A good case can be made that the last stop of the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing is the best one – the Northern Trust Open at historic Riviera Country Club.
The site is a stand-alone star in the city of stars. There’s the short, diabolical par-4 10th hole. There’s Bogey’s tree. There’s the climb up the 18th fairway toward an iconic clubhouse.
It’s Los Angeles and it’s also the first time in 2016 that Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are teeing it up in the same PGA Tour event. That’s a good starting point.
Who are the five players to beat? Here’s one list:
5. Bubba Watson: He won here two years ago and Riviera seems to set up well for Bubba’s imagination.
4. Charl Schwartzel: The quiet man won big in South Africa last week and talked about how he’s rediscovered his enthusiasm for the game, which usually translates into good results. He’s sneaky dangerous.
3. Rory McIlroy: This is a new stop for McIlroy, who is making his 2016 Tour debut. It seems an ideal blend of a classic layout and a special talent. He’ll be ready to roll.
2. Jordan Spieth: He’s No. 1 in the world for a reason. That 66 Spieth shot on Sunday at Pebble Beach was a friendly reminder that just because he didn’t contend last week doesn’t mean he’s not capable every time he plays.
1. Dustin Johnson: DJ has finished second at Riviera each of the past two years, losing a playoff to James Hahn last year. A lot of people liked him to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week but he wasn’t a factor. Could be they picked him a week early.
Players in the field (9) listed in the top 20 of the OWGR:
No. 1 Jordan Spieth
No. 3 Rory McIlroy
No. 4 Rickie Fowler
No. 6 Bubba Watson
No. 7 Justin Rose
No. 8 Dustin Johnson
No. 12 Hideki Matsuyama
No. 18 Sergio García
No. 19 Adam Scott