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?

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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.