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The Tour Report

February 9 2013

9:32 AM

First Look: Northern Trust Open

Retief Goosen tees off in 2012 with the iconic Riviera clubhouse in the background. (Dunn/Getty Images)

FIELD: Northern Trust Open | Couples to make 31st start | Wooding given Northern Trust Open Exemption

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

• COURSE: Riviera Country Club, 7,349 yards, par 71. Opened in 1927, designer George Thomas labored over 15 possible layouts before deciding on one that remains among the best at forcing a player to think his way around. The par-3 sixth hole is famed for its bunker in the middle of the green, and No. 10 may be the best drivable par-4 in golf. The Los Angeles Open first arrived in 1929, and Ben Hogan’s three wins in an 18-month span – two L.A. Opens and the 1948 U.S. Open – earned Riviera the nickname “Hogan’s Alley.” Riviera also has staged two PGA Championships and the 1998 U.S. Senior Open.

• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

• CHARITY: City of Hope, a center offering research, treatment and education for cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. See how this tournament gives backk

• FIELD WATCH: World No. 3 Luke Donald, No. 7 Adam Scott and British Open champion Ernie Els get their PGA TOUR seasons underway, as the international wing comes to U.S. shores to prepare for next week’s World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play. In all, the Northern Trust Open will feature 16 of the top 25 in this week’s world rankings ... Two-time champion Fred Couples will tee it up for the 31st time, breaking a tie with Gene Littler for most appearances in the tournament. He was the 36-hole leader just two years ago, eventually finishing in a tie for seventh ... Corey Pavin and Patrick Cantlay – UCLA alums separated by 30 years – will play on sponsor exemptions.

• 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Lanny Wadkins (1985).

• 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Ted Tryba (3rd round, 1999).

• LAST YEAR: Forced to a playoff by some late heroics from Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas produced a jolt of his own by draining a 45-foot birdie putt at the second extra hole. With Haas waiting on the practice range, roars went up as Mickelson made a 25-foot birdie at No. 18 to grab a share of the lead and Bradley’s 12-footer also went in. After pars in a replay of the 18th, Haas ended it with a savvy play at No. 10. After driving into thick rough, he chipped up away from the hole to eliminate a looming bunker. Neither Mickelson nor Bradley, meantime, could hold the green with their second shots.

• STORYLINES: Mickelson is among four of the season’s first five winners entered, seeking a second trophy before the tour leaves the West Coast. The others: Dustin Johnson (Hyundai Tournament of Champions), Russell Henley (Sony Open in Hawaii) and Brian Gay (Humana Challenge). … Just once in the past three years has anyone won twice on the West Coast Swing – Mark Wilson in 2011 ... Tommy Gainey, who has yet to take a week off this season, will tee it up in his seventh consecutive event.

• SHORT CHIPS: John Huh officially will be presented his Rookie of the Year trophy in a Tuesday ceremony. The 22-year-old pro won last year’s Mayakoba Classic in an eight-hole playoff over Robert Allenby, and was the only rookie to qualify for the TOUR Championship field ... J.B. Holmes has a run of five straight top-12 finishes at Riviera – notable for a power hitter playing on a course that demands precision off the tee ... The Northern Trust Open hasn’t produced a first-time PGA TOUR winner since Len Mattiace in 2002 ... Riviera is the only PGA TOUR venue Woods has played more than four times without a victory. Woods made 11 attempts, two as an amateur, but hasn’t entered since 2006.

• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. EST (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

• SIRIUS/XM PGA TOUR RADIO: Thursday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. EST. Sunday, 1-7 p.m.

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