Riviera Country Club, California
Par 71, 7,349 Yards
The PGA Tour stays in California and travels to Riviera Country Club, which is located in Pacific Palisades, California and was designed by George C. Thomas, Jr. It has been the primary host for the Northern Trust Open (originally the Los Angeles Open) and is a par 71 measuring 7,349 yards. Riviera has hosted three major championships: the U.S. Open in 1948, and the PGA Championship in 1983 and 1995. It also hosted the U.S. Senior Open in 1998.
Previous winners include James Hahn (2015), Bubba Watson (2014), John Merrick (2013), Bill Haas (2012), Aaron Baddeley (2011), Steve Stricker (2010) and Phil Mickelson (2009,2008). It has three very different par 5’s and a reachable par 4. The par 3’s are tricky and will require good, accurate iron play to hit the greens.
The first of the par 5’s is the opening hole and offers a very makeable birdie by most of the field. The other two are on the back 9 and will favour the bigger hitters with the 11th measuring just over 560 yards and the 17th measuring a monstrous 590. Players that can shape the ball will have an advantage around this course as there is quite a few doglegs and tricky par 4’s. The par 4 10th is reachable by the bigger hitters in the field measuring around 315 yards. Depending on the hole location, it can be a tricky hole to score on.
This course has a couple of signature holes, for example, there is a bunker in the middle of sixth green, which is a par 3 and could force some players to chip from one part of the green to the other. The fairways are quite forgiving and there are no water hazards to contend with. The fairways are Kikuyu, which is common in South Africa and the greens are poa annua and are quite small so be on the lookout for guys that have good GIR stats. This course will certainly favour the bombers, who should be able to take advantage of the par 5’s and some of the short par 4’s. The main stats to look at here are driving distance, GIR, strokes gained putting and tee to green and par 4 scoring.
Jimmy Walker 28/1
I’ve decided to give Jimmy one more chance this week in California. After another solid performance in Pebble finishing T11 on 11 under, Walker looks to be playing some great golf and showed that with a 63 in round three last week. He came close to winning in Torrey Pines a couple of weeks ago when he was leading going into the final round. He ended up finishing his final round on the Monday and shot a final round 77 due to horrendous conditions to finish T4. He has been playing well over the last few weeks finishing T8 at The Hero World Challenge just before Christmas, T10 at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions,T13 at The Sony Open and T4 at The Farmers.
Walker has a good record here in Riviera finishing fourth in 2011 and 2012, T16 In 2013 and T20 in 2014. He is averaging just over 300 yards off the tee and ranks 24th in SGTTG, 26th in SGP and eighth in par 5 scoring. With great current form and a good record here Walker could be a huge contender here.
Bubba Watson 22/1
Despite missing the cut last week in Pebble, Bubba comes into this week in good form and should feel more at home in Riviera. He has a win and two top 15’s in his last four starts. He won The Hero World Challenge back in December and followed that with a T10 at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions and a T14 at The Phoenix Open.
He has played well here in Riviera in the past with a T13 in 2012, a win in 2014 and a T14 last year. Statswise Bubba seems to fit the bill here averaging just under 315 yards off the tee ranking fourth in driving distance and seventh in SGTTG. This course suits players that can shape the ball and hit it long which is right up Bubba’s street.
J.B Holmes 28/1
J.B gets another nod from me again this week. He has been playing great golf over the last few weeks and had yet another solid performance last week in Pebble finishing T11 on nine under for the tournament. He also had a good week in Phoenix finishing T6 and had another T6 at The Famers Insurance Open in the weather stricken Torrey pines. He started 2016 off with a decent performance in Kapalua finishing a respectable T24 at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He was showing signs of good form back in December with a T8 at The Hero World Challenge and a T12 at The Franklin Templeton Shootout.
Holmes has a good record on this course finishing third in 2010, T12 in 2011, T8 in 2012 and T22 last year. He ranks fifth in driving distance, 17th in SGTTG and 35th in par 4 scoring. J.B has a great record here and looks great value here at 28’s.
Charl Schwartzel 30/1
After another superb performance in South Africa last week winning the Tshwane Open, Schwartzel is playing some excellent golf over the last few weeks with two wins and two top 10’s in his last four events. He finished T4 at The DP Tour Championship in Dubai and followed that with a win at The Alfred Dunhill Championship and a T9 at The Nedbank Championship.
The South African has played well here in the past finishing T5 here in 2014 and T3 in 2013. The grass on the fairways here is Kikuyu which is the same grass they play on in South Africa giving Charl a bit of an advantage here. Staswise he ranks 25th in driving distance averaging 304 yards off the tee, 14th in GIR and 25th in SGP. With superb current form and a good record here, Charl looks great value here.
Freddie Jacobson 60/1
I have been really impressed with Freddie’s form over the last few weeks with three top 10’s in his last four events. He had a great week at The RSM Classic finishing solo fifth and followed that with a T4 at the weather delayed Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines. The Swede had another solid performance last week in Pebble finishing T4 and scrambled and putted superbly well (which will be a big help this week).
He is another player with a good past here finishing third here in 2013 and T13 in 2012. He ranks 33rd in SGP, 10th in scrambling and fourth in par 4 scoring. If Freddie can keep it going this week with the putter he could be right in the mix at a huge price.
Final Selections –
Jimmy Walker 1.5 pts EW 20/1
Bubba Watson 1.5 pts EW 22/1
J.B. Holmes 1pt EW 28/1
Charl Schwartzel 1pt EW 30/1
Freddie Jacobson 1pt EW 60/1
Total Staked = 12 pts
PaddyPower paying 7 places this week.
Good Luck and enjoy the golf,
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