After a thrilling event last year, the 2013 Northern Trust Open has big shoes to fill. Luckily for the field, Brandt Snedeker is the hottest golfer in the world and has taken the event off to rest his sore ribs. Hopefully the $14+ million he has won since September is enough to allow him to rest easy at night.
The roughly 7,300-yard course isn't particularly long, but players will have the ability to score well. The southern California golf haven will cater to warm-weather golfers with solid short games.
Here are the guys to watch out for this weekend.
Haas is the defending champion at NFO, eking out a win last year in a heated playoff with Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson.
Ranked No. 36 in the world, Haas has had a profound start to this season. He will look to repeat as champion in pursuit of the $1.2 million prize.
Haas finished tied for sixth at TPC in Scottsdale two weeks ago. Prior to that he finished tied for ninth at Torrey Pines. With only three top-10 finishes last year, Haas is bound to keep this hot streak rolling in defense of his title. He will have a deep and challenging field gunning to knock him off his high horse, but Haas is destined to put up another strong showing this weekend.
It's time Jimmy Walker got his recognition as a legitimate threat on the tour.
No longer a side note, Walker is coming off of two top-four finishes at Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines. He has made the cut in all five of the tournaments he has started this year, and is off to by far the best start of his career.
While never having won a tournament yet in his career, this weekend might be as good a bet as any for him to get that first W. He is a deep under-the-radar pick as the dark horse at Riviera. At a course he loves, Walker must be seen as a threat, especially after his fourth place finishes each of the last two years in the event.
Donald will definitely enter this tournament as one of the heavy favorites. Ranked third in the world, he has yet to play in a single event this year. He will be more than ready to go hard for the prize at Riviera.
If he can shake off any possible rust, the top-ranked player in the field should be able to put on a masterful performance this weekend. He has not fared too well here recently, although he posted top-six finishes from 2008-10.
The mid-70's weather of sunny California should prove to be a golfer's playground for Donald. Look for him to dominate and use the tournament to leverage himself into a powerful 2013 campaign on the tour.