PGA Tour Odds and Predictions: Northern Trust Open
by Alan Matthews - 2/16/2011
Even with players like Ernie Els, Nick Watney and Tim Clark withdrawing earlier this week, the Northern Trust Open this weekend has the strongest field to date in 2011 on the PGA Tour. And there are likely two reasons for that: The fact that it’s being held at historic Riviera Country Club in the shadow of Hollywood, and because it’s a chance for top players, especially some Europeans who finally have come across the pond, to tone up their game before next week’s big-money WGC-Match Play Championship.
No, the world’s top three of Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods aren’t playing, but five of the world’s Top 10, 12 of the Top 20, and 29 of the Top 50 are set to tee it up. Riviera itself is often a draw because of its association with Hollywood and the fact it’s one of the most revered courses on the Tour, having hosted the U.S. Open in 1948 (won by Ben Hogan, which is why the course is often referred to as Hogan’s Alley) and the PGA Championship in 1983 and 1995.
"The golf course is one of the best we have on Tour," Phil Mickelson said. "It is such a visually stimulating course and a very challenging shot-making course."
And as the highest-rated player in the field at No. 4, Lefty opened as the +500 favorite, according to PGA Tour odds, to win on WagerWeb. Mickelson clearly loves this course, having finished runner-up in this tournament in 2007 only to follow with wins in 2008 and ’09. He finished tied for 45th last year. Of course Mickelson is still looking for his first win since last year’s Masters, but he has been in contention in two tournaments already this year. And here’s a cool stat courtesy of ESPN: From 2007-09, Lefty won in his fourth PGA Tour start of the year. This tournament will be start No. 4.
Steve Stricker is the defending champion after winning by two strokes over Luke Donald last year. Stricker is the second favorite at +800. He hasn’t finished worse than tied for 11th in his past three starts at Riviera. But Stricker could be a bit rusty as he hasn’t played since back-to-back Top 10s to open the season in Hawaii.
Donald is in a four-way tie as the third-favorite on WagerWeb for the Northern Trust Open at +1300, but I would say he’s the best value of the four. While this will be his first tournament in the States this year, he hasn’t shot an above-par round at Riviera in his last three appearances, going T3 in 2008, T6 in ’09, and runner-up last year. This is considered a ball-striker’s course and Donald is one of the best ball-strikers in the world.
J.B. Holmes at +1800 also could be excellent value. Holmes has yet to win a tournament anywhere other than TPC Scottsdale. And it wouldn’t seem like this strategic course sets up well for the huge hitter (although it is 7,300 yards). But of all the players who have played this tournament multiple times, no player has a better average finish of Holmes’ 16.8. He has finished T3, T6 and T7 the past three years and enters off a Top 10 finish in Scottsdale and a Top 15 last week at Pebble Beach.
Another good value long shot could be Anthony Kim at +2700. Yes, he did miss the cut in his last tournament, in Scottsdale, but he opened the season with three straight Top-20 finishes. Kim was playing well in this tournament last year before a final-round 78. And he finished in the Top 10 of this event in 2007.
Note to readers: Golf preview next week will be a day early with the WGC-Match Play starting on Wednesday.
Most Recent Golf Handicapping
- The Open Championship: A Brief History of the PGA's Oldest Major Tournament
- The Masters: A Brief History of the PGA Tour's First Major
- Expert Golf Handicapping: How to Wager on Tiger Woods Return to the Links
- 2017 Masters Picks with Odds and Expert Golf Betting Predictions
- Tiger Woods 2017 Betting Props with Expert Betting Predictions
- Olympic Men's Golf Predictions with Odds and Expert Betting Picks
- 2016 Canadian Open Picks with Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
- PGA Tour Picks: Northern Trust Open Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
- Rory McIlroy Odds to Win The Masters with Picks and Expert Predictions
- PGA Tour Picks: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Odds and Predictions