Northern Trust Open preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
Off to the famous Riviera Country Club, a proper old fashioned golf institution, for the final leg of the west coast swing, and another long time PGA Tour event stretching back to the 1940’s in various guises.
As soon as you lay eyes on this event you recognise its iconic features – the bunker in the green on the 6th and the crazy short 10th perhaps epitomising the event. You can drive it – in theory – but it plays over par.
Lots of references to Hogan throughout this event with its Hogan’s Alley moniker. While these references and labels can be tiresome they do indicate perhaps why the US Tour is so revered – it has history and that evokes memories – powerful stuff.
Last week? Admirable efforts from our trio but Reed’s 6th was the best we could do. J B inexplicably went 4 over in 7 holes on Friday when he looked to be riding into contention.
The course is a Par 71 coming in at just over 7,300 yards with crucially poa annua greens. These are were the toughest from inside 3 ft on tour last year.
Jordan and Rory tee it up this week so they head a quality field.
What about them?
Jordan did something of a Rory at the AT & T coming home strongly on the Sunday when way out of contention. Rory makes his 2016 US Tour debut and his event debut. I think this is his reaction to missing a chunk of 2015 – play a lot more and that includes more in the US pre Masters.
I’m all over Rory as the best player of his generation – when at his best – which is not all the time. He often stumbles into nice finish which seems disappointing. Because he is Rory the expectation is that he’ll shoot 65 every day and win hard held. He leads the Tour in greens in regulation at just shy of 80% in part because he is so long and hits his irons so high he can hold a lot of greens. This is an important stat around Riviera. The problem is his putting – its just not on at the moment and you need to be bang on it from inside 3 ft around here.
Speith is less attractive to watch but no less effective. His stats are impressive and he deserves his place at the head of the market but I’ve alluded to him before as a man who looks like he’s played a bit too much – as admirable as that is. He’s so young but the travel and commitments must take their toll nevertheless.
Despite their credentials I’ll leave them both alone. They take out around 30% so that is risky and it would be no surprise to see both of them contest on Sunday.
We want profits on our golf wagering and so we shall look elsewhere.
Dustbin: awesome record here without ever winning. Finished a lame 41st last week. To short.
Hideki: Coming off a win and a 4th last year it all looks solid. Maybe he will kick on and win more now. I can’t have repeat winners.
Bubba: has mixed success with mc’s here.
Sergio: Great record around here and good recent form albeit in weaker fields. Flatters to deceive.
Bill Hass: previous winner and a solid 8th last week – price gone.
Scott: previous winner but played once in 2 ½ months.
Schwartzel: Hosed up in a lower class event last week which may give him the confidence he needs. Says he doesn’t really enjoy golf! Great overall form around here but too short for me.
Our picks then:
J B! Yes he has twice killed his chances with dodgy golf. Two weeks ago he started badly. Last week he lost the plot for an hour or so on Monterey Peninsular. Here it’s back to normal playing the same course all four rounds on a course where he has really solid long-term credentials with 4 top tens in 9 starts. Allied to his recent good form – 3 top 10’s and an 11th in his last 5 starts. We can’t desert him now.
Badds! No. Yes he has won this and all the arguments for picking him previously still stand to an extent nevertheless we have to draw the line somewhere.
Keegan! Ok so we haven’t ridden this horse before. He looks like he just might be about to fire. A solid record around here and a better effort last time out after 2 mc’s suggest he is perhaps learning to live with the short putter. Plus he’s 66/1 and if he hits any sort of form we know he is capable of he’ll be going off a lot shorter. Speculative yes..