The First Look: Genesis Open
Tiger Woods revisits the hometown venue that has proven the PGA TOUR’s toughest for him to crack – 10 visits without victory – for the second start in 2018. The strongest field yet in 2018 awaits, though, including five international standouts making their first U.S. starts of the year. Dustin Johnson is back to defend the title that launched him into last year’s sizzling spring, winning three consecutive starts leading into the Masters. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy give the lineup four of the top eight men in the Official World Golf Ranking. GENESIS OPEN: See the star-studded field FIELD NOTES: Thomas Pieters, who shared runner-up honors last year as a sponsor exemption, and 2017 Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood headline a dribble of European-based pros making their way across for the West Coast finale. ... The list also includes China’s Haotong Li, fresh off a win in Dubai, along with Martin Kaymer. … All told, the Riviera roster features 14 of the top 25 in the OWGR. … Former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel also makes his first start on U.S. soil since last year’s FedExCup Playoffs. FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points. STORYLINES: Woods ends an 11-year absence from Riviera, going back to a 2006 visit cut short by the flu bug. His best finish there was second in 1999, two shots behind Ernie Els. He also lost a 1998 playoff to Billy Mayfair, though that edition was held at Valencia CC. … Johnson hasn’t finished lower than fourth in his past four visits to Riviera. Prior to last year’s win, he lost a 2015 playoff and was runner-up again in 2014. … Bubba Watson, winner in 2014 and ’16, will seek a third straight Riviera win in even-numbered years. … Cameron Champ, the amateur who stood two shots off the lead after 36 holes of last summer’s U.S. Open, will play on the tournament’s Charlie Sifford Exemption to promote diversity. Champ turned pro after tying for 32nd at Erin Hills. … The top 50 in the OWGR after the Genesis Open can make plans for next month’s World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. COURSE: Riviera Country Club, 7,322 yards, par 71. A star setting from its 1927 opening when Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin graced its fairways, Riviera hosted its first Los Angeles Open in 1929 and was site of the U.S. Open’s first West Coast venture (1948). Designer George Thomas studied 15 possible layouts before settling on one that now features some of the TOUR’s most iconic holes. The par-3 sixth is famed for its bunker in the middle of the green, and No. 10 is widely considered the best drivable par-4 in golf. Old-timers will remember Riviera as “Hogan’s Alley,” as Ben Hogan notched three wins in an 18-month span – the 1948 U.S. Open and two L.A. Opens that preceded it. Last summer, Doc Redman won the first U.S. Amateur held at Riviera. 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Lanny Wadkins (1985). 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, George Archer (3rd round, 1983 at Rancho Park GC), Ted Tryba (3rd round, 1999 at Riviera CC). LAST YEAR: Johnson turned a marathon Sunday into a coronation, cruising to a five-stroke triumph that lifted him to No. 1 in the world rankings. Though three days of rain and fog forced Johnson and others to play 36 holes on the final day, he made the most of it with a third-round 64 that opened a five-shot margin on his nearest pursuers. The lead grew to nine at one point in the final round before he eased off the pedal. The win was Johnson’s fourth in a nine-month span beginning with the U.S. Open, vaulting him past Jason Day atop the rankings. He also joined Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only men to notch a win in each of their first 10 PGA TOUR seasons. Pieters, who closed with a 63, and Scott Brown (67) shared second. HOW TO FOLLOW TELEVISION: Thursday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Friday, 3-7 p.m. Saturday, 2-3:30 p.m. (GC), 4-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS). PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. ET (featured groups), 3-6 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (featured holes). Sunday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (featured holes). A free preview of Featured Group coverage will be streaming live on Twitter on Thursday and Friday during the first hour of coverage. Click here to watch PGA TOUR LIVE on Twitter. PGA TOUR RADIO: Thursday, noon-6 p.m. Friday, 1-7 p.m. Saturday, 2-7 p.m. Sunday, 1-6:30 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).
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