Preview: PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera

PGA TOURPreview – PGA Tour – Northern Trust Open – Riviera Country Club – Pacific Palisades, CA –

Dating back to the 1920s, this week’s PGA Tour stop – Northern Trust Open – at famed Riviera Country Club near Hollywood is on the tour’s most decorated events with a rich tradition with Hogan’s Alley.

The event is headlined by World No. 1 Jordan Spieth and former No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the same field for the first time in 2016. In all, five of the Top 10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are competing.

The field attracts a number of international players including Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Hideki Matsuyama and Andy Sullivan are all teeing at Riviera. Schwartzel, a former Masters champion, already has two wins on the European Tour this season including last week at the Tshwane Open.

A number of former champions are playing including Fred Couples, making his 34th 1northerntrustlogoappearance here. He finished strong last week on the Champions Tour for a Top 5 effort. The local favorite won twice and has several runner-up efforts. Riviera, measuring up to 7,325 yards, demands players hit the greens in regulation (GIR) and generally rewards seasoned and established players with victory.

Don’t look for a shootout as the par-71 layout is a good, solid test. The 10th hole is always exciting. Drivable for a two at the short par-4, the 10th can also yield bogeys and worse. Playoffs have decided the last two championships at Riviera.

Recent past champions here include Bubba Watson (2014), John Merrick (2013), Bill Haas (2012) and Aaron Baddeley (2011).

2015 Recap:

  • John Hahn (6-under) beat out Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey on the third
    Rory McIlroy current official PGA TOUR headshot (Photo by Caryn Levy/PGA TOUR) ***Local Caption*** Rory McIlroy

    Rory McIlroy current official PGA TOUR headshot (Photo by Caryn Levy/PGA TOUR) ***Local Caption*** Rory McIlroy

    playoff hole to capture the title. He was 297th in the world heading into Riviera. Retief Goosen blew the 54-hole lead with seven different players holding a back-nine share of the lead Sunday. Keegan Bradley, Matsuyama, Spieth and Garcia finished a shot back.

FANTASY:  Bill Haas is a classic Horses for Courses scenario. He won a three-man playoff here against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in 2012. Matsuyama is in great form after a win two weeks ago in Scottsdale. Consider Schwartzel, despite the long flight in from South Africa. He won last week and has a trending history at Riviera. He was 4th here in 2014.

BETTORS: While Spieth is the overall betting favorite at Station casinos in Las Vegas at 4 ½-to-1 odds followed by Rory at 5-1, take Dustin Johnson (12-1). DJ was a runner-up here last year and in 2014. Justin Rose, at 14-1, is worth a play. He debut in the U.S. last week and T-6 finish. For a longer shot with a bigger pay off, play Keegan to put it all together at 45-1.

Golf Channel has television coverage all week including early coverage on the weekend with CBS Sports brings home the third and fourth round prime time telecasts.

Other Golf News:

  • Karrie Webb, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, is a five-time winner at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
  • Three players are tied at 6-under mid-way through their opening rounds at the European Tour’s Maybank Championship Malaysia. Several high-profile players including Louis Oosthuizen have yet to tee off.
  • Soobin Kim opened with 9-under-63 in the first round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. She leads at the moment with defending champion Lydia Ko (2-under through 17) finishing up her round.