Dustin Johnson may be most trustworthy option of FedEx leaders
Tiger Woods needs to tighten up driving
Sky Sports Golf, 12.30pm Thursday
Crazy as it may seem when a first prize of $1.575m is up for grabs, motivation can be an issue for US Tour superstars in the opening event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, and it may pay to back Dustin Johnson to beat Justin Thomas in The Northern Trust.
This event, formerly known as The Barclays, is not an essential one for players to perform well in if they have designs on winning the FedEx Cup. For the elite, a place in the top five of the standings by the time of the Tour Championship – which means victory at East Lake will guarantee Cup glory – is all that matters.
Thomas could take his eye off the ball this week, practising with less intensity knowing that he won the FedEx Cup last year, is already comfortably inside the top five of the standings this time (second), and has a busy stretch leading up to the Ryder Cup.
Johnson, who has never won the FedEx Cup and threw away a golden opportunity in 2016, seems likely to be the more motivated of the two in New Jersey. The FedEx would have been one of his main aims at the start of the season and DJ is probably banking on this tournament to stretch his lead in the FedEx list before East Lake. He has a superb record in the event.
Johnson can boast form figures of 15-9-1-3-MC-9-18-1 from his last eight starts in this tournament, which includes ninth place in his last start at this week's venue, Ridgewood Country Club. He carded a third-round 64 in 2010, so will be looking forward to the challenge. Thomas is making his Ridgewood debut.
Tiger Woods mania is reaching fever pitch after his runner-up finish in the PGA Championship, but punters could be rewarded by tempering enthusiasm for Ridgewood.
Woods produced a remarkable final-round 64 in the PGA – remarkable in the sense that he played so badly off the tee. He had a two-way miss going – pulls or big shunts to the right – but recovered with absolutely stunning iron play and a red-hot putter.
Ridgewood will put a strain on the vulnerable long-game of Woods and Jon Rahm looks a value outsider to beat the 14-times Major champ in a tournament match. Rahm finished third on his debut in this event 12 months ago and fourth at Bellerive last time out.
D Johnson to beat J Thomas
2pts 17-20 Coral, Ladbrokes
J Rahm to beat T Woods
1pt 21-10 bet365
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