The end of the West Coast Swing this week at famed Riviera Country Club is another one of those weeks where it feels like the PGA Tour season is really beginning. We’ve had two or three already this year and we’ll have another unofficial start in 50 days when the Masters rolls around (just got goosebumps). But this week, it’s all about the Riv.
One of the best courses on Tour year in and year out as voted by the players, Riviera has stood the test of time and continues to play well on television. Not to mention Rory McIlroy is bumping up his PGA Tour season start date by a week to make his first start at the Northern Trust Open. James Hahn is your defending champion this week, a local boy who outlasted Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a playoff to claim his first and, to this point, only PGA Tour win.
Joining McIlroy and Hahn in a star-studded field fit for the Hollywood hills in which the event is played are Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia.
We’re done with the multi-course rotations, so this week we’ll have ShotLink all week and only have to research one course. The Riv is pure. Long par-3s and par-4s with difficult green complexes and the always entertaining 310-yard par-4 10th hole. It should be a good weekend of golf.
What The Experts Are Saying
There are a bunch of short odds out there this week with such a high-profile field, meaning that there’s definitely some value further down the board. Jeff Sherman of GolfOdds.com and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy as co-favorites at 13/2 with Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Rose all falling in line at 15/1. Bubba Watson is getting some decent value up at 20/1.
yRob Bolton at PGATour.com’s Power Rankings consist of 1. Matsuyama, 2. Spieth, 3. Charl Schwartzel, 4. Jimmy Walker, 5. Rose, 6. Watson, 7. McIlroy, 8. Garcia, 9. JB Holmes, 10. Johnson, 11. Freddie Jacobson, 12. Bill Haas, 13. Harris English, 14. Casey, 15. Hahn.
Pat Mayo at RotoExperts.com has tipped Garcia, Spieth, Matsuyama, Holmes, McIlroy, Luke Donald, Schwartzel and Jamie Lovemark as his plays in Yahoo! Mayo is also betting Watson, Garcia, Schwartzel, Adam Scott, English and Lovemark to win.
Finally, Steve Bamford at Golf Betting System is putting bets down on Rose, Haas, English and Billy Horschel.
The View From The Wrong Fairway
This is the first time this year that you can make strong cases for 15-20 guys to actually go out and win this tournament, much less make a cut and perform for your DraftKings or Yahoo! lineups. Of course, that’s an obvious statement when you get the best field of the year to date in the same place, so that’s something we’re going to have to deal with on a weekly basis from here on out.
Riviera is a ball-striker’s paradise because of it’s hard-to-hold fairways and greens and while putting is always a key, it seems to be a hit or miss week for nearly the entire field. So, where do we look here? The past champions list is not a very good indicator because for every Bubba Watson or Bill Haas, there’s a John Merrick or James Hahn. It’s anybody’s tournament, really, but we’re in the business of picking who has the best chance to be that somebody.
You start with the best in the world. Spieth, McIlroy, Johnson, Watson, Rose, Sergio, et al have their benefits. I like Spieth for obvious reasons, Watson because this is one of the few courses he actually likes, Rose with his form and Sergio because this is a place he was built to win at. McIlroy has the game to blitz any field, but I’m more interested to actually see him play a full tournament, which could come back to bite me this weekend.
Further down, guys I like in the mid-to-high DK range include Schwartzel, Dufner (anything Hogan related is Dufner related), Matsuyama, Haas and Freddie Jac. A bit further, Patrick Rodgers is ready to break out; KJ Choi could have made a career just playing this event and Jamie Lovemark is a guy whose form and local ties (USC alum) fit well into this week’s must haves.
One And Done
Charl Schwartzel. The South African is a machine around Riviera. He’s got a sweet swing and some unbelievable form coming in. It came down to Charl and Justin Rose for me this week (having burned Bubba and West Coast Jimmy Walker). Both have similar skill sets needing their putter to come around to match their superb ball-striking and given how Schwartzel has been rolling it in Europe, he seems the one more likely to make some putts.
Used: Jimmy Walker, T10 (Hyundai); Brandt Snedeker, P2 (Sony); Patrick Reed, T56 (CB Challenge), Jamie Lovemark, T31 (Farmers); Bubba Watson, T14 (Phoenix); Phil Mickelson, 2 (Pebble).