The PGA Tour heads to the glitzy surrounds of Los Angeles this week for the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club.
The Par 71 parkland course is not particularly long at around 7300 yards.
Designed in the 1920s, it has stood the test of time and should provide a good test to all parts of a professional player’s game this weekend.
Hollywood is the place for stars
Long hitters have tended to feature a lot in this tournament over the past few years, with Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson wining here in the last two years respectively. However, these wins weren’t necessarily to do with the course and had more to do with the conditions on the California course.
Dipping into memories of LA Opens over the past few years shows that they’ve been dominated by rain delays, hence making the fairways and greens more receptive.
This year though it looks like course management and a great short game will be the key. As some will know, the state of California went through its worst drought in a long time in 2017 with several uncontrollable wildfires breaking out.
Having had a hot dry winter and with conditions set to be fair again this week, it’s reasonable to predict that the Riviera Country Club will play at its firmest over these four days.
This will lessen the advantage of the so-called ‘bombers’ and that’s why two-time champion Bubba Watson can be found as far out as a 50/1 gamble.
It wouldn’t be Hollywood though if there wasn’t a blockbuster trio teeing off on the opening round and the Genesis Open organisers didn’t disappoint in the slightest. That’s because USPGA champion Justin Thomas (16/1) tees up with megastars Rory McIlroy (12/1) and Tiger Woods (40/1) in a threesome that the majority of fans will surely be following.
Alex Noren – 33/1
The Swede went so close at the Farmers Insurance Open a couple of weeks ago, losing in a playoff to Jason Day. He had a decent finish just outside the top 20 at the Phoenix Open, which was another positive performance showing. His shot shape should suit this course, with his ability to bring it in softly from left to right and he’s developed a good head on his shoulders for over the last few years.
Tiger Woods – 40/1
The aforementioned Tiger Woods comes back to LA for the first time since 2006. He has never won here, but has second and fifth place finishes to his name. He made a very encouraging comeback at Torrey Pines, with his short game looking in good shape – something he’ll need a lot this week. He won’t feel the need to slash driver too much and call up the patented stinger. If he does, he has a live chance. We’re holding him at 40/1 and this week, he truly shouldn’t be any bigger.
NAP of the week: KJ Choi in the Top 20 – 9/2.
The Korean ex powerlifter is getting a bit long in the tooth these days at 47, but if anyone knows the course, it’s this guy. He has eight top 20s here in 17 attempts, with no missed cuts. He’s had a nice prep run at Pebble Beachlast week (finishing tied-26th) and the firm conditions will be fine for a man who’s seen this course a lot over the years.