Power Rankings: Genesis Open
If you're going to anchor the West Coast Swing, you better live up to the billing. Suffice it to say that Riviera Country Club represents the gold standard. The historic track in Pacific Palisades, California, has hosted the majority of the 92 editions of the Genesis Open, including all but two since 1973, but it didn't serve as the site for the U.S. Amateur until 2017. Given Doc Redman's eagle-birdie burst on the 17th and 18th holes to force sudden death against Doug Ghim, and Redman's birdie-3 at the famous 10th hole for the epic win, it's fair to wonder what took so long. Riviera hosted an instant classic. If Tiger Woods prevails at Riviera - this week or, well, ever - he could wonder the same thing. Winless in 11 appearances, he's poised to compete for the first time since 2006. POWER RANKINGS: GENESIS OPEN RANK PLAYER COMMENT Assumed the top spot in all-time tournament earnings with his five-shot romp last year. Six of his seven top 10s in 10 appearances are top-four finishes. T2 last week at Pebble. He's acknowledged turning a corner on the greens. That he's still lurking speaks to his course management. Three top 25s in five appearances at Riviera, including a T5 in 2015. In two spins on Pebble Beach last week, he led the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green and proximity to the hole. His T8 was his 12th top 20 in last 13 starts. P2 at Riviera in 2015. As solid the last two weeks as he has been in years. Three top-five finishes on the season. Two wins and two seconds at Riviera. Fifth on TOUR in strokes gained: putting. With Pebble primer out of the way, he returns to avenge his final-round fade in his Riviera debut in 2016. Sat T5 and two shots back after 54 holes but closed with 75 for a T20. After leading WMPO (P2) in strokes gained: tee-to-green, paced AT&T field in putts per round. Converted all 31 tries inside 10 feet at Pebble Beach (T2). Solo seventh here in 2016. T5 here in 2016 the latest of five paydays in eight consecutive trips. Treat second-round 76 (and MC) last year as an anomaly. Sharp right now. Six top 10s in last 10 starts worldwide. Had little trouble navigating the nuance of the greens in debut here last year; ranked sixth in strokes gained: putting en route to a T2. T5 in Abu Dhabi four weeks ago. With a pair of top 10s (Sony, WMPO) among five top 25s this season, he's delivering on his promise. In Riviera debut last year, one of only two sub-70 in every round; placed T8. Tournament debut. Second start as a PGA TOUR member (T20, WGC-HSBC). Opened 2018 with victory in Abu Dhabi, and then finished T6 in Dubai. Leads European Tour in GIR. When he stated that his goal is to be more consistent, he likely wasn't happy to settle for a steady stream of top 25s, but there is continuity. Sub-70 in eight of last nine rounds. Gets benefit of the doubt as a recent two-time winner at Riviera (2014, 2016). Six top 20s in last 10 trips. Grinding back into form after health challenge and return to familiar ball. More of a form fit with unlikely top 10s in two of his last three starts, but the UCLA product was in the mix here in 2016 before shooting his way out of contention with a closing 76. Arrives with quiet and consistently strong form and balance in tow. Opened 2018 going T11-T14-T11 for his first string of three straight top 15s since the 2015 FedExCup Playoffs. The Swede's only weakness is inexperience since this is his first appearance. Followed the steadfast defeat in a playoff at Torrey Pines with a T21 at TPC Scottsdale. Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include AT&T Pebble Beach champ Ted Potter, Jr., Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Martin Kaymer among numerous notables. Dissimilar to how most courses can be vulnerable when rain softens fairways and greens, Riviera is as true as it gets no matter the conditions. Last year's event was hit hard by precipitation and numerous delays, and multi-year highs were established in fairways hit, scrambling and conversion percentage inside 10 feet, yet the field averaged 71.012 on the par 35-36=71. As always, proper credit belongs with the grounds crew and tournament officials for the fair and consistent setup as a gentle touch is required with a masterpiece. No alternative preparation is necessary this week, however, as nothing but sunshine will cover every stroke of the 144 golfers in the field. Daytime highs will range from the mid-60s to the low 70s. Moderate winds can't be ruled out on Friday, but it's nothing the experienced haven't tackled before. Since Adam Scott's unofficial victory in the weather-shortened, 36-hole contest in 2005, all but one champion required at least five appearances before the coronation. (James Hahn captured the title in his third start in 2015). The objective is exactly what the competitors think it is. Despite tight landing areas off tees, finding the shortest grass isn't a prerequisite for success. Of course it never hurts, but Riviera is a second-shot test most of all. Paying off those chances and salvaging pars ranks a close second, but precision on approach is pivotal to alleviate the pressure of putting and getting up and down on greens that will have no problem touching 12-and-a-feet on the Stimpmeter. The kikuyu rough will be restricted to the standard inch and a half. Riviera measures 7,322 yards for the third consecutive year, but a handful of modifications occurred since Dustin Johnson's trophy presentation in 2017. Among them, trees were removed in the sightlines on the tees on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes, while course managers will appreciate the new areas to miss right of the green on the par-4 second and left of the green on the par-4 eighth. ROB BOLTON'S SCHEDULE PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week's event. Look for the following columns this week. MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider, Facebook Live WEDNESDAY: One & Done THURSDAY: Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Champions One & Done * - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM's Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.
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