The Genesis Open field contains two red-hot players 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.
The 47-year-old fan favorite has not won since the 2013 Open Championship, but over the past two weeks, he looks closer to winning form than he has in several years. He posted an impressive T5 in Phoenix, which would have been even better if not for a final hole double-bogey when the circumstances forced him to play the hole in an exceptionally aggressive fashion.
It was not his best finish of the season up to that point, as he had posted a T3 at the season-opening Safeway Open, but it was an extremely encouraging result after some recent poor finishes coming off his winter sabbatical.
“I think that my game’s gotten better each week, my focus is getting better each week and I’m going to a golf course that I’ve played very well on in the past,” declared Mickelson after his final round in Phoenix.
“So I’m hoping that it continues to build on this. This shouldn’t just be a one week deal, I should be getting better and better as the weeks go on.”
At Pebble Beach, a place Phil had won four times prior, a late birdie binge on Sunday led to his second runner-up performance in the past three editions of the tournament, while proving Phoenix wasn’t “a one-week deal.”
For the second consecutive week, he also needed a final-hole eagle to make things interesting, but was unable to get any closer to tournament champion Ted Potter, Jr. who won by three strokes.
Riviera, again, represents a place where Mickelson has been successful in the past.
“Riviera is a great ball-striker’s golf course. And if you drive it well there, the second shot is where Riviera thrives and challenges you,” said an excited Mickelson on Sunday at Pebble Beach.
“And I’m driving it as well as I have in a long time and if I continue to strike it the way I have, it’s going to be another good week.
“And I can’t wait to get started.”
Two of his 42 career victories have come at the Genesis Open, as he went back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. He also finished runner-up here in both 2007 and 2012. In most recent appearance, he posted a T34 just last year, opening with an impressive 4-under 67, but playing the rest of his week at even-par (71-73-69).
World Rank: 35th
Field Rank: 18th
2017 Finish: 65th
Last PGA Tour Win: 2013 OPEN Championship
Last Seven Starts 2, 5, 45, MC, 15, 3, 20
While the 36-year-old is trying to break from a winless drought that spans all the way back to 2008, Reavie has been even better over the past two weeks than the much more heralded Mickelson.
In Phoenix, Reavie birdied the last two holes to force a playoff with Gary Woodland. He lost the playoff, but the runner-up finish was his best result in a long time.
“I’ve been playing solid seems every week and I just need more experiences like this and sooner or later I’ll hold the trophy,” said Reavie, following his loss in Phoenix.
That “experience” led to another runner-up finish at Pebble Beach, where Reavie tied the formidable trio of Mickelson, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson.
Reavie was in strong position to win on Sunday, as he went 5-under on the front nine to nip at Ted Potter’s heels at the turn, but went stagnant on the back nine, as one bogey and eight pars meant a second-straight week in second place.
“It’s been great. I’ve been hitting the ball well for awhile and just haven’t quite been piecing it together and I think I figured out a way to piece it together,” said Reavie, describing his recent play.
“And biggest thing is just making less bogeys, every birdie I make almost counts as double, so that really helps.”
Reavie has been pretty “great” most of the season, finishing in the top 25 in 89% of his starts (8 of 9) this season. He has been especially impressive tee-to-green, ranking fifth on Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green off the strength of accurate driving (10th on Tour), a phenomenal approach game, and great touch around the greens.
Reavie missed the cut at Riviera last year, but was solo-seventh the year prior after opening the tournament 66-67. His recent form suggests he is more likely to look like the 2016 version of himself at this tournament than his 2017 version.
World Rank: 43rd
Field Rank: 20th
2017 Finish: MC
Last PGA Tour Win: 2008 RBC Canadian Open
Last Seven Starts: 2, 2, 36, 18, 14, 24, 15