Tournament Preview- Northern Trust Open

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff February 17, 2015 21:13

The PGA Tour stays in California this week as it heads to Pacific Palisades and Riviera Country Club for the Northern Trust Open. Riviera Country Club measures 7,349 yards long, which is a hundred yards above the average course length on tour and is a Par 71. There are four par 3 holes and only three par 5s. The greens are bent grass, and the fairways are kikuyu grass.

Nine of the Top 25 players in the world will be playing in the Northern Trust this weekend including defending champ Bubba Watson. The European players continue to trickle over to the PGA Tour and this week Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel lead the names.

Last year Bubba Watson won this tournament by shooting 64-64 on the weekend, going from four shots off the lead entering the final day to a two-shot victory. Bubba needed just six holes to make up the deficit, pushing in front with a birdie at No.8 on the way to a front-nine 30. He wound up going the final 39 holes without a bogey, turning in the lowest closing round by a winner in 28 years.

As always, we look at the statistic Strokes Gained, and if you check out the article Do Statistics Really Matter in Fantasy Golf Part I and II, written by our own Jeff Bergerson you will see why. In addition, to Strokes Gained, we will look at greens in regulation and putting at Riviera CC as the greens are small and difficult to hit in regulation and some greens are sloping ones and very difficult to putt. There are several doglegs and a lot of trees, but the rough is not that thick so driving accuracy is important, but not critical. The long hitters only have an advantage if they can be accurate as well. Last year we saw that as Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson, a couple of the longest hitters on tour took 1st and 2nd.

We had another outstanding week with our recommendations last week. Our top stud plays were solid with Jason Day T4, Jordan Spieth T7, and Jimmy Walker T21. Ryan Palmer bucked his upward trend of finishes by missing the cut and let a lot of people down.

We only had two value plays and both Kevin Na and Ian Poulter underformed, but our sleepers absolutely killed it. If it wasn’t for Alexander Levy’s late meltdown on Saturday, we would have had a clean sweep of sleepers making the cut, which was very difficult to do last week. Marcel Siem was a phenomenal sleeper taking T18 and nobody in the fantasy golf industry except for us recommended him and not many people rostered him in DFS either. We also had Bryce Molder T34 and Sean O’Hair T29 who both made the small field of guys who made the cut. If you were able to pair a couple of high priced players with two of these great sleepers, you were very happy.

Our fades were also right on as we told you to avoid Hunter Mahan who took a ho-hum T54 and Billy Horschel who ended up T45 after leading the tournament Saturday afternoon.

No matter the tournament, we put in the time and research to provide our members the absolute best information available anywhere. We will continue to out-work everybody in the industry to make our members successful and profitable in season long and daily fantasy golf. As always, stick to solid lineup building, smart game selection, and disciplined bankroll management. See: How to win playing daily fantasy golf.

A key factor that we analyze every week is Tournament History and at the Northern Trust Open it is probably the most important factor as seven of the last eight winners of this tournament had finished in the top 15 here on a previous appearance. Check out our Tournament History page to see exactly who has had success in the past in this tournament. A few of the players that stand out as having good tournament history at the Northern Trust include:

Cameron Tringale- Four straight Top 25s

Jimmy Walker- Four straight Top 20s and to Top 5s in last four appearances

Bill Haas- Four straight Top 25s and two Top 5s in last three appearances

For access to our Top picks, value picks, sleepers, fades, and more become a premium member.

We will continue to utilize the players from the European Tour as they are often overlooked and underpriced in DFS. We have made a small fortune with these players over the years and we will continue with that strategy. Marcel Siem was a perfect example last week as nobody was talking about him and he was very underpriced across the DFS industry.


Top Stud Picks-


Jordan Spieth –A good bounce-back for Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach as he finished T4 after a disastrous missed cut the week before at the Farmers Insurance Open. Last year at the Northern Trust, Spieth finished 12th (his only other appearance he missed the cut in 2012). He is currently ranked 12th in strokes gained tee-to-green. We just really like Spieth’s game and think he is going to win more than one tournament this season, this could be one of them.


Jimmy Walker- Walker has started out strong again this season with a runner up in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and a win at the Sony Open, and T7 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Last week he finished a disappointing, but palatable T21 at the AT&T Pebble Beach. Walker has played well at the Northern Trust in the past with a 20th last year, 16th in 2013, and4th in 2012 and 2011. Walker is ranked 12th in strokes gained tee-to-green, 4th in total strokes gained, and 30th in greens in regulation. Walker is extremely consistent, which makes him a great cash game and tournament player for those of you playing DFS.


Charl Schwartzel– One of the European guys who is making his first PGA appearance in 2015. Schwartzel has played extremely well in his two apearances at the North Trust Open with a 5th last year and a 3rd in 2013. His current form is not bad either although he did miss the cut in his last event played at the Qatar Masters. Before that he had a T9 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC and a runner up at the South African Open both in January. In his two events played on the PGA Tour in November he had a T19 at the CIMB and T64 at the WGC HSBC. Last season he made 15 cuts in 18 events including 5 Top 10s. We like him to continue with his success on this course.

We also like Sergio this week, but think that Zach a.k.a. Myzteriouzly will be featuring him in The Daily Spin, so we will not belabor the point.


