Tournament: The Northern Trust, August 20-23, 2020
Course: TPC Boston, 7,342 yards, par 71. The course is located in Norton, MA and is a decent hike to Boston. It is actually closer to Rhode Island. Many of the pros actually stay in hotels and guest housing in Providence rather than the drive and traffic into Beantown. So the name is like putting a course in Griffin and calling it TPC Atlanta.
Defending Champ: That depends. The 2019 Northern Trust was held at Liberty National just across the Hudson from Manhattan and was won by Patrick Reed. In 2018, the Northern Trust was held at Ridgewood in Paramus, NJ and won by Bryson DeChambeau. The next week, DeChambeau won the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. With the sponsor switches and the Playoff format switch (4 to 3 tourneys), there’s no telling. Take your pick.
Fun Fact: Former Georgia Bulldog Chris Kirk won a FedEx Cup playoff event on this course in 2014 when it was called the Deutsche Bank Championship. He joins Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, and Rickie Fowler as champions here.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m.-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
‘Dawgs in the Field: (8) Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell, Sepp Straka, Brendon Todd, Bubba Watson.
If the NBA and NHL can have a post-season in August, why not golf? Except the PGA Tour is actually back on schedule; two playoff events held where and when they were supposed to leading up to the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta - all on the dates that were announced last year.
This first playoff event is for the top 125 on the season-long points list, but will cut the field in half after the 2nd round (the other two playoff events don’t have a cut). And there are eight former Georgia Bulldogs who have a chance to earn points and advance to next week (points awarded in a playoff event are 3x normal).
The course is pretty much built for the bombers. It’s at the upper end of yardage for a Tour event, even more so for a par 71 (only 3 par fives). The original layout was from the gnarled and vodka-tonic clutching hand of Arnold Palmer back in 2002. But the owners brought in wunderkind course designer Gil Hanse in 2005 for a very positively received revamp. Hanse has risen quickly in the design ranks the last 15 years and is probably known best for designing the brand spanking new course that hosted golf at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. If you’re like me, you’re salivating to play the Hanse-redesigned Pinehurst #4 (side note: I’ve broken 80 on #4, but that was before the redesign. Friends who have played the new layout speak highly but say it’s 8-10 strokes harder. And about $150 more expensive now).
We had some Bulldogs doing work last week, and several improved their playoff standing at the Wyndham Championship. Russell Henley shot 63-65 on the weekend, got a top 10, and moved up 17 spots to #101. Kevin Kisner shot 69-64-65-64, finished in 3rd, and is 12 spots up to #40 - a virtual lock to advance no matter how we plays this week. Harris English finished T23 and is now 27th on the points list. Brian Harman ended up T27, yet remained in 69th position in points. That is 4 ‘Dawgs in the top 30 and 2 in the top 10.
Chris Kirk made the cut, but it was already a lost cause for the playoffs and he finished his season at #194 and out of the playoffs. No matter, as the pandemic-shortened season meant players don’t lose Tour privileges based on this season’s results. Brendon Todd missed the cut by 1 shot yet is still #9 on the points list and just needs a made cut to make the Tour Championship. Sepp Straka also missed the cut and slips to #71 in points - he is feeling the pressure to make the top 70 and advance to next week. Keith Mitchell lost 7 spots in points, and at 101 knows he needs to make a move this week. Bubba Watson didn’t play last week, and at #66 also needs to play some good golf.
So that’s where we stand as the PGA Tour starts winding up the 2019-2020 season. Tune in and catch ‘Dawgs chasing little white balls - for pretty incredible sums of money (more on that later). And as always...