That’s right, fantasy gamers love L.A.!
Oh, and there is going be nasty weather Thursday so pay attention!
The Riviera Country Club
Pacific Palisades, California
Riviera Cheat Sheet
|Yards (per official scorecard):||7,332|
|Greens:||Poa annua/Creeping Bent|
|Rough:||Kikuyugrass at 1.5″|
|Architect(s):||George C. Thomas & William P. Bell (1926); Tom Fazio (2008).|
|Purse:||$7.4 million; $1.332 million, 500 FedExCup points (winner).|
|Defending Champion:||Bubba Watson, -12.|
|Notes II:||Only Lloyd Mangrum and MacDonald Smith (four) have more wins here than Bubba Watson.|
Previous Winners (since 2012):
|2018||Bubba Watson||-12||65-69 weekend secured third title in five years.|
|2017||Dustin Johnson||-17||Had a chance at Lanny Wadkins’ tournament record (-20) before two late bogeys. Won by five.|
|2016||Bubba Watson||-15||Held 54-hole lead as he held off Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott by a shot.|
|2015||James Hahn||-6||Tied the highest winning score since 1996; beat Paul Casey and DJ in a playoff.|
|2014||Bubba Watson||-15||Closed 64-64. Wut.|
|2013||John Merrick||-11||First LA native to win.|
|2012||Bill Haas||-7||Defeated Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in a playoff.|
Recent History Lessons
|Safeway Open||Kevin Tway**|
|CIMB Classic||Marc Leishman|
|CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES||Brooks Koepka|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||Cameron Champ**|
|WGC-HSBC Champions||Xander Schauffele|
|Shriners Hospitals for Children||Bryson DeChambeau|
|Mayakoba Golf Classic||Matt Kuchar|
|The RSM Classic||Charles Howell III|
|Hero World Challenge*||Jon Rahm|
|Sentry TOC||Xander Schauffele (2)|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||Matt Kuchar (2)|
|60th Desert Classic||Adam Long**|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Justin Rose|
|Waste Management||Rickie Fowler|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||Phil Mickelson|
(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)
Facts and Figures:
Riviera has been the host since 1973 and has only missed 1983 and 1998 because it was hosting majors.
|Tournament Record:||264 (-20); Lanny Wadkins, 1985.|
|Course Records:||Ted Tryba, 1991.|
|Recent Defending Champion(s):||Mickelson, 2008-09.|
|Multiple Winners (entered)||Watson (three times), Mickelson (twice) and Fred Couples (twice).|
|First TOUR Win (last decade):||James Hahn (2015); John Merrick (2013)|
|First-time in the field:||Adam Scott (2005; unofficial, rain-shortened 36 holes).|
|Low Round 2018:||64; Dustin Johnson bogey-free Round 3.|
|Odd Fact:||There have been exactly zero rookie winners.|
The Confidence Factor was the weekly column I wrote for PGATOUR.COM. It has evolved into Horses for Courses. I’ve included the link here for you. It can also be found in The Confidence Factor section at my website. For now. Until I make a new category. Relax.
Inside the ropes
The Riviera Country Club is a fantastic layout that has stood the test of time. Not too many routing or complex changes have been necessary over the years so course form is a massive advantage this week.
The easy Par-5 holes are buoyed by difficult Par-3 holes while the narrow fairways, multiple doglegs (both directions) and kikuyu grass provide the defense. Grinding ball-strikers with previous experience on this track tend to shine.
Veterans do well here because they know when to take their medicine and understand par is a solid score on almost every non Par-5 hole. Bogeys will happen but minimizing crooked numbers will help keep the pressure off.
Premium ball-strikers should flourish as should those with exquisite short games. Poa annua/Bent specialists will be able to keep up as two-putt pars won’t hurt one bit this week.
Rain on Thursday gives way to breezy and cool for the rest of the weekend but at least there won’t be amateurs clogging up play!
Trend or Not a Trend?
