2016 Northern Trust Open
2015 Champion: James Hahn
Riviera Country Club: Par 71, Yardage: 7,322 yards
The club famous for its bunker in the middle of the par three sixth hole has tough bunkers placed across the course. The fourth hole was called the “Best Par Three in America” by Ben Hogan. Both nines begin with a risky option for a high reward, an elevated tee on the par five first hole and a drivable par four on the tenth, and end with holes that require precise accuracy.
TV Coverage (Pacific Time):
Thursday and Friday: 2:00 – 5:00 pm (Golf Channel)
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 – 11:30 am (Golf Channel) and 12:00 – 3:30 pm (CBS)
The 138 golfer field features some of the bigger names in golf: Speith, Johnson, Bradley, Watson, Rose, and making his 2016 US debut, McIlroy. Phil Mickelson was scheduled to take this tournament off but it is probably exactly what he needs after last week’s finish.
Storylines and Groupings:
With seven weeks until the Masters, the big names will be playing more tournaments on a more consistent basis. Last year’s tournament saw James Hahn pull out the victory in a playoff over Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey. In fact, Johnson has finished in second place the past two years. Hahn and Bubba Watson will be playing with Justin Rose for the first two rounds.Other groups to watch out for: Rory McIlory, Hideki Matsuyama, and Matt Kucher; Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, and Dustin Johnson. Kuch hasn’t had the best start to 2016, Matsuyama wants to follow up his giant win in Phoneix two weeks ago, and Rory wants into the States firing on high (he hasn’t finished below 11th in his last five starts). Scott and Garcia are international favorites who can absolutely be in contention come Sunday while golf’s DJ wants to continue his strong return to the Tour.
The Cut: -2 (it’s going to be wet on Thursday, get ready for pin-seeking missiles)
The Winner and Score:
It’s hard to think Johnson won’t be near the top of the leaderboard. I think he’ll be up there, maybe even in the final group again, but this week’s winner will be Rory. McIlroy has been lights out in his last five starts, as mentioned before, and he’ll win at -7. He has been all business in 2016 wanting to “redeem” himself for missing the British. Matsuyama and Watson will be hanging around as will Harris English. English has been one of the underrated players on the Tour for the past few years and he’ll win at least one this year.
Disagree with my picks? Let me know in the commentsFollow @geordo9