The final act of the 2016-2017 PGA Tour season has begun in Old Westbury, NY as the FedExCup Playoffs get underway at The Northern Trust. For the fourth time in 11 years, the playoffs begin on unfamiliar territory, as the majority of players get their first look at the par-70, 7,036-yard composite layout at Glen Oaks Club.
The 27 holes at Glen Oaks Club were designed by Joe Finger and opened for play in 1971. The field of 120 will compete on a front nine comprised of a mix of holes from the White and Red nines and a back nine featuring the entire Blue nine in order.
One player who responded well to the new environs was Titleist Brand Ambassador Russell Henley (Pro V1x), who fired a 6-under-par 64 to take sole lead of the tournament after the opening round.
“Very pleased,” Henley said. “I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was going to be long. No. 1, I had 245 in today out of the wet rough, and it's a par 4. Then No. 4, I had 214 out of the rough. So if you're not hitting the fairways, it's a pretty big challenge.
I just tried to play somewhat conservative and just make sure I was hitting to the fat part of the green and give myself some birdie putts. The greens are perfect and got to roll in a few, but I'm really happy.”
2017 has been a solid, bounce-back season for Henley. Last year, Henley finished the regular season ranked in the mid-80s in FedExCup points standings. This year, a re-commitment to his game resulted in a victory at the 2017 Shell Houston Open and he ranks 19th in FedExCup points heading into post-season action. He also credited the support he gets from his caddie, Todd Gjesvold, and his recent equipment switch.
“I changed to Titleist last fall,” said Henley, “and I feel like it's given me a lot of confidence. Changed to the (Pro V1x) ball and all the clubs. I feel like I've got a lot more control and confidence with the ball.”
A host of Titleist Brand Ambassadors and golf ball loyalists have joined Henley at the top of the leaderboard as Round 2 gets underway. Players are still feeling the course out, but the conventional wisdom suggests that the game’s best drivers of the golf ball may have an advantage.
“It's a big hitter's golf course,” said Titleist Brand Ambassador Jordan Spieth (1-under in Round 1). “Wider fairways, extremely thick rough (4-inch high bluegrass) with big greens. It reminds me of like a Congressional, even like a Muirfield.”
As you watch the action this weekend, keep in mind that the front nine is 378 yards longer and 1 to 1½ shots more difficult than the back nine. Nos. 11, 13, 14 and 18 are the scoring holes and could provide some fireworks down the stretch on Sunday.
Good luck to all of #TeamTitleist this week in Westchester County!
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TITLEIST BY THE NUMBERS
This week at The Northern Trust, Titleist is the overwhelming golf ball choice, with 81 players in the limited field of 120 trusting a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball, more than five times the nearest competitor with 15 and more than all competitors combined.
Titleist was also the top choice among players in the hybrids category (20) as well as the irons category with 36 sets in play. Vokey Design Wedges also topped the approach, sand and lob wedge (158) category and Scotty Cameron putters were the top choice among players with 55 putters in play.
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- The top-125 players on the final PGA TOUR Season FedExCup points list (following the Wyndham Championship) qualified for The Northern Trust. At the conclusion of the tournament, points will be retabulated and the top-100 players will qualify for the second leg of the playoffs, the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston.
- The top-70 players on the FedExCup points list after the Dell Technologies Championship advance to the BMW Championship, contested at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill.
- The top-30 players following the BMW Championship will qualify for the TOUR Championship. Prior to the TOUR Championship, a points reset will take place, giving all players in the field a mathematical opportunity to win the FedExCup title. The top-five players control their own destiny and would claim the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake.
- Five players in the top-125 are not playing this first leg of the playoffs, including Titleist Brand Ambasador Adam Scott (No. 66), who attended to the birth of his child (son Byron) and Titleist Brand Ambasadors Scott Piercy (No. 85) and Dominic Bozzelli (No. 115) due to injuries.
- This year is the 51st playing of The Northern Trust. The event was also known as the Westchester Classic (1967-1975), American Express Westchester Classic (1976-1978), Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic (1979-1989), Buick Classic (1990-2004), Barclays Classic (2005, 2006) and The Barclays (2007-2016).
- Glen Oaks was named the 2015 Club of the Year by the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association. Six different courses have hosted The Northern Trust since it became a FedExCup Playoffs event (Westchester CC in 2007, Ridgewood CC in 2008, 2010 and 2014, Liberty National GC in 2009 and 2013, Plainfield CC in 2010 and 2015, Bethpage Black in 2012 and 2016, Glen Oaks Club in 2017).
