This week is the first week of FedEx Cup play-offs and the fields will now gradually get smaller, as players fail to reach the required position in the rankings to make it to the following week, so the pressure is well and truly on. Since 2007, when the event picked up it’s current name, The Barclays, there have been six different winners in as many years. The tournament is held at various different courses, in the New York Metropolitan Area, this time round being played at the Liberty National Golf Club. The very same course hosted the event back in 2o09, and caused plenty of controversy amongst the players, as players were less than satisfied with the set up.
When looking at the winners of this event, it’s hard to gauge exactly what sort of player you need to be, not only does the style of player vary, but the tournament also throws up a surprise winner. There was no bigger surprise than the winner of the 2009 Barclays, which was the last time it was held at the Liberty National (this week’s host). The winner that time around was Heath Slocum who managed to hold off challenges from four world class players, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods, all by one stroke, a great accomplishment.
The Course: Liberty National Golf Club, 7,400 yards, par 71. It has been well documented that this course was very unpopular back in 09′, with one player even going as far to say “they took a perfectly good waste dump and ruined it” which highlights how poor the opinion was, but with a revamp on no less than 14 holes, Liberty National will be hoping too dump it’s bad reputation… See what I did there? In all seriousness this course has been changed significantly,with the fairways widened and the greens flattened we may see a lower score than we did when Heath Slocum shot -9 to win four years ago. The set up should be a lot better than it was last time around, and hopefully we will hear less moaning than we did before. One player in particular who wasn’t a fan was World No.1 Tiger Woods, although that may just be down to the fact he came 2nd, but he had nothing more to say than “it’s interesting” when pressed about how he felt about the course, so he’ll be hoping the improvements suit him this week. There’s not really anything that stood out to be important back in 2009, but with the course well exposed, if the wind gets up it could be a factor.
My opinion on these events, is that good current form will be the deciding factor, if the players you’re looking to pick this week enjoyed past success here in 09′ (if they played) then all the better, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket and go just by that one showing. With the changes made to the course, this could be a significantly different set up, and although players should be able to draw confidence from there attempt here in 09′ if they did in fact do well, current form and form in The Barclays tournament itself could be just as important. It’s the first of four pressure events and with a $10m bonus waiting at the end for the eventual winner of the FedEx Cup, players will be looking too get off to a fast start. Some players have a fantastic play off record, and that may be of interest to you, with players getting off too a good start at the Barclays, on more than one occasion, regardless of the course it’s played at. With all this is mind, here are my picks for this week.
Webb Simpson 28/1 (General) 2pts e/w: Simpson is, like he has been on multiple occasions my top pick, and although I can’t separate him from my next pick completely, I’m ultra keen on him again this week. Back in 2009, in what was his first full year on Tour, Simpson finished 8th here at Liberty National, and on a course that everyone was moaning about, that’s good going or anybody, let alone a rookie. Five years on, Webb Simpson is an established pro, major winner, Ryder Cupp’er and two-time PGA Tour winner, he is certainly now up there with the best of them, something he wasn’t when he first came here. He has a mixed bag of results since then in this event, coming T36 in 2010, T10 in 2011 and missing the cut last year, so even tough it’s up and down, there’s more positives than negatives about him in this event. He has won a FedEx Cup play off event, in the shape of the Deutsche Bank Champ back in his breakout 2011 season, so again he looks to be perfect for this type of situation. The icing on the cake for me, was Webb’s final round at the Wyndham Championship last week, where he shot a -7/63 round to get himself just outside the Top-10. He is without a doubt one of the players I like to back and at 28/1 I just couldn’t resist picking him ahead of any of the players above him in the market, so he’s my top pick this week.
Brandt Snedeker 35/1 (PaddyPower 1-6) 2pts e/w: If you read my column often, you’ll by no means be surprised to see Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker head up the betting, but they both come into this week at bigger prices than I’ve tipped that throughout the season, which is no small part down to the quality of the field. I won’t continue to repeat myself as I do normally when tipping Snedeker, but more point out why, this week in particular is a good time to bet him, especially at 35/1. I’m not 100% sure but outside the majors I believe this is the biggest price Snedeker has been all year, and I really can’t fathom as to why. Since 2007 Snedeker has finished, Missed Cut, T68, T12 (2009), Missed Cut, T3 and 2nd, so he’s had shown some superb form. His 2nd and 3rd in the last two years are impressive alone, but put those alongside his T12 back in 2009 at this very course, and he certainly looks to me as one of the favourites for this event. Snedeker has improved a lot since 2009, and has proved that he can win anywhere, at any time, so I don’t see a Sunday leaderboard without his name on it this week. You could argue that I have too much faith in him, and possibly back him far too much, but he keeps giving me reason too, as he does again here. At 35/1 I think he’s great value and I really do expect him to be right in the mix.
