The Northern Trust Open | 18 February - 21 February | Riviera CC
This week the PGA Tour heads to California for the Northern Trust Open and once again this historic event will be hosted by the Riviera Country Club. Established in 1927, this is one of the longest running tournaments on the Tour and over the years we’ve seen some of the biggest names in golf claim victory here.
Traditionally the more experienced players on the Tour have faired well on this layout and given how difficult the course plays it makes sense that those who have played here a few times do better than those who haven’t. Measuring 7,350 yards, this par 71 layout is sure to test every facet of the game and the winner will need to be a complete all round golfer. The greens are small and in order to hit greens in regulation accurate iron play is vital. The layout of the course means that course management and the ability to shape shots is more important than being able to hit the ball a mile because strategically placed drives are the only way to avoid trouble. Once on the greens things get even more difficult as they are notoriously quick and difficult to read. It is common to see players three-putting on these surfaces so those who rank highly in the putting stats will also be worth keeping an eye on.
Last week Vaughn Taylor was the surprise winner at Pebble Beach and I didn’t think for a second that he may be worth a bet, let’s hope this week we have a bit more luck and find a winner.
To Win Outright
Jordan Spieth: 13/2
Rory McIlroy: 13/2
Dustin Johnson: 16/1
Hideki Matsuyama: 16/1
Justin Rose: 18/1
JB Holmes (28/1 a win & 62/10 a place)
JB Holmes doesn’t win many tournaments but he’s been in great form lately and his two Top 10 finishes in his last three starts definitely can’t be ignored. His ability to manage tough, technical courses has always been one of his greatest assets and it’s that talent that has seen him fair well at Riviera over the years. To date, he has had a number of Top 10 finishes here and at this price he is definitely worth backing each way.
Sergio Garcia (25/1 a win & 11/2 a place)
Sergio Garcia is no stranger to tough competition and he will be looking forward to competing against some of the best this week. Despite the fact that he has never won a Major he has always looked comfortable in tightly contested tournaments and I’m hoping this week he ups his game and rises to the occasion. Much like Holmes, he has always played well at Riviera and two top 5’s can’t be ignored. At this price, I can't ignore Garcia.
Charl Schwartzel (30/1 a win & 66/10 a place)
If you’re looking for the perfect combination of current and course form, then you don’t need to look much further than Schwartzel this week. He’ll arrive at Riviera filled with confidence after a well-deserved win in the Tshwane Open and he’ll know that he has what it takes to get close here, having finished inside the Top 5 in 2013 and 2014. He may be tired this week but he’ll be worth keeping an eye on. Each way is the bet for me.
Rory McIlroy (13/2 a win & 14/10 a place)
All eyes will be on McIlroy and Spieth this week but after seeing how Spieth played last week, I’m confident that Rory will be able to edge him out at Riviera. The rivalry between the two looks set to explode this week and Rory will know that he needs to take advantage of any slight dip in form Spieth may be experiencing. That drive, combined with McIlory’s incredible long iron game make him a solid prospect at Riviera, a course which rewards the ability to hit long irons well. Overall Rory looks like the man to beat this week and I’ll be backing him even though the price is is short.