Genesis Invitational: Riviera is the star of the show

February 15, 2022 09:09 PM
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I prefer to call it the LA Open. 

One of the all-time classic tournaments on the PGA Tour (now called the Genesis Invitational) is played at historic Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, and will wrap up this season’s West Coast swing.

Riviera is one of the best designs on tour, with plenty of doglegs forcing players to work the ball in both directions. The famous par-3 sixth hole has a sand bunker in the middle of the green. The best short par-4 in the world is the 10th hole. The players will tell you this is one of best courses they play, and it typically produces a star as its champion. Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Ben Hogan — some of the best to ever pick up a golf club have won here.

The Riviera-August National correlation is one of the strongest in golf, with numerous Masters champions having also won the LA Open. We listed a few of those names above, but don’t forget about Mike Weir, Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer. Oddly enough, maybe the two greatest golfers ever, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, have never won at Riviera.

In addition to the Augusta National correlation, skill sets I look at this week are Strokes Gained: Approach, Scrambling, Total Driving and Putting from Inside 10 Feet. Riviera’s fairways and greens are some of the most difficult to hit on tour. The course produces one of the tour’s lowest percentages for greens in regulation. And the Poa Annua putting surfaces lead to some of the lowest percentages for putts holed from inside of 10 feet.

Here are the full tournament head-to-head matchups I considered and those I played, with 2022 records:

Considered (3-3)

— Bubba Watson (-125) over Max Homa

Played (4-0)

— Thomas Pieters (+ 115) over Marc Leishman

— Patrick Cantlay (+ 115) over Jon Rahm

— Hideki Matsuyama (+ 100) over Xander Schauffele

— Sergio Garcia (-115) over Paul Casey

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