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Roebuck’s Northern Trust Open preview: DeLaet screams value

| 11.02.2014

Gravity might be the favourite for Oscars glory next month, but just a few miles east of Hollywood Boulevard, Dustin Johnson will be hoping to avoid becoming the latest favourite to come crashing down to earth, as the PGA Tour stops in Los Angeles for the Northern Trust Open.

Those that back the jollies in the States are, in fact, on a winless run of 19, and, given the market principles have suddenly stopped winning at Riviera Country Club (the last three champions have been 250/1, 50/1 and 100/1), there is perhaps no sign of that sequence being snapped.

John Merrick’s shock win 12 months ago was a dream for layers, as not only was the Long Beach professional virtually unbacked, but, in-running, 10 players traded at 4/1 or shorter and four at odds on.

This is arguably the tournament of the term so far, with many in-form players going to post.

Sixteen of the top 30 in the world are on show, while there are 14 golfers with at least two top-10s in the past two months, including three-time current season winner Jimmy Walker (20/1).

And while Johnson is quoted as the market leader this week at 12/1, they’ll be many who’ll be wondering why Walker isn’t at the top of the betting, given he said this event was his ‘favourite golf tournament of the year’.

However, Riviera has a habit of destabilising the best – just ask Tiger Woods, who failed to win in eight starts, running a place only twice – and Walker’s nervy finish further up the Californian coast rules the Fedex Cup leader out for me.

Graham DeLaet (20/1), who’s found one too good in both his 2014 starts so far, screams value at almost twice the price of Johnson.

The Canadian’s recent finishes actually reads 7-4-2-2 coming into this week, his game is in great shape – he topped the greens in regulation stats in Phoenix a fortnight ago – and he made the top 25 in Los Angeles last year.

Kevin Na’s Rivier form is also solid (two top 10s in his last four appearances) and, now fully fit, we’re seeing the best of the 66/1-shot once more – witness his fourth at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

Finally, Bryce Molder’s under-the-radar 10th last week continued his upward form curve. He has solid Californian form and had a chance of winning the NTO in 2012 after running third after 54 holes only to fall away.

He’s my big outside chance at 80/1.

My three to follow – DeLaet (20/1), Na (66/1) and Molder (80/1).



Dan Roebuck