Tiger Hosts Bubba, DJ, Phil, Rory at Riviera

By Tom LaMarre

Any time Tiger Woods plays, much of the tournament buzz is about him, and never more so than for this week’s 93rd edition of what is now Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club www.therivieracountryclub.com in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Not only is he the host for the Los Angeles-area event that benefits his TGR Foundation, but his hometown tournament is one of the few on the PGA Tour he has played more than 10 times and never won.

“I love the golf course, I love the layout, it fits my eye–and I play awful,” said Woods, who tied for 20th in his 2019 debut at the Farmers Insurance Open after capping 2018 with his 80th PGA Tour victory in the Tour Championship. “It’s very simple. It’s just one of those weird things.”

“ … It’s always great to be able to play at Riviera and I am very proud of the impact the Genesis Open has been able to make on education through my foundation.”

Woods first played in the old Los Angeles Open as a 16-year-old from right down Interstate 5 in his hometown of Cypress and missed the cut in his two appearances as an amateur. He didn’t miss the weekend again until he shot 72-76—148 last year.

The closest Tiger came to winning the tournament came in 1998, when he lost to Billy Mayfair on the first hole of a playoff at Valencia Country Club, where the event was played because Riviera was hosting the U.S. Senior Open that year.

Woods also tied for second the following year at Riviera, two strokes behind Ernie Els of South Africa, and he has two other top-10 results in the tournament.

Tiger once said he “would be seriously upset if I went my whole career and never won this tournament. It’s one of the oldest events on our Tour, it’s played every year on one of our best courses. It always attracts a strong field. These are exactly the tournaments you want to win.”

To win this week, Woods will have to beat a loaded field that includes Bubba Watson (pictured), who won the tournament for the third time last year, 2017 champion Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jon Rahm of Spain, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Francesco Molinari of Italy, Paul Casey of England and Xander Schauffele.

Riviera is the original “Hogan’s Alley,” where the great Ben Hogan won four times, three within a year and a half in 1947 and 1948—including back-to-back L.A. Opens and the 1948 U.S. Open.

Watson will be trying to equal the tournament record of four victories shared by Lloyd Mangrum and Macdonald Smith, while Arnold Palmer also won it three times and two-time champions include Mickelson, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Billy Casper, Lanny Wadkins, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Mike Weir of Canada, Paul Harney, Gil Morgan and “Lighthorse Harry” Cooper.

Surprisingly, Jack Nicklaus—like Woods—never won the L.A. Open, although the Golden Bear earned his first paycheck of $33.33 by tying for 50th in 1962 at Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles.

Nicklaus leads Tiger in major titles, 18-14, but Woods would love to one-up him at Riviera.


  1. Bubba Watson, United States – Bubba will be trying to win at Riviera for the fourth time in six years, taking the title in 2014, 2016 and last year, in addition to four other finishes in the top 20. It’s not a bomber’s course, but Watson has all the shots in addition to his power. He tied for fourth in his last start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
  2. Dustin Johnson, United States – After winning the Saudi International two weeks ago and making the long flight back, third-ranked DJ could only tie for 45th at Pebble Beach. Even though he’s a power hitter, he plays well at tight Riviera, winning by five shots two years ago in addition to finishing second twice, third once, fourth twice and 10th once.
  3. Justin Thomas, United States – The fourth-ranked Thomas has tied for fifth in the CIMB Classic, finished third in the Sentry TOC and wound up third again in Phoenix, while finishing out of the to 20 only once in his five starts in the 2018-19 season. Figured out Rivera in his fourth appearance at Hogan’s Alley last year, finishing in a tie for ninth.
  4. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – Sticking with his plan to play more on the PGA Tour this season, ninth-ranked McIlroy is teeing it up for the third time in 2019. He’s off to a good start, having tied for fourth in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and tied for fourth in the Farmers Insurance Open. Tied for 20th at Riviera in 2016 and last year.
  5. Xander Schauffele, United States – One of two double winners on the PGA Tour this season, along with Matt Kuchar, Schauffele comes to Riviera second in the FedEx Cup standings. He finished in a tie for 10th in his last start in the Waste Management Phoenix Open two weeks ago. Schauffele was ninth in his first start in the Genesis Open last year.
  6. Bryson DeChambeau, United States – Back on the PGA Tour after a tie for sixth in the Saudi International, fifth-ranked DeChambeau plays Riviera for the third time, having tied for 41st last year and withdrawn after one round in 2017. Won the Shriners, tied for seventh in the Sentry TOC and tied for 10th at the Sony Open in Hawaii this season.
  7. Jon Rahm, Spain – The sixth-ranked Rahm is playing in the Genesis Open for the first time, but has been a quick study in his young career and should be a factor at Riviera. Tied for eighth in the Sentry TOC, was sixth in the Desert Classic, tied for fifth in the Farmers and tied for 10th in Phoenix after winning Hero World Challenge late in 2018.
  8. Phil Mickelson, United States – The 48-year-old Mickelson might fight fatigue as he comes off his victory on Monday at Pebble Beach, but this is another of the West Coast events he has won multiple times, in 2008 and 2009. Lefty was second at Riviera in 2007 and 2012. Also was second in the Desert Classic and missed the cut in Phoenix this year.
  9. Tiger Woods, United States – Incredibly, Tiger has never won his hometown event in 12 starts, but he finished second in 1998 and 1999, fifth in 2003 and seventh in 2007. He missed the cut twice as an amateur and again last year. Woods tied for 20th in the Farmers, his first event since closing out 2018 by winning the Tour Championship.
  10. Jordan Spieth, United States – Still trying to find his game, Spieth comes to Riviera after twice being in or near the lead early before tying for 35th in the Farmers and tying for 45th at Pebble Beach. He tied for ninth in the Genesis Open last year, tied for fourth in 2015 and has finished in the top 25 four times in six starts in the L.A.-area event.


  1. Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thailand – The 29-year-old Thai star has 11 victories in Asia, four on Euro Tour, and could break through on PGA Tour soon. Makes his Riviera debut.
  2. Scott Langley, United States – Coming off a solo sixth at Pebble Beach and a T12 in the Desert Classic, Langley’s best result in three starts at Riviera was a T22 in 2015.
  3. Sung Kang, South Korea – After a T14 last week at Pebble, Kang makes fourth start at Riviera, finishing T8 in 2016, T22 in 2017, T16 in 2018. Has four wins on Korean Tour.
  4. Max Homa, United States – Playing near his hometown of Valencia, Homa comes off a T10 at Pebble Beach and a T26 in Phoenix. A two-time winner on the Web.com Tour.
  5. Tim O’Neal, United States – Playing at Riviera this week on the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption, O’Neal has three career victories on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.For first round tee times visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html

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