The PGA Tour is in Pacific Palisades this week for the Genesis Open (or, the LA Open, as most still refer to it) at an absolute classic course – Riviera.
This is one of those places that has stood the test of time and is a real throwback. Five of the holes on this par-71 layout are par 4s that measure over 450 yards. As a result of the length, it’s not often that scores get out of control low.
Riviera requires some serious target golf. So, while being long off the tee is certainly an advantage, you’re also going to need some accuracy to be in position for those second shots to difficult greens.
Bubba Watson returns as the defending champion at the Genesis Open – a tournament he has won three times since 2014. Tiger Woods will be there, too, making his second start of the 2018-19 season.
So, who should you be watching out for at Riv?
Our caddies on the ground there have done their homework. To protect their identity, they have anonymously made picks for the players you should be keeping a close eye on. And, by the way, our caddies have successfully identified tournament winners in each of the last three weeks.
Here’s who they like this week and why…
- Michael Thompson. “Michael Thompson wins the LA Open. This week at Riv is going to be tough, whether the sun somehow stays out, or we get a deluge of rain like they predict. It’s not going to be lights-out scoring either way. Thompson plays tough golf courses really well. Always has. His solo Tour win came at the Honda Classic, a super tough track, where scrambling is crucial. This week has a similar feel in that scrambling pars will serve you well. Michael is a tremendous putter and is driving the ball dead straight right now which are the two keys to playing well at The Riv. A little birdie told me he hasn’t had this much confidence in his game in a very long time. Throw in some impressive play the past month or so, including top 10s at the always difficult Torrey Pines and last week’s grinding Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Michael is trending. Coupled with the fact he has Damian “Pin High” Lopez on his bag — I say MT wins by 3.”
- Bubba Watson. “How can you ignore a three-time Riv champ in Bubba Watson? He has no weaknesses in his game and history loves repeating itself at the LA Open – the tournament has had 16 multiple winners since its inception in 1926, including five players with three or more. Bubba could join Macdonald Smith and Lloyd Mangrum as the only four-time winners of the event.”
- Patrick Cantlay. “He’s somewhat a local boy. He’s played The Riv a lot going back to his junior and college days. Patrick is a tremendous driver of the golf ball, which is key, and he knows the lines off the tee really well. He finished fourth here at the NCAAs and finished fourth here last year in the LA Open. He’s had some time off and will be ready to pounce. He loves the smell of eucalyptus in the air.”
- Bubba Watson. “Three-time winner at Riv! Nothing else needs to be said!”
- Rory McIlroy. “I think he’s going to have a blowout year! It all starts at Riv. The course is going to be playing extremely long, so to have a chance this week, you really need to be a bomber.”
- Paul Casey. “Fresh off a second-place finish at Pebble Beach, Paul is riding high on confidence. He’s another bomber and he plays great in cold, wet weather, which we’re likely going to be seeing once again this week.”
- Dustin Johnson. Ball-striking is priority No. 1 around Riviera and no one strikes it better than DJ. He’s coming off a win two weeks ago overseas so he’s obviously playing well. When he’s at the top of his game no one is better than him.
- Bryson DeChambeau. He’s becoming one of the most consistent players on tour. With all the weather changes expected this week, Bryson’s science should be very helpful for determining how far the ball is going to fly in ever-changing conditions.
- Scott Stallings. Scott finished third last week at Pebble in soft, muddy conditions. He’s been a streaky player during his career and the weather forecast this week is calling for the same conditions as last week… so I’d look for him to play well again.