If you're going to anchor the West Coast Swing, you better live up to the billing. Suffice it to say that Riviera Country Club represents the gold standard.
The historic track in Pacific Palisades, California, has hosted the majority of the 92 editions of the Genesis Open, including all but two since 1973, but it didn't serve as the site for the U.S. Amateur until 2017. Given Doc Redman's eagle-birdie burst on the 17th and 18th holes to force sudden death against Doug Ghim, and Redman's birdie-3 at the famous 10th hole for the epic win, it's fair to wonder what took so long. Riviera hosted an instant classic.
If Tiger Woods prevails at Riviera - this week or, well, ever - he could wonder the same thing. Winless in 11 appearances, he's poised to compete for the first time since 2006.
Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include AT&T Pebble Beach champ Ted Potter, Jr., Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Martin Kaymer among numerous notables.
Dissimilar to how most courses can be vulnerable when rain softens fairways and greens, Riviera is as true as it gets no matter the conditions. Last year's event was hit hard by precipitation and numerous delays, and multi-year highs were established in fairways hit, scrambling and conversion percentage inside 10 feet, yet the field averaged 71.012 on the par 35-36=71. As always, proper credit belongs with the grounds crew and tournament officials for the fair and consistent setup as a gentle touch is required with a masterpiece.
No alternative preparation is necessary this week, however, as nothing but sunshine will cover every stroke of the 144 golfers in the field. Daytime highs will range from the mid-60s to the low 70s. Moderate winds can't be ruled out on Friday, but it's nothing the experienced haven't tackled before.
Since Adam Scott's unofficial victory in the weather-shortened, 36-hole contest in 2005, all but one champion required at least five appearances before the coronation. (James Hahn captured the title in his third start in 2015).
The objective is exactly what the competitors think it is. Despite tight landing areas off tees, finding the shortest grass isn't a prerequisite for success. Of course it never hurts, but Riviera is a second-shot test most of all. Paying off those chances and salvaging pars ranks a close second, but precision on approach is pivotal to alleviate the pressure of putting and getting up and down on greens that will have no problem touching 12-and-a-feet on the Stimpmeter. The kikuyu rough will be restricted to the standard inch and a half.
Riviera measures 7,322 yards for the third consecutive year, but a handful of modifications occurred since Dustin Johnson's trophy presentation in 2017. Among them, trees were removed in the sightlines on the tees on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes, while course managers will appreciate the new areas to miss right of the green on the par-4 second and left of the green on the par-4 eighth.
ROB BOLTON'S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week's event. Look for the following columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider, Facebook Live
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM's Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.