Riviera Record Bodes Well For Dustin
Northern Trust Open
Dustin Johnson heads to the Northern Trust Open on the back of a superb comeback at Pebble Beach last week and that form is expected to continue in LA.
From Pebble Beach, the PGA Tour moves south to Los Angeles this week, for the last of several events on the Pacific Coast. The Northern Trust Open, formerly known as the Los Angeles Open, was first played in 1927, and was the tournament in which Tiger Woods made his PGA debut. It’s the second most valuable PGA event played so far this year and the penultimate chance to tune up for the WGC-Cadillac Championship early next month.
The Riviera Country Club has staged three Major championships, the last being the PGA Championship in 1995. At 7300 yards it isn’t the longest around and the fairways are generous, but the rough is severe and accuracy from the tee is more important than distance. The Pacific breezes, small sloping greens and plentiful bunkers put a premium on accurate approach play and course experience.
In The Bunker
Having tipped Brandt Snedeker a couple of times recently it was good to see him land the odds at Pebble Beach last time, but I won’t be backing him at Riviera this weekend. His victory last week secured his Masters spot for 2015 and with that under his belt, his focus may not be as intense. It’s also worth noting that his best finish in this event was seventeenth in 2012 and he’s missed the cut at Riviera three times.
Dustin Johnson played his second tournament after his long lay-off last week, and as predicted, returned to form at an event he loves, shooting under 70 in all four rounds and finishing inside the top five.
The good news for Johnson-backers is that his record at Riviera is almost as good as Pebble Beach. He’s managed three top fours in seven attempts and finished runner-up there last year. At 12/1 he’s a solid co favourite.
A poor second round at the Qatar Masters meant Charl Schwartzel missed the cut in his last tournament, but a couple of weeks off should have refreshed him and his form so far in 2015 has been generally pretty good. He should have won the South African Open, then followed up his second there with a top ten in Abu Dhabi, and will be optimistic heading to Riviera where he finished in the top five in 2013 and 2014. Back him at decent odds of 33/1.
The final name to add to your shortlist is JB Holmes. His last two visits to Riviera have ended in disappointment, but prior to 2013 he had a decent record at this event, and in his current form he has to be taken seriously. After a second at the Farmers Insurance, he finished stronger than anyone at Pebble Beach, with a final round of 65 to break into the top ten. If he can carry that form over to this week, he’ll offer plenty of value at 40/1