Top Value Picks-


Webb Simpson– Talk about somebody who is dominating most statistical categories. Check this out- 3rd in strokes gained tee-to-green, 10th in total strokes gained, 5th in greens in regulation. 1st in scoring average, and 15th in scrambling. If and when Simpson putts semi-decent he is a force to be reckoned with. He has had mixed results at the Northern Trust in the past taking 70th last year but 6th in 2013. He also had a 15th in 2010 as his only other appearance. Webb has played very well thus far this season going 4 for 4 in cuts made, three Top 25s, and two Top 10s. His last two tournaments he took T7 at Humana and T13 at the Sony Open. Simpson has a ton of talent and we look for him to have another Top 10 this weekend.


Robert Streb– First let us say that Streb is our guy. We have been on this guy since the fall and have featured him as one of our value picks for each tournament this season and each time he has made us money. He is 8 for 8 in made cuts this season with 6 Top 25s and 5 Top 10s and a win at the McGladrey Classic . Streb ranks 24th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 7th in Total Strokes Gained. He has only played in the Northern Trust Open once, in 2013 he missed the cut. He is right now one of the hottest and most consistent players on the PGA Tour. For you DFS players he is an excellent cash game player as well as a great tournament selection.


Francesco Molinari- One of the first European players to come over, Molinari has performed well in each of his PGA events. Over the three events he has played in 2015 on the PGA Tour he has finished T22 in the WM Phoenix Open, T10 at Humana, T37 at the Sony Open, and before that had a T6 at the Alfred Dunhill on the European Tour in December. Molinari currently ranks 7th in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green and 10th in Total Strokes Gained. He also is currently ranked 9th in greens in regulation which he will need on these tight greens. In the one appearance he has at the Northern Trust, he placed 40th last year. We like the way he is playing and like him to play well this weekend.

Other consideration: KJ Choi who has a great tournament history at Riviera and has played consistently this season so far by making 4 of 4 cuts although nothing higher than 22nd.


Top Sleepers-


Bernd Wiesberger– We will continue to capitalize on the fact that not too many people follow the European Tour and thus do not know about some of the best players in the world. If they had, they would know that Bernd Wiesberger is one of the hottest players in the world. Check out his last four finishes-runner up at the Malaysian Open, T4 Omega Dubai Classic, 3rd at the Qatar Masters, T6 at Abu Dhabi HSBC. The 6’2” Austrian is currently ranked 37th in the World Rankings. The only time most people may have seen him is in the majors in which he has not performed well with his best finish being T15 at the 2014 PGA Championship. In DFS, Wiesberger is going to be underpriced and under-owned so he will make for a very solid sleeper.


John Peterson– We have featured Peterson as a top sleeper several times already in 2015 and each event he performs better and better, so we are going to the well again. In his last event he placed T27 at the Farmers Insurance Open, and before then he had a T20 at the Humana Challenge and a T37 at the Sony Open. Peterson is a perfect 8 for 8 in made cuts this 2015 wraparound season, including 3 Top 25s. Peterson missed the cut here last year in his only appearance, but he is clearly a different player than he has been in the past. He is currently ranked 18th in stokes gained tee-to-green. We look for him to make the cut this week in the Northern Trust Open and possibly crack the Top 20.


Charlie Beljan– Damn you Charlie, you performed too well at the AT&T Pebble Beach for you to come out of nowhere hear at the Northern Trust. We had him pegged as a real deep sleeper at this tournament for a couple of weeks now, but he blew his cover by taking solo 3rd last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach. The last two years here he has taken 12th and was runner up in 2013. He had not played that well coming into the AT&T, which made him a perfect sleeper option. He missed the cut at the Farmers and Humana and took 66th at WM Phoenix Open. Definitely not a cash game option for DFS, but worth a shot in a GPPs.


Bryce Molder– Last week Molder was one of our Top Sleepers and he delivered with a solid T34. Those of you who listened to our advice and used him were very happy. Before that he had not played well missing the cut at the Farmers, 70th at WM Phoenix Open, and a MC at Humana. He did however have a T42 at Shriners and a T3 at the in the fall. Why we like him again this week is his tournament history here at Riviera. Molder took 6th here last year, 21st in 2013, and 17th in 2012. Look for Molder to give you another 30th-40th place finish which will pay off his price in DFS.


Top Fades:


If you have been reading our preview each week you can probably guess who our favorite fade is week after week. You guessed it Mr. Hunter Mahan. Last week he proved that he has not been re-energized by the birth of his second child, by getting back to his old underperforming ways and taking T54 at Pebble Beach. Is there a player with more talent that seems less motivated and that underperforms week after week than Mahan? Despite his pretty decent course history at Riviera, we are going to continue to fade the guy. We are waiting for him to prove us wrong, but until then fade him.

Since our other favorite fade, Billy Horschel (outside of Tiger and Phil) is not in the field we will throw out a couple more names that we are going to avoid this weekend: Angel Cabrera and Kevin Na.


Good luck to all of you this week, we hope you continue to be profitable. Remember, be sure to let us know of your successes via email or Twitter. There may just be a t-shirt in it for you.

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff February 17, 2015 21:13

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