BlogPrelude to the Northern Trust

The Northern Trust

August 20th – 23rd, 2020

TPC Boston

Norton, Ma.

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,308

Purse: $9.5 million

with $1,710,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Patrick Reed

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

Off to the playoffs

Hard to believe that just like that we are already into the playoffs. It seemed like light years ago when the season got started with Joaquin Niemann winning in the mountain resort of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia at Greenbrier, gosh that was 11 months ago. Things were rolling along until COVID-19 hit and in mid-March when the Players Championship was canceled after the first round, and for the next 13 weeks, no golf was played. It returned in mid-June at the Charles Schwab Challenge and has been going on since, but as we get ready for the three weeks FedExCup playoffs it’s a weird feeling seeing the end of the season with only one major championship being played.
Making things even odder, two weeks after the Tour Championship is completed, the U.S. Open tees up at Winged Foot which is like playing the World Series and then two weeks later having the Los Angeles Dodgers play a series against the New York Yankees. Guess that’s our reality in this COVID-19 world.
The good news on all this is that The Northern Trust will be going for the first time to TPC Boston, a beloved course for those on the PGA Tour which use to be a venue of the FedExCup playoffs. It was taken off a few years back and now returns on a rotating basis. Sounds confusing, it is and it isn’t. To make a long story short, Deutsche Bank was the sponsor of the event since it started in 2003 but when the bank had money problems in 2017 it decided to back out of its sponsorship of the event. The tour was able to get Dell Technologies as a short term solution but at the same time the tour needed to cut out one playoff event and unfortunately, this one was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The people of Boston love the event and it was well attended plus the players loved the course and you never found players not wanting to come so that is when Northern Trust agreed to put TPC Boston on a rotating basis.
So that is why this is the first year the Northern Trust is going up north to Boston after being in the New York area for all these years. Everyone, including fantasy players, will love the move because TPC Boston created one of the easier scenarios of players to pick. If you look at the 15 players that won the 16 championships (Rory McIlroy won it twice) every one of them but three are household names and even those three weren’t flunked winners like last week’s Wyndham winner Jim Herman. The players love it because it has links feel to it, plays firm and fast and you just have to rear back and hit it hard and as long as you can. It’s the Ultimate bombers delight and even short hitters feel they can score well and make lots of birdies on the par 4s.
Just look at the last four winners at TPC Boston, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau. All four of them probably had heart palpitations all last week in anticipation of playing TPC Boston they all knew what the prospects for them are. With Bryson DeChambeau’s added length he could render TPC Boston almost obsolete this week. Guys that never played a factor when TPC Boston was a regular on tour could be a factor now, Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, Matthew Wolff, Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler, Doc Redman, Patrick Cantlay and Cameron Champ. Then there are past champions like Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, and Justin Thomas who could find the place right up their alley again. What happen some old guys that have been forgotten, guys like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman who have won at TPC Boston, could those memories be stirred and they find some magic this week?
Again this week is going to be something special and we can expect a lot of things happen and I expect a lot of big names on the leaderboard on a course that is easy to predict.


  1. says

    Sal, just wondering are these greens bentgrass or poa annua. If they are bent grass then it changes everything for me. Morikawa mightn’t be the longest off the tee but he leads both average birdies and average finish on bentgrass courses. His putting is poor on other types of courses but not on bentgrass.

  2. Tom, the greens are A4 creeping bentgrass.
    Morikawa’s victory at Workday and PGA were on bentgrass, at Barracuda on Poa Annua, he 2nd at 3M and Charles Schwab was on Bent. But that doesn’t mean he is this great putter on bent greens. Morikawa is not that great of a putter, yes he was 1st at the PGA in Strokes Gained Putting, he said that he found something in the weeks leading to the PGA, but that doesn’t mean he is going to be the next Ben Crenshaw or Jordan Spieth. I need to see this repeated over several events before I am going to say he is a good putter.
    But I will say this, the folklore of those winning at TPC Boston, of the 16 winners in which there were 15 different champions not one of them was a poor putter and the pure fact is poor putters don’t win at TPC Boston. Do we classify Morikawa as a “poor” putter like say a Lucas Glover, probably not. But I would still be worried about putting anything on Morikawa based on the fact that for one week he was 1st in strokes gained putting.

  3. says

    I’m with you as regards his putting but the stats say he has the best average finish in all tournaments on bentgrass and has the most average birdies. The projection for him this week based off those stats is something like 17 under par which might win it but certainly won’t be far away.

    I realise big hitters have an advantage on this course but he is in the top 20 on sg off the tee.

    Only reason I’m putting forward an argument for him is that I was initially ruling him out but now I’m not so sure.

    DJ, DeChambeau, Champ and Wolff were looking real good to me and still do. I think we need to look real close at Harding Park due to the greens. I realise Harding Park is about two shots tougher per round that this course but when you look at the results from Harding Park you had DJ, DeChambeau, Wolff, Champ, Scheffler and Finau all in contention.

  4. Put anything about Harding Park out of your mind, the two courses and conditions are totally different and will play totally different. In Harding Park you have a course played in heavy air in which the ball didn’t fly that far, on turf that was soft. Players had to throttle back to make sure they were in the fairway and if in the rough, had problems just getting it onto the green. But at TPC Boston they will rear back and hitting it as far as they can in warm air which the ball will carry further, on firm grass which will get 20 to 30 yards of carry and on rough that won’t make a difference for the players. On top of that, TPC Boston will have one additional par 5 to help the scoring and birdie fest. Still at the end of the day, putting will make a difference at TPC Boston.

  5. says

    I was just pointing out that you had all these big hitters near the top. This is why I’m liking DJ, Bryson, Wolff and Champ a lot for this one. I just think Morikawa finds a way to get it done regardless so the greens are a real key in my mind. He was no.1 on bentgrass before the PGA championship, it’s not like he just got lucky there.

  6. We will find out what kind of overall player Morikawa is this week. The one thing that really defines what a great player is, when he is able to win under different conditions and when he is tested in something that is not comfortable for him. We will see how he does this week.

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