Following a thrilling few weeks from Phil Mickelson between his 60 at the Desert Classic and his fifth AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am title, he’ll join an already-stacked field at Riviera and this week’s Genesis Open. Mickelson might not be the star this week, though, as one of the most classic courses the PGA Tour goes to will be on display at Riviera in Los Angeles.
Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: Genesis Open | When: Feb. 14-17
Where: Riviera Country Club — Pacific Palisades, California
Ranking the field (odds)
Field strength — A: You might have noticed who’s not in my top 10 power rankings for this week — namely, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. Not to mention Sergio Garcia, Marc Leishman, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood. This week’s golf will absolutely rock at an awesome course with the best field of the year in attendance.
Three things to know
1. Fred Couples is making his 35th (!) appearance: According to the PGA Tour, that’s five more than anybody else ever. He won this event twice and finished runner up three other times. Of lesser note: He’s captaining a celebrity team dubbed “Team Frederick” against Tiger’s “Team Eldrick.”
2. I love the authenticity of this course: Riviera has hosted a U.S. Open, two PGA Championships, a U.S. Senior Open, a U.S. Amateur and will play host during the 2028 Olympics. Its roots run deep, and it’s one of the very few genuine classics still played on the PGA Tour. Andy Johnson wrote about this a few years ago, and it’s worth your time to dive deep on what makes up some of George Thomas’ best work.
3. Sergio Garcia returns: The Spaniard is making his first appearance anywhere since bunker-gate (followed by green-gate!) in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago. There will be questions, and this story is going nowhere for the foreseeable future.
One story I’m following
Good catch here by Joel Beall of Golf Digest who pointed out that Michael Thompson and Max Homa both grabbed a spot in the top 10 after Scott Piercy made a mess of the 18th at Pebble in the dark on Sunday evening. That’s significant because the top 10 automatically qualify for the next week’s event, and Thompson and Homa were not in this week at Riviera. Homa graduated from nearby Valencia High School and went to Cal-Berkley, so this will be a nice home-ish game for him.
Woods has somewhat infamously not found a lot of success at Riviera. He didn’t play the course for over a decade and missed the cut last year. So why is he playing? Well, his Tiger Woods Foundation is intimately involved with the tournament, so there’s certainly some obligation there. *Whispers* also it’s kind of awesome to see one of the great shot-makers of all time play one of the great shot-making courses of all time.
- 2018: Bubba Watson
- 2017: Dustin Johnson
- 2016: Bubba Watson
- 2015: James Hahn
- 2014: Bubba Watson
Genesis Open picks
Winner: I’ll keep screaming it from the rooftops until it happens: “J.T. is about to go on a three wins in seven events tear that ends in a green jacket in early April!”
Top 10: The numbers are mind-boggling. Top 16 in each of the last five years including four runs inside the top five.
Sleeper: There are so many tasty sleepers in this event, but I’m going with the guy who has finished in the top 25 three times in the last four tournaments here and peaked with a T6 in 2018.