Sobel’s Northern Trust Matchup Bets: Merritt’s Putting Unsustainable in Round 2
Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Troy Merritt
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Scoring conditions during the opening round of The Northern Trust were fairly balanced throughout the day – not that it really felt that way.
The morning wave averaged a total of 69.10, while the late wave posted an average score .72 strokes higher. Anyone watching the leaderboard, though, would’ve thought the differential was greater, as the top four scores, and seven of the top eight, were all posted in the morning.
That should mean tougher, if only slightly, conditions for the early-late players on Friday.
Let’s take a look at three second-round afternoon matchups.
Bubba Watson (-110) over Troy Merritt
12:11 p.m. ET
It takes a special situation for me to back Bubba these days, but this one fits the bill. In shooting 9-under 62 to grab the early lead, Merritt holed an inordinate amount of putts, including eight — eight!! — of 8 feet or longer.
Considering his ranking of 106th this season in putting, it’s hardly original to believe that Merritt’s scoring isn’t sustainable. Even though Watson started 11 shots worse, this should be a course where he’s learned he can bang away on driver and at least eagle/birdie the par-5 holes.
If he can play the rest of ‘em in something close to even-par, he’ll cash this bet.
Patrick Reed (-135) over Louis Oosthuizen
12:22 p.m. ET
For me, this one is a classic case of sticking to your guns. I really liked Reed entering this week and I was pretty neutral on Oosthuizen (as I usually am), so this is about conviction more than anything else.
OK, conviction and a little evidentiary proof, too. Here are Reed’s last six second-round scores: 66-66-67-67-68-66.
The big man has been pulverizing Fridays like, well, a big man at a Friday’s. No reason to fade him now.
Scott Piercy (+105) over Tiger Woods
Editor’s note: This piece was published before Tiger Woods withdrew from the Northern Trust. All bets placed on or against him in Round 2 are no action.
Here’s how this bet should go: “You can have Tiger at -135 or…” Before even finishing that sentence, the proper response is, “Yes, I’ll take the other guy.”
Woods has now failed to break 70 in his last 11 opening rounds in stroke-play events. I would’ve guessed that he’d improved on most of those scores the next day, but I would’ve been wrong.
The truth is, he improved on four occasions, posted the same score once and actually went higher five times.
Considering he’s already mentally checked out of this one, I don’t see him grinding to make a cut, whereas Piercy, who opened with an even-par 71, should be.