Winner’s Share – $1,206,000
Course – Riviera CC (7,349 yards par 71)
Our 2014 Picks – Jordan Spieth (T12), Graham DeLaet (T70), Bill Haas (T23), Charles Howell III (MC), Victor Dubuisson (T40)
We finally had a proper week to remember from a betting point of view, with Andrew Dodt becoming our first winner over in Thailand, whilst Nick Watney went close at Pebble Beach, falling short to a brilliant Brandt Snedeker. Rarely do we not begrudge someone who pips over one of our players, but it’s absolutely superb to see Sneds playing like that again and we hope it’s the true start to his prominence in the game again.
Moving onto this week and we’re staying in California for the Northern Trust Open. It’s the fourth oldest event on the PGA Tour calendar and has been running since 1927! When you look at it’s history, there’ve been 67 different winners – and remarkably 33 of them have been major winners! That is some statistic. The alumni include Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Sir Nick Faldo, Freddie Couples, Phil Mickleson and Adam Scott.
Obviously with such a long history, you can begin to really gage and understand what’s required to win this trophy, especially with the host course hosting the event since 1973. The Riviera Country Club is a magnificent course which will test all aspects of your game – every club will most likely be used in the 4 days.
Course management will be crucial, which comes in turn with understanding every nook and cranny, every dogleg and bunker position – just a sound knowledge of this track. There’s a reason players have continued to do well and come back year after year, whilst others struggle. It will, without doubt, be a massive help if you’ve played here a few times. Since the turn of the century, every winner has recorded at the very least a top 20, barring John Merrick’s victory in 2013.
The greens are on the smaller side and with the course measuring in at 7,349 yards, it’s clearly not the longest, so precision tee-to-green is crucial. Long game accuracy will come into it, as there will need to be an understanding of when to go long and cut back, but scrambling in and around the greens will be vital to save shots and gain a lead against the field.
It’s a real mixed bag of a tournament and tough to pinpoint a winner, but bare in mind there are plenty of doglegs and has historically tended to favour the faders of the ball. Those that can move the ball with ease will be at a complete advantage.
It is also worth noting that every player, barring the enigmatic and erratic Phil Mickelson, every winner in recent times has come here in a bit of form. We listed the names down to Mike Weir in 2002, but could have easily carried on, however we feel our point is proven at least going that far! Even the guys who didn’t quite have a top 10, still played well weeks before that as well, so it does show – take the past few tournaments into account and what their form is saying!
2014 – Bubba 2nd before win (at waste management)
2013 – John Merrick (T16 at Pebble Beach)
2012 – Bill Haas (T19 at Waste Management)
2011 – Aaron Baddeley (T6 at Pebble Beach)
2010 – Steve Stricker (3rd at Sony Open)
2009 – Phil Mickelson (T55 at Pebble Beach)
2008 – Phil Mickelson (MC at Pebble Beach, but 2nd the week before)
2007 – Charles Howell III (T23 at the FBR Open)
2006 – Rory Sabbatini (2nd at Pebble Beach)
2005 – Adam Scott (T20 at the Sony Open)
2004 – Mike Weir (T4 at Pebble Beach)
2003 – Mike Weir (T3 at Pebble Beach)
Enjoy the weeks golf – we’ve got a fairly decent field lining up, so it should be a great deal of fun – let’s hope our 2nd winner of the season comes in the form of…
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Harris English (40/1 various)
When we studied what’s required to win this tournament, one of the first names that bizarrely came to both our heads was Harris English. No denying he’s a quality player, but there are some stellar names in this field, so for us to shout out English, it instantly felt like he would take our number one berth this week.
Traditionally, he is a ridiculously solid ball striker. We’ve all seen him tank the ball consistently, finding the fairway and then swing his irons effortlessly. When he is in full flow, he is a magician tee to green because his length really aids him if he’s driving it straight.
He’s been in decent form recently as well – his last outing at the Farmers, he lost in a playoff to the outstanding Jason Day, but it was encouraging to see him holing that clutch putt on the last to get him in the mix. That shows his nerves and capabilities to win, but also proves that he is in some decent form.
Looking at the stats, he was T4 for driving distance, T55 for accuracy, T42 for GIR and T17 for putting average. Those are some very consistent stats and whilst he can be slightly wayward of the tee at times, he has the sort of game that easily gets him out of trouble.
