Tournament: Genesis Open, February 15-18, 2018
Course: Riviera Country Club; 7,322 yards; par 71
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson. Having to play 36 holes on Sunday due to bad weather earlier, he built up an early lead and won going away, lifting him to world #1 in the process. (Side note: Bubba won this in 2016).
Fun Fact: This is the only tournament Tiger Woods has not won, in which he has competed at least 10 times. In other words, Tiger has won virtually every tournament at least once, of those that he frequents. And he historically has not frequented a large variety. He hasn’t played this tourney since 2006, though this was his first PGA Tour event as a 15 year old.
Television: Thursday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Friday, 3-7 p.m. Saturday, 2-3:30 p.m. (GC), 4-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
Former ‘Dawgs in the Field (Two): Harris English, 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.
First off, Tiger is back. Again. In the second tournament of this year, Tiger Woods is returning to LA for the first time in over a decade. His first start was at Torrey Pines and he made a decent showing though he wasn’t in contention. Depending on your perspective, Tiger was either “never going to contend again” or “the way he grinded out pars means he will win early and often”. The field has so much parity right now that I don’t think either statement is something to hang your hat on.
Speaking of the field, this tournament has a good one. World #1 Dustin Johnson is playing and coming off a tie for 2nd last week. Jordan Speith also plays, but he had a mediocre finish last time out. Rory McIlroy has 4 majors, but missed the cut at Pebble. Phil Mickelson tied for 2nd last week too, and he’s played quite well this winter without quite breaking through for a win. European #1 Tommy Fleetwood comes to this side of the Atlantic, only to play near the Pacific, in his 2018 stateside debut.
Let’s turn our attention to ‘Dawgs. Here’s who is scheduled to put peg to ground Thursday:
Harris English. Last year English was 86th in the world and had a decent early season. He has since missed a bunch of cuts, but his January included two top 11 finishes. He’s down to #223 in world rankings but he seems to be playing more consistently. No two ways about it, he needs to hit more fairways and hit more greens.
Bubba Watson. As mentioned, Bubba won this in 2016, and won it before in 2014. A year ago he was #15 in the world rankings, but is #117 now. He plays sparingly these days, and his results are just about mediocre. What you’d expect from having a world of natural talent but not playing very often. Let’s say Bubba gets… distracted. According to his Twitter feed since he’s been in LA this week, he’s visited the television sets of Jay Leno’s Garage, Ellen, and The Big Bang Theory. Boy from Bagdad (FL) gets around.
Oh, and did I mention he’s playing the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Friday night? Just a couple of hours (and about 17 miles) after finishing his 2nd round of a PGA Tour event?
A quick side note about the current UGA Golfing ‘Dawgs:
We won the team title at The Gold Rush by 5 shots. Individual top-10 finishers: Rinko Mitsunaga & @paula_golf t-3rd, @Bella_Skinner T-5th & @gabycoello12 t7th.— Georgia Women's Golf (@UGAWomensGolf) February 13, 2018
>> https://t.co/h5w5de1MB0#CommitToTheG | #RingTheBell
So that is who to root for. There are competing interests for eyeballs: Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski throwing shade, the Winter Olympics, pitchers and catchers report, some colleges playing basketball against other colleges, etc. But if you like none of these, 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….