Jonas Blixt 80/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Some may feel this is an overreaction to his 4th place finish at the PGA Championship two weeks ago, I’m going to try and give you every reason I can think of as to why that’s not the case. First of all I think he’s a superb talent. Blixt now has two PGA Tour victories too his name, in as many years and now has a 4th place finish in only his second major start under his belt. Not only that but in his PGA Rookie season last year, Blixt managed to make it through two weeks in the FedEx Cup play offs, finishing T46 at this event and then T20 at the Deutsche Bank Champ. He put the dissapointment of not progressing further behind him, and went on to finish 3rd in the JT Shriners a month later, and followed that up a week later with his first win on Tour at the Frys.com Open. This to me highlights his superb attitude, and clear talent, and with the confidence from his major showing behind him, I really do feel he can push on in these play off events in the coming weeks. After being interviewed at the PGA, Blixt did reveal he was keen to put his name in the hat for a Ryder Cup spot next year, and he certainly caught captain Paul McGinley’s eye, as well as fellow European Lee Westwood’s. Whatever your opinion is about him this week, I was happy to pick him, I think he can contend in most events, and I would not be surprised to see him feature again this Sunday.
Matt Jones 125/1 (General) 0.5pt e/w: Matt Jones does not have much form to go by in this event, as he’s not a regular feature in the play offs, but his consistent performances this season have convinced me that he has what it takes to get a win, and why not this week at the Barclays! Jones shot himself into the top-5 last week at the Wyndham Championship, with a superb -8 final round, and that finish adds to an already impressive season. He has four top 10s this season, including his 5th last week , a T2 at The Greenbrier Classic, which he then followed up with a T7 at the John Deere Classic, so he certainly is well in form. So far in the Barclays, Jones has finished T60 in 2010 and missed the cut in 08′ so he’ll be looking to rectify that here this week. He’s been really impressing me in recent weeks, and his price is enough for me to side with him this week. The strength of the field is obviously as strong as it can get, hence his three-figure price, but hopefully he is confident enough to get himself in contention amongst “the big boys” on Tour. He has played tournaments well this year, that he’s not necessarily excelled at in the past, and I’m hoping that is the case again this week.
Charley Hoffmann 150/1 (SportingBet) 0.5pt e/w: Charley Hoffmann is another player, much like Matt Jones who has had a more than satisfactory 2013 so far, and like Jones would love a win to cap it off, and I really think he’s a good price to do so this week. Hoffmann has five top-10s, including a 3rd place finish at the Valero Texas Open. On top of that Hoffmann has only missed four cuts all season, so he really is playing consistent golf and I’m hoping he can draw on relative success in this event, and go even better en route to a big finish here this week. Last time out was the US PGA for Hoffmann, where he did well enough to make the cut and finish in a tie for 40th place. His finished in the top 20 not so long ago, coming T16 at the RBC Canadian Open, so he’s still playing good golf and he is a good price to try and carry that over here, at Liberty National. Since 2007 Hoffmann has finished, T48, T38, T31 (2009), T27, T10 and most recently missing the cut last year, for the first time. Now I highlighted his T31 finish in 09′ as this came after three finishes outside the top-20 and although he’s not been as consistent in recent weeks, he seems to be playing better this time around. He made the cut in the PGA Championship this year, where as in 09′ he didn’t, which although isn’t a definite sign of improvement, you could argue it’s a positive heading into the same event this time around. He has played consistently in the Barclays missing the cut just once since 07′ and hopefully he can go even better than his T10 best finish, back in 2011. I simply think he’s in a better form than he has been in recent years coming into this event, and he has proved, by winning the Deutsche Bank Champ in 2010 that he’s well and truly happy to contend in these play off events. I wouldn’t say he was necessarily overpriced, but for me he is definitely fairly priced, and good value as an outside bet this week.
Total points staked on PGA Tour this week: 12
Total points staked this week (inc European Tour): 23
Profit/Loss for 2013: +56.65
This is a great week of golf for me personally, as I enjoy the events on both the European Tour and the PGA Tour, and with lots of value to be had in the Barclays this week, I’m hoping I’ve done enough to expose it. I’m happy with my selections and I’m sure we will have a run for our money with these five players. Follow me on Twitter @TomJacobs8 if you have questions, or want to make any comments/suggestions about this article or future offerings. Thanks for reading!