Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Northern Trust Open - 2013

After the birdie fest tournaments completed the past couple of weeks, its, as a golf fan, a pleasure to have a tournament on this week where the player will be tested and the competition likely to be fierce. The Riviera GC in California is the 3rd best rated course on tour by the players and was once described by Johnny Miller as "... definitely one of the greatest, no-nonsense golf courses in the world. It requires a player to play every club in his bag and every shot in his game." Its a par 71, and just a tad over 7,200 yards. That said the course record is 61. So who will prevail here this week ? A player that is in form, knows the course and is patient. Patient enough to score when the opportunity presents itself and the 2013 event has quite a number of capable candidates to walk off with the loot. Having sat down to work out who to back in this I realized that this is probably the toughest call to make in quite some time, even harder than some Majors. I also started with a shortlist of 22 before reaching 15 last night. I have opted to drop some of the bigger price fancies on the belief that the winner this week will come from a group of players who show consistency in these type of events and having played here before.

Bill Haas is defending champion having won a 3-man play-off last year. I backed Bill Haas a couple of weeks ago and was pleased enough with his top 10 finish and had the flatstick behaved he might have gone close to a win. As you also may know, I have perseverd with Hunter Mahan the past couple of weeks and again his putting let him down badly in his last two events. Other than that, both are playing quite well and cannot be ignored.

Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell make their seasonal debuts here this week and I was rather keen on the Northern Irishman, but having noted the 80/1 available yesterday I see that 66s is best price now. Not enough value there for me so the shortlist ibegins to take shape. Luke will need an outing I think, but is one of the few top players not to change equipment in the off season so no doubt will be well prepared. Charl Schwartzel has the ideal game for Riviera and in his last 4 events he has won twice and been runner-up twice....but this is a step up in grade from those last 4. Charl is too short at 22s for me (30s then maybe), but I would not be the least surprised to see him contend.Zach Johnson,Peter Hanson, Lee Westwood,Bo Van Pelt, Bubba and Jim Furyk were all on that 15 man shortlist but I cant back em all ! The two Europeans are suited to the course but I think we may have a better shot with the selectd five I'm putting up.

Webb Simpson has been slow enough out of the blocks this season and missed the cut in the Humana. But the US Open Champion excels on these types of courses. The tournament will act as a guide to many of the players this week as to how their game and competitiveness are shaping up ahead of the WGC events and the first Major in April. I expect Simpson to have his A-game with him this week to that he can push himself.

Last years beaten play-off player, Keegan Bradley has the control in his game for Riviera. He finishd T4th for the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii last month and is a really consistent performer. He cannot be ignored on this course and is a must for me this week to go one better.

My final pick this week is a player I have never backed before but simply could not leave out for this one. Off the back of a strong showing last week and complemented by excellent Riviera results (winner in 2011), Aussie, Aaron Baddeley, has all the credentials to win it again. In fact his last win on the Tour was here and he finished T11th last year. He had a top 30 at the Humana last month and was T12th last week so he does come here in great shape on a course he likes well. He should compete.

That concludes the staking plan for this one. 5 Picks, which is unusual for me but this is going to be a great tourney this week and it will be very competitive. Here's hoping the shortlist rejects don't spoil it for me. The one big price player I had considered was William McGirt. He can be backed on Betfair at 450.00 and I might just have the minimum on him for a bit of fun.

One bookie offering 6 places this week is Betpack and with the competiveness expected this week I do recommend taking the offer. If you need to open an account with Betpack you can do so below new customers click here

TIP 1: 1 pt e/w Bill Haas @ 33/1 Betpack

TIP 2: 1 pt e/w H.Mahan @ 35/1 Betpack

TIP 3: 1 pt e/w W.Simpson @ 35/1 Betpack

TIP 4: 1 pt e/w K.Bradley @ 30/1 Betpack

TIP 5: 1 pt e/w A.Baddeley @ 35/1 Betpack

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