Altvater: McDowell, Els, Donald to make 2013 debut in LAWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Graeme McDowell, Ernie Els and Luke Donald will make their 2013 PGA Tour debut in the Northern Trust Open at famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., outside Los Angeles, this week.
McDowell played in 16 events in 2012 on the PGA Tour and did not play his first event in the U.S. until the WGC-Accenture Match Play. He had four top-10 finishes, won $2.4 million and finished No. 27 in the FedEx Cup standings. He is coming off a lengthy rest and has fallen to No. 19 on the Official World Golf Rankings.
The 2010 U.S. Open champion performed well in the majors last year with T-12 in the Masters, T-2 at the U.S. Open, T-5 in the Open Championship and T-11 at Kiawah in the PGA Championship.
Forty-two-year-old Ernie Els made headlines last year when he won the Open Championship at Royal Lytham. It was his second Claret Jug and fourth major title.
Els fell outside the Top-50 in the world at the end of 2011 and was not eligible for the 2012 Masters. He had chances to win at the Transitions and the Palmer but a balky putter spoiled his efforts to garner a win and earn a spot in the Masters.
The work he put in early in 2012 paid off with the win at Royal Lytham and he is now No. 24 in the world.
Luke Donald had a phenomenal year in 2011. He won four events and picked up the money titles on both the PGA and European Tours. He ascended to No. 1 in the world without winning a major.
In 2012 Donald won the Transitions on the PGA Tour and the BMW Championship in Europe. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have moved ahead of him in the world rankings, but Donald is still a factor whenever he tees it up.
Donald just needs to add a major title to his résumé.
Riviera Country Club is one of the iconic courses that the tour visits each year. In 1947 and 1948, Ben Hogan won two LA Opens and a U.S. Open at Riviera. George Thomas designed Riviera and it has enjoyed a rich history since it inception in 1927.
Bill Haas will defend at the Northern Trust Open. He won in a three-man playoff over Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley last year.
The Northern Trust Open can be seen on the Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. EST Thursday and Friday, Feb. 14-15. Golf Channel will handle Saturday and Sunday’s early coverage 1-2:30 p.m. EST Feb. 16-17. CBS will air Saturday’s third round live 3-6 p.m. EST Feb. 16 and Sunday’s final round 3-6:30 p.m. EST Feb. 17.