First of all, I am calling it The LA Open because she's a classic and I like it that way.
A classic indeed. Riviera Country Club..Humphrey Bogart, Ben Hogan, Freddie Couples.. Kikuyu grass, Steve Elkington holding off Colin Montgomerie, Hal Sutton, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els.. it is one of the real gems of a golf course on the Tour rotation. Riviera has held Major Championships and stands up year in and year out as a regular stop as well. In fact, it ranked the 17th hardest course on the PGA Tour last season. What gives Riviera it's teeth is that it demands shot making.. clean ball striking and shaping shots in both directions. It is not necessarily a big hitters playground as only one champion here in the last 17-years has ranked in the top 10 in driving. And did I mention the Kikuyu Grass? Get ready to hear about this on the broadcast as it is a gnarly, sticky grass, prevalent in the rough, and it will grab a club something nasty, sending shots astray. Because of its presence, we are going to also focus on scrambling. When these guys are not hitting greens, who can get their ball up and down out of this tough turf.
So this week we turn our attention to Ball Striking, Greens In Regulation, Scrambling, and Putting.. and here is who I like for a couple of Freebie Head to Head Match Ups - for the whole tournament.
Webb Simpson (+100) over Dustin Johnson (5Dimes)
Simpson ranks in the top 50 on tour in all four categories of focus this week - in fact, he ranks in the top 10 in three of them. Johnson has been playing very nicely as of late with three top 10's in the last four months including the Sunday charge at Pebble last week to finish second, but he does not fare all that well in the categories we feel are key this week in Pacific Palisades. He has been very erratic here at Riviera going CUT, T4, CUT, T3 the last four years. Simpson finished T6 last year and T15 in 2010 and skipped the event in 2011 and 2012 - but The Webber has been smoking recently.. with three top 5's including a Win in the last 5-months. Johnson is a bomber, which seems to lead to his inconsistency here - but I like Simpson's ability to work his ball and also his flatstick.
Secondly, I will take Bill Haas (+115) over Bubba Watson (5Dimes)
We are again fading the bomber here and it seems to have played out in his track record at Riviera. Bubba Watson over the last four years here has gone; CUT, T13, WD, and CUT. Bill Haas meanwhile, has gone; T3, Win, and T12 in the last three visits to LA. They rank very similarly in the categories of note but Haas actually ranks a little better in three of the four. It is possible that Bubba is getting the majority of the attention here after his near miss in Phoenix just two weeks ago but the problem is, this is a very different golf course and climate and while I do believe Bubba is playing well, I just think this is a very different test and am not sure we can bank on what we have seen out of him in just the past few weeks. Haas has been playing okay too and has the stats to prove it.. but he also has the history at this particular venue and in this match up, we are getting the value.
I am hoping to have two Premium Plays loaded before the end of the evening. Stay tuned!
Enjoy The LA Open - which they now call The Northern Trust!
Thank you and have fun,
Looks like all of the plays are on the house this week, Team, as we cannot get the Premium Plays loaded in time for the 6:40am Pacific Time start.. so here is the write up for the two additional plays for Thursday's Northern Trust Open..
The Tour heads back down to Southern California this week as the West Coast Swing continues. 25-of the top 50-players in the world find themselves at the glorious treasure of a golf course known as Riviera Country Club in glamorous Pacific Palisades, California. Riviera is one of the very few courses left on the Tour schedule that can be truly be deemed a shot makers golf course rather than a bomber's paradise. In fact, in the last 17-years only one winner at Riviera has ranked in the top 10 in driving and that was Nick Faldo in 1997. So knowing this, we are going to look at ball strikers - players that hit it clean and can move their golf ball in both directions and hit greens - and when they are not hitting greens, we want good scramblers who can get up and down out of the dreaded kikuyu grass that permeates the L.A. Open layout. Finally, we are going to look at who can sink putts from inside of 10-feet as this distance has been an incredible indicator at Riviera. The greens are not treacherous. They roll extremely true without a great deal of hidden break or undulation.. so one who is able to make the "makeable" putts on a regular basis is going to have a good shot on this particular golf course.
Here are this week's head to head match up plays.. Ryan Moore (+100) over Jim Furyk (5Dimes) and Keegan Bradley (-115) over Hideki Matsuyama (BetOnLine)
Moore ranks in the top 50 in 3-of the 4-categories I highlight as key factors this week. He dips out of the top 50 in Scrambling, down to 88th on Tour - but this is likely a reflection of the fact that he doesn't scramble much because he is 4th in Greens In Regulation. Meanwhile, Furyk has played only one event this year and that was last week at Pebble Beach where he finished 35th. His stats for last week and all of last year, Furyk does not crack the top 100 for putts inside of 10-feet. He was 57th in scrambling last year, and 43rd in Ball Striking to Moore's 18th this season. Furyk did hit greens in regulation last year and ranked 14th on Tour but last week at Pebble, he ranked 53rd. Ryan Moore has been playing exceptional in both the wrap around season and in 2014. He has 4-top 10's in the last 5-months including a win in Malaysia at The CIMB Classic. Both Moore and Furyk have had similar success at Riviera with a handful of top 20's, a top 10.. but I like the hot hand who is striking it and hitting greens right now.. and is also making his putts more often than his opponent.
Like Ryan Moore, Keegan Bradley ranks very well in our areas of focus. He only dips out of the top 50 in Greens In Regulation and only down to 63rd. He is 28th in Ball Striking, 11th in Scrambling, and 35th in putts from 5-to-10 feet out. Matsuyama is excellent on the short putts and the scrambling. He slips to 55th in Ball Striking but down to 77th in GIR. In addition, this is his first ever visit to Riviera CC and The LA Open. I like Bradley for his statistical edge as well as his experience - and experience has proven to be a factor here as of the 51 champions, 29 have been Major Winners - which Bradley is. In his last two trips to Riviera, Keegan Bradley has finished T16 and T2. Riviera ranked the 17th hardest course on Tour last season and I like Bradley when the going gets tough - especially over an LA Open rookie.
These plays are for the course of the entire tournament and are for one unit.
We are 3-and-1 on our last four Free Picks and 4-and-4 overall the last two weeks.
I thought it was part of golf ettiquitte and against the law in 7 states if you do not say "the dreaded" in front of Kikuyu grass! Thanks for the picks Brady!
That stuff will Kikuyu in the ****! Enjoy the action, Jotini. This is one great golf course to watch the pro's negotiate.
Jotini's.. why not Aaron Baddely? Smooth little 65-today and currently 1-off the pace!
I liked him before I saw the odds. When I saw +22,000 I thought it was a typo!? My golf wagering may be a bit unconventional, but has profited the three years I've done it. I hit 4 winners last year that covered for the entire season. Like other futures wagers, I can still hedge tonight with a couple of the other front runners. Money management, follow the market, and as you know, horses for courses. GO BADDS!!
Who are these guys!!??? McGirt, McNeill, Beljan, Allred, Harman!!!!!! The PGA is making a transformation right before our eyes. Glad I made a "Field" wager!!! So so much young talent!!