I'm going to take a shot at the Northern Trust Open. Usually I limit my somewhat humiliating efforts to majors, but Riviera is a historic track and the tournament has been running continuously since 1926.
Such a storied tournament deserves my best -- if ultimately futile -- attempt, don't you think? Actually, I should say attempts. In majors I typically pick 5 possibles; this week I'm picking 2.
The safest pick would be Phil Mickelson. Phil has 2 wins and 2 runner-ups since 2007, the best record of any player in the field. In addition, he's already won once this year, at Phoenix. Consequently, it makes no sense for me to pick him.
Bill Haas, the defending champion, and Keegan Bradley, last year's co-runner-up with Phil, are both in the field and would also be good picks. (In case you didn't know, the three of them have been grouped together for the first two rounds.) I'm not picking them either.
Can you sense a pattern to my logic? ;-)
However, Charles Howell III won at Riviera in 2007 (Phil was 2nd that year) and he has a 2nd himself, way back in 2003. And CH3 is playing very well so far this year, with 3 Top10s in 4 starts.
I like CH3's chances. He's playing more consistently than I've seen him play in a long time.
My other choice is someone who, to my knowledge, has NEVER played Riviera in his life. Charl Schwartzel is making his Stateside debut this week and, given that he may be the hottest player on the planet right now, I don't think his unfamiliarity with the course will be that much of a problem.
So there you have it. I pick Charles Howell III and Charl Schwartzel as my faves to win the Northern Trust Open this week. Coverage begins today on GC at 3pm ET and again at 6:30pm ET.
Let's see if these boys can make me look as good as Bubba and King Louis did last year at Augusta.