Fairways And Roughs Title

Confidence Factor: Genesis Open

By PGA Tour News
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The final event of the West Coast Swing takes the TOUR to Los Angeles and historic Riviera Country Club. Gamers will be more than thrilled that only one course will be in play plus there will be no amateur element. The Riviera Country Club hosts the 92nd edition of the Genesis Open as 144 pros will try and tame "Hogan's Alley". Ben Hogan ran rampant here in the latter half of the 1940's, winning the 1947 and 1948 editions of this event while also picking up the U.S. Open here in the summer of 1948. If that's not enough course history for you, Tiger Woods made his PGA TOUR debut as a 16-year old amateur at this event in 1992. I'll also add this was the first event where Jack Nicklaus picked up a check as a professional as that famous picture is always found on the internet this time of year. The Riviera Country Club is revered by the pros and gamers. Both groups are tremendously aware of what they are getting into annually at this event. The George C. Thomas/William P. Bell design and routing hasn't changed much over the decades as the original has stood the test of time and the modern game. Tom Fazio has cleaned up a few details here and there since 2008 but the pros will have to move the golf ball both directions from the tee and the fairway plus using every club in the bag throughout the round. Without many changes annually, the pros know they can rely on their yardage books (Par 71, 7,322) and experience from previous events without having to navigate any surprises. There is just enough quirk, Poa annua, barranca and kikuyu grass to keep everyone on their toes. Lanny Wadkins mastered four days in a row in 1985 as his 264 (-20) is still the tournament record. Ted Tryba brought this track to its knees in 1991 with a 61. TALE OF THE TAPE Of the last three winners, James Hahn's victory in 2015 was unusual for a handful of reasons. He beat proven studs Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a playoff to take home his first TOUR title. He did so on a track that doesn't give up much to guys without tons of experience over the 7,332 yards. I'd throw in that the score to make the three-man playoff, six-under-par, was the highest winning total this century. Hahn didn't use power or precision to the playoff win. He took advantage of his opportunities, got up-and-down and handled his business on the par-four holes. The weather during the week didn't cooperate either as the temperatures were cool plus fog and rain played their part. Hahn grew up in the East Bay and joined Los Angeles native John Merrick (2013) as the two most recent, first-time winners at Riviera. Astute gamers will point out that the last three multiple winners at Riviera have all been left handed and Masters champions (Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson). I'll also point out that Tom Doak has done plenty of work at Augusta National over the years so that connection could have validity. Watson's victory noted above was his second, matching the same number of green jackets in his closet. The lefty had claimed his first victory in 2014 by using his power off the tee and accurate iron play. He used the same formula in 2016 to give him the most chances to make birdies and avoid bogeys. He held off Johnson, who began the final round just one shot back, along with Jason Kokrak and Chez Reavie(!), in the final round to claim his second title. Last year Johnson waltzed home after leading by five after 54 holes. The only question last year was how much rain the course would take over Friday and into Saturday. The answer was almost three inches. If there's anybody I'd want on a soaked, long, difficult course, Johnson would be on the top of that list. He couldn't finish his third round on Saturday due to the weather so he came back Sunday morning and made three more birdies to stretch his lead. The rain or the delay obviously didn't bother him one bit as he torched the joint again, picking up his seventh, top-10 finish in 10 starts and his first win. The most exciting part last year was the shootout for second place. The 2012 NCAA Men's individual champion on this course, Thomas Pieters (Illinois) fired a bogey-free 63 to share second place with Scott Brown while seven other players were within one shot. NOTE: Golfers inside the top 25 in each statistic on the 2016-17 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete in the Genesis Open. * - Finished inside the top 10 at the Genesis Open since 2013. Par-4 Scoring Rank Golfer 1 *Jordan Spieth 2 Justin Thomas 3 *Paul Casey 6 Lucas Glover 6 *Dustin Johnson 6 Francesco Molinari 6 *Chez Reavie 15 Daniel Berger 15 *Keegan Bradley 15 *Matt Kuchar 15 *Marc Leishman 15 Jamie Lovemark 15 *Kevin Na 15 Kyle Stanley Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green Rank Golfer 1 *Dustin Johnson 2 *Jordan Spieth 4 Francesco Molinari 6 Justin Thomas 7 *Paul Casey 8 Rory McIlroy 10 Tony Finau 11 Kyle Stanley 13 Luke List 14 Patrick Cantlay 15 *Marc Leishman 19 *Adam Scott 20 Lucas Glover 23 *Brendan Steele 25 Bud Cauley Bogey Avoidance Rank Golfer 1 *Jordan Spieth 3 *Paul Casey 4 *Dustin Johnson 5 *Chez Reavie 6 Patrick Cantlay 8 *Matt Kuchar 9 *Charles Howell III 10 Lucas Glover 11 *Bill Haas 18 *Marc Leishman 19 Pat Perez 20 Martin Flores 21 Justin Thomas 22 Tony Finau 24 John Huh 25 Ryan Armour Scrambling Rank Golfer 3 *Matt Kuchar 7 *Paul Casey 9 *Bill Haas 10 John Huh 13 *Chez Reavie 18 Pat Perez 21 Adam Hadwin 23 *Dustin Johnson 24 Francesco Molinari 25 *Charles Howell III The winners have shown us that nothing short of a complete bag will be necessary this week. One stat that jumps off the page is driving accuracy and its irrelevance this week. Riviera has some of the most difficult fairways to hit on TOUR so it's the second shots that will grab my attention. Premium ball-strikers will know where to miss and will have to keep it beneath the hole. Kikuyu grass is the rough of choice this week but is more "nesty" than tall. Poa annua greens will test the patience of the putters for the third time in four weeks on TOUR. For players who don't find GIR, the kikuyu rough and Poa greens make for a tasty combination in getting up-and-down. Riviera also has some of the most deep, penal bunkers on TOUR so avoiding those will also go a long way this week. Similarly to Pebble Beach last week, Riviera doesn't hand out much to the inexperienced players. As we can tell by the winners above, experience goes a long way here for a few reasons. The course is plain difficult. It requires the six inches between the ears as well as all 14 clubs in the bag. There are holes and pin placements this week that are for suckers and without a plethora of birdie holes to correct mistakes, avoiding bogey is a good idea. As with most great courses, excellent shots are rewarded while loose ones are punished. Grinding out pars will go a long way this week and taking the appropriate medicine is another benchmark of experience.  Birdies do NOT come fast and furious here as Dustin Johnson led the field with only 21 last year and Watson made only 22 the year before. Patience, grinding and course management are usually hallmarks of experienced players and that's where I'm looking this week. Rob Bolton's Power Rankings suggests the weather to be absolutely perfect again this week. If you need more proof on the experience angle, take a look at the average amount of attempts the winners here usually need before picking up the big check. Be sure to look for my post-round recap EMERGENCY 9 each night shortly after the conclusion of play! NOTE: The groups below are comprehensive to assist in data mining. Inclusion doesn't imply automatic endorsement in every fantasy game as all decisions are specific to your situation. CONFIDENCE MEN BUILDING CONFIDENCE Sorted by best finish, selected golfers who are either finally finding form on the course or are still relatively new to the tournament but have enjoyed some success. OTHER SIGNS OF CONFIDENCE Sorted by most recent top 10s, selected golfers for whom it's been a few years since their last.


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