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The Barclays 2016 Preview
Our golf scribe gives his tips for this weekend's PGA Tour event, The Barclays, which gets underway this Thursday.
The FedEx Cup Playoffs get underway this week as the world’s best descend on Bethpage Black for The Barclays. You can expect some top golf on a tough layout in one of the best tournaments outside of the Majors. Only 100 of the 125-strong field will progress to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, while there are also automatic spots on the Ryder Cup up for grabs.
As for the course itself, the A.W. Tillinghast-designed track is a bit of a beast. At 7,468 yards, with tight fairways and thick rough, it provides a huge challenge off the tee. However, with below average-sized greens, the key stat this week will likely be GIR and, for those who miss with their approach, they’ll need to scramble extremely well. The weather in the build-up has been stiflingly hot, which should make the greens an even tougher proposition than they usually are.
With the course one of the toughest outside major competition, it would be foolish to look further than the top players for a winner. A look over the previous Barclays winners shows the quality required to triumph in this competition, and I expect one of the front-runners to come home this week. That being said, we can still find some value, although I’d suggest backing the longer shots more for places than the wins.
2015 Jason Day -19 | 2014 Hunter Mahan -14 | 2013 Adam Scott -11 | 2012 Nick Watney -10 | 2011 Dustin Johnson -19
Jason Day 15/2| Dustin Johnson 10/1 | Rory McIlroy 12/1 | Henrik Stenson 12/1 | Jordan Spieth 14/1 | Justin Rose 22/1
Emiliano Grillo (90/1 Win & 20/1 Place)
I haven’t quite given up on young Grillo yet. The 23-year-old Argentinian is one of the brightest prospects in golf and it’s only a matter of time before he has a major breakthrough. He’s challenged across the globes in recent weeks, without making any of them stick. He’s claimed five Top-15 finishes in seven starts since the beginning of June, including a T12 at the Open Championship, a T13 at the PGA Championship and T8 at the Olympics. This will be his first outing at Bethpage Black but he certainly has the game to tame the beast. He ranks third in total driving, 18th in fairways hit and 39th in GIR – all of which will be crucial on a course with narrow fairways and small greens.
Brooks Koepka (28/1 Win & 6/1 Place)
One golfer who can definitely make a run at the Barclays title this week is Brooks Koepka. He’s been in fine form since his return from an ankle injury, notching up top-13 finishes in each of his last five starts, including runner-up finishes at the Byron Nelson and FedEx St. Jude Classic. Key to Koepka’s resurgence has been his incredible play with the driver, where his length is ably assisted by some pretty decent accuracy stats. Another favourite of mine who has yet to pay off, this could be the week that makes it all worthwhile.
Billy Horschel (100/1 Win & 22/1 Place)
Perhaps it’s the money on offer, or perhaps it’s the seasonal change, but Billy Horschel just loves this time of year. After making a late run to claim the FedEx Cup in 2014, Horschel has begun to stir with a T5 at the Wyndham Championship last week. Horschel seems a player that needs to be in the groove to perform well and usually follows up a strong showing with another the following week. On a course that should play to his strengths and a chance to stake a claim for a Ryder Cup berth, Horschel seems poised to strike. This one could pay off handsomely, so get a bit on the wins.
Jason Day (15/2 Win & 16/10 Place)
The defending champion and World No 1, Jason Day undoubtedly deserves his place at the top of the betting charts. Last year he romped to his first FedEx Cup playoff win as he defeated Henrik Stenson by six shots at Plainfield CC before following that up two weeks later at the BMW Championship. His last event anywhere finishing outside the top 27 was the 2015 Match Play at TPC Harding Park. He will arrive here fresh from a three-week break after finishing second at Baltusrol – another Tillinghast design. His price might be short, but it should be because he’s that damn good.