Sobel: Best Outright and Matchup Bets for Round 2 at the Northern Trust


Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Johnson.

I’ve covered plenty of previous FedEx Cup playoff events at TPC Boston, but I don’t remember them installing a roller coaster anywhere.

There were some seriously nausea-inducing rounds on the opening day of The Northern Trust, with players riding some high highs and low lows and – in some cases – right back again.

Billy Horschel was 3-under through his first seven holes, then double-bogeyed three of his next six, ultimately posting a 2-over 73 for the day.

Jordan Spieth started with a double, was 3-over through eight, played his next five holes in 6-under, then played his final five in 1-over to post a 2-under 69.

And then there’s Sebastian Munoz, who birdied his first seven holes on the front side, only to close the outward nine with a double, eventually shooting a 6-under 65.

I’m sure there were others, too, but you get the picture: This course has yielded plenty of good stuff and just as much not-so-good.

With the first 18 holes in the books, let’s take a look at two live outrights and two second-round matchups that I’m targeting on Friday.

Outright Bets

Dustin Johnson (+1600)

For the opening round, DJ ranked second in strokes gained tee-to-green and third in strokes gained on approach shots, but lost an abysmal 2.30 strokes to the field on the greens. Johnson has a reputation of being a somewhat poor putter, but the numbers say that’s unfair.

This season, Johnson ranks 93rd at +.096 strokes gained. Admittedly, that isn’t exactly elite territory, but it is literally better than average. If he continues his strong ball-striking, the man who’s been an enigma over the past two months should stand a decent chance to climb the leaderboard after an opening 4-under 67.

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Tiger Woods (+4000)

It’s not easy to write preview content for a tournament that features Tiger and never once mention his name, but that’s what I did this week. As I discussed during my new SiriusXM PGA TOUR show with Michael Collins (shameless plug – catch us every Wednesday at noon ET), I think in this business it’s important sometimes to admit, “I don’t know.”

That’s exactly how I felt about Tiger coming into this week, fresh off two performances since the restart that each warranted a “meh” in response.

Nonetheless, after watching his opening-round 3-under 68 — which woulda/coulda/shoulda been better — I think there’s plenty of room for improvement. At 40/1 to claim his record-breaking 83rd PGA TOUR victory, I think there’s value in that play right now.

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Matchup Bets

Jason Kokrak (+116) over Tommy Fleetwood

Ryan Palmer (+116) over Viktor Hovland

Same odds, same rationale behind playing each of these ‘dogs. Fleetwood and Hovland ranked first and second respectively in strokes gained putting in the first round, which is normally a great sign for a pair of world-class ball-strikers as they are.

But those tee-to-green numbers were clearly lacking on Thursday, leading me to favor the guys with better indicators that they could put together a low round on Friday. I wouldn’t totally fade Tommy and Viktor for the entire weekend, but I do believe there should be some regression coming in the second round.

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