2013 Golf Preview: Northern Trust Open

Bill Haas

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Northern Trust Open gets underway Thursday morning at Riveria Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, near Los Angeles, and features a strong field of the world’s best players. The golf course has been known as the place where the stars play golf, and has hosted this tournament since 1926.

This tournament was originally call the Los Angeles Open, and called the Nissan Open, and Los Angeles Nissan Open from 1989 through 2007, until becoming the Northern Trust Open in 2008. Glen Campbell was the celebrity host of the tournament from 1971 until 1982.

Ben Hogan won here three times, with back to back wins in 1947, and 1948. For this reason, the golf course has been referred to as “Hogan’s Alley“. Hogan’s home course at Colonial, in Ft. Worth is also referred to as Hogan’s Alley.

The US Open was hosted at Riveria in 1948, and was also won by Ben Hogan. It hosted the PGA Championship in 1983, and 1995, as well as the US Senior Open Championship in 1998. The golf course is a private country club, and was established in 1926. It is 7279 yards from the pro tips, and plays to a par of 71. It plays strong at a 75.6 rating with a slope rating of 137.

The strength of the course is the dreaded Kikuyu grass that covers most of the course. It puts the teeth in what should otherwise be a pleasant round of golf. The greens are small in comparison to modern courses, and are seeded in bent grass. The course record was set by Ted Tryba, who posted a -10 under par 61 in 1999.

Bill Haas won this event in 2012 in a playoff with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, and is your defending champion. Phil won back-to-back here in 2008, and 2009. This is one of Fred Couples’ favorite tournaments, and took trophies home in 1990, and 1992. He is a local hero, and fan favorite.

This is one of the events never won by Tiger Woods. Tiger dislikes the golf course, including the Kikuyu grass, and has taken it off of his schedule. The face of the tournament, former NBA star Jerry West, has met with Tiger on many occasions in an attempt to lure him back, to no avail.

The new world’s number-four golfer, and FedEx Cup leader, Brandt Snedeker is taking time off for some rest, to let his bruised ribs heal, and will not play this weekend. Luke Donald will make his 2013 PGA Tour debut at Riveria. Phil Mickelson will tee it up here before taking some time off next week.

You can catch the Thursday and Friday action on The Golf Channel from 3:00 to 6:00 PM Eastern. Coverage will switch to NBC for the weekend. So if you like a golf tournament full of Hollywood glitz, this one is for you. It is a beautiful old style layout in the Hollywood Hills, and is a must-watch event.

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