Mickelson showed last week, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, that he has rediscovered his touch on the greens with an unbelievable display of putting on Sunday.
If he brings that form with the putter to the Riviera Country Club then he will certainly be in the hunt again. However, I’m not convinced he can go back to back against a field of this calibre.
World number one Luke Donald is Mickelson’s closest suitor and you can get him at 14/1. Obviously Donald has an incredibly consistent game but in his only start this year he never really got going.
Despite that he has to be respected this week having notched up three straight top six finishes in this event between 2008 and 2010. This is course where it pays to stack pars and there are few that can match Donald in this respect, so I’m backing him to win outright this week.
My second pick this week, which will be of no surprise to regular readers, is Dustin Johnson at 20/1.
Traditionally you need to be on top of your game to triumph at this course and Johnson’s performances here over the last few years show he has the potential to win this week.
After winning at Pebble Beach in 2009 and 2010, Johnson finished ninth and third here respectively. Last week Johnson proved he is back to full fitness as he finished in a tie for fifth place.
He may have missed the cut here last year, but don’t let that put you off as Johnson has proven that, when his game’s in good shape, he has the credentials to win around this track .
Behind Johnson there are a number of contenders around the 25/1 mark. Most notable is last year’s winner Aaron Baddeley. After a fourth place finish last week he cannot be ignored, especially as it was a solid week at Pebble Beach that acted as the catalyst for his win at Riviera CC in 2011.
Na shows a lot of appeal this week. He’s coming here in red hot form with back to back top five finishes and has two strong finishes in this tournament in his last two starts. He finished third here last year and was 10th in 2010. I was tempted to go for Na this week but my final pick is K.J. Choi.
At 40/1, Choi represents a bit of value for an each-way bet. He has a superb record here, finishing inside the top ten four times and never missing a cut. He looked in decent shape in Hawaii before heading over to the Middle East for the European Tour’s Desert Swing. He didn’t play as well as he would have liked but that isn’t going to put me off backing him this week.
Northern Trust Open betting guide and tips: