IT didn’t work out for Ace last week but he’s back with his well-researched tips for this weekend.
He says: Riviera Country Club is one of the most challenging par 71s on the PGA Tour with scoring last year averaging 72.592.
Last year the 144-man field only averaged 9.25 (51.38%) in GIR and in putting it has ranked the most difficult from three feet and in for the past five years. So GIR and putting are to the forefront for the Northern Trust Open on the Californian course.
Looking at Justin Rose’s stats this season I put him to the top of my list for this tournament. His GIR is 70.56% (65th) with strokes gained:putting 0.852 (9th) and putting average of 1.693 (9th).
Following his missed cut in the Farmers three weeks ago he had a good tournament at the AT&T (T6) last week. He’s certainly got the game for Riviera and is my top tip.
Charl Schwartzel comes off a runaway win (eight shots) at the Tshwane Open in South Africa last week. His GIR stats are an impressive 78.47% (4th) on the PGA Tour and 75.9% (14th) on the European Tour.
Putts per round on PGA is 30 and 28.9 in Europe so he’s another who could be close this week. On a minus side is the fact he has flown over from SA this week but I think he’s worth a gamble.
In the past two seasons Jimmy Walker has won early in the year (three times in 2014 and twice in 2015) and I’d like to think he will do the same this year and hopefully here. His GIR is 68,61 and strokes gained:putting of 0.633 (26th) and putts per round of 28.25. I think he’s worth a wager here with four top-20s in nine trips including two T4s.
Anyone backing Hideki Matsuyama should note the 23-year-old Japanese star played just nine holes at the Riviera Country Club on Wednesday and was unable to practise at all on Tuesday spending most of the day resting after suffering a bout of flu.
He said: “I’m on medication now and all I can do is rest and drink lots of liquids. Hopefully I will be better tomorrow. I’m striking the ball well. I just really need to get some rest and get healthy so I’m ready to play tomorrow.”
The European Tour moves over to Malaysia for the Maybank Championship at Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur. The Old Course has tight tree-lined fairways so we will be looking at driving accuracy off the tee for a potential winner.
With that in mind I’m going for Matthew Fitzpatrick who is 10th in driving accuracy on the European Tour (72.2%). He’s not had the best of starts to this year but has got to win sometime. His GIR stat is 75.8% (16th) but it’s his putting that seems to be letting him down but I’m going to stay with him and hopefully he can get back on the winning trail.
On-form Dutchman Joost Luiten has to be considered. With three top-10s and a T13 in his four outings this year he is hard to leave out. His driving accuracy isn’t that bad (62.1%), GIR of 75% (22nd) and putts per round of 29.2 I think he should be considered.