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‘Dawgs on Tour: Bubba Loves LA!

Northern Trust Open - Final Round Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

I’m on a Bubba kick, but this week seems apropos. Mostly because Bubba Watson, University of Georgia alum and former collegiate golfer, has won the PGA Tour event on this course 3 times in his career. In 2014 and 2016, the tournament at Riviera was called The Northern Trust. When he won his third in 2018, it carried the current name of the Genesis Invitational. But first let’s recap the crazy show in the desert last week:

All 9 former ‘Dawgs who competed made the cut (Harris English withdrew with a nagging hip injury). Sepp Straka never got anything going and fell Sunday to finish solo 66th.
Hudson Swafford did much of the same and got T60.
Kevin Kisner was lurking but a Saturday 74 got him out of contention - T38.
Russell Henley was amazingly consistent, just not spectacular, so he finished T33.
Brendon Todd wasn’t too far off the lead until a Sunday 72 dropped him 13 spots to T26.
Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk, and Brian Harman all finished at 11 under par and T14 - they just found a few different ways to get there.
And Keith Mitchell shot 8 under on the weekend to backdoor a top 10 (T10).

There was some other craziness out there, but you’ve probably seen the highlights of what two or three thousand beers thrown simultaneously onto a golf hole will result in. Since it didn’t involve any of the ‘Dawgs on Tour, we can move onto this week’s event.

Tournament: The Genesis Invitational, February 17-20, 2022

Course: The Riviera Country Club, par 71, 7,322 yards. Just 25 miles or so northwest from the City of Compton, where we keep it rockin’. And just 15 miles from SoFi Stadium, where Matthew Stafford, Leonard Floyd, and Sony Michel locked up some new jewelry last Sunday.

Purse: $12 million, with $2.16 million to the winner. Plus 550 FedEx Cup points (50 more than a standard tourney), and a 3 year Tour exemption (1 year more than standard). I don’t know what happened to pump the purse and perks so much, other than Tiger Woods, official tournament host, did some sort of flex at Tour HQ in Ponte Vedra.

Defending Champ: Local boy, LA Dodger fan, and twitter roaster Max Homa. Max beat Tony Finau in a playoff, after miraculously making par on the first playoff hole when his tee shot rested against a tree trunk. This was Homa’s 2nd Tour win, and while I like him, he never looked better than he did last Saturday.

Fun Fact: The 10th hole may be one of the more exciting par 4s in golf, but it’s hard to beat the iconic par 3 6th hole - a personal favorite of macondawg. Yeah, that’s a bunker in the middle of the green.

Northern Trust Open - Final Round Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (CBS). Sir Nick and Jim Nantz will be the covering the golf action for most of the next few months now that football is over. And I’ll reiterate that PGA Tour Live will, with multiple feeds, cover every shot (available through ESPN+).

‘Dawgs in the Field: 3. Bubba Watson, Russell Henley, and Sepp Straka.

Straka has been streaky this season, having made his last four cuts. But he missed the preceding two, made the cut in the three before that, and started the season with 3 straight missed cuts. In those 7 of 12 made cuts, he only has a single top 25 finish. So while he’s gaining points, he’s only 132 in the FedEx Cup ranking. His 3rd round scoring average is a full stroke worse than the other 3 rounds, so that seems an area of concern. And while his par 5 scoring average is 4.66 (good), his par 3 and par 4 averages are above par.

By contrast, Henley is perfect on the season in made cuts, and has 6 top 25 finishes in 8 tournaments. Which is why he’s 16th in the FedEx Cup.

As mentioned in last week’s post, Bubba is making only his second PGA Tour start of the wrap-around season. And this is the 19th event of 47 that run through early August before the Playoffs begin. So that’s why he’s 173rd in FedEx. But based on his T14 finish last week, a 2nd place on the Asian Tour the week before, he’s jumped about 40 places on the Official World Golf Ranking to 53rd. And as we talked about at the beginning, he kinda likes this place.

So there’s what to watch since the powers that be halted the entire sport of baseball until contract negotiations between the Braves and Freddie Freeman result in a lifetime contract. At least that’s what I’ve been led to believe. And as always...