Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My 3 to feel comfy on Hogan's Alley


One of the best regular events on the PGA takes place this week in Los Angeles, the Northern Trust Open, formely known as The Los Angeles Open, made all the more famous by Ben Hogan winning here a few times in the '40s including the 1948 US Open. Since then, Riviera GC has affectionately been nicknamed Hogan's Alley. Its a fantastic course, measuring 7200 yards and is a par71. It requires patient and accurate play to succeed here and history shows that the cream normally rises to the top come Sunday afternoon.( John Merrick stopped that trend last year though) 12 months ago I thought I was licking the cream when my picks Bill Haas, Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan went close to winning (they finished 3rd-6th & 8th in the end). Haas was defending champion having beaten Phil Mickelson & Keegan Bradley in a playoff. Given the difficulty of the course and subsequent scoring, its worth noting that Haas is -17 for the last 2 years here, next best being Freddie Jacobsen at -12!  Haas, I fancy to go well again this year, as too do I think Mahan and Simpson, especially Simpson following recent good form. But I'm not backing them here this week at their prices (they were 33/1 & 35/1 last year) but its the aforementioned Swede, "Freddie J" that I will be having an interest in.



Freddie seems to like it here, was T3rd with Haas last year and 13th in 2012. He's played 7 tournaments this season with a TOP10 recorded at the Shriners Open last October. He may have missed the cut last week at Pebble Beach but this is a different setup this week and he has been posting some decent rounds of late. Whilst Freddie may not win this week hes worth backing each way with Paddypower who are the only books offering 6 places, as well as a punt on TOP10 @ 11/1 with Boylesports.

Another that has terrific Riviera form is JB Holmes. Holmes has posted 4 TOP 10s in the past 6 years here at Riviera and has made 3/3 cuts on tour this season icluding a TOP25 at The Farmers last month. He is a twice winner on tour (both at the FBR Open) and following brain surgery in 2011, Holmes is making his way back on tour and could be ready to get back into some form.He missed most of last season to another injury but if he returns like he did in 2012 after the surgery on his brain, where he made 20/25 cuts, posting 8 TOP25s and 2 TOP10s then we could be seeing the Kentucky man a lot more this season. I'm having a punt for a TOP10 finish this week again.

My final pick for Riviera this week is Aussie, Marc Leishman @ 66/1 e/w and 6.50 TOP10. Two TOP5s in his last 3 starts is encouraging for a player that has shown he can handle the pressure in the big events. He's one to watch for Augusta this year too. From 23 tournaments last season, the Victorian posted 8 TOP25s and 4 TOP10s and finished in the TOP 70 in the FedEx Cup. He finished 28th the season before despite only posting 5 TOP25s from the 23 events played but he did win that season and he's due a win again sometime soon. Two TOP 20 finishes here the past 4 years suggests Hogan's Alley fits his eye and he can contend at a decent price this week.


Staking Plan (6 pts/units)

0.5 pts e/w F.Jacobsen @ 100/1 Paddypower
1 pt TOP10 F.Jacobsen @ 12.00 Boylesports

1 pt TOP10 JB Holmes @ 12.00 Betpack

1 pt e/w M.Leishman @ 66/1
1 pt TOP10 M.Leishman @ 6.50 Paddypower