Northern Trust Open Tips

It was great to be back on a ‘proper’ course last week at Torrey Pines after the farce that is the Bob Hope Classic.  Watching the top professionals being challenged especially with the new wedge rules was enlightening and enjoyable.  However for me the field was a little week but this week more than makes up for it!

Mickelson, Stricker, Furyk, Harrington, Allenby, Cink, Els, Cabrera, Kim, Singh, Mahan, Watney, Yang, Ishikawa, Donald…………..not bad is it? 

The PGA Tour’s annual Los Angeles stop off is a trip back down memory lane.  The Riviera course is a real classical beauty.  Fairways are narrow and challenging to hit.  They are also tree lined and surrounded by thick Kookua rough.  However that doesn’t mean that long hitters can’t compete.  Lefty dominates here, with other notable ‘hitters’ like Howell III, Allenby, Holmes and Bubba Watson all having decent track records.  Riviera is a stern Par 71 challenge at +7,200 yards, where to succeed players must take advantage of the Par 5s. 

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Robert Allenby 2pts Win @ 20/1 Ladbrokes RESULT: T27

There is no better course for Australian Allenby to break his US winning drought. Unarguably the most consistent and most in-from golfer on the planet right now both this week’s Predictor model and I agree that he can put in a real challenge to Mickelson and Stricker this week.  Both long and accurate off the tee, with fantastic Greens in Regulation numbers, Allenby has added improved putting to his game since the Autumn of last season and the results have arrived.  A winner both in Australian and South Africa over the winter, Allenby was 2nd at the Sony Open and was in contention at Torrey Pines.  A win here in 2001 backed up by a further 3 T10s shows his liking for Riviera. 

Angel Cabrera 1pt EW @ 50/1 Bet365 RESULT: T61

Let’s add tournament the 2009 Masters Champion to our portfolio this week.  Previous tournament winners here like Mickelson, Sabbatini, Mike Weir and Nick Faldo are all Master Champions.  Indeed many of the players who play Riviera consistently well have a decent record around Augusta.  We know that Cabrera blows ‘hot and cold’ and that’s reflected in the 50/1 price, but a record of 4 Top 30 results in 7 appearances is as consistent as it gets for the two times Major champion.  In terms of 2010 a 10th at the SBS was followed up by 25th at the Sony Open on a course that truly doesn’t suit.  His 4th at TPC Boston in September 09 also jumps out off the page on a Par 71 7,200 yard classical course, behind Riviera expert Stricker and above other Rivera notables Harrington and Furyk. 

Rory Sabbatini 1pt EW @ 33/1 RESULT: Made Cut, Didn't Finish

The past 4 Northern Trust champions have all finished 2nd in a preceeding tournament on the West coast swing, so step forward Rory Sabbatini.  As any self respecting golf analyst know the South African blows hot and cold.  2nd one week is followed by a Missed Cut the next, but there are some compelling facts that attract me to ‘Sabba’ this week.  First he sits in our Predictor model Top 10.  6 Top 20 Riviera finishes grab the attention, especially when they contain a win (07) and a 2nd (02) + 2 more T10s.  Add to that a decent record at classical courses like Augusta, TPC Four Seasons and Colonial and you’ll see why this 30/1 wont last long.

Whilst the big (short-priced) guns fight out the win I’m going to focus on 3 great value place bets to bolster this week’s coffers. 

Jeff Quinney 1pt Top 10 @ 12/1  StanJames RESULT: Missed cut

I’ll snap up the 12/1!  I was on Quinney at the Bob Hope 2 weeks back for a Top 10 finish and although he ultimately didn’t deliver he played well enough.  A missed cut last week could concern but ultimately attracts as he’d played 3 tournaments and 11 rounds straight.  His record at Riviera is first class with 2nd in 2008 and 9th in 2007.  I won’t be surprised if goes very well this week. 

Scott McCarron 1pt Top 10 @ 22/1  Totesport RESULT: Missed Cut

This price is just plain WRONG!  Thanks Totesport! 

A quick look at McCarron’s record here shows that the local UCLA grad loves Riviera where he has played 100s of rounds both in his college and professional career.  4 Top 20s containing 3 Top 10s shows the Nevada based Californian’s liking for this classical course.  Scott has opened 2010 poorly with 3 straight MCs (hence the price I presume although , but expect his game to improve as soon as he tees off on Thursday.    

Brian Davis 2pts Top 20 @ 8/1  RESULT: T47

Form lines between Texas’s 2 classical courses TPC Four Seasons and Colonial and Riviera are very very strong and Florida based Englishman Davis loves TPC & Riviera.  His game is very similar to Luke Donald who again plays Riviera well, but Davis is an extremely streaky player.  A 2nd at the Byron Nelson in 2009 shows how Davis loves ‘classical’ course sight lines and how they compliment his game.  But his Riviera record shows why I’m only prepared to back him Top 20 this week at an attractive 8/1.  17th(09), MC, MC, MC, 3rd (05) describes everything you need to know! 

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at time of publishing (19.30BST 2.2.10) but naturally subject to fluctuation.


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