Northern Trust Open: Preview and Predictions


Riviera CC has one of the best amphitheater-style closing holes in PGA Golf. Photo courtesy of

Well I’ve said it before, and am perhaps bordering on “broken record” status, but this week’s field appears to be the most solid one yet. They just keep getting better and better, what am I to do!? I guess just wait for the Valspar Championship. Okay I’m sorry, that was harsh (I kid because it’s true).

Perhaps most excitingly, this will be the first week to see Sergio Garcia tee it up on U.S. soil. Love the guy or hate the guy, he’s always one of those highly anticipated players (thanks to often being in the hunt, yet rarely winning). He did not come to Riviera last year, but finished T13 and T4 in his last two appearances.

The obvious storylines include Bubba defending his incredible 64-64 finish to win last year’s tournament, Dustin Johnson entering his third week back at a second-straight place he’s had past success, and coming off T4 last week, and perhaps a great chance to see the first two-time winner of the season (11/14 eligible players: Sang-Moon Bae, Ben Martin, Robert Streb, Ryan Moore, Bubba Watson, Nick Taylor, Charley Hoffman, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Bill Haas, and Brandt Snedeker). If you are a man who likes patterns, DJ would not be a good pick as his past 5 results are as follows in reverse order: 2, MC, T4, MC, T3. Sure, he’s a horse for the course, but oddly seems to only do it in even numbered years? We don’t tend to factor in those random stats, but thought it was curious enough to share, especially given that DJ is still “working his way back” to competitive golf.


Can Sergio Garcia get back to where he left things in 2014? We are betting on the Spaniard to get right back into contention in his 2015 PGA debut. Photo courtesy of

Anywho, enough random knowledge… time to get to our picks. Coming off a successful week with an A- and a B-, it’s hard to not get over confident, well, until you remember how much of a crapshoot it is to pick fantasy golfers! We will of course make some wise, “safe” picks, but also hope to continue to find some sleepers to keep things interesting. Here we go:

Jimmy WalkerWe are burning our 4th out of 10 picks with Walker this week, for two reasons. 1. The man is straight money this time of year. 2. Because of a disappointing finish, we expect people to wane off Jimmy this week, even though we think the likelihood of a bounce back week is high (keep in mind, we’re talking about a bounce back from a T21, that’s how high his expectations are).

Bill HaasHaas, with a win under his belt and great history on the course (beat Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson in a playoff in 2012, returned for a T3 in 2013), is the main “defensive” pick for us this week.

Sergio GarciaThere, we are just going to do it. The recent results here are promising, as is the notion that Garcia is well-rested and coming off one of his best PGA seasons ever, despite no wins. Garcia could be the ultimate Furyk of this week, getting right into contention after a long break from the PGA.

Sang-Moon Bae. Our concerns over Bae continue as he continues to deal with the cloud of uncertainty regarding his Visa status. But he’s a true professional, and as long as he’s cleared to be in the field, we’re clearing our doubt that he’ll do anything other than play as well as he’s capable of playing. The man also happens to have a T12 and a T8 in his last two starts here.

Golf Channel:

Jim FurykThere were only six options in the first tier (including Walker and Garcia from above), so you have to think about what the field is likely to do. Many will pick defending champ Bubba Watson, and Hideki Matsuyama was intriguing, but we’re going with the Fury, who’s shown time after time that he can shake off an unfortunate week where he’s in contention, but can’t win. Not only do we think he can get back into contention, we know that any given week he can break that curse and get back in the winner’s circle.

Harris EnglishAfter a break and hopefully some home remedies to forget about a tough playoff loss, English seems like a good bet to get back into the mix. His swing is one of the smoothest on Tour, and his stock is high for this season.

Brian HarmanThe third tier was surprisingly stacked, which is bound to happen in a deep field. But we mainly narrowed down the selection to Matt Every and Brian Harman, both first-time winners last year, who got their seasons started on the right foot with top 10 finishes here. Out of the two, we’re going with Harman (who we also picked at the Waste Management) because he’s rested, and has proven to be a gritty player.

Charlie Beljan. We wasted the ideal opportunity to pick him last week, so we are going with Beljan and asking for forgiveness. He also has a stronger-than-average pedigree in this tournament for someone in the lowest tier – as he lost in a playoff in 2013 and followed it up with a T12 last year.


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