11th in scrambling across the season proves that and he’s inside the top 40 in every approaches stat between 125-200 yards. He is a top, top player that can certainly go far in the game and this is the sort of course that should suit him perfectly. He finished T10, shooting a -4 67 on the final day and that should give him plenty of confidence, considering the form he is in right now.
J.B. Holmes (40/1 various)
We would never have thought our 2nd pick would come in the form of J.B. Holmes in such a cracking field and whilst we don’t mean any disrespect by that, it’s still a bizarre one.
We are sure though that many will look at the American this week because he has the perfect game and form for the event. As we mention earlier, faders of the ball will be at an advantage and boy is Holmes one of them. He naturally moves the ball left to right and will be brimming with a ridiculous amount of confidence from his last 2 outings.
He, like English, lost in that playoff to Day, but he was hitting the ball a bloody long way and swinging with apparent ease. 6th driving distance, T55 accuracy, T42 GIR and most importantly, 4th for putting average.
The week after he goes to Pebble Beach and finishes in a tie for 10th and he was 5th for putting average there. His short game has got a lot better since last year and it’s scary to think how much of a roll he could go on in this form on a course he’s played so many times and performed very well at.
From 2008, he found the top 12 five times in a row, including a T3 finish in 2010. Interestingly his irons looked cracking at Pebble Beach as well, where he finished T20 overall for GIR, so when you put all these factors together, he has every chance to find the winners circle.
Brendon Todd (80/1 BetFred)
Mr.Dependable Brendan Todd. What a back end to the season he had in 2014, truly entering his name into the reckoning for big titles. So, whilst he hasn’t played quite to that similar level admittedly, how is Todd valued at 80s for the sort of tournament that should suit his game perfectly?!
He has a couple of top 10s in his last 4 outings, including a T10 last week at Pebble Beach, where his 65 was the best round on Sunday. If it wasn’t for a chaotic round on Friday, he would of been in with a great chance to challenge.
But what intrigues us the most is the fact his last bogey came on the 13th on that Friday. Yes, it was the 13th hole on the 13th of the month on a Friday. Very spooky indeed, but this isn’t some Halloween scare fest, this is confirmation that Todd is in fine fettle. 13 birdies followed (again, weird) and he’ll be feeling in great spirits.
He finished 3rd for driving accuracy and 1st for GIR,whilst he was T24 for putting average. Those are a ridiculous combination of stats. He is a top scrambler – 37th in the rankings for the season and 1st in sand-save percentage, so he has all the attributes. He’s played here a couple of times, all be it recording just a T35 and MC, but we’re looking at it like he’s seen the track and will know a bit about it.
For us, he seems like a no-brainer at those mid-range/high odds.
John Peterson (175/1 Coral)
Now, if there was ever a pick that enlightened us with their stats, it would be John Peterson. He literally does everything well and that usually scares us, but at 200/1 we felt there was no harm in us chucking some on him.
Across the season he’s been playing consistently without ever truly challenging, although a couple of weeks ago he finished T20 at the Humana, opening up with a round of 64, which shows his calibre.
He dropped 14 places in a final day 76 at the Farmers, but again showed the odd glimpses in the previous few days. He was 7th GIR and T23 driving accuracy. Whilst his putting and distance averages weren’t great, over the course of the season they are impressive – 98th distance, 17th strokes gained putting, 36th scrambling and 23rd sand-save percentage. Ridiculous.
William McGirt (150/1 Coral)
Our final pick comes in the form of William McGirt. Now here is a player who has shown some strong indicators he could challenge for trophies, but has been too inconsistent across the 4 days of an event.
He shot a couple of 67s in his T30 finish at the Waste Management – either side of some horror scores, whilst last week a 66 couldn’t propel him higher that T21.
He was T27 for driving accuracy, T7 for GIR and 27th in putting average. He is a highly consistent player tee to green, but at times his lack of length has let him down, but we don’t feel that’ll be a problem here. He finished T6 last year which shows he’s got a liking for the track and a very interesting outsider.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.50 e/w on Harris English at 30/1
£1.50 e/w on J.B. Holmes at 40/1
£1.20 e/w on Brendon Todd at 70/1
£0.40 e/w on John Peterson at 125/1
£0.40 e/w on Will McGirt at 125/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 5 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 5 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £24.30 European Tour: £-40
PGA Tour: £-12.63 PGA Tour: £47
Total: £11.67 Total: £7.00
DownThe18th leads by: £4.67