Monday, August 12, 2019

Northern Trust Open (PGA Tour, FedEx Cup Playoffs) - August 10, 2019


I'm not a huge golf fan as I prefer team sports where I can see all the action, and that have a definite result within a few hours or less (test cricket is the exception). But when there is a tournament in my backyard that is easily accessible and the weather is perfect, I am willing to pay the big bucks to see the stars of the PGA tour spoil their afternoon walks. Such was the case this past weekend, when the Northern Trust Open was held at the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City. This was the first event of the 2019 FedEx Cup Playoffs, which meant the top 125 players would be eligible. To show you how little I follow golf, I only recognized 30 of these names, mostly from their winning majors.



When I went on Saturday, only 85 players were still swinging their clubs after making the cut. My buddy Andrew brought his boys and we took the PATH train to Newport, where we caught a free shuttle to the main entrance (above). Ferries from Brookfield Place are also available, but at $25 round-trip, not quite worth the time savings.



Past winners are honoured with banners as you make your way to the gates. This is where you will also find some scalpers, who will save you a few bucks off the box office price of $75 for grounds admission.



You enter the course near the 5th tee, which has a large water hazard to the left of the fairway (above). Pick up a pairings program, which includes a good map of the course.



Leaderboards can be found at various spots around the course, and let you know who is leading, as well as who is playing the hole closest to the board. Golf has not missed out on the statistics craze and it is impressive to see stats such as average distance to the pin from this range for each golfer.



The highlights of the course are the views of the Statue of Liberty (middle background above) and the Manhattan skyline (from the 18th fairway below).



There are several hospitality options for those who can afford them, although the Anchor Club, which sits between the 2nd hole and 18th fairway, is only $160-185 depending on the day.



There were lots of big names, including leader Dustin Johnson (middle below) who started the day at -12, and Jordan Spieth (left) who was one shot behind. Both finished +3 on the day to fall out of contention. Unlike my last PGA tournament in Greensboro back in 2015, photography and video was allowed here.



The crowd was relatively small, and there was no trouble finding spots to watch each hole as you desired. I watched the final holes of the fourth round and saw that it was considerably busier then.



Below is the 18th green, with more hospitality suites overlooking. Definitely worth trying to get some corporate hookups here.



What surprised me the most is how quickly the afternoon passes. We were there for four hours, but it seemed like half that. Since you can walk around, and see several different holes from any number of viewpoints, it keeps things moving, and the breeze off the water was enough to stay relatively cool. I'll definitely be back when the tournament returns in 2021.

Notes

Patrick Reed took the lead on this day, finishing at -14 and held on to win the tournament the next day, defeating Abraham Ancer by a stroke. Harold Varner III was the big winner though, as his T3 finish vaulted him 71 places up the FedEx Cup standings so that the will contest the next round of the playoffs. That would be the BMW Championship in Medinah, Illinois, where the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings will compete. After that, the top 30 players in the standings will move to the Tour Championship in Atlanta, with a special scoring system in place. An exciting finish to the 2019 PGA season lies ahead.

Best,

Sean

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