Northern Trust Open Picks

Northern Trust Open
Date: February 14-17, 2013
Course: Riviera Country Club Pacific Palisades, CA
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper,

The 2013 PGA Tour season has seen big names win events in the early going with Tiger and Phil already notching victories and a big name could win this week as a very strong field hit Riviera CC for the 2013 Northern Trust Open.Tiger and Rory are about the only non-participants as Lefty and Dustin Johnson highlight the American players with Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Adam Scott among a very talented Euro contingent.Bill Haas defends his 2012 championship and Riviera looks to be the toughest test that the players have seen on the season so far.

Riviera CC is a mainstay on the PGA Tour with deep roots into the glory days of the Palmer and Nicklaus eras and it remains one the true challenges in the PGA Tour rotation.The 7,279 yard, par-71 layout has hosted four USGA Championships through the years and has some quirks about it that are tough to find elsewhere.It isnt often that you see someone chipping from the green surface but number six is a par-3 that features a bunker in the middle of the green and ten is a drivable par-4, so you could also see an albatross ace.Nearly all of the par-4 and par-5 holes require a good drive to avoid very mature trees that line the fairways and incoming approaches will need to be accurate to miss well placed bunkering.Ive never seen Rivieras greens ranked highly as far as making putts goes but the winners tend to be better than average putters that have figured the speeds out earlier than the field.

Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we think are good bets to win.We make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that you can find at any golf sportsbook.We got our first win of the season by correctly picking Brandt Snedeker to win last week, so lets go for back to back wins.Here are our picks to win the 2013 Northern Trust Open.

Short Favorite: Keegan Bradley (28 to 1 odds to win)
Every event to this point has had a high scoring pace and that really only identifies the hottest player but Riviera is set up to reward solid ballstrikers and players with good overall games and Bradley is just that.Keegan was T2 here last year and did not struggle anywhere on the course as he played the par-3s at even while going 7-under on the 4s and 5s.Bradley was one of the players that figured out the greens at Riviera and even though his early putting stats arent up to his standards, he should find success again this week on greens that fit his eye.Keegan is long enough to take advantage of the risk/reward par-5s but hits enough fairways and greens to stay in control on a course that can punish wayward shots.

Middle of the Road:Aaron Baddeley (33 to 1 odds to win)
Badds is off and running in 2013 with four made cuts in his four starts and he ran well here in 2012 with a T11 finish.Aarons tee to green game has never wowed anyone but his putter is consistently among the best on Tour and that has really been his go-to element in his game.He is 6thon the greens in the early going this year and his upper echelon scrambling and sand save stats are another testament to how good this guy can roll it.If he has a decent week off the tee, look for Baddeley to be in the mix on the weekend.

Longshot:Zach Johnson (50 to 1 odds to win)
Zach probably feels like he is wasting a great start to his season as his top-10 fairways and greens hit percentages are being diminished by an iffy putter.I think that is more of a commentary on the shootout scoring of the early season than Zachs game as he just isnt knocking down a ton of birdies when the rest of the field has been.Riviera will level that playing field a bit as the scoring pace will be slower and those fairways and greens hit really become important.With the exception of the par-5s, there really isnt a place that carding a par will have you losing ground to the field and that is the perfect atmosphere for a grinder like Zach.Im expecting a no nonsense approach to pay off this week and it could be with a player down the board like this.

Head to Head Matches *Picks to win matches based on final score after all four rounds.Check with your favorite bookie for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.

Hunter Mahan (-115) v. Matt Kuchar (-115) (our pick to win: Kuchar)
Normally, I like Mahan on a ballstrikers course but I need him to do some scoring to put my money behind him.Scoring is tangible as a stat but most golfers understand that it is also intangible as good players find a way to get at least a stroke or two under par even when their game isnt producing a lot of birdies.Call it clutch or whatever else you want to but Mahan doesnt have the look of a player that can do well with his B and C game right now.Kuchar, on the other hand, is exact opposite as his hard stats are worse than Mahans almost across the board yet Matt has the better birdie and scoring average right now.I expect both players to do well this week but I like Kuchar in the head to head as the player with more intagibles on a course that will test your moxy at some point.

Webb Simpson (-115) v. Bill Haas (-115) (our pick to win: Haas)
I like Haas here even above the simple fact that he won the event last year.Another grinder with a shot for every circumstance, Haas is getting the most out of this tee to green game with a bunch of fairways and greens hit and should have an edge on the greens over Simpson at Riviera.Simpson isnt striking the ball as well as he has in the past few years and his putter is having to make up for some wayward shots.He will get it going at some point and return to regular contention but I think Riviera is not his cup of tea right now and Haas is the better pick this week.

Good Luck!