2009 Northern Trust Open Preview and Picks

2009 Northern Trust Open
Thursday, February 19th – Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
Riviera Country Club – Pacific Palisades, CA
The Golf Channel/CBS

by Matt of Predictem.com

The PGA is completing it’s California swing this week with the 2009 Northern Trust Open from Pacific Palisades. There are still a few players to make their ’09 debut, but most players are rounding into shape after a few weeks of play and the fields are getting stronger each week. Phil Mickelson is the defending champion at Riviera Country Club and will have to try to make it two ina row amidst early season struggles. Catch all the early action on the Golf Channel and the weekend on CBS.

Riviera Country Club is a mainstay on the PGA Tour, hosting over 40 events dating back to the 1940’s, and exclusive home to the Northern Trust, formerly the Nissan Open. Riviera will play at par-71 and measure 7,298 yards for the championship. The course consistently plays as one of the most difficult on Tour, ranking 13th hardest in ’08 in terms of scoring and in the top-20 (most difficult)in fairways hit, greens hit and putting ranks. The steady and accurate players tend to fare better than the bombers here, and the smooth putters will have the advantage with the greens rolling around 12 on the stimpmeter.


Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that should contend. We will make a pick to win from a short, middle and longshot odds perspective and breakdown some head to head matches with picks as well. Here are some players to watch at the 2009 Northern Trust Open.

Phil Mickelson: 14 to 1 to win
Mickelson is off to one of his worst starts in his career in ’09, failing to get inside the top-40 in any of his three starts. The driver has failed as Lefty is currently 182nd in fairways hit, dragging down his GIR stat as well. That will not play well this week on a tighter track that demands ball positioning to score, but Phil has a remarkable run going at Riviera. The ’08 champ finished 2nd after a playoff in ’07 as well and this week just might shake the struggles for Phil.

Padraig Harrington: 16 to 1
Harrington is coming off a missed cut at the AT&T and is also looking to get ina solid groove in ’09. Paddy finished ’08 as the 5th ranked putter, but is way down the list in ’09, currently ranking 189th in putting average. When the putter straightens out, Harrington should be poised to win and this week might be a good bet after a T3 last year and a solo 7th in ’07.

Mike Weir: 16 to 1
Weir is off toa great start this year, finishing 3rd and 2nd at the Hope and AT&T. He was robbed of a chance at a comeback win last week after the rains fell at Pebble Beach and washed out play. Weir is doing just about everything well, but the 10th best scoring average and 16th ranked putter have the Canadian at 4th in the All Around rank. Mike is our short odds pick for the second week in a row.

Luke Donald: 20 to 1
Luke has gone about his business quietly in ’09, but is off to a solid start with three top-25’s including a solo 7th as his best finish. Donald has some good finishes at Riviera, notching a 12th in ’06 along with a T3 last year. A 9th ranked putter has Luke’s scoring average at 69.2 and he is currently in the top-10 in par-5 birdies which keeps him in the fight.

Ernie Els: 25 to 1
Els is playing for the first time on Tour outside Hawaii, with a T39 and a 6th at the Sony and Mercedes in those starts. Ernie has been good here, most recently logging a T3 in ’07 and a T23 in ’06. Els has a great combination of length and accuracy, ranking 22nd in driving distance while hitting a 2nd ranked, 77% of greens in ’09. Another key that could help Ernie this week is his ability to save par with the 7th overall scrambling mark.

Our Picks to win:

Short: Mike Weir (16 to 1) – Weir is playing so well that he is the clear cut pick amongst the short odds group. He did miss the cut at the FBR but is 39-under par in his eight rounds in his two finishes.

Middle: Kenny Perry (28 to 1) – The FBR winner from earlier this year is coming offa T10 last week and is currently 4th in greens hit, 10th in scoring and 3rd in overall ball striking.

Longshot: Charley Hoffman (66 to 1) -This will be the second timewe use Charley as our longshot because 66to 1 is too good to pass up on the number 1 ranked All Around player in ’09. Hoffmanhas not been outside the top-20 in any of four starts this year and owns the 5th best scoring average.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *all matches are for entire event

Geoff Ogilvy (-115) v. Jim Furyk (-115) (Ogilvy)
Ogilvyhas theMercedes win under his belt and is currently 3rd in birdie average and scoring average in’09. Furyk is more accurate, but is making only his second start of the season, looking pretty average last week.

Rory Sabbatini (-115) v. Aaron Baddeley (-115) (Baddeley)
Baddeley holds a big advantage with the putter, ranking 1st on Tour in average and ranking 12th in birdies. Sabbatini is capable, but is coming offa struggling missed cut in his last event.