We head to Los Angeles, California for The Northern Trust Open this week looking to break out of our outright slump. We have been so close all season and these last three weeks have been tough, selecting the runner up (all by one shot) in each of them. We picked up a great victory with Bill Haas (50 to 1) here in 2012 and will look to do the same in 2014. Below is a bit about Riviera Country Club, which will host this week’s stop on the PGA Tour.
Riviera Country Club
This week the PGA Tour professionals will tee it up at a 7279 yard Par 71 gem of a course. Located in the Santa Monica Valley, Riviera has been home to the Northern Trust Open 49 times with the first tournament occurring here in 1941. The designer of the course, George Thomas, forces players to maneuver around various doglegs and oddly shaped/placed bunkers. Riviera has no water holes but as previously mentioned the oddly shaped and perfectly placed bunkers make up for the courses lack of water.
The course does not give up crazy low scores but the winner figures to have to shoot around the minus 14 number. Ted Tryba achieved the course record here in 1999’s 3rd round with a blistering 61. For one of the pros to go low at Riviera this week they will need to take advantage of certain holes, while escaping other ones. Here is a quick overview of the holes you should pay attention to this week.
The 1st Hole is a must birdie for the players. At only 503 yards, this Par 5 can be had by almost every player in the field. Trouble looms on both sides of the fairway if it is missed but with accuracy off the tee comes an excellent birdie opportunity.
The 4th hole is a monstrous Par 3 measuring 236 yards in length. Many players will need to utilize their short game on this hole as the green is protected by a large bunker at the front. This bunker will see plenty of action this week and players will be very happy to walk away with a 3 on the difficult 4th Hole.
The 18th may be the most difficult hole on the course and could very well decide the tournament this week. It is a 475 yard Par 4 that forces the players to be extremely accurate. Many players will be taking a mid to long iron on their approach to an oddly shaped green that has a stadium like feel around it. A great finishing hole but one that will test even a Pros nerves.
The field this week will include all the winners on tour this year except for Zach Johnson and Patrick Reed. John Merrick will be back to defend his 2013 Championship and will be joined by a slew of players looking to raise this trophy once again.
Some of the other past winners of The Northern Trust Open joining John will be – Bill Haas (2012), Aaron Baddeley (2011), Charles Howell (2007), Ernie Els (1999), and Fred Couples (1990, 1992).
This week we will also have the pleasure of seeing 8 of the Top 20 golfers in the world teeing it up in San Diego (Justin Rose 5th, Matt Kuchar 9th, Dustin Johnson 11th, Jordan Spieth 13th, Ian Poulter 14th, Jason Dufner, 16th, Charl Schwartzel 18th, Webb Simpson 19th. . They will be accompanied by Harris English, Hunter Mahan, Graham Delaet, Will Mackenzie, and Jimmy Walker, all who have started 2014 off very well.
Steve’s Six Pack Picks:
The full six-pack has been emailed out to members. To sign up visit www.GolfBanker.com
KEEGAN BRADLEY 30 TO 1 – Keegan has not won since the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational in 2012 and seems due to pick up a victory. Last season Bradley finished runner up twice, third once, and also posted Top 25’s in 15 of his 25 events. He absolutely bombes the ball and has a very high/piercing ball flight. He has started this season well placing inside the Top 20 in five of his six competitions. His only miss step came at this years Waste Management Phoenix Open when in the second round he just didn’t have his game and faltered to a brutal 80 (this was after an opening round 66). This will be Keegan’s 4th edition of The Northern Trust Open and his record here has been impressive. He missed the cut the first time he played in it, but in 2012 Keegan provided plenty of excitement to the spectators. Many people will remember the moment that both Keegan and Phil buried lengthy putts on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Bill Haas. Haas would go onto to win but Keegan’s 2nd place finish was still outstanding. Last season Bradley shot four very solid rounds (all under 72) and ended up in a tie for 16th. Look for Bradley to bounce back from that off day in Phoenix and be in contention this week.