Northern Trust Open
When: February 18th - 21st
Where: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, CA
2015 Winner: James Hahn (-6)
The format of this will go: I will select golfers based on the Yahoo format. I will select one A golfer, 2 B golfers and 1 C golfer that I think will do well as well as one dark horse pick, this should space out the selections and provide a vast field to select from for anyone who is in a format where you are limited to 10 starts per year.
Riviera Country Club - The course was created in 1926 by George C Thomas Jr. It is a deceptive course using elevation and distance changes to flummox golfers. A combination of "M" dog leg holes, long par 3's and multiple sneaky locations with bunkers will force players to make intelligent club decisions. Look for the first par 5 hole from elevation which provides an early birdie opportunity but can also punish anyone who overdrives the first dogleg. This course can reward risky play if you are hitting accurately but equally punishes you for mistakes.
Dustin Johnson - Here is Dustin's year so far: 5th place (World Golf Championships); 15th place (Hero World Challenge); 10th (Hyundai Tournament of Champions); 18th place (Farmers Insurance Open) and 41st (AT&T Pebble Beach). His track record at Northern Trust Open is a 4th place finish in 2012 and back to back 2nd place finishes and fingers crossed he can get the win this year. His ability to hit long drives and loft the ball well have served him historically and his strong putting this season should help cement him among the top on the leaderboard.
Rory McIlroy - Last week was the first Jordan Spieth pick, this week is the first Rory pick of the year. His talent and focus should help him on the difficult holes and he's playing 2016 well with top 30 finishes in both tournaments he played. He hasn't played on the tour in 2016 but has two top ten finishes in Abu Dhabi and Dubai so he will not be cold coming into the Northern Trust Open. Rory will be eager to bring a strong performance into his first 2016 round and the nuances of this course play to his strengths.
Jimmy Walker - Another year of Jimmy playing well to start off the year. 5 of his 6 starts have yielded a top 15 finish. He is among the best golfers playing right now. He finished 4th here in 2012, 16th in 2013, 20th in 2014 and 41st in 2015.
Charl Schwartzel - Before I dug into the stats I thought of Charl's name for this course, he's a mentally strong player who can have a booming drive when needed. To see that he's posted two top ten finishes here doesn't surprise me in the slightest. The other logical pick here would be Bill Haas but I'm going to lean toward Charl who should navigate the course quite well. Recently he finished 5th in 2014 and 41st in 2015
Dark Horse Bonus Pick:
John Huh - With two top ten finishes in his last two tournaments, his season is progressing well in 2016 where he hasn't missed a cut. He has a very accurate drive (39th on the tour), scrambles well from the rough (5th) and is in the top 50 in putting. His track record isn't great at Riviera with a missed the cut in 2013, 35th in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015.
Last tournament results - Pebble Beach Pro-Am (156 total field)
A: 21st place
B: 11th place; 35th place
C: 120th place
Dark Horse: 101st place
YTD Avg: (Average field of 129 people)
A: 53rd place
B: 23rd place
C: 55th place
Dark Horse: 38th place