We head to Los Angeles, California for The Northern Trust Open this week looking to break out of our outright slump. We picked up a great victory with Bill Haas (50 to 1) here last year and will look to do the same in 2013. 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 this 7279 yard Par 71 gem of a course. Located in the Santa Monica Valley, Riviera has been home to the Northern Trust Open 48 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 Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker. Bill Haas will be back to defend his 2012 Championship and will be joined by plenty of other past champions.
Some of the other past winners of The Northern Trust Open joining Bill will be Aaron Baddeley (2011) Phil Mickelson (2008, 2009), Charles Howell (2007), Rory Sabbatini (2006), Adam Scott(2005), Robert Allenby (2001), Ernie Els (1999), and Fred Couples (1990, 1992).
This week we will also have the pleasure of seeing 12 of the Top 20 golfers in the world teeing it up in San Diego (Luke Donald (3rd), Adam Scott (7th), Lee Westwood (8th), Phil Mickelson (10th), Sergio Garcia (14th), Keegan Bradley (15th) Charl Schwartzel (16th), Dustin Johnson (T17th), Webb Simpson(T17th), Graeme McDowell (19th) and Peter Hanson (20th)). They will be accompanied by young guns such as Bud Cauley, Chris Kirk, Russell Henley, John Huh and Gary Woodland.
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Head to Heads:
This week we look to continue our great success with the head to head selections (8 – 3). We have 3 plays this week.
Charl Schwartzel (-130) over Lee Westwood – Charl has been on absolute fire of late. He has been in contention in every tournament he tees the ball up in and was one of my last cuts this week. Lee began his PGA Tour season last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and played OK by his standards (T46). Lee has not competed here since 2008 when he shot +10 and missed the cut. Though I do not expect Lee to play that poorly here again, I do feel Schwartzel is much better suited for Riviera.
Peter Hanson (-140) over Ernie Els – Two players making there 2013 PGA Tour this week and you have to give the edge to Hanson here. At Riviera you have to be able to get the ball up and down, something Hanson is terrific at. He was arguably the best putter on the European Tour last season and I expect him to put on a show this week.
Graeme McDowell (+155) over Bo Van Pelt – This is an odds selection. I feel both players will play well as Van Pelt was my final cut from this weeks six pack. McDowell is one of my favourites this week and there is no way he should be such a large dog against Van Pelt. McDowell is going to have a big season and it will begin this week at The Northern Trust Open.