PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: Northern Trust Open
by Alan Matthews - 2/15/2012
I don’t know about you, but while I enjoy watching golf I don’t consider it must-see TV unless it’s a Grand Slam event or the Ryder Cup. It’s rare a normal PGA Tour event captures my total attention, much less on a weekend.
But last Sunday was far from a normal one as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were paired for the day at the AT&T National Pebble Beach Pro-Am as they tried to chase down 54-hole leader Charlie Wi. And Lefty was nothing short of brilliant. Down six shots entering the final round, he was up two shots after just six holes! He would go on to shoot a bogey-free 8-under 64 to win by two over Wi for his 40th career PGA Tour win.
Meanwhile, Tiger’s air of invincibility is once and for all gone. Woods was two shots out of Mickelson’s lead when both walked off the sixth green. Tiger then bogeyed the next three holes on the way to a 75, 11 shots worse than Mickelson and better than just four other players all day. Tiger’s putter betrayed him as he missed five putts less than five feet. You and I probably wouldn’t do that.
The tournament was a boon for the books, easily the most-wagered event of the golf season, and saw huge final-round betting numbers – largely on Tiger. Lefty went off pre-tournament at 20/1, paying quite nice dividends for those who believed in him despite an uneven start to 2012. My “value” pick was Bryce Molder at 30/1, but he didn’t even make the cut despite an opening 67.
The Tour stays in California for one more week for the Northern Trust Open before heading to Arizona for next week’s big WGC-Match Play (it starts Wednesday so look for the preview a day earlier than normal here at Doc’s Sports) and then on to the Florida Swing in a lead up to the Masters.
The Northern Trust Open is played at the classic Riviera Country Club, where many a movie star has played being as the course is in the shadows of Hollywood. The course is actually nicknamed "Hogan's Alley" because of Ben Hogan’s success at the site. In the span of 18 months from 1947 to 1948, Hogan won three tournaments at the Riviera Country Club: two L.A. Opens and the 1948 U.S. Open. Riviera has hosted three majors in its history.
It’s a strong field, with 26 of the Top 50 in the world rankings set to tee it up – Tiger isn’t one of them, but he will play three weeks in a row starting next week at the Match Play. Mickelson is playing again, while some of the top Europeans have finally made it over to the States ahead of next week’s big event. That includes world No. 1 Luke Donald, who makes his debut and begins defense of his PGA Tour money title (of course, he also won the European version). Guys like Jason Day, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia also are making their 2012 debuts in the U.S. And Aaron Baddeley is back to defend his 2011 title.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Northern Trust Open Favorites
As one would expect, Mickelson is the 9/1 favorite to win at Bovada. Lefty hasn’t really contended here the past two years – T35 and T45 – but won in 2009 and ’08 and was a runner-up in ’07. In that ’09 win, his 15-under total included rounds of 63 and 62.
Donald is next at 14/1. The Englishman and reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year finished in the Top 10 in 14 of 19 events last year en route to winning the scoring average title (68.86). Donald only missed the cut twice last year – but one was here thanks to his 8-over 78 in the second round, Donald’s worst round of 2011.
Dustin Johnson, my preseason pick to win the money title, finally looked healthy last week by finishing tied for fifth – he was right off the lead after the first round but didn’t break 70 in the final three rounds. Johnson has two Top-10 finishes in four visits here but missed the cut a year ago.
There’s a decent drop off after Johnson, with Garcia and Scott both at 28/1. Garcia is playing here for the first time in 2008 and he’s worth a look. He was in contention at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship last month and finished tied for fifth at the Qatar Masters on Feb. 5. Garcia’s best result at this event is sixth in 2007. Scott didn’t play here two of the past three years and the one time he did, the Aussie missed the cut. He was the unofficial winner here in 2005 (weather-shortened) and runner-up the next year. And Scott was playing very well in Australia before heading to the U.S.
PGA Tour Golf Predictions: Northern Trust Open Betting Picks
I will look hard at Baddeley to defend at 30/1. Want a trend? In 2011, the Aussie posted his first Top-10 finish of the year at Pebble Beach, then went on to win the Northern Trust Open the following week. Well, Baddeley was fourth at Pebble a week ago for his first Top 10 of 2012. And he led the field in birdies last week.
Kevin Na also deserves a look at 33/1. He has had back-to-back T5s in Phoenix and Pebble Beach. He likes Riviera. Last year he finished third here, and the year before that he had a tie for 10th.
But for pure value, I am going with K.J. Choi at 40/1. He didn’t play well in the Middle East on the European Tour but loves Riviera: In 11 starts he has four Top 10s (including last year's T7) and hasn’t missed a cut.
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