Tournament: Northern Trust Open
Date: Thursday-Sunday, February 12th-16th 2014
Course: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades CA
TV: Thurs.-Fri. Golf Channel, Sat.-Sun. CBS
by Tim, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
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My buddywe’ll call him Jenga—is fresh off the boat (6 months) from his native Nepal. One day we were discussing French fashion design templates and eating chicken wings, albeit in shattered English, when a commercial arose promoting the Northern Trust Open this weekend in Pacific Palisades, California. Jenga said, “Unreal ‘Lefty’ hasn’t won yet on the West Coast swing! 19 of his 42 wins worldwide have come during this action packed, edge of your seat, Left Coast campaign! I hear Mickelson is nursing a bad back? Too badhis short game is the bomb!” Jenga watches too much television. Well, the course with the bunker in the middle of the stinkin’ green (No. 6) is ready to give us ALL a break from the Winter Olympics and Bob Costas’ lipo-botox hack job (Yeah, sure Bob, no one can tell at all), Ice “Dancer” Evgeni Plushenko (Holy Lord!), and American Luger Kate Hansen showing off her 10th Place, frivolous, follow-the-leader, skin deep dance moves. A message for the pretentious Beyonce-loving-Babe: First Place takes honor, dignity, grace, and classflip your commercialization book closed, a little more luging and a little less fluff, and quit making us all look like idiots! Please??? Okay, Jimmy Walker smoked ’em (sorta’) at Pebble last week with Dustin Johnson closing hard! Let’s see who has a chance this week in L.A.—home to glitz, glamour, and our very own Kate Hansen!
John Merrick won this event in 2013he won’t win this year. Jimmy Walker is on an absolute ‘scorched earth’ campaign kicking up 3 wins this year after going “O-fer” in 188 previous starts. Butch Harmon has popped something into Walker’s swing making Jimmy virtually unbeatable in 2014. But Walker’s human; he closed last week with a final round 74 to win by a shot over Johnson and Renner. Walker started the final round with a 6 shot lead and puked on Sunday suggesting he might be thinking about his “Potential Greatness” letting air out of his balloon out of fear for greatness. I look for Walker to fire around a 6 under for this tournament because “Exceptional Greatness”—like that of Gretzky, Jordan, Tiger, and Jack—takes an incredible mind able to play in fear of losingand not afraid of fear of ‘Greatness’; the type of ‘Greatness’ Walker is fast approaching. Walker, in fact, may be finished for his career with winning on the PGA Tour! Dustin Johnson, on the other hand, has the necessary “sociopathic” mentality to become greatyet, Johnson is overly lazy, self-indulgent, and lacks the mental discipline and capacity to attain the type of “Greatness” Walker seems to shying away from. In this 2014 Field, five names jump out as possible winners; Jordan Speith, Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan, Charley Hoffman, and Harris English. Of the five, Mahan seemed entirely too happy to shoot 72-72 in the final 2 rounds at Pebble Beach. Speith look absolutely disgusted after throwing in a 78 in round 3 last week and finished with a 67 good enough for a tie for 4th. Yes, Charley Hoffman did miss the cut last week but he doesn’t particularly like the Pro-Am and his play was a reflection of his dismay at the forced pairings. Harris English is playing fantastic golf in 2014 and if his putter gets hot, most will be playing for 2nd place. Webb Simpson usually plays Rivera very well and knows how to win on Tour. Let’s take a look at a few others that might make the mix at the Top this weekend at Rivera.
Keegan Bradley plays well at Rivera, Nicolas Colsaerts seems to be getting better after a breakout season in 2013, and K.J. Choi is always a threat when he tees it up! For Rivera, this tournament will come down to my Top 5 with Bradley, Colsaerts, or Choi making a run at the prize. Here’s how I see it: Speith first by 3Harris English, Choi, and Webb Simpson fighting over second. Walker will play well but he won’t be a factor.
Short Favorite: Jordan Speith (18 Odds to 1 to Win)
The ‘Brett Favre’ of the PGA Tour. Tons of talent, accidentally makes the correct mistakes, is great in every aspect of his game, is even better inside 15 feet, and KNOWS how to win!.
Middle of the Road: Harris English (33 Odds to 1 to Win)
Doing everything well in 2014even better than his big year last year! .
Longshot: K.J. Choi (66 Odds to 1 to Win)
Just a Grinder when things are going bad and an “assassin” when things are going good. Big Odds for Choi; worth the risk.
Head to Head Matches *Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. Check out your favorite online betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Jimmy Walker vs. Graham Delaet (our pick to win: Graham DeLaet)
Mentally, I think Walker is finished winning on the PGA Tour. I believe the stage of greatness has too many treacherous steps for Walker to eyeballinstead of just walk upon.
Harris English vs. Charl Schwartzel (our pick to win: Harris English)
I have English as a possible winner. Schwartzel can play, but he’s not ready to win yet this year.