The 2011 Northern Trust Open Six Pack at Riviera
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Welcome to week six of 2011!
We must start off with a HUGE congrats to Bill Murray for his first win at Pebble Beach in more than a dozen years of trying this crazy pro-am out. The Cinderella story finally happens. Oh yeah… and congrats go out to D.A. Points for acquiring his first PGA Tour victory.
Check this out! Did you realize that the first six winners on tour this year have produced an average odds of 120:1 of winning? That is truly bizarre and astronomical. It makes one wonder what will happen this week.
We are off to Riviera, one of the PGA’s true classics. It is in the upper echelon of difficulty on tour but just barely. It ranks 20th out of 54. Designer Captain George C. Thomas created this place of beauty while searching for the perfect rose. Did this budding part time botanist realize while he was living that his perfect rose was probably the design of this course? Sadly, probably not.
The doglegs and bunkering force players to shape shots and to use their minds. My bets are on an upper tier player to get it done this week. Mickelson has won back to back here, while Steve Stricker took home last year’s prize.
Let’s take a peek at Yahoo fantasy real quick. I have suddenly amassed 898 points on the season. If I only hadn’t started Tim Clark (never teed off) last week in round one! I up four points into the 77th percentile in the fans of Hunter Mahan and I bumped up 11 points to the 88th percentile overall. This stems largely from people probably bailing on the season already. I am ahead of all the Yahoo experts. I am leading Greg Vara by 18, Eric Planer by 39, Matt Romig (what up kid?) by 68, and Michael “The surprise” Arkush by only 28 points.
Here is who I am starting this week:
Before we dive into the six pack, here are some honorable mentions from a betting perspective: Goosen 40:1, Karlsson 50:1 , Marino 60:1, Couples 125:1, Keegan Bradley 150:1
Let’s get this six-pack action on!
No. 1 Matt Kuchar
Hi. My name is Redface Von Permangrin
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I am not sure there is a golfer I like more in this entire field than Matt Kuchar. After his stellar 2010 campaign many thought he may have a bit of a let-down in 2011. His last five events have seen finishes of 18th, ninth, sixth, fifth, and seventh. That’s four top ten finishes in his last five events!
No other golfer in the world can claim this feat as we speak, or should I say, “As you read?”
I take that back, there may be one…
Kuchar has played here five times and never missed the cut. He also has two top twenty finishes. I feel like Kuchar is truly unbeatable this week.
His numbers scream of ubiquitous success so far in 2011:
>>>Fifth in Driving Accuracy at 74.5 percent
>>>Fifth in GIR at 78.6 percent
>>>Third in All Around Ranking
>>>Second in Par Breakers at 29.9 percent
>>>Sixth in Ball Striking
Even if you don’t have a clue as to what these stats mean, you know that being in the single digits in their rankings HAS to mean something.
Lay down a nice chunk on Matt Kuchar this week as he is a value ridden 20:1 to win it all at Riviera.
No. 2 Luke Donald
Mr. Mancrush likes the sand, eh Rob?
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Speaking of golfers that are exceeding expectations…
Luke Donald is going to have another really solid year this year. His last five events (including Euro tour) have seen him finish second, third, third, eighth and ninth. I guess that would make him the hottest golfer on the planet besides the aforementioned Matt Kuchar.
Donald ranks ninth in the world and fits right into this extremely talented field. Few players can play from the sand like Luke Donald. That could be a factor here at Riviera. Although it is not Whistling Straits, it does have some very strategic bunkering in place. There are also no water hazards on Riviera whatsoever.
Donald has a great track record at Riviera. The last three consecutive years have seen him finish second, sixth, and third respectively on this course. Truth be told, I can envision a shootout between him and Matt Kuchar after being tied at -18 come the 72nd hole on Sunday.
Look at Luke Donald’s key success stats from last year:
>>>Seventh in Scoring average with 69.85 strokes per round
>>>First in Sand Saves at 66.4 percent
>>>Fourth in Scrambling at 56.4 percent
Are you kidding me that Luke Donald could yield me 25:1 results with a win this week?
No. 3 JB Holmes
My uncle is Popeye
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Something I love to look at when selecting golfers for the six-pack is how they are currently trending. Are their last five results steady? Are they getting better or are they getting worse? One thing that's for certain is J.B. Holmes’ trending is getting better.
J.B.’s last five events have seen him finish 17th, 45th, 63rd, fifth and 13th.
He had had some great moments here at Riviera Country Club. He has only played here four times. Three of those four times were last year, 2009 and 2008. In 2008 he came in seventh. In 2009 he came in sixth. Last year he placed third. Remember that trending I was talking about?
I also love that J.B. has worked tirelessly on improving his putting over the past year and a half.
Look at Holmes’ digits so far in 2011:
>>>Third in Driving Distance at 310.7 yards off the tee
>>>Fifth in Par Breakers at 28.7 percent
>>>15th in Scoring Average at 69.6 percent
In my opinion you are catching Holmes in a great position on a course he loves with 33:1 odds of winning.
No. 4 Rickie Fowler
This outfit brought to you by the good people of St Joseph's
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Okay you regulars.
He’s in the field.
He’s in the six-pack.
At 40:1 you have to say yes to Rickie Fowler.
No 5. Rory Sabbatini
I got some new hats this year
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Something about this course suits Sabbatini’s eye. In 11 consecutive attempts he has only missed two cuts. He won here back in 2006 and has a total of four top ten finishes.
For whatever reason, I still think he looks like a cross between a cardinal and a yellow perch facially and usually when I pick him he ends up screwing me royally. This week that could all change.
He is getting little respect from the sports books , which seems a bit baffling to me. His last five events are showing nice forward progressive trending with results of second, CUT, 44th, 22nd and 15th.
Here are some attractive numbers from Rory so far in 2011:
>>>33rd in Scoring Average at 70 strokes per round
>>>Fourth in Total Birdies made with 89 on the year
>>>Fifth in Par Five Performance at minus 36 on the year
I like the value here with Sabbatini at 66:1 odds
No. 6 Matt Jones
Why am I the long-shot?
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My long shot this week has good shot of contending, even in this strong field. A good friend of mine over at The Score Television Network in Toronto turned me on to this guy last year. Since then, I've scrutinized his performances every week.
This second year Aussie has never set foot on Riviera in a PGA event, but I like his current form. His last five have seen finishes of CUT, 29th, 51st, CUT and 15th
Keep in mind he is a long-shot, but also keep in mind some of the key stats he's put up this year:
>>>29th in Sand Saves at just under 59 percent
>>>19th in Putts per Round with 28.1
>>>24th in Par Five Performance at minus 26 strokes this year
At 125:1 odds, how can you go wrong?
No matter who you like, hit ‘em straight and good luck this week! -BLJ