Northern Trust Open
We’re looking forward to moving on from last weeks near miss, where Phil nearly pulled off our 4th consecutive win and would have saved our bacon somewhat after the likes of Dustin Johnson and Shane Lowry steered well clear of the limelight – though Jimmy Walker did his best to redeem himself after a slow first couple of rounds.
This week at Riviera we are far more optimistic as the tour reverts to standard fare on a course that has produced some great winners down the years and has some notoriously tricky greens to hit.
We note that Masters Champions have accounted for 20 of the wins at Riviera, hitting greens is a major asset here, and if you can’t do that you’d better scramble well. One other noteworthy point is the super-tricky kikuyu rough around the greens.
We’ve had a good sniff around the market, picking up and putting down several contenders including Matsuyama, Rose, Bradley and Ernie Els – who gave us a good run a couple of weeks back and given his South African descent, is well used to the kikuyu.
Here’s who we’re piling into this week:
Jimmy Walker 28/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £370
He’s been on good form of late, recording four consecutive top 15’s and after putting in a good shift last weekend, we’re going to keep the faith. It’s rare to get a player of his calibre at these prices, and we can thank Spieth and McIlroy for that.
Sergio Garcia 30/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £395
His last outing in Qatar showed signs of good form as he recorded a top 10 finish. He did comment during that week that he wasn’t quite on his game and as such it can be considered a decent result. He seems a little more confident this week and his crisp and consistent iron play should be well-suited to the layout. He seems to be settled on his latest putting method, and we’d better hope so as these greens were rated as the hardest to hole on from inside 3ft last season.
Charl Schwartzel 33/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential returns £432.50
Hotter than molten lava, an expert on kikuya, former Masters Champion and twice finished in the top 5 in the last 3 years.
Bill Haas 40/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £520
Billy has won here before, he’s been close and he clearly loves the set-up. Showing decent form of late and is no stranger to winning against a high quality field. A promising omen is the fact that he has only been paired with JB Holmes and Brian Gay in the opening round twice before, and went on to win both times! Good enough for us….
KJ Choi 150/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential returns £947.50
He played great at Torrey pines a couple of weeks back and our man in the know, James Bowker, tells us his putting is on fire at the moment. For a man with a track record at Riviera, he has to get some backing at this price, especially given some of the high finishes by outsiders in recent years.
Blayne Barber 300/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential returns £1885
I know what you’re thinking. Who? This Aubern graduate came through Monday qualifying in 2013, finished strong last year for a T12 finish and, as everyone knows, performs much better on the courses where birdies are a little harder to come by. We are therefore disregarding his early season form at the other birdie-fests and backing him to kick-start his campaign this week.