Riviera Country Club is a gem of a course and I'll always make time for the PGA Tour stop in Los Angeles. I know it's Super Bowl week and all that, but let's not forget our Fantasy Golf interests as the Northern Trust Open settles in for the next four days.
Everyone can figure out the favorites; my job is to get some sleepers on your plate. Last week we got Michael Sim out to the masses (T2), and the prior week Bill Haas was one of our selections (winner). We also suggested Ben Crane in the middle of January, a prediction that was just a little ahead of its time. Enough of the scoreboard watching, we've got picks to make.
Fred Couples: I don't care how old he is, I don't care how infrequently he plays on the PGA Tour these days, when you see Riviera on the menu, you get Couples onto your roster, somehow, someway. He's made 25-of-27 cuts here, including two wins and three seconds, and there's been plenty of success in recent years as well (third last season, fourth in 2007). It's a track that suits Fred's eye and his game, and I fully expect the likable vet to stick around for another strong check this week.
Aaron Baddeley: He's got a solid if unspectacular record at Riviera, with seven straight cuts made including a T7 check back in 2005. He's got that angelic putting stroke which sings like a siren, makes you think "this is the week, this is the week." I don't know why Baddeley continues to be one of the worst returns in Fantasy Golf, but he'll make the cut this week and if he can get a little momentum going early, maybe a Top 20 check will result.
J.B. Holmes: I'm surprised he's not getting a lot of respect in the offshore books this week - you can get a ticket anywhere from 80-1 to 100-1 on Holmes (in theory). He finished sixth here last season and seventh the previous year, so he's figured out the lay of the land. They've added some real estate to the grounds, which is just fine with Holmes, one of the longest hitting players on the circuit.
Charlie Wi: He plays as much as anyone (81 events the last three years) but still he's somewhat anonymous out here, a late bloomer who's never won a PGA Tour event. The extra distance of Riviera won't play into Wi's hands but he's a super putter (fourth in putts per round last year) and a straight man off the tee. And heck, he coaxed a T14 check here two years back, so it's not like he hasn't figured out this test to some extent.
Webb Simpson: Just a hunch play, and I don't blame you if you don't want to come along for the ride. Simpson has never played in this event, he's got two ordinary showings this year (MC, T33), he's an erratic ball striker, he's still trying to show he belongs on tour. But I like his resourcefulness around the green (17th in scrambling last year, 25th in putting) and this column is all about taking chances. Let's roll the dice on the North Carolina kid.
Who are your sleepers this week? Who are your Yahoo! Fantasy picks? Let's go over it in the comments.