GOLF guru Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) shares his betting thoughts on this week’s PGA Tour event from across the pond.
Northern Trust Open | Thursday-Sunday | Sky Sports
I have to say, I am delighted to be back on the PGA trail after a small break for the NFL season.
We nearly kicked the season off with a win. I tweeted my support of Phil Mickleson last week who, after leading at the start of Round 4, missed a five-footer on the 72nd hole for a second-placed finish at huge odds of 28/1.
He was beaten by a 300/1 chance. Oh Phil.
Anyway, we are back and I could not resist this one as a starter. There is a stellar field in action this week for the Northern Trust Open.
A very difficult course, warm weather, rock hard fairways and incredibly difficult and fast green complexes. Brilliant.
Pacific Palisades, just outside Los Angeles is the venue for the Riviera Country Club – a 7,322-yard course of split fairways, trees everywhere, the deepest bunkers on tour and a par of 71.
I have always been a fan of this tournament and as mentioned, the field this week makes for a very competitive four days of golf.
Add into the mix, the first 2016 start on the PGA of my old favourite (not) Rory Mcilroy up against Jordan Spieth, along with most of the world’s top-10 and this could really be one to watch as well as fantastic betting heat.
Rory and Jordan are 13/2 joint-favourites but I cannot say I have been impressed enough by either so far this year to take them seriously here. Rory does not particularly like these greens and Jordan has so far not been looking like his glorious 2015 self.
It is rare for me to mention the type of grass on greens but it is a factor here. Bentgrass/Poa Annua does not suit everyone and some really struggle with it.
Riviera also features some huge undulations in the green complexes that make putting even from 10 feet a challenge. Generally big slopes from back to front.
The key here from a betting point of view is course experience as, apart from Torrey Pines, possibly Pebble Beach and one or two others, there really is nothing like Riviera on Tour.
It is always worth looking at some stats on the contenders in the field. My choices are generally from a shortlist of around 10-12. So here are a few pointers for some of this week’s final 10…
Dustin Johnson has five top-10s in eight starts here. Hideki Matsuyama a fourth and a 23rd in the last two years. James Hahn went off at 200/1 last year when he won with -6 and Bill Hass was a shot better when winning in 2012.
On with the picks then. Justin Rose headlines this week at 18/1 with Bet365. Rose has not played here as much as he would like but has returned rounds of 64, 65 and 66. Rose’s ninth-placed finish in 2015 was his best effort but to be fair, he is better prepared for a full year in the US than he ever has been before.
On Monday, he spoke about how Riviera fits his eye and how much he preferred the fast hard conditions this time. Rose won on a similarly technical course at Merion for his only Major, there are few better tee-to-green and his ability to scramble could prove invaluable.
Bubba Watson just has to be respected. Look back at winning scores and most are around -6 to -8 here. In 2014 Bubba went off at 33/1 and his winning score of -15 is still something that catches the eye.
Bubba is more than likely to win by six or not make the cut. I can’t stand the guy personally but when he’s on, he is a fantastic player to watch.
Billy Horschel is another who is hard to like but for some reason I do. The world number 48 was eighth at Torrey Pines just three weeks ago and his 2014 win at Cheery Hills is significant as a form guide to these greens.
This week sees the cut off point for the World Golf Rankings with the first WGC at Doral just a fortnight away. The world top-50 feature so Billy needs to protect that number 48.
Once again, Paddy Power and its seven places make the 80/1 price very attractive and I shall also be playing what I see as a huge 3/1 for Horschel to finish in the Top 20.
Northern Trust Open – Justin Rose to win (18/1 Bet365)
Northern Trust Open – Bubba Watson to win (22/1 each-way Paddy Power)
Northern Trust Open – Billy Horschel to win (80/1 each-way Paddy Power)
Northern Trust Open – Billy Horschel to finish in the Top-20 (3/1 Ladbrokes)
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