Strong field in place for Northern Trust Open

Many of the biggest names in golf are set to compete in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, February 12-17. Defending champion Bill Haas will look to become the seventh player in tournament history to win back-to-back titles and the first since 2008-09 champion Phil Mickelson as Haas, Mickelson and Keegan Bradley return to the site of one of the most memorable finishes of the 2012 season.

Last year, Haas ended regulation at 7-under-par and waited for the final pairing of Mickelson and Bradley to play the 18thhole, both at 6-under and needing birdies to force a playoff. With Mickelson and Bradley facing putts of 25 and 12 feet, respectively, Haas’ chances of going home with the tournament title looked good. But both Mickelson and Bradley drained their putts within moments of each other, resulting in some of the loudest cheers of the year in the amphitheater at No. 18. Haas, however, outdid both Mickelson and Bradley with his own 45-foot bomb for birdie on the second playoff hole (No. 10) to win his fourth career PGA TOUR event.

For Mickelson, it was his second runner-up finish at Riviera Country Club (2007), matching his two tournament victories at the event. California, his home state, has been good to the left-hander. Mickelson has collected 13 of his 41 PGA TOUR victories in California, second only to Tiger Woods’ 14.

Mickelson, who won the Waste Management Phoenix Open, is one of four PGA TOUR winners from the 2013 season who will tee it up in Pacific Palisades: Dustin Johnson (Hyundai Tournament of Champions); rookie Russell Henley (Sony Open in Hawaii); and Brian Gay (Humana Challenge).

In addition to Haas and Mickelson, past champions of the Northern Trust Open in the field include: Robert Allenby (2001); Fred Couples (1990, 1992), who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May; World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els (1999); Charles Howell III (2007); Corey Pavin (1994-95); Rory Sabbatini (2006); Adam Scott (2005; 36 holes) and Mike Weir (2003-04).

Like Mickelson, Couples could join an elite list of players with three or more victories at the Northern Trust Open. Ben Hogan (3), Arnold Palmer (3), Lloyd Mangrum (4) and MacDonald Smith (4) are the only players who won the tournament three or more times. Couples will make his 31st start at the Northern Trust Open after receiving a sponsor’s exemption, surpassing Gene Littler for the most starts in tournament history (30). In addition to his two victories, Couples has collected 12 other top 10s, including runner-up finishes in 1993, 1994 and 1996. He held the 36-hole lead in 2011 at 8-under and was in contention in the final round after three-consecutive birdies to open the round, but fell off the pace after a double bogey at No. 7 and eventually finished T7.

John Huh will make his first start at Riviera Country Club. In 2012, Huh became the first player of Asian descent to be voted PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, thanks in large part to a victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, where he survived an eight-hole playoff with Allenby. Huh is part of a strong group of Korean players in the field, which includes Sang-Moon Bae, K.J. Choi, Kevin Na, Seung-yul Noh, Charlie Wi and Y.E. Yang. D.H. Lee is currently third alternate.

For Northern Trust Open ticket information, visit www.northerntrustopen.com. Fans are reminded that each year, youth 18 and younger are admitted free of charge to the Northern Trust Open when accompanied by a ticketed adult. There is no limit to the number of youth 18 and younger who can attend with a ticketed adult.

 

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