Bubba Watson will be back at Riviera trying to win an astonishing fourth title here in just seven visits. And of course, Tiger woods is in the field which by definition raises the profile of the event any time he tees it up. The 2017 Genesis Open winner, Dustin Johnson, will also be in town, as will FedExCup leader Xander Schauffele.
The Europeans will be here too. Rory McIlroy will make his third start at the layout and Francesco Molinari, the British Open champion, teeing up alongside Sergio Garcia, fresh from his tantrum in Saudi Arabia.
Riviera CC is one of the longest-serving courses on Tour. Formerly the Los Angeles Open, the Northern Trust Open and, indeed, the Genesis Open – since 1973, barring the odd year off.
Playing at 7,322 yards for its Par of 71, Riviera plays long with just three Par 5s – two of which are in excess of 575 yards – and eleven Par 4s; half-a-dozen of those come in at a meaty 450 yards plus.
The George Thomas design, which was given something of a facelift by Tom Fazio in 2008, is considered the ‘thinking man’s’ course, and the bulk of that thinking seems to go into where to miss your tee shots.
The tight driving lines and narrow fairways mean that plenty of players will spend good time looking for their balls in the long stuff, although knowing where to miss might be key; Bubba won here 12 months ago despite missing a third of all fairways. Translation, bomb and gouge really does work, especially for lefties.
And, of course, how could we forget Riviera’s other name: ‘Hogan’s Alley’. This is where the legendary Ben Hogan made history by winning this title twice and a US Open, all in a period of 18 months.
Ready for Rain?
As anyone who watched the AT&T Pebble Beach last week can testify, the weather in California right now is pretty awful. And that appears to be continuing this week at Riviera.
Last Year’s Results from the Genesis Open
Love him or loathe him, there was barely a dry eye in the house when Bubba Watson overcame health problems and a crippling lack of confidence to land his first PGA TOUR title in two years.
It was fitting that it would come at Riviera, where he had twice triumphed before, and that would spark a renaissance that saw the leftie win three times all told on Tour last season. This bodes well for him this week and despite in other venues on tour like in Hartford, he should deserve a serious look for one and done pools.
Forget Hogan’s Alley, Riviera could be renamed ‘Watson’s Yard’ if he can add a fourth title here this week. As far as straight bets to win. Here’s who we think is worth a look as well.
Dustin Johnson 8-1 – Always ready to pounce
Jon Rahm 12-1 – Nice price considering recent play
Bryson Dechambeau 16-1 – The technician has been playing well.
Bubba Watson 20-1 – Love this price given the above stated history.
Phil Mickelson 25-1 – Even better number given the hot hand.
Xander Schauffele 25-1 – Top form.
Matt Kuchar 28-1 – Also top form and accuracy will help him despite not so great length.
Tony Finau 28-1 – Good pricing considering last year’s top 5 finish.
Patrick Cantlay 33-1 – Very good form coming in an historical performance here.
Adam Scott 33-1 – Sneaky good lately. Nothing a lot of top 10s including here last year.