- In 2014, Titleist golf ball loyalist Billy Horschel (Pro V1x) was No. 69 in the standings heading into The Northern Trust, the highest standing for an eventual FedExCup champion.
- Jordan Spieth (2015) and Billy Horschel (2014) are the only players to win the FedExCup after missing the cut at The Northern Trust.
- Sixteen players have started in the FedExCup Playoffs in each of the previous 10 years since the Playoffs were introduced. Ten of those 16 players will make their 11th FedExCup Playoffs appearances, including Titleist Brand Ambassadors Charley Hoffman (Pro V1), Bill Haas (Pro V1x) and Adam Scott (Pro V1), as well as Titleist golf ball loyalists Charles Howell III (Pro V1), Zach Johnson (Pro V1x), Ryan Moore (Pro V1x) and Luke Donald (Pro V1x).
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PLAYERS TO WATCH THIS WEEK:
- Titleist Brand Ambassador Justin Thomas (Pro V1x) enters the FedExCup Playoffs ranked No. 2 in the standings. He collected four victories this season, including his first major title at the PGA Championship. After a T8 finish in the season-opening Safeway Open in Napa, Thomas defended his CIMB Classic title in Malaysia. His second win of the season came at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. He then won the Sony Open in Hawaii, firing an 11-under 59 in the opening round to become the seventh player in Tour history to post a sub-60 round. He tied Titleist golf ball loyalist Rickie Fowler (Pro V1) for most top-10 finishes on Tour with nine. He finished T6 at the 2016 Tour Championship.
- Entering the week in the No. 3 position is Titleist Brand Ambassador Jordan Spieth (Pro V1x), who collected eight top-ten finishes in 19 starts this season. Among those finishes, Spieth claimed his ninth, 10th and 11th PGA Tour titles at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Travelers Championship and The Open Championship. Spieth has played in all 16 FedExCup Playoffs events for which he has been eligible, advancing to the TOUR Championship in each of the last four seasons. He captured the FedExCup title in 2015.
- Titleist golf ball loyalist Rickie Fowler (Pro V1) recorded nine top-10 finishes in 17 starts in the 2016-17 PGA Tour season, tied for most top-10s for the season with Justin Thomas heading into the FedExCup Playoffs. Fowler won The Honda Classic for his fourth PGA TOUR title and enters this week at No.5 in FedExCup points standings. He's made 25 playoff starts and is looking to advance to the Tour Championship for the fourth time in his career after competing at Eastlake in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
- Titleist Brand Ambassador Richy Werenski (Pro V1) saved his best for last in his PGA Tour rookie season. After sitting at No. 160 in the FedExCup standings through The Greenbrier Classic he finished T25 at the John Deere Classic, T18 at the Barbasol Championship, T42 at the RBC Canadian Open, 2nd after a playoff loss at the Barracuda Championship and T10 at last week's Wyndham Championship. He makes his way into the FedExCup Playoffs at No. 108.
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Golf comes to the Big Apple.
Welcome to beautiful Glen Oaks Club. The club was formed in 1924 south of Lake Success on land purchased from the estate of William K. Vanderbilt, and later moved to the current site in Old Westbury. Golf didn't enter the scene until 1971.
Following his dramatic win at The PGA Championship, Justin Thomas took some time to share the victory with our very appreciative Tour Support Staff. Thank you, Justin!
On the way to Glen Oaks Club, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler took a slight detour to conduct some advance President's Cup scouting.
Titleist golf ball loyalist Louis Oosthuizen (Pro V1x) opened with a 3-under-par 67 in the opening round.
Fortune smiles on Rickie Fowler in Round 1.
A great recovery shot from Justin Thomas on No. 4.
A bucket list opportunity this week for Titleist Pro V1x loyalist and 2014 FedExCup champion, Billy Horschel.
Beef being Beef: a funny moment from Titleist Brand Ambassador Andrew "Beef" Johnston (Pro V1).
Jordan Spieth takes advantage on No. 11, one of the "get-able" holes at Glen Oaks.
Here's a look at one of the Vokey SM6 wedges that Jordan used on that shot, as well as the Vokey setup of fellow major winner, Justin Thomas.
A special Pro V1 souvenir, courtesy of Rickie Fowler.
Congratulations to Adam Scott (Pro V1) and wife Marie on the new addition to the family!
Looking forward to some exciting playoff action this weekend at a beautiful new venue!