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Shotgun Start: Previewing the Northern Trust Open

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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Riviera Country Club / Getty Images

It's tournament time! We continue the season at historic Riviera Country Club for the Northern Trust Open, the final stop on the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing.  Here's a tournament primer to get you prepared for the week.

The course: Ask any player on tour -- outside of Tiger Woods, of course -- to name their three favorite courses on the schedule each year and your bound to hear the name "Riviera Country Club" come out of their mouth. The George C. Thomas, Jr. design in Pacific Palisades is a classic course that not only forces you to use every shot in your bag but contend with the barranca and tall eucalyptus trees that come into play on almost every hole. At 7, 298 yards, the course has a little bit of everything, including the always-difficult kikuyugrass rough, and a par 3 (6th hole) that has a bunker in the center of the green. But don't let the quirks fool you: Riviera is one of the sternest tests around. It ranked as the 10th toughest tour stop (avg. +.0888 strokes over par) on the 2011 schedule, so you know the track will give players in this week's field all they can handle.

The schedule: The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday. It'll be broadcast on the Golf Channel from 3 to 6 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday,  and 1 to 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday; and on CBS from 3 to 6 p.m. ET on Saturday and 3 to 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The field: A number of high-profile names make their 2012 PGA Tour debut this week, including world number one Luke Donald and Aussies Adam Scott and Jason Day. Aside from boasting four of the OWGR's top 10 players -- Donald (1), Day (7), Scott (8) and Dustin Johnson (10) -- the Northern Trust Open also has Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Justin Rose, defending champion Aaron Baddeley, K.J. Choi, Jim Furyk and Ernie Els in the field this week. That's some star power, folks.

The video: Check out some of the memorable moments from the Northern Trust Open's history.

Your turn. Who are your picks for this week? Swing away!

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