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2012 Northern Trust Open Preview: Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples Highlight Field At Riviera

The 2012 Northern Trust Open gets underway on Thursday with plenty of great story lines. Many of the world's best golfers are ready to tame the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades beginning Thursday morning, including the winners of the last three tournaments on the PGA schedule, who are paired together.

Phil Mickelson, who picked up his 40th career win last week at Pebble Beach, will tee off with Kyle Stanley, the winner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and Brandt Snedeker, who won the Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines.

"I really like Riviera. It's one of the best courses in the world. I've enjoyed playing here in the last four or five years," said Mickelson. "I'm looking forward to try and get in contention this weekend."

Mickelson won the Northern Trust Open in 2008 and 2009, and is not the only multiple winner of the event in the field. Longtime fan favorite Fred Couples, winner of the 1990 and 1992 versions of the event, then known as the Nissan Los Angeles Open.

It is my favorite tournament. Everyone talks about how great a course it is. I have always liked it from the day I got here," said Couples on Wednesday. "The greens are so small that the long hitters playing out of the rough, if they do get a decent lie, coming into these greens with shorter clubs is a huge advantage, whereas a shorter hitter feels like he's not at a disadvantage."

The 144-player field begins play at 6:45 a.m. PST on Thursday. George McNeill, Jason Duffner, and John Merrick start things off from the first tee, while Jarrod Lyle, Greg Owen, and Kyung-tae Kim will open the 10th tee on Thursday morning. The 2012 Northern Trust Open carries a $6.6 million purse, with $1.118 million and 500 FedEx Points going to the winner.

For more coverage of the PGA Tour, be sure to read Waggle Room.