Just like that, we've arrived at the conclusion of another West Coast Swing. And where better to call it a wrap than in Los Angeles.
As it often has since its first spin as host of the Genesis Open 90 years ago, Riviera Country Club – a famous walk officially in Pacific Palisades, California, so it's close to the Walk of Fame – serves as the backdrop. The par 71 tipping at 7,322 yards is known as Hogan's Alley and site of one of the best par 4s on the planet – the 315-yard 10th hole. With additional uncommon components such as the elevated tee box hard against the clubhouse on the par-5 first hole and the bunker in the middle of the par-3 sixth, the imagery is among the finest on display.
Amid the beauty and classic design is a stern challenge for all of the senses. Scroll beneath the ranking for more on what attributes define the champion, what this week's field of 144 can expect and more
Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Marc Leishman, Adam Hadwin and Sergio Garcia will be among the notables covered in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
If it wasn't so doggone relevant, it'd be trite to cite that experience matters at Riviera. Bubba Watson is defending for the third time, so that's a shortcut narrative in describing the value of knowing how to navigate the property, but he appeared seven times before his first title in 2014. James Hahn, who won in his third start in 2015, is the only winner of the last 13 editions who needed fewer than five starts before lifting the trophy.
No doubt the construct of the field, replete with winners and PGA TOUR members of considerable regard, yields a leaderboard worth its weight in FedExCup points. Riviera does the rest.
Golf, when played as it's meant to be played, is a contest in taking the fewest strokes, not making the most birdies and better. This is revealed on a proper track, especially. So, identifying winners at Riviera isn't as much of a quest in understanding what they did well as it is an understanding of how each didn't fail.
In near-perfect conditions last year, Riviera hit bull's-eyes across the spectrum. As it should. Watson prevailed by two at 12-under 272, the field averaged 71.759 and the greens were the most difficult to find in regulation (53.49 percent or 9.6 per round) of any course on TOUR since it recorded the stingiest split in 2015 (51.38 percent). The weather won't cooperate early this week as rain likely will fall during the first round. Its threat will persist into the weekend and daytime highs may not reach 60 degrees. Prevailing winds from a westerly direction also figure to be sustained at 10-15 mph throughout.
Watson's formula for success last year transcends the weather, however. He finished second in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, T7 in greens hit, ninth in proximity, 21st in Strokes Gained: Putting and T5 in bogey avoidance. It's evidence of why it's imperative to avoid inch-a-and-half kikuyu rough and how to read the undulations on bentgrass-Poa greens that are prepped to run 12-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: 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.