Tournament: Genesis Open, February 16-19, 2017
Course: Riviera Country Club; 7,322 yards; par 71
Defending Champion: UGA’s own Bubba Watson. Leading going into the final round, he was actually 2 strokes behind on the final nine, but birdied two of the last three to capture his 2nd title at this tourney.
Fun Fact: The course was a major equestrian center in the 1930’s, and hosted the dressage portion of the pentathlon in the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS). **Caveat: I’m not positive these are the correct times, but for a “normal” PGA Tour event, this is the typical schedule.
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Four): Brian Harman, Harris English, Hudson Swafford, Bubba Watson.
This is one of the stalwarts of the PGA Tour, both in terms of players and in terms of the course itself. It’s one of the main courses that celebrities in LA play, and its membership list is a who’s who of Hollywood. Not to mention that the course has tremendous history in professional golf. The L.A. Open was contested here for dozens of years before corporate sponsorship morphed the tourney title. All the big names in golf history past and present have won titles on this course (most notably Ben Hogan, so this is one of the like 3 “Hogan’s Alley” courses). However, the two notable exceptions are Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Tiger actually competed in his first PGA Tour event as a 15 year old at this course, alas he missed the cut.
Competitive golf is ramping up around the country (and even in US territories) as the weather warms and the days grow longer. So there’s a lot of news, and lots of things to discuss and debate. But as of press time, the news that Tiger Woods completely skipped his press conference this week, at this tournament, has the golf airwaves all atwitter.
Why would skipping a press conference be a big deal? One, his Tiger Woods Foundation is the tournament host and is the major beneficiary of tournament proceeds. Two, Tiger withdrew from a tournament 2 weeks ago with back spasms. Three, Tiger had 3 back surgeries and missed something like 16 months of competitive golf. So everyone was already worried about his long-term health, and the recent setback raised questions. Four, Tiger first postponed the presser by 1 day, then completely cancelled his appearance based on “doctor’s advice”. If you take all the information above, you can see that if he can’t make an airplane flight (likely on his own jet) and sit down for questions because of his back, this does not bode well for his golf game anytime soon.
Enough about cats. Let’s turn our attention to ‘Dawgs, because no one needs cats, they need more ‘Dawgs. And we’ve got just the ticket. Here’s who is scheduled to put peg to ground Thursday:
Brian Harman. 104th in the world, 22nd in FedEx Cup. Harman has had a very tidy early season, making 7 of 9 cuts and 5 of those in the top 25. His January was pretty good to his bank account too, with finishes of T9, T20, and T3.
Harris English. 86th in the world, 66th in FedEx Cup. He’s only played 3 times in 2017 and with mixed results. He’s essentially holding his own against the PGA Tour field, ranked slightly above average except in driving. If he hits more fairways, his length and iron game will serve him well, and his putting is tolerable.
Hudson Swafford. 93rd in the world, 8th in FedEx Cup. His breakthrough win at the CareerBuilder in January moved him up 100+ spots in the world ranking, and almost assures him of making the playoffs this coming fall. Not to mention he will gain entry to all of the majors and some of the WGC events (ask me in the comments to explain if you want).
Bubba Watson. The former world #2 is now #15, and is 158th in FedEx Cup. No matter, as he plays much less than most pros but is still a big draw and is high enough in the world to play in any tourney he wants. Oh, and he’s won this tournament twice. One reason is his length makes some of the longer holes (like #18) easier, and because he bends the ball quite a bit and this course calls for that.
So that is who to root for. There ain’t no more football, and even though pitchers and catchers are warming up and position players are coming this weekend, real baseball is a ways off. And we know you don’t care much about basketball, other than a certain game vs. Kentucky this Saturday. So I’ve punched holes in all your excuses… turn it on over to golf and root on these ‘Dawgs as they hook up with Snake Plissken and try to Escape from L.A.
And as always….