Greetings golfers! It’s a new year, and that means a fresh PGA Tour season! We all know how rough the last year has been with COVID-19, but 2021 is bound to be better for sure. A lot has happened on the tour since our last blog post. Tiger Woods underwent yet another back surgery, Bryson DeChambeau won his first major, (The U.S. Open) and Dustin Johnson won his second major, (The Masters). It was fascinating to see how differently Augusta National and Winged foot played in Fall, and both delivered the great play and thrills we expect from a major championship.
Six events have been played so far this season, and we saw quite a few great finishes. Brooks Koepka’s come from behind victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open was particularly notable after a lengthy struggle to regain his form after the injury, and certainly signals his return as a force to be reckoned with as the tour season moves forward.
AT&T Pebble Beach Wrap-Up
Last week concluded the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Although COVID prevented us from enjoying the amateur portion of the tournament, we were treated to some blistering golf by Daniel Berger, who fired a final round 65 to finish two shots ahead of runner up Maverick McNealy. This was Berger’s fourth win on Tour, and the quality shots he delivered under pressure down the stretch, on a track like Pebble Beach, will certainly elevate his confidence as he pursues his first major championship. A suddenly revitalized Jordan Spieth led the tournament for most of the week, but he faltered on Sunday with a bogey on the Par 5 14th hole. Although he fought back with birdies on 17 and 18, it wasn’t enough to catch Berger and he finished tied for 3rd. The strong showing at Pebble after a solid top 5 finish the previous week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open may be an indicator that Spieth is back, and this may be the most exciting PGA Tour season in a long time.
The Genesis Invitational
This week is the Genesis Invitational played at iconic Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. The Genesis is one of the longest running stops on the PGA Tour, originally called The Los Angeles Open. Over the years the tournament has been played at a number of different venues, including the El Caballero Country Club, Wilshire Country Club, Hillcrest Country Club and Griffith Park Municipal Golf Course. Riviera was one of the first courses to host the LA Open all the way back in 1929, and became the permanent host from 1973 onward with the exception of two years when the course was hosting the PGA Championship. Tiger Woods made his debut as an Amateur at the LA Open in 1992. The biggest names in golf have won here, including Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Fred Couples, each of whom winning the tournament multiple times. In 2019, Tiger Woods added his lofty persona as the Tournament host.
The strongest field of the year tees it up this week at Riviera, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Colin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson. Tyler Strafaci, the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion, will also be in the field, and it’s always great to watch youngsters with a lot of game tee it up with the pros. Notably absent from the field is the tournament’s host Tiger Woods, who is still recuperating from his back surgery in December.
The Riviera Country Club
The Riviera Country Club, founded in 1926, was originally designed by famed architects George Thomas and William P. Bell. Through the years the course has been updated by highly regarded architects including Ted Robinson, Sr., Bill Coore, and Ben Crenshaw. Most recently Tom Fazio, one of the architectural giants of last fifty years, brought his talents to maintaining Riviera as a stiff test of golf in the modern era of power golf. In addition to hosting the Genesis Invitational, Riviera has been the venue for a number of major championships, including the 1948 U.S. Open, both the 1983 and 1995 PGA Championships, and the 1998 U.S. Senior Open. Riviera is also slated to host the 2028 Olympics, which should be a joy to watch.
We should be in for a great weekend of golf—make sure you don’t miss it.