Published on February 13th, 2014 | by Matt Noyes
2014 Northern Trust Open Preview
As the PGA Tour continues down the California coast, the next stop on the 2014 itinerary is the Northern Trust Open. Hosted at the historic Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades just outside Los Angeles, the tournament should bring an entertaining weekend of golf with some of the world’s best gearing up for the bulk of the PGA Tour season.
An annual staple of the PGA circuit, the Riviera Country Club will once again present a challenging venue to the field with its rolling hills, strong winds, bunkers and narrow fairways. Since opening in 1926 as the Los Angeles Athletic Club, the course has been the site of some spectacular moments, including Ben Hogan’s run of Los Angeles Open titles as well as his 1948 U.S. Open victory, which earned Riviera the moniker, “Hogan’s Alley.”
Who To Watch
This year’s field features some of the finest American and international players. Current U.S. Open champion Justin Rose will make his 2014 debut as other European players make their way onto the PGA Tour to get in shape during the eight-week buildup to the Masters.
As the season approaches the Masters, pay attention to players who finish well at Riviera since the same skill sets should translate well to Augusta.
Playing on a sponsor invite is fan favorite Fred Couples. Although he’s making the rounds on the Champions Tour, don’t be surprised to see Couples make the cut and poke around over the weekend.
The run up to this week’s tournament has seen some excellent play from Jordan Spieth. Only in his second full season as a professional, Spieth, 20, continues to impress with strong finishes. His tie for fourth at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last weekend should give him even more confidence moving forward.
After ripping off a pair of runner-up finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, look for Graham DeLeat to put everything together this week as his play continues to develop.
It seems like Hunter Mahan always notches an early tour win. With a couple of top-10 finishes already under his belt, it seems likely that Riviera will play to his strengths of finding the fairway on narrow par-4’s, sticking it close with consistent iron play and rolling in a few clutch putts.
Other names to watch for this weekend are Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Bill Haas. However, after participating in every Northern Trust Open since 2007, Phil Mickelson will be absent from this year’s field.
With light winds and Southern California temperatures hanging in the mid-70s throughout the weekend, the chances of weather having an impact on the tournament’s outcome look slim.
If history proves to be any indicator, Sunday afternoon should see a final pairing consisting of players who exhibit smart play off the tee and solid ball striking.
As the PGA Tour season inches closer toward the Masters, pay attention to players who finish well at Riviera, as the same skill sets — intelligence tee-to-green, consistent iron play and confidence with the putter — will translate well to Augusta.