Northern Trust Open
Dates: February 17th20th, 2011
Course: Riviera Country Club Pacific Palisades, CA
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
Bill Murray was fun to watch, but its back to pros only for week seven of the 2011 PGA Tour and The Northern Trust Open. Riviera Country Club welcomes a very strong field this week with defending champion Steve Stricker looking to make it two in a row against the likes of crowd favorites Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. Check out the early action on The Golf Channel and tune in to CBS for the weekend finish.
Riviera will host its 47th PGA Tour event so the course is no stranger to championship golf. The 7,279 yard, par-71 layout ranked 20th out of 52 courses in difficulty from 2010 and features some of the faster greens in the Tour rotation. The course seems to favor the shotmakers over the bombers based on recent results and youll likely see scoring in the mid to upper sixties by the leaders. The 1999 event saw the course record of 61, so there is a chance for someone to take over the event or make up some serious ground in one day. Players need to take advantage of the par-5 first hole that plays as the easiest on the course because the par-4 finishing hole plays as the hardest and could put a damper on an otherwise solid round.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight a few players that we think can win it all. We make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a few head to head matches that youd likely find at any golf sportsbook. Here are our picks for the 2011 Northern Trust Open.
Short Favorite: Steve Stricker (12 to 1 odds to win)
Stricker notched a T4 and T9 in the two Hawaii events and decided that was good enough to deserve a vacation, so hell be making his first start since. The 2010 champ certainly has the shotmaking to excel here and his upper-tier putting game should handle the slick Riviera greens. This event has been kind to defending champs with Corey Pavin, Mike Weir and Phil Mickelson all earning titles in consecutive years. Stricker is also not likely to washout as he currently rides a Tour best cuts made streak of 23.
Middle of the Road: Hunter Mahan (20 to 1 odds to win)
We almost got this right last week as Hunter was a T2 at Pebble and not much has changed to pick another, so here we go again. Mahan has two top-10s in his four starts and hes playing the kind of golf that will produce wins. He is 35th or better in total driving, greens hit and putting average which is good enough for 10th in the all around stat. You have to like his versatility at a course like Riviera and hes 16th in total birdies on the year so both his birdie looks and makes are trending well.
Longshot: Geoff Ogilvy (40 to 1 odds to win)
If you follow this piece, this is about the biggest name that has ever qualified in this pick spot. 40 to 1 for a player of Ogilvys talent seems too good to be true and while this is just his third start of the year, the value here is too high to pass on. Geoff is 5th in total driving this year and has the 5th ranked putting and birdie average. His scoring average is at 11th coming in and he really just needs to knock some rust off, if anything, to get into contention.
Head to Head Matches (our pick to win) *all matches are for entire event, check with your favorite offshore sportsbook for single round matches and proposition bets. This weeks matches can be found on the board at Bovada Sportsbook.
Matt Kuchar (-115) v. Luke Donald (-115) (Kuchar)
Kuchar has the game for Riviera with better fairways and greens hit numbers than Donald and Luke is making his first start in the U.S. this season. Kuchar is carrying over his success from 2010 with T5, T6 and T7 finishes in three starts.
Anthony Kim (-115) v. Retief Goosen (-115) (Kim)
Kim is rounding into winning shape and Goosen is making his first start of the PGA Tour season, so there is some uncertainty with both players but go with Kim as the better iron player. Kim doesnt need to overpower the course, so if he takes care to find the fairways, he should prove better than Goose in this one.