Pro Golf Weekly

Primer: 2018 Genesis Open

One would be hard-pressed to find a golf course anywhere that is more aesthetically appealing than Pebble Beach, a famous golf haven basking in the beauty of the California coastline.

A five-hour drive south, however, is something very close, if not comparable to Pebble.

Riviera Country Club, located in Pacific Palisades in the Los Angeles metro area, will provide a worthy challenge to a great field in this week’s PGA Tour event, the Genesis Open.

The long-running tournament, the finale of the seven-event “West Coast Swing,” provides yet another opportunity for the players to rack up some early-season FedExCup (and Ryder Cup) points.

The field in L.A. is headlined by tournament host Tiger Woods, along with three of the top-4 ranked players in the world, including defending champion Dustin Johnson (No. 1), Jordan Spieth (No. 3), and Justin Thomas (No. 4).


THE SKINNY

Tournament: Genesis Open
Dates: Feb. 15-18, 2018
Where: Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Course: Riviera Country Club
Distance: Par 71/7,322 yards
Architect: George Thomas Jr., William Bell (1926)
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Purse: $7,200,000
Winning Share: $1,260,000
FedExCup Points: 500
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson
Marquee Players: Johnson, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas.


TV & ONLINE

Round 1: Thu 2-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Round 2: Fri 2-6:00 pm (GOLF)
Round 3: Sat 2-3:30 pm (GOLF), 3:30-6 pm (GOLF)
Round 4: Sun 2-3:30 pm (GOLF), 3:30-6 pm (GOLF)

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HISTORY

Long known as the Los Angeles Open and more recently the Northern Trust Open, the Genesis Open has been held at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades (CA) for most of its history. The inaugural tournament was contested in 1926 with American Harry Cooper capturing the very first trophy, along with a check for $3,500.

Notable tournament winners include Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson.

Macdonald Smith and Lloyd Mangrum – two great, but largely forgotten, players – own a record four (4) wins apiece.

The Genesis Open has been the site of some historically significant events. In 1938, legendary female athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias became the first woman to play a men’s professional golf event. Zaharias, who had only taken up golf three years earlier after spending years as a track and field superstar, shot 81-84 over the first two rounds and missed the cut.

In 1992, the then-titled Nissan Los Angeles Open was the site of Tiger Woods’ first PGA Tour start. As a 16-year old high school sophomore, Tiger shot 72-75 (+5) and missed the cut.

Riviera Country Club, has hosted three major championships, most recently the 1995 PGA Championship, won by Steve Elkington in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie.


TOURNAMENT SPONSORS/NAMES

2017-18 Genesis Open
2008-16 Northern Trust Open
1995-07 Nissan Open
1989-94 Nissan Los Angeles Open
1987-88 Los Angeles Open presented by Nissan
1984-86 Los Angeles Open
1971-83 Glen Campbell-Los Angeles Open
1926-70 Los Angeles Open


RECENT CHAMPIONS

2017: Dustin Johnson
2016: Bubba Watson
2015: James Hahn
2014: Bubba Watson
2013: John Merrick
2012: Bill Haas
2011: Aaron Baddeley


RECORDS

Wins:
4 – Macdonald Smith (1928-29, 1932, 1934)
4 – Lloyd Mangrum (1949, 1951, 1953, 1956)

72-Hole Score: 264 (-20) – Lanny Wadkins (1985)
18-Hole Score: 61 (-10) – Ted Tryba (1999, Rd 3)


DEFENDING CHAMPION

The defending champion of the Genesis Open is Dustin Johnson, who fired a final-round 71 to record a five-stroke victory over Thomas Pieters and Scott Brown.

The win moved Johnson into the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, overtaking Jason Day.

Due to weather delays in the early rounds, Sunday ended up hosting an extraordinary amount of golf, but Johnson took the drama out of most of it when he birdied the final three holes of his third round to take a six-shot lead immediately into round four, a lead he would not come close to relinquishing.

FINAL TOP 10

1 Dustin Johnson -17
T2 Thomas Pieters -12
T2 Scott Brown -12
T4 Justin Rose -11
T4 Wes Bryan -11
T4 Kevin Na -11
T4 Charley Hoffman -11
T8 Cameron Tringale -10
T8 Ollie Schneiderjans -10
T8 Martin Laird -10


THE FIELD

The field this week in Los Angeles is headlined by tournament host Tiger Woods and defending champion Dustin Johnson, the top-ranked player in the world.

Top 25: Other top-ranked players include Jordan Spieth (No. 3), Justin Thomas (No. 4), Rory McIlroy (No. 10), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 13), Marc Leishman (No. 14), Alex Noren (No. 16), Paul Casey (No. 17), Matt Kuchar (No. 18), Pat Perez (No. 19), Rafael Cabrera Bello (No. 20), Francesco Molinari (No. 22), Charley Hoffman (No. 23), and Xander Schauffele (No. 25).

Former Winners: In addition to Johnson, the field at Riviera Country Club also includes former winners in Phil Mickelson (2008-09), Aaron Baddeley (2011), Bill Haas (2012), Bubba Watson (2014, 2016), and James Hahn (2015).

Young Guns: Some of the game’s rising stars will also be on hand, including Haotong Li, Daniel Berger, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Vegas, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, and Ollie Schniederjans.

Major Winners: Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Jimmy Walker, and Jim Furyk are some of the other familiar names.


STORYLINES

1. DJ DEFENDS

For the second week in a row, the PGA Tour is playing at a venue that World No. 1 Dustin Johnson has dominated in the past.

At Riviera, he will be teeing it up as the defending champion, breaking through in 2017 after finishes of T4 or better without a win in his previous four attempts.

2. TWO RED-HOT PLAYERS

The Genesis Open field contains two red-hot players – Phil Mickelson and Chez Reavie – who are coming off top-5 finishes at both last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the previous week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Both are players in long winless droughts who are extra motivated to break back into the winner’s circle.

3. TIGER RETURNS

Dustin Johnson may be the odds-on favorite to be kissing the tournament trophy while standing around a cloud of reporters, but the man who the most eyes will be on is undoubtedly Tiger Woods.

The Genesis Open represents stop No. 2 on the “Tiger Comeback Tour” after he missed nearly all of 2017 while recovering from a series of back surgeries.

4. FURYK’S DEBUT

A list of the top 20 golfers of the past 20 years would undoubtedly include the name of Jim Furyk, a man with 17 PGA Tour victories, including a major championship.

That name also, however, has been on very few leaderboards over the past two seasons. A wrist injury limited him to just 14 starts in 2016, a winless season where he accumulated just three top 10s, and had his lowest earnings ($1.5 million) since 2011.

This week at Riviera, Furyk will be making his season debut.

5. FIVE MARQUEE EURO TOUR STARS

One of the biggest storylines going into last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was the 2018 U.S. debut of European standout Rory McIlroy.

Rory is in the field this week again this week, but he will have to share the spotlight with the five marquee European Tour regulars who are making Riviera their first PGA stop of 2018.

Read the storylines in full.


Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images


Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.

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