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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Fleetwood and Noren can build on solid starts

Best bets for Friday's second round at Riviera

Tommy Fleetwood had a solid opening round at Riviera
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 2.30pm Friday

Riviera is an established stop on the US Tour and experience of the Los Angeles venue can often stand a competitor in good stead, but two European newcomers should not be discouraged by their opening efforts and they can build on solid starts in Friday's second round.

England's Tommy Fleetwood has demonstrated his straight-hitting ability to good effect in his recent rise in the world rankings and this is a track that should suit his game down to a tee.

The Southport swinger finished his opening round four shots off the pace, but the quality of his putting - he gained almost four shots on the field on the greens - helped him to a decent opening round.

There is scope for him to be straighter in his next effort and push on, so back him to claim success in his threeball with American duo Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar (8.12pm GMT).

Mickelson has won twice at Riviera but his last success came in 2009 and he has made little impression on his two visits since he lost to Bill Haas in a 2012 playoff.

Two successive top-five finishes have left plenty of people thinking he can re-establish himself right at the top of the game, but it is still tempting to side with the up-and-coming Fleetwood.

Kuchar, meanwhile, faded to finish 62nd at last week's Pebble Beach Pro-Am and made little impression on Thursday with a disappointing 73, so there is plenty of work for him to do to get anywhere near eclipsing last year's eight-placed finish.

Another player worth chancing is Sweden's Alex Noren, who finished a shot further behind Fleetwood after an even-par 71.

Noren is now a regular fixture in the world's top 20 and should be encouraged by his tie for second at the Farmers Insurance Open and a creditable 21st in his last outing at the Phoenix Open.

If his putter gets hot, he has the all-round game to be a factor in the tournament and he can get the better of Xander Schauffele and Wesley Bryan (3.53pm GMT).

Bryan finished on one-under-par but has a lot to prove after posting just one top-ten finish in his last 14 outings.

T Fleetwood to win threeball 8.12pm GMT
2pts 13-8 Betfred, BoyleSports, Sky Bet
A Noren to win threeball 3.53pm GMT
2pts 6-4 bet365

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The quality of Fleetwood's putting helped him to a decent opening round
E.W. Terms
Sky bet