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JB Holmes Emerges From A Packed Leaderboard in California

JB Holmes Emerges From A Packed Leaderboard in California


Nine players shot 4-under 67’s on Thursday in the opening round of the Northern Trust Open at the historic Riviera Country Club just outside of Los Angeles, but it was the long hitting JB Holmes that came out the betting favourite after round one.

Holmes now goes out at (9-1) meaning he’s not exactly a bona fide favourite, but rather the most notable player in a logjam at the top of the leaderboard.  Granted, he did make six birdies with two bogeys on day one and used a driving average of over 320 yards to shorten the course considerably.

Holmes hasn’t won since 2008, but knocked on the door more than once in 2010 posting a 2nd and a 3rd place finish, so if he can keep the majority of his tee shots in the fairway he could be a factor this week.

Second on the betting board is Englishman Luke Donald who slides in just behind Holmes at (10-1) as he currently sits just one back of the leaders.  It was a clean, but not spectacular round as he managed all four his birdies on the front nine and simply couldn’t get anything on the back recording eight pars and a bogey.

Donald hasn’t played since finishing 9th at the Dubai World Championship in November.  A great finish in a star studded tournament, but there’s no telling what the long layoff has done for his game.  It’s possible Donald’s had the chance to recharge after a long 2010 season, but it also could take some time for his game to get back in top form.

Phil Mickelson has finally fallen from the rank of favourite as he’s been a perennial pre-tournament favourite early in the 2011 season.  However, a lacklustre even par round on Thursday has somewhat dampened the infatuation for the American left hander.

He went out well on Thursday, but a string of three bogeys on the back side took the air out of what could have been a lead challenging round.  It’s possible Mickelson’s heavy schedule to kick off 2011 is beginning to take a toll as he hasn’t been nearly as a precise as one would expect the past couple of weeks.

From the land of long odds.  51-year old Fred Couples is just a shot off the lead and if his back can hold up over 72 holes there’s no reason he can’t mount a charge for victory as he’s still got one of the sweetest swings in the game.  He goes off at (40-1).


When you're prepared, you're more confident. When you have a strategy, you're more comfortable   - Fred Couples

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