Brandt Snedeker dominated last week and finished with a two stroke victory, getting him on top following back to back 2nd place finishes. Sneds isn’t playing this week and has withdrawn from the Matchplay Championship next week due to “sore ribs”. The tour will have to move on without his name hovering near the top of the leaderboards for a few weeks. The next stop is at Riviera Country Club for the Northern Trust Open. Lots of players with a lot of history at Riviera. Lefties have a history of success here, with Mike Weir and Phil Mickelson both having won back to back championships here in their careers, could Bubba Watson add his pink driver to the winners circle here? Phil Mickelson might have a thing or two to say about that, especially after losing in a playoff to Bill Haas here last year. Without Sneds in the field, this tourney is wide open, with quite a few foreign players making their season debuts this week, anyone could win here from Phil or Bubba to Jimmy Walker or Bo Van Pelt or even a rookie like Russell Henley (who looks suspiciously like Mikey from Real World: Las Vegas) could sneak up for the win to continue his torrid start to his rookie season.
Group A: Lots of intrigue in Group A this week. I could have gone any number of directions with these picks. I had Sergio instead of Phil in this group, but the shoulder injury and blowup out of him on the European tour two weeks ago has me scared. Sergio has a good track record here, but so does Phil. Chris Kirk is another guy in Group A that I wouldn’t fault you for going with as he is riding a hot streak, but he has struggled at Riviera the few times he has been here. Bill Haas won here in a playoff over Phil and Keegan Bradley, I have him as my backup as he is seemingly a safe and steady player who will at least make the cut. Riviera has, historically, been kind of left-handed golfers, and if Phil finds it with the driver like he did in Phoenix I could see him winning for the second time in three weeks.
Group B: Jimmy Walker. Jimmy Walker. Jimmy Walker. Its his time. He is following the career arc of Sneds and 2013 is his year to breakthrough as Sneds did last season. I think this is the week he finally finds his way to the winners circle. Top 5 finishes in two of his last three tournaments and has finished T4 at this tournament the past two years. Taking a flier on JB Holmes this week, he plays well here, and he can hit it far.
Group C: So many possibilities here in Group C. Going to throw Baby Walrus in there this week and hope he continues his hot streak. T3 last week and top-25 finishes at Riviera the last three years. Trying to backup another boom or bust pick with a steady hand, going with Ryan Moore and his streak of 5 top ten finishes in his last seven starts, has finished T17 and T4 here the last two years. Charl Schwartzel is an intriguing pick here, in his first start in the US this season, all he does it finish top-5 every week over in Europe, and I was also drawn to Retief Goosen who is playing much better this year, and is admittedly feeling 20 years younger now that he is fully recovered from his back injury.
|Expert||Keeper||Why the Pick?||YTD|
|The 19th Hole||Jimmy Walker||With a field like this you could throw a rock to find a keeper. I like what Walker’s done so far this season and I think now is the time for him to stand at the top of the podium.||Avg Finish: 54th|
|Future of Fantasy||Luke Donald||The artsy Euroboy always finishes high in the States, but he doesn't win. I think he changes that this week.||Avg Finish: 83rd|
|Jake Gaer||Jimmy Walker||Tied for 4th place here the last two years, top 5 finishes in two of his last three tournaments. Its Jimmy's turn this time around at Riviera||Avg Finish: 38th|
|Expert||Keeper||Why the Pick?||YTD|
|The 19th Hole||John Rollins||He’s done well here in the past and his season is off to a smooth start with 3 Top 25’s already. Hey bartender, I’ll take a John Rollins…hold the ice.||Avg Finish: 24th|
|Future of Fantasy||K.J. Choi||How are you going to argue with Choi's success here over the past five years? You're not. He hasn't finished outside the Top 30 here since 2004.||Avg Finish: 29th|
|Jake Gaer||J.B. Holmes||Horse for the course. Holmes will breakout this year and return to 2008 form, mark my words. He didnt do well in Phoenix (another course hes owned in the past), so he's one to look for to play well this week, averaging 7th place at this course over his last 5 starts.||Avg Finish: 44th|
My Top 15 for the 2013 Northern Trust Open
1. Jimmy Walker
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Ryan Moore
4. Bill Haas
5. Keegan Bradley
6. J.B. Holmes
7. Sergio Garcia
8. Bo Van Pelt
9. Kevin Stadler
10. Dustin Johnson
11. Charl Schwartzel
12. Bubba Watson
13. Aaron Baddeley
14. Retief Goosen
15. Chris Kirk