Northern Trust Open – Fantasy PGA Picks, Sleepers & Preview
For the latest and greatest with this years Northern Trust Open, see this page
The tour remains in California this week as we move on to the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club. The tournament has been played annually since 1926 and was originally known as the Los Angeles Open. Previous winners of the tournament include Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, Phil Mickelson and defending champion Bubba Watson.
Interesting participants this week include Sergio Garcia and Victor Dubuisson who are both making their seasonal debuts on the tour this week, Bubba Watson who will try to defend and two times winner Fred Couples, who led here after two rounds back in 2011.
Here are my 8 picks for the week:
Bubba Watson – Bubba Watson sits at a career high world ranking of 3, less than 0.01 points behind number two Henrik Stenson, so any decent finish this week will see him leapfrog the Swedish number one. Watson won this event by two strokes last year, a big win for Bubba who had failed to win since his first Masters win, and it might have given him the confidence to head to Augusta and claim his second major last year. Watson is in great form having finished 10th and 2nd in his last two outings – he looks set for another big week.
Dustin Johnson – After a 6 month break from golf, I wasn’t willing to pick Johnson until I saw any potential rustiness fall away. He missed the cut in his first tournament back but zoomed back into contention last week with a top 5 finish at Pebble Beach. He finished 2nd behind Watson last year here, so it’s clear he likes the course.
Jim Furyk – Furyk would have been a pick last week but for the fact that he hadn’t played since September. His last nine events have seen an amazing seven top ten finishes and his last eleven tournaments have seen a worst finish of 23rd. These figures make him possibly the most consistent player on the planet right now (see my Bernd Wiesberger pick for the reason I use the word ‘possibly’)and he has returned to number 6 in the world, after a relative slump to 32nd 18 months ago. The only thing missing for Furyk right now is the ability to actually claim a title.
Bill Haas – Haas won on his first outing of the year at the Humana Challenge, following this up with a somewhat disappointing 76th in Phoenix (many players disappoint the week after a win). He finished 19th two weeks ago and had a week off last week. He returns to an event where he has done well at in the past – he won in 2012, finished 23rdlast year and 3rd in 2013, so this week the prospects look good for Haas.
Charl Schwartzel – This pick is all about his form at the Northern Trust Open. This former winner of the green jacket has finished in the top 5 here in both of the last two years. He does have some good form this year with two top tens, one of those in his home Open, which he dominated until a 74 on the Sunday meant he finished 2nd. He missed the cut in Qatar last time out and returns after a 3 week break.
Charlie Beljan (sleeper) – If you want a good combination of current form and course form, Beljan might be your man. He finished 3rd last week and his last two outings at the Northern Trust Open have seen him secure a second place finish and a 23rd. Beljan is a player who can be very inconsistent, so represents something of a gamble – a slight worry being that he has played all of the last 4 weeks, but he did have a weekend off in two off those, which might actually be a benefit in a strange way.
Bernd Wiesberger (sleeper) – Wiesberger has started the year on the European Tour and it would be fair to say he has a touch of the Furyk’s! His first four outings have seen him finish 6th, 3rd, 4th and 2nd – four great finishes without quite claiming the win. He rarely plays on the PGA tour but a 15th place in the PGA Championship last year shows he can handle golf stateside.
Brian Harman (sleeper) – Harman has had a solid start to the year with four straight made cuts including a 13th place in the Sony Open in Hawaii. He has decent form at the Northern Trust Open having finished 3rd last year and he knows how to win on the PGA tour having won the John Deere Classic last summer. Harman could offer great value this week.