Dustin Johnson defends Northern Trust
Dustin Johnson defends Northern Trust
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2018 FedEx Cup playoffs get underway this week with the Northern Trust at Ridgewood CC in New Jersey. Dustin Johnson defends the title while Justin Thomas defends the FedEx Cup itself.

Northern Trust Preview, TV Times

Defending Northern Trust champion Dustin Johnson leads the way in the FedEx Cup standings but 2017 FedEx Cup winner Justin Thomas is just 83 points behind.

The top 125 players from the FedEx Cup standings through the regular PGA Tour season are eligible to take part in The Northern Trust and the contenders will be looking to make it into the top 100 in order to progress to the second playoff event next week – the Dell Technologies Championship.

It currently looks like 122 of the 125 eligible players will tee it up at Ridgewood. Rickie Fowler is injured, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Rodgers are also missing.

In the playoffs there are four times more FedEx Cup points available than in regular PGA Tour events, so there’s a chance for players to make a large surge up the standings. Tiger Woods plays in the event for the first time since 2013.

Ridgewood CC welcomed the fifth Ryder Cup in 1935, a 9-3 United States victory in what was Walter Hagen’s final Cup as a player. The club also hosted the 1974 U.S. Amateur, 1990 U.S. Senior Open and 2001 Senior PGA Championship before joining the Northern Trust rota in 2008.

This tournament will be played over a composite course, made up of the most testing holes of the three nines at Ridgewood – East, Center and West.

Jack Nicklaus beat Dan Sikes to win the first Westchester Classic in 1967

Jack Nicklaus beat Dan Sikes to win the first Westchester Classic in 1967

The event began life in 1967 as the Westchester Classic and, until 2008 was played at Westchester Country Club. During that time the event was won by many greats of the game including: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ray Floyd, Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia.

In last year’s Northern Trust, Dustin Johnson took the victory after a sudden-death playoff against Jordan Spieth.

The weather forecast looks good with mild temperatures and a light breeze expected.

Venue: Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, New Jersey Date: Aug 23-26 Course stats: par 71, 7,385 yards Purse: $9,000,000 Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (-13)

How to watch the Northern Trust

TV Coverage: Thursday 23 – Sky Sports Golf from 7pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 9.45pm (Featured groups on Sky Sports golf from 12.30pm) Friday 24 – Sky Sports Golf from 7pm (Featured groups on Sky Sports golf from 2pm) Saturday 25 – Sky Sports Golf from 6pm Sunday 26 – Sky Sports Golf from 5pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30pm

Not a Sky Sports customer and want to watch the Northern Trust?

BUY NOW: Now TV Sky Sports Pass – £7.99 for a day, £12.99 for a week or £33.99 for a month

Players to watch:

Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka lead the FedEx Cup and are likely to contend this week. Who else might feature?

Francesco Molinari

Francesco Molinari

Francesco Molinari – The Open champion continued his good run of form with a tie for sixth in the USPGA Championship. This course should suit his precision game.

Jason Day – Looks to be coming back towards his best form. He has played well at Ridgewood in the past, with a scoring average of just over 68.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello – With the Ryder Cup on his mind, the Spaniard is playing superbly. A good result on this course, one that he should enjoy, could be enough to earn him a place in Bjorn’s team for Paris.

Key hole: 17th. A par 5 of nearly 600 yards, this is a hole full of possibilities. It’s a dog-leg to the left with thick rough and trees waiting on the right side. On approach the ball must be fired up to the small, sloping green protected by dangerous bunkering.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?