Garcia well placed at Northern Trust

The PGA Tour is in Los Angeles this week for the Northern Trust Open at the famed Riviera Country Club where the man who has been a two time winner and once runner-up in the past few years, Phil Mickelson chases his second win of the season.

The event dates back to the early 1920's and has been played under several different guises mainly centred around the title of the Los Angeles Open. Much of the event's profile was because of the brilliant layout George Thomas created back then.

This year the defending champion is Bill Haas who defeated Keegan Bradley and none other than Mickelson himself in a playoff.

Australia's Aaron Baddeley was the winner in 2011 and in 2010 it was Steve Stricker who prevailed after he too had been beaten in a playoff the previous year.

Mickelson's win in Phoenix was brilliant and while he was disappointing at last week's AT&T when defending if he was to add a third win this week there would be few surprised.

Luke Donald returns to tournament golf for the first time in 2013 after another great year in 2012. The world number three finished off last season strongly and has ,at times, played this event very well including when runner-up to Stricker in 2010. The only concern about Donald is that he is behind the eight-ball as far as tournament play is concerned this season.

Sergio Garcia has not played a lot here in recent years but when he has he has done well. He finished 4th last year after a final round of 64 so arrives with good memories and in good form. He finished runner-up in Qatar three weeks ago and was then 17th in Dubai and he now appears to be close to the peak of his game. He is a very good chance to do well.

Charl Schwartzel stormed home last week in Johannesburg to finish runner-up, his 6th consecutive top five finish in world golf in what was his first start of 2013. Schwartzel plays this event for the very first occasion but he is in such good form he could contend and potentially win on debut here at Riviera.

This could well be the sort of golf course that Lee Westwood thrives on. He has seldom played the event but when he has he has occasionally done well including when 5th in 2006. Westwood made a good start to the season when 5th in Dubai then was just average last week at Pebble Beach but it would not surprise to see him in the mix.

Adam Scott heads up the Australian challenge although given it is his first start of the year it may be that Aaron Baddeley ends up as the leading Australian. Baddeley has put together a couple of good tournaments of late and as a previous winner his chances look good.

Scott is also a previous winner in 2005 in an event that was reduced to 36 holes. Perhaps a more telling reflection on his capacity to do well this week is his runner-up the following year in 2006 but it is his lack of recent tournament play that might count against him this week.

Other Australians in the field are Geoff Ogilvy, John Senden, Marc Leishman, Greg Chalmers, Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby.

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