This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
The Northern Trust – Ridgewood, NJ
Ridgewood Country Club - Composite (7,385 yards, par 71)
$1,620,000 and 2000 FedEx Cup points to the winner
The final march to the TOUR Championship and FedExCup glory are upon us as the first leg of the playoffs heads to Ridgewood Country Club for the fourth time in the 12-year existence of the FedExCup postseason. The course makeup is actually a composite stitched together from each of the three nine-hole layouts – seven from the East Course, five from the Center Course, and six from the West Course. As one of America's oldest clubs dating back to 1890, Ridgewood was originally designed by the imaginative A.W. Tillinghast and restored by Gil Hanse in 1995. Featuring a cozy par-3 named "Beeches", a par-5 where players will need to hit over "Hell's Half Acre" of sand, and a drivable par-4 with a narrow plateau green, drama should resound this week as player's vie to make the 100-player cut for next week's leg. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas sit atop the FedExCup heading in, while Tiger Woods returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Expect a winning score to hover around 8- to 14-under as it has in the previous iterations at Ridgewood.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Dustin Johnson
2016 – Patrick Reed
2015 – Jason Day
2014 – Hunter Mahan (Ridgewood CC)
2013 – Adam Scott
2012 – Nick Watney
2011 – Dustin Johnson
2010 – Matt Kuchar (Ridgewood CC)
2009 – Heath Slocum
2008 – Vijay Singh (Ridgewood CC)
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
• FedExCup ranking
Strokes Gained: Putting plays a tremendous role in success at Ridgewood, contributing to 64% of the scoring advantage for the top-10 players in 2014. This is far and above the PGA Tour average of around 36%, further validating how tricky the greens are to putt. Another reason why putting conquers here is because hitting it long isn't a real advantage – the field averaged just 275 yards off the tee in 2014. It's more of a strategic course where players can opt to be aggressive and take on more risk or be more conservative and put pressure on their iron play. All said, make sure your lineup is stocked with players who have a solid Strokes Gained: Putting (at least positive) and weigh that against the top-ranked players in the FedExCup, as this directly indicates how well they've played this season.
FanDuel Value Picks
Dustin Johnson, $12400 – DJ leads the FedExCup standings, and for good reason. He has three wins, is head-and-shoulders the best tee-to-green player this year, and ranks 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting. He's defending champion at this event (though it was at Glen Oaks last year) and should be plenty motivated to pick up his first FedExCup crown.
Brooks Koepka, $12300 – As the already-anticipated POY this year based on his two major wins, Koepka will tee it up for the first time since capturing the PGA Championship at Bellerive. Though Koepka ranks 95th in Strokes Gained: Putting this season, his amazing putting run at the PGA should tell you more about how comfortable he is with the putter right now. He's chasing DJ and JT at third in the FedExCup, so he'd like nothing more than to get off to a great postseason start this week.
Jason Day, $11900 – As the TOUR leader in Strokes Gained: Putting this season, you simply can't ignore Day as a contender at Ridgewood this week. He's racked up four-straight top-20 finishes heading into this week and will be allowed to play to his strengths this week.
Justin Thomas, $11800 – Ranked second in the FedExCup, Thomas has been a model of consistency with 16 top-25 finishes in 19 events played this season. He's second only to DJ in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and doesn't possess any known weaknesses. His recent form in collecting a win at the WGC-Bridgestone and T6 at the PGA Championship means he's primed to make a run at his second career FedExCup.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Brandt Snedeker, $10300 – Last week's win vaulted Snedeker into 30th in the FedExCup, giving him a sigh of relief and a real chance to make it to the TOUR Championship for a second run at a FedExCup title. Snedeker has routinely been inside the top-25 in Strokes Gained: Putting for many years now, meaning he's a pretty solid fit for Ridgewood. At $10300, he's not overpriced at all despite last week's win.
Patrick Cantlay, $9800 – Though Cantlay is considered only an average putter, he's the best tee-to-green ball striker under $10000 this week. He's notched six top-10s this season including a breakthrough victory at the Shriner's Open, so watch out for this youngster to make a move forward from his 14th ranking in the FedExCup this week.
Kevin Na, $8800 – Na finally got his second win this year - seven years after his first – but the reason I like him is his short game. Considering his career body of work, Na is one of the best in the world with his wedges and putter. This will be on full showcase at Ridgewood where many wedge shots around the thick greenside rough will differentiate players. He's a great value at $8800 this week and a sneaky good option to fill your lineups.
Billy Horschel, $8400 – Ranked 41st in the FedExCup, Horschel is by no means in danger of not making the second leg of the playoffs, but he knows he needs to play well if he wants another chance to hoist the FedExCup. This year Horschel is ranked 37th in Strokes Gained: Putting, the best year of his career, so if he can continue this trend he could easily be a contender to win this week.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Names like Dustin Johnson, Koepka, Woods, Day, and Thomas all stand out as great fits this week, so make sure to incorporate at least one of them into your lineups. Try to steer clear of those ranked 95th or worse in the FedExCup; they will be playing under additional pressure of trying to qualify for next week's Dell Technologies Championship which may force them to abandon their normal course strategy and take on more risk (usually not a good thing). On everything in-between, trust your instincts while focusing on Strokes Gained: Putting as the lead indicator this week.