Tiger Woods to Host Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades

By Bill Bruns
Palisades News Adviser

Hanging on a wall inside the Riviera Country Club is a framed article from the Mercury Newsletter of the L.A. Athletic Club, dated June 22, 1927, and headlined “Riviera Championship Course to Open to Membership Saturday, June 25.”

“This splendid theatre for golf lovers . . . was prepared by Mr. George C. Thomas, Jr., designing architect, and Mr. William Bell, architect in charge of construction,” the article reported. “Thomas planned it as his masterpiece, and Mr. Bell worked those plans out almost to perfection.

Looking up the ninth fairway at the Riviera Country Club. Photo: Chris Condon/PGA Tour
Looking up the ninth fairway at the Riviera Country Club.
Photo: Chris Condon/PGA Tour

“Authorities who have watched the development of the course declare that few layouts in the entire land equal it in golfing possibilities and that none can be said to excel it. Doubtless in years to come the course will be the scene of some of America’s greatest championship tournaments.”

So here we are, 90 years later, and the Riviera has certainly lived up to those early expectations. The classic 7,322-yard layout in Santa Monica Canyon has hosted one U.S. Open (1948), two PGA Championships (1983 & 1995) and one Senior Open, while also serving as the annual venue for the Los Angeles Open (now the Genesis Open). Riviera is ranked as the 19th best course in the United State by a panel of Golf Magazine experts, and is widely praised by most PGA pros.

The 2017 Genesis Open, sponsored by the global luxury car brand, is set to begin next Thursday, Feb. 16, with a purse of $7,000,000 (in 1948, Ben Hogan earned $2,000 for winning the U.S. Open at Riviera).

Reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Dustin Johnson, 2015 Masters and U.S. Open winner Jordan Spieth, 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose and defending champion Bubba Watson are scheduled to join tournament host Tiger Woods.

Returning to tournament play this winter for the first time since August 2015, Woods will make his first start at Riviera since 2006. When he made his PGA Tour debut at Riviera as a high school sophomore in 1992, he shot 72-75 and failed to make the 36-hole cut, but he still clearly remembers the pressure he felt on the first hole, and the lesson he learned by playing against the pros.

“I felt fine on that first tee,” Woods told reporters on Jan. 23. “I’m nervous, I’m always nervous before a round before I tee it up. But as I took the club back, I’ve never felt a club weigh so much. I’ve never felt nerves like that.”

Still, said Woods, “I smoked it right down the middle of the fairway with my 3-wood, knocked it on the green, made a birdie. This is great, this is how you want to start off your PGA Tour career. Next hole I snaphooked it right against the fence. Okay, that’s not how you want to continue this PGA Tour.

“I thought I played fairly well [that week], but I was 17 back of Davis [Love],” after just two rounds. “So, I realized I have so far to go and I’m not that good. I’m good in high school golf and good in junior golf, but to compete against these guys out here, there’s no chance. I’ve got to get a lot better.”

As golf fans know, Tiger got a whole lot better within just a few years, and has since won 79 PGA Tour events (second only to Sam Snead) and 14 professional major tournaments (second to Jack Nicklaus).

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