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Home / Articles / Northern Trust Open Preview and Picks

Northern Trust Open Preview and Picks

By: Tony Acosta     Date: Feb 18, 2015
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We were able to cash another winner last week as Brandt Snedeker got back into the winners circle at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am, his second win there in three years. He is now qualified for the Masters which was a huge goal but despite playing well, winning again this week is a longshot. Injuries took a big hit on Snedeker the last couple years so it is a great sight to see him back to playing in top form. The win also vaulted him to 31st in the OWGR.

The tour stays in California for the Northern Trust Open from famed Riviera Country Club. This is one of the oldest stops on tour as the event goes back to 1940 and Riviera has been the lone host since 1999. It has long been known within golfing circles as "Hogan's Alley" after the legendary Ben Hogan won three times here in a span of 18 months (two L.A. Opens and the U.S. Open sandwiched between). Known for a strong field annually, the event will not disappoint again this year.

Bubba Watson is the defending champion as he won by two shots over Dustin Johnson at -15. Four years ago, Riviera was ranked as the hardest par 71 of the non-Majors and three years ago it was ranked as the second hardest, with players posting a 72.62 scoring average. Two years ago, it ranked fourth hardest with a 71.85 scoring average. Last year, the scoring average was 71.21 which was a four-year low and of the 77 players making the cut, only 19 finished over par.

Creative shot making is important at Riviera as it is not a bombers paradise despite Watson winning and Johnson coming in second last year. Equally important is experience and course knowledge. While John Merrick picked up his first PGA Tour win two years ago, the Northern Trust Open had not produced a first-time winner since 2002. Basically, we can throw rookies and first timers out of the mix to go with experienced players and ones that like the track.

Harris English (+2500) comes in following a week off after losing in a playoff against Jason Day at the Farmers. He also had a T3 at the Sony Open while placing T30 and T40 in his other 2015 starts. He doesn't have a ton of experience here but he has made the cut at Riviera both times including a T10 last year which happened to come after a strong finish in his previous start and then a week off.

Jim Furyk (+2,800) once again failed to close the deal as a Sunday 74 pushed him down into a tie for 7th after coming into the final round with the lead. He is playing too good to not have won since 2010 when he won three times. The T7 last week made it 11 straight starts of finishing no worse than 23rd which includes seven top tens. He has not been great at Riviera but a T23, T13 and T11 the last three years isn't bad.

It is great to see J.B. Holmes (+3,000) playing well after his health scare a couple years ago. A slow start to the season has been forgotten following a second place finish at the Farmers two weeks ago in a playoff loss and a T10 last week at Pebble Beach. He not only has good form coming in but he has played exceptional here with a T8, T12, T3, T6 and T7 from 2008-2012.

Charl Schwartzel (+3,000) is making his PGA Tour debut this week but he has not been resting as he has been playing in elsewhere and has been solid with a solo second at the South African Open and a T9 in Abu Dhabi. He doesn't have a lot of experience here either but he has made the most of it with a solo fifth last year and a T3 in 2013, both of which were his U.S. debuts.

Charlie Beljan (+5,500) will be our longshot pick this week and while he is not a big name, that helps with the odds. He is ranked 242nd in the world which is nothing to get excited about but he is coming off a solo third last week, a big boost following a very poor start to the season. That is big since he has had success here with a T12 last year and a playoff loss to Merrick in 2013.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Northern Trust Open - All for 1 Unit

Harris English (+2500)
Jim Furyk (+2,800)
J.B. Holmes (+3,000)
Charl Schwartzel (+3,000)
Charlie Beljan (+5,500)

2015 Record to date after 5 events: +40.5 Units

Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Humana Challenge +24 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +8.5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am +18 Units
 

 
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