The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Phil Mickelson has won the last two editions of the tournament and is looking to make it a hat-trick.
Designed by Captain George C. Thomas, and updated by Tom Fazio in 2008, Riviera is a well bunkered, undulating layout where creative shot-making is key to success. This will be the 46th time the course has hosted a PGA Tour event. In 1983 Riviera was the venue for the PGA Championship.
The event began life as the Los Angeles Open back in 1926 and has been won by some big names over the years including Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. Riviera became known as “Hogan’s Alley” as the Texan won here three times in the late 1940s.
In 2009 Phil Mickelson conspired to throw away a sizeable lead towards the end of the final round. Having held a four-shot lead, he stood on the 16th tee two shots behind. But, digging deep, Mickelson birdied the next two holes and parred the last to win by one from Steve Stricker.
Venue: Riviera Country Club, California
Date: Feb 4-7
Course stats: par 71, 7,298 yards
Purse: $6,300,000 Winner: $1,134,000
Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson (-15)
Thursday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10pm
Friday 5 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Saturday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm
Sunday 7 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm
Phil Mickelson – Despite a poor closing round last week, Mickelson insists he’s close to finding his best form. He’s won here two years in a row and was second back in 2007. It’s hard to look past him.
Robert Allenby – He’s been on supremely consistent form since winning twice at the end of 2009. He won here in 2001 and has five top-20 finishes at Riviera since then.
Tim Clark – It’s high time the diminutive South African secured his breakthrough win on the PGA Tour. This course, demanding a tactical approach, could be the place for it.
Key hole: 18th. The 475-yard par 4 ranked as the hardest hole on the course in 2009. It’s a blind tee shot from below the level of the fairway then a testing approach into a kidney shaped green that sits surrounded by a natural amphitheatre.
Skills required: Experience. This is a course where knowledge of the layout gives a massive advantage. Course management is important to score well at Riviera – placement off the tee and not missing on the wrong sides of greens.