Richard Sterne continued our great start to 2013 last week and as normal, picks and early prices with staking plan for the Northern Trust Open and Africa Open were sent out on the mailing list yesterday. The Northern Trust Open is one of my favourite events on the PGA Tour as there are certain requirements needed to do well around Riviera, meaning the field can be narrowed down quite significantly.
Stanjames are going six places again for the Northern Trust Open while Bet365 are offering £200 in free bets for new customers
Riviera CC played one of the toughest of the regular PGA Tour par 71 courses in 2012 and in general the big names tend to rise to the top at the Northern Trust Open. There are a couple of key attributes necessary to have in your bag and one in particular. Driving will not be a premium this week; it's all about the second shot and the putter, specifically from range. The standout theme around this track is one of relatively lengthy proximity to the hole from approaches due largely to long iron second shots, meaning those who excel in the putting from range stats tend to do well. Pins will be hard to get close to which is the main defence of the course. Par four performance, coupled with bogey / three putt avoidance is key this week.
Northern Trust Open Picks (prices from Monday email)
Pick #1: 1u ew Bill Haas @33/1 (Stanjames - 6 places) It's not often I'd tip the defending champion but with a 12th place finish here prior to his win last year and also showing progressive current form of 9 / 6, Haas has the perfect game for Riviera. In his Fedex Cup winning year he ranked fifth in ball striking and 11th in par four performance. He also came in at 9th in approaches from over 200 yards and 2nd in putting from 15-20ft. Haas was right there in contention in Phoenix before a poor third round let him down and he will be looking to bounce back this week at a venue where he thrives.
Pick #2: 1u ew Keegan Bradley @ 35/1 (Stanjames - 6 places) Horses for courses and Keegan brought us in the ew profits here last year (alongside 100/1 J Walker) after only just losing out in a three way playoff. Ironically Keegan also struggled alongside Haas and Phil in R3 at Phoenix and these were the three that contested the Northern Trust Open playoff in 2012. Bradley was 1st in the all round stat in 2012 and as he did at Firestone can use his superior putting ability to his advantage at Riviera.
Pick #3: 1u ew Webb Simpson @ 35/1 (Stanjames - 6 places) Continuing the theme of excellent long distance putters, Simpson ranked 7th in putting from over 25' in 2012 and sat 6th in GIR% over 200 yards and par four performance. Posted a top 15 at the Northern Trust Open in his only appearance there thus far and showed signs of current form with a third round 65 at Pebble.
Pick #4: 1u ew Ryan Moore @ 45/1 ( Bet365 - £200 in free bets) A regular in the top 25 of the strokes gained putting stat and one of the top performers on the greens from over 20ft this year, Moore posted a top five here in 2011 and comes into the Northern trust Open off the back of a 4th place finish last time out in Phoenix
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Pick #5: 0.5u ew Freddy Jacobsen @ 90/1 ( Bet365 - £200 in free bets) Surprised at the price for the Swede this week and on a course where driving ability isn't a huge factor, he could make it look very big. Off the back of a top 10 at Pebble and posted a top fifteen here last year. Again, Jacobsen is another who can excel with the flat stick when on form.
Pick #6: 0.5u ew Nico Colsaerts @ 100/1 ( Bet365 - £200 in free bets) No course form to go on obviously but I think this is a track that will fit the Belgian well. He showed us at Medinah what he's capable of from range on the greens and often played the tougher courses on the European tour well. Huge price.
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