Niall Lyons picks out the value in the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera course.
Riviera finds itself on the golfing platter this week as many of the worlds best tee it up in one of the most prestigious events in the States outside the majors. Riviera is a traditional old style golf course where trees line the fairways to make shot making very difficult. Off the tee the course i very challenging and if you wish to contend over the weekend hitting fairways is a must. Missing them more than always means missing the green either by having to pitch out or being blocked out by one of the many trees. It is one of the hardest courses the pros will play all year and everything is set up for a fascinating event.
The top of the market is very strong in the shape of Spieth and Mcilroy with the former just shading favouritism right now. Spieth finished a frustrating 4th here last year and could have easily won it. He comes here with some negatives surrounding his putting. What has always been his major strength is somehow letting him down right now. That being said a return to this type of course and these fast greens should help him out. However, I believe he is of little value considering how this year has gone so far. McIlroy has had similar frustrations. His putting woes continued in Dubai, and his long game wasn't in the best of nick either. He too will welcome the return to a classic style golf course, the type of which I believe Rory is suited to most of all. However he is hard to throw some cash on right now especially considering this is his first outing to Riviera. He may win this, but I'll be opting out just for now as others appeal slightly more at bigger prices.
18/1 rates fair odds for Dustin Johnson
in a tournament he plays so well in. He started the year reasonably well with a 10th placed finish in the Hyundai followed by a top 20 in the Farmers. Last weeks average result is nothing to be worried about as it's a poor format for a lot of players and excuses can be drawn out. He definitely seems to play the tougher layouts better and his driving should give him the edge on plenty this week. The course is firm and he has demonstrated in plenty of major championships that he can perform on hard, fast ground, all be it yet to win one of those. His course form reads very well with two runner up spots and another two top 5 finishes. He was edged out in a playoff last year and even though he hasn't been firing on all cylinders just yet in 2015, the 18/1 offered is plenty enough for us to take the chance on.
Dustin Johnson - 2pts e/w @ 18/1Placed 7pts
is not somebody who I would depend upon to supplement my mortgage, but considering his course and current form he is worth backing each way at the odds. He has been inside the top 11 in five of last six worldwide starts and is arguably the most in form player arriving here at Riviera. Couple that with four top ten finishes here down the years and Holmes rates as one of the best bets in the field. He has the tendency to spray the ball off the tee but also the ability to gauge it out of the rough i to hit enough greens in regulation. If by any chance he does drive the ball well he will have a huge advantage over the others as his high ball flight with be able to hold the firm greens with shorter clubs for approach shots. 33/1 is a fair price for JB this week.
JB Holmes - 1pt e/w @ 33/1Lost -2pts
Finally it is hard to stroke Bill Haas
off the list this week. He finished 8th last week at Pebble Beach which sets himself up nicely for a title tilt at one of his favourite tracks. He won here back in 2012 and the following year threw away the lead on the back 9 to finish 3rd. He likes a driving test and a course where he can shape the ball left to right. This sets up perfectly for Bill and although he has the odd problem in getting over the line in events he has every chance of contending here this week. The field is very strong and I'm not falling over myself about his price, but he must be included.
Bill Haas - 0.75pts e/w @ 33/1Lost -1.5pts