52-6-71. The sixth in 2013 is a decent effort and he also performed very well here in the Presidents Cup in 2017."
There have been three editions of The Northern Trust held at this week's venue - Liberty National - and the first winner there, Heath Slocum, in 2009, was a huge price. And incredibly, even though he'd won the Memorial Tournament just a few months earlier, the 2018 winner, Bryson DeChambeau, was matched at a high of 120.0119/1 before the off, when he won the tournament at Ridgewood, but besides those two results, outsiders don't have a terrific record.
With that in mind, I'm backing just one here and two in the Czech Masters. I'll start in New Jersey...
Augusta hints suggest Lefty's too big at Liberty National
It could just be entirely coincidental but as highlighted in the preview, US Masters form has held up brilliantly at this venue.
Tiger Woods came within a missed seven-footer at the last to tie Slocum in 2009 and the last two course winners, Adam Scott and Patrick Reed, have both won at Augusta.
There are several US Masters winners in the field this week and five of them are trading at a triple-figure price - Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Zach Johnson.
All five look nicely priced but the logical selection must be Phil Mickelson. As also highlighted in the preview, the last three tournament winners have all been top-class major winners that hadn't been at their best but two of them, DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson, just like Lefty, had won a tournament earlier in the season. Mickelson famously won the USPGA Championship in May.
Lefty is a member at Liberty National and his form figures in the first three editions here read 52-6-71. The sixth in 2013 is a decent effort and he also performed very well here in the Presidents Cup in 2017.
He'd shown signs of life before winning the USPGA, leading after round one in his penultimate start in the Wells Fargo Championship and his 17th placed finish last time out in the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational two weeks ago is enough to suggest he could be a huge price here at 230.0229/1.
Bryden big enough to chance again
The last five European Tour winners have all been first time winners and seven of the last 11 have traded at a triple figure price before the off, so it makes sense to concentrate harder on the Czech Masters and the first of my two outsiders there, that are searching for their first European Tour wins, is Bryden Macpherson.
He was a disappointment when selected for the column at the recent ISPS Handa World Invitational, where he missed the cut, but that was just his second start on the European Tour since a successful spell in his homeland (Australia) at the start of the year which included a victory at the Moonah Links PGA Championship in February and a win at the New South Wales Open in March.
He followed the missed cut in Northern Ireland with another on the Challenge Tour in Finland but he caught the eye last week when finishing 21st at the Cazoo Classic after a slow start (sat 101st after round one!) and he looks a good statistical fit for the venue too.
As highlighted in the preview, length off the tee and strong Greens In Regulation stats look key. He's fairly long off the tee, his GIR figures are respectable and on the two occasions he's made the cut on the European Tour this season he's putted nicely too, ranking 23rd and 13th for Strokes Gained Putting and seventh on both occasions for Putting Average. I thought 160.0159/1 was more than fair for someone with two titles already in the bag this year.
Can Eduardo follow Nacho into the winner's enclosure?
Distance off the tee has been a big advantage here but we have seen two shorter hitters win here - the 2016 1000.0 shock winner, Paul Peterson, and the 2018 champ, Andrea Pavan. Those two ranked 40th and 41st for Driving Distance and that's enough evidence for me to overlook Eduardo De La Riva's lack of length.
We've had six renewals of the Czech Masters to date and five of them were won by the man that made the most birdies so the Birdie Average stats are a good place to start. Nobody's made more birdies on the European Tour over the last three months than this week's favourite, Sam Horsfield. The recent Hero Open winner, Grant Forrest ranks second, the two-time winner of this event, Thomas Pieters (not in the field) ranks fourth and tied for fifth are the recent Scottish Open winner, Min Woo lee and De La Riva.
De La Riva's GIR and putting stats are more than respectable and he also has a bit of course and current form to boast too.
He led here after round one in 2015 before eventually finishing eighth and he finished 28th in the Hero Open behind Forrest two weeks ago, despite shooting 74 in round three. Rounds of 68-67-67 on Thursday, Friday and Sunday suggest he's in fair form and at a gigantic price, I was happy to take a chance.
He's yet to win on the European Tour but he's finished inside the top-three seven times, and he won in his native Spain on the Challenge Tour back in 2012.
And there's one last possible plus. De La Riva may well be inspired by the first time European Tour win by fellow Spaniard, Nacho Elvira, at the Cazoo Open a month ago.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
STEVE'S 2021 FIND ME A 100 WINNER P/L
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