The last event of the West Coast swing sees six of the world's top 10 players teeing it up at the iconic Riviera Country Club.
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Another week, another iconic golf course. Such is life on the West Coast swing.
A week after Phil Mickelson turned back the clock in a virtuoso win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the PGA Tour moves down the California coast to the iconic Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Open.
Tiger Woods is the tournament host this week, and the event benefits his foundation, but his history at Riviera isn't what you'd expect. Woods missed one of his two cuts all season here last year and has never won the event, though he did finish second in 1999. This week, he highlights an elite field that features six of the world's top 10 players and 14 of the top 20. Significant rain showers are expected on Thursday and Friday, so delays are likely and a second consecutive Monday finish—Mickelson had to come back on Monday to play the final two holes at Pebble—is a distinct possibility.
This is the last event before the Tour shifts away from the West Coast; the WGC-Mexico Championship is up next before the Florida swing kicks off at the Honda Classic.
Here's everything you need to know about the event originally known as the L.A. Open.
Riviera Country Club sits in a canyon right off Sunset Boulevard in the upscale neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, which borders Santa Monica and Brentwood, just outside Los Angeles. Affectionately known as "Hogan's Alley"—Ben Hogan won the L.A. Open three times as well as the 1948 U.S. Open at Riviera—it was originally designed in 1926 by George Thomas, the same architect behind two other iconic courses in the L.A. area: Bel-Air Country Club and Los Angeles Country Club.
The first tee shot is one of the most famous in golf, as the teebox is 40-plus yards above the fairway. The rest of the course is relatively flat until players head back up the slope on the 18th hole. The course is covered in kikuyu, a unique grass that has a sticky tendency; don't expect many bump-and-runs this week, as kikuyu frequently stops balls dead in their tracks. Due to the lack of roll and wet conditions, the 7,300-plus, par-71 layout will play as one of the longer courses all year. Not coincidentally, bombers have had tremendous success in recent Genesis Opens—Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson have combined to win four of the last five events here.
The most famous hole at Riviera is the driveable par-4 10th, which is frequently cited as the best short par 4 in the world and one of the best holes anywhere. Measuring just 315 yards, the longest players can reach the putting surface with a perfect drive, but hitting the extremely narrow green is virtually impossible from the right side. Laying up with an iron down the left is the safest play, leaving the best look at the green with just a wedge in hand. It is the classic risk-reward hole, and scores ranging from eagle to triple bogey are in play.
Riviera, which is perennially ranked as one of the top-30 golf courses in America, is a favorite of PGA Tour pros. In Golf Digest's most recent anonymous survey, pros ranked Riviera behind only Augusta and Harbour Town. It has hosted three major championships, most recently the 1995 PGA Championship, which was won by Steve Elkington. Riviera hosted the 2017 U.S. Amateur and is scheduled to host the Olympic golf competition in 2028.
As good as you'll see in a non-major, non-Players, non-WGC event. Tiger Woods will draw the most eyeballs, but he's not one of the six players ranked inside the top 10 in the world competing: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy. Last week's champion Phil Mickelson, who has won this tournament twice, is playing, but he's only the second most successful lefty at this track—Bubba Watson, the defending champion, has won here three times. He'll try to make it four. Tony Finau, who finished T2 here last year, will tee it up, as will Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Cantlay and Marc Leishman. The two most controversial figures in golf right now will also play: Sergio Garcia will make his first appearance since he was disqualified for deliberately damaging greens in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, and Matt Kuchar, whose decision to pay his fill-in caddie just $5,000 after winning $1.3 million in Mexico, has resulted in one of the spicier debates in recent memory. Quite simply, when you combine a host city like Los Angeles with a world-class golf course and a a host like Tiger Woods, you get an elite field. This should be a great one.
Some good ol' fashioned supergroups on the docket this week. Here's a full list of tee times. All times EST.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas — 3:22 p.m. Thursday/10:22 a.m.* Friday
Phil Mickelson, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth — 10:22 a.m.*/3:22 a.m.
Dustin Johnson, Cameron Champ, Bubba Watson — 10:11 a.m.*/3:11 p.m.
Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau — 3:11 p.m./10:11 a.m.*
All times EST.
Thursday, Friday — 3-6 p.m. on Golf Channel
Saturday — 1-2:45 p.m. on Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. on CBS
Sunday — 1-2:45 p.m. on Golf Channel, 3-6:30 p.m. on CBS
2018 — Bubba Watson (-18)
2017 — Dustin Johnson (-17)
2016 — Bubba Watson (-15)
2015 — James Hahn (-6)
2014 — Bubba Watson (-15)
2013 — John Merrick (-11)
2012 — Bill Haas (-7)
2011 — Aaron Baddeley (-12)
2010 — Steve Stricker (-16)
2009 — Phil Mickelson (-15)
2008 — Phil Mickelson (-12)
Dustin Johnson +900 - 2017 champ here disappointed last week at Pebble
Justin Thomas +1200 - Finished T9 here last year
Bryson DeChambeau +1400
Rory McIlroy +1600 - Top fives in first two starts of career
Jon Rahm +1600
Tiger Woods +2000 - MC last year and has never won this tournament
Bubba Watson +2000 - Three-time winner of this event finished T4 in last start
Jordan Spieth +2200
Phil Mickelson +2200 - Two-time winner of this event coming off W at Pebble
Xander Schauffele +2200
Hideki Matsuyama +2800
Patrick Cantlay +2800
Tony Finau +2800 - T2 last year, bomber's game suits Rivi well
Adam Scott +3000
Marc Leishman +3000
Paul Casey +3000 - Coming off solo second at Pebble; T2 here in 2015
Cameron Smith +3500
Matt Kuchar +3500
Tommy Fleetwood +3500
Charles Howell III +4000
Sergio Garcia +4000
Chez Reavie +4500
Adam Hadwin +5000
Branden Grace +5000
Cameron Champ +5000
Louis Oosthuizen +5000
ASSELTA: Picks and Plays for the Genesis Open
This is one of the harder weeks to make a pick given the strength and depth of the field. Alas, the show must go on. Riviera always plays into bomber's hands, and the length advantage will be exacerbated by soggy conditions all year. I'm going to go with the ultimate Course Horse, Bubba Watson, who despite three wins here is listed at 20-1. Watson's game varies greatly based on the course he's playing—some weeks, on tighter courses, he's essentially a non-factor. But when he likes a course, he loves a course (his 12 wins come on just six different courses), and he loves Riviera. Coming off a T4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Watson's game is trending in the right direction, and he offers too good a value to pass up. Other guys worth a play: Xander Schauffele (+2200), who is sneaky long and good enough to compete anywhere, and Tony Finau (+2800), who finished second here last year.