Northern Trust Open Preview

Five former Major winners top the field at the Northern Trust Open, which kicks off Thursday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

Bubba Watson is the defending champion here, as at the Masters.

The tournament will have an extra emotional charge because of its connection with Charlie Sifford, the African-American pioneer who won there in 1969 and recently passed away.

In 2009, the tournament created an exemption for a golfer who represents diversity in golf. This year’s recipient is PGA Tour rookie Carlos Sainz, Jr.

Watson won last year with a 15-under 269. The prior two years, the tournament ended in a playoff.

The most talked-about player in the field probably won’t be Watson or Sainz, however, but lifetime member Davis Love III, who will take over as the US Ryder Cup coach for 2016.

The most impressive trio of the day tees off at 7:22 a.m. local time on the back nine with Sergio Garcia, Fred Couples, and Jordan Spieth on tap.

Ten minutes later, current FedEx points leader Jimmy Walker will hit the same holes alongside Harris English and Hideki Matsuyama.

Watson gets his start at 12:02 p.m. on the front nine with Dustin Johnson and Bill Haas; followed 10 minutes later by last week’s Pebble Beach winner Brandt Snedeker, Ernie Els, and Jim Furyk.


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