Paulie's Picks: 2018 Northern Trust Open

This week the Tour heads to New Jersey for the start of the FedExCup Playoffs at Ridgewood CC. Ridgewood last hosted this event in 2014 which was won by Hunter Mahan (that’s not a misprint!). This week, I expect a good test of golf. The recent rains have the rough fairly thick so there will definitely be a premium on driving the ball in play. I expect the winning score to be somewhere in the low to mid-teens under par. 

As expected, we have a star-studded field as players are trying to get into the best position possible to try and capture the title at East Lake in a month. With such a good field, it can be very difficult to decide who to play for DraftKings or your One-and-Done league.

DraftKings:

Start Paul Casey $8,300 over Matt Kuchar $8,200

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When looking to win a large field tournament on DraftKings it pays to be contrarian in a few spots. I think a lot of people will be on Kuchar this week since his last two starts at Ridgewood resulted in a win and a 5th place finish. Kuchar’s game is not ideal for DraftKings as he does not make a lot of birdies. Kuchar also is not playing as well as he has in past years. I think Kuchar will make the cut but I don’t think he provides the upside needed to win this week. Paul Casey, on the other hand, is more than capable of contending this week. Last year, he finished in the top five in three of the four playoff events. Quietly, Casey has finished in the top 20 in 21 of his last 27 events.

Start Billy Horschel $7,300 over Phil Mickelson $7,300

With the Ryder Cup a little more than a month away, everyone is mentioning how Mickelson needs to play well this week. Regardless of any inspiration, I don’t see Phil playing well this week. His wayward driving will get him in trouble. He hasn’t recorded a top 10 since May and missed the cut in his last two appearances at Ridgewood. Horschel, on the other hand, is on the verge of a breakout. Historically, Horschel has been a very streaky player to where he can seem invincible for a month. I think he might be going into one of those streaks like he did a few years back in the FedExCup. He is striking the ball tremendous right now. He has gained 5.6 strokes off the tee and 12.6 strokes on approach in his last two events!!! If he can have any semblance of a putter this week, he will contend.

One-and-Done

As we near the end of the season, you may be pretty low on solid players to choose from this week, so here are a few players who you might still have available:

Xander Schauffele

Schauffele plays well on the big stage and looks to build his resume with another victory in a FedExCup playoff event (won 2017 Tour Championship). His elite driving should fit Ridgewood very well.

Rafa Cabrera Bello

Bello enters this week on the heels of three straight top 17 finishes. If you are looking for a really low owned option, he is a solid choice.

Patrick Cantlay

Cantlay’s game is a perfect fit for Ridgewood. A lot of his success this year has come at similar tracks (4th at Riviera, 4th at Memorial and 6th at Firestone).