Northern Trust Open — Preview

The West Coast Swing continues in California by moving down the California coast to Los Angeles and the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club. TV viewers won’t be treated to the ocean views like last week at Pebble, but frankly, I think most people will trade those for not having to watch amateurs play with the pros. If I’m watching a PGA Tour event, I don’t really care to watch the 60 year old CEO of some fast food company miss a 6 footer. But enough dwelling on last week, on to the third financial services sponsored tournament of the wrap around schedule!

Checkout the DFS picks here.

The Course

If a course has the nickname Hogan’s Alley, it obviously has a rich history. Besides hosting a PGA Tour event since 1926, the course has also hosted three major championships (a US Open and two PGAs). Stretched to 7,349 yards at par 71, Riviera is certainly no slouch at length.

The entire course is contained in a semi valley, with houses lining the outside, and the clubhouse perched on the top of a hill. Looking out from that hill you can see pretty much the entire course, or at least everything that isn’t hidden by the giant eucalyptus trees which frame many of the holes.

Picking just one hole as a hole to watch is a little too much at Riviera. Obviously the sixth hole comes to mind. A mid length par three with a bunker smack dab in the middle of the green. Adding to the quirkiness is the seventh hole (a long par 4 with a split fairway), and the tenth hole (a drivable par 4 with a sliver of a green and bunkers all around). The most impressive part of the design is even with the those oddities, the course doesn’t give off an unfair vibe. It’s difficult, requires a whole bunch of planning, and is absolutely one of the most fun courses that pros get to play during the year.

6th geen. You really gotta mess up to be forced to chip from the green.

6th geen. You really gotta mess up to be forced to chip over the bunker from the green

Last Year

A pair of weekend 64s moved Bubba Watson from 8 shots back to a two stroke victory over Dustin Johnson. Watson shows that there are low scores to be had out there, and if you can find them, a good chance at moving way up the leaderboard.

Things to Watch For

Chipping on a green — As mentioned above, Riviera Country Club’s sixth hole is a par three with a bunker in the middle of the green. A poorly placed tee shot can force a player to chip over and around that bunker. That being said, the green is fairly large, and it really would take a huge mistake for that green chip to happen. But with a large field over 4 rounds, odds are someone is going to have to do that. And the Golf Channel is guaranteed to milk that highlight the entire week.

Overhanging trees — Built in 1927, the trees on the course certainly have had enough time to grow to towering heights. What this means is that a misplaced drive, even one in the fairway, can force a player to bail out with their approach. So even though there is a decent amount of room all around, the trees certainly shrink the playable areas.

Dustin Johnson — Having finished runner up both of the last two years, clearly he’s familiar with the course. He’s coming off his over 6 month hiatus from golf, but his game doesn’t seem to be rusty like one might expect – he finished T4 last week after a final round 66. Now this doesn’t mean that everyone should go about picking him to win this week, but he’s certainly a storyline to keep an eye on, at least to see how he performs.

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  1. Pingback: Northern Trust Open — DFS Picks | Golf On The Mind

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