Expert Picks: Northern Trust Open

February 14, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

The Northern Trust Open is the seventh event of the 2012 season. Here's how the PGATOUR.COM experts sized up the top contenders:

How it works: Our experts from PGATOUR.COM select the player they think will win this week's event. By using a draft process, no two picks can be the same.
SLEEPER PICKS: Who might surprise at the Northern Trust Open? Our fantasy expert, Rob Bolton, selects his favorite dark horses. Click for Sleepers

MORE NORTHERN TRUST OPEN: Power Rankings | Inside the field | Inside the course
FANTASY GOLF: Play our game -- FREE! | Every player ranked
Expert picks: Northern Trust Open
Pick order Player selected
ADAM SCOTT. Remember him? Scott makes his season debut this week and is coming off his best season on TOUR since 2006. His 37-hole victory in 2005 may have been unofficial, but he backed it well with a runner-up showing the next year at Riviera.
BILL HAAS. Last year's FedExCup champ tied for 12th at Riviera in 2011. He had a week off after finishing T4 at the Farmers Insurance Open and a T19 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, so he's rested and ready to go.
If Deason had the top pick ... Haas
AARON BADDELEY. I'll go with the defending champion. He looked good Sunday at Pebble Beach, but there was just no catching Phil Mickelson. He settled for a solo fourth. Came into the Northern Trust after a similarly strong Pebble finish last year, too.
If Szeker had the top pick ... Baddeley
PHIL MICKELSON. The amount of confidence Lefty has in his game right now will give the veteran an edge in Hollywood. Combine that mentality with his seriously improved ball striking and greens performance, and Mickelson looks unbeatable.
If Balionis had the top pick ... Mickelson
K.J. CHOI. The reigning PLAYERS champ is making his first mainland U.S. start of the year at Riviera, and for good reason -- he was T7 last year and has four top-10s there. The list of winners at Hogan's Alley is stout, and Choi's name wouldn't be out of place on it.
If Schwarb had the top pick ... Choi
LUKE DONALD. The No. 1 player in the world with the fifth pick? That's like the Tampa Bay Bucs having Andrew Luck slide down the NFL draft board to No. 5. The missed cut at Riviera last year will only serve as motivation for the Englishman.
If Swantek had the top pick ... Donald
FRED COUPLES. I don't care how old Fred Couples is. He and Riviera are made for each other, and history has shown it. I don't think he'll win, but he will certainly contend in his 30th appearance at Hogan's Alley.
If Wacker had the top pick ... Scott
BRANDT SNEDEKER. His record at Riviera is nothing to write home about with three missed cuts and a tie for 20th. But Snedeker is simply playing too solid to overlook -- ranked first all-around, second in birdies and third in scoring.
If Ross had the top pick ... Donald
JUSTIN ROSE. No one is going to see this win coming this weekend. For my money, there's very few better iron players in the world, and that's something you want for Riviera's tough greens. Top-10 here in 2011 while breaking par in each round.
If Smithson had the top pick ... Mickelson
KEVIN NA. Narrowed my choices to either Na or Dustin Johnson, with both having played well here in recent years. In the end, I opted for Na, who's posted T5 finishes the last two weeks and is a collective 35 under in his last three. I won't be surprised if DJ wins.
If McAllister had the top pick ... Scott
Standings after Week 5
LAST WEEK: Our experts picked the winner for the third time this year, with Mike McAllister picking Phil Mickelson at Pebble Beach. Ryan Smithson's pick of Aaron Baddeley gave him the season lead:
Position Name Wins Top-5s Top-10s Top-25s MCs FedExCup points
1 Ryan Smithson
Site Producer
1 2 3 4 0 781.00
2 Mike McAllister
Managing Editor
1 1 1 4 0 697.22
3 Chris Dunham
Editorial Coordinator
1 1 2 2 1 660.25
4 Helen Ross
Chief of Correspondents
0 2 2 4 0 479.55
5 John Swantek
Host, On The Tee
0 1 1 3 2 432.50
6 Amanda Balionis
Host, PGA TOUR Today
0 2 2 2 2 415.25
7 Brian Wacker
Site Producer
0 1 1 2 2 297.33
8 John Schwarb
Site Producer
0 1 1 3 1 264.50
9 Lauren Deason
Editorial Coordinator
0 0 1 3 0 254.49
10 Anne Szeker
Site Producer
0 0 1 3 0 234.50

MAKE YOUR PICKS: Let us know who you think will be victorious this week.