Stats from winners:
|Bubba Watson||Dustin Johnson||Bubba Watson||James Hahn|
|Distance of All Drives||19||1||5||28|
|Greens in Regulation||T7||1||T7||T28|
|Proximity to the Hole||9th||10||6||15|
|Putting: Birdie-or-Better %||11th||T13||13||41|
|Bubba Watson||7/12||3||7||Win (2018)||Win (2016, 2014)|
|Dustin Johnson||9/11||7||8||Win (2017)||4 (2016), T2 (2015), 2 (2014)|
|Kevin Na||9/15||4||5||T2 (2018)||T4 (2017), 3 (2011), T10 (2010)|
|Tony Finau||2/4||1||1||T2 (2018)||T56|
|Scott Stallings||3/4||1||1||T4 (2018)|
|Patrick Cantlay||1/3||1||1||T4 (2018)|
|Phil Mickelson||13/17||5||8||T6 (2018)||Win (2008-09) 2 (2007), T2 (2012)|
|Adam Hadwin||4/4||1||3||T6 (2018)||T34 or better in all four|
|Cameron Smith||3/3||1||1||T6 (2018)||T28 after T63|
|Ryan Moore||9/12||3||5||T9 (2018)||10 (2016), T4 (2011)|
|Jordan Spieth||4/6||2||4||T9 (2018)||T4 (2012)|
|Martin Laird||6/9||2||4||T9 (2018)||T8 (2017)|
|Justin Thomas||4/4||1||1||T9 (2018)||improves annually here|
|Xander Schauffele||1/1||1||1||T9 (2018)||incredibly quick study|
|Scott Brown||3/5||1||1||T2 (2017)||T39|
|Charley Hoffman||10/12||1||2||T4 (2017)||T12 (2014)|
|Ollie Schniederjans||1/2||1||1||T8 (2017)||MC LY|
|Jason Kokrak||6/7||1||3||T2 (2016)||T22 and T20 followed T2|
|Adam Scott||9/10||4||7||T2 (2016)||Win (2005), 2 (2006), T10 (2013)|
|Marc Leishman||5/9||1||3||T5 (2016)||T15, MC, T17 first three|
|K.J. Choi||17/18||5||9||T5 (2016)||T3 (2009)|
|Chez Reavie||3/8||1||1||7 (2016)||Nothing inside T70|
|Matt Kuchar||11/12||1||5||T8 (2016)||T26 last year T22 ’17|
|Sung Kang||4/4||1||3||T8 (2016)||T22 and T16 the last two|
|James Hahn||5/6||1||2||Win (2015)||Top 30 in three others|
|Paul Casey||6/7||1||3||T2 (2015)||T49, T39, T39 last three|
|Keegan Bradley||5/8||2||4||T4 (2015)||T2 (2012)|
|Sergio Garcia||9/11||3||7||T4 (2015)||T4 (2012), 6 (2007)|
|Hideki Matsuyama||3/4||1||3||T4 (2015)||T11, T23|
|Sangmoon Bae||4/4||2||3||T8 (2015)||T8 (2013)|
|Brian Harman||3/5||1||1||T3 (2014)|
|Charl Schwartzel||5/6||2||2||5 (2014)||T3 (2013)|
|Brendan Steele||7/8||1||2||T10 (2014)||T14 (2015)|
|Harris English||4/6||1||1||T10 (2014)|
|Bill Haas||8/12||2||6||T3 (2013)||Win (2012)|
|Ted Potter, Jr.||1/4||1||0||T10 (2013)||no rounds par or better|
|Jimmy Walker||9/12||2||5||T4 (2012)||T4 (2011)|
|J.B. Holmes||11/12||4||7||T8 (2012)||T3 (2010)|
|Fred Couples||28/34||14||20||T7 (2011)||Two wins, three seconds, one third|
|Ernie Els||10/14||3||5||T10 (2010)||Win (1999), T3 (2007)|
|Alex Prugh||2/3||1||1||T10 (2010)||T30 (2015)|
|Charles Howell III||13/17||3||4||Win (2007)||2 (2003)|
|Jim Furyk||17/21||2||8||T3 (2007)||T11 (2012)|
|Tiger Woods||9/12||4||8||T7 (2004)||2 (1997), T2 (1998)|
Dustin Johnson: In my head I see this as a “mini-U.S. Open STYLE” course so I’m hardly surprised at DJ’s record here. I’m not the least bit concerned this week about last week. Shit happens but not very often to DJ in back-to-back weeks. “Home” game with the Gretzky’s doesn’t hurt either!
Bubba Watson: The three-time champ has never cashed worse than T17 in seven paydays. I’m not sure there is a safer play on the board if the weather doesn’t bother him.
Justin Thomas: Every week. In here. He had a front-row seat to see his buddy Fowler win the WMPO in his last start. Love the full bag and the ability to play every style of course.
Phil Mickelson: #HeatCheck. I wouldn’t be surprised with back-to-back wins or another MC. It’s what you sign up for and it’s not changing in year 48. I always enjoy his back-up plan (short game) if the big stick isn’t firing.
Paul Casey: Everyone get their Honma sticks yet? Flushed it all week at Pebble and I’d expect that to continue this week. The Riviera-Innisbrook comparison I can see and he’ll defend his crown there next month.
Rory McIlroy: In six rounds of eight he’s 15-under. The other two, he’s six over. Just make a few putts, not all of them.
Bryson DeChambeau: Dude, give it up. Every week he’s in the mix. Every. Single. Week. Nothing worse than T19 since his last MC (PGA Championship).
Xander Schauffele: With two wins already, this SoCal baller should have no problems on Poa/Bent or with a big field. He’s proven to be a quick learner and his T9 (all four rounds par or better) on debut last year reinforces that belief.
Patrick Cantlay: Another SoCal native who played up the street at UCLA led after 18 and 36 holes last year before cashing T4. He rattled off four consecutive top-10 paydays before crashing out early at WMPO.
Cameron Smith: The intersection of current form and course form makes him even more appealing this week. I’ll point out he played 41 straight holes last year without a bogey before signing for T6. It’s still summer for him and his Aussie mates.
Tiger Woods: New gamers will be surprised to learn that this is one of the few places he’s teed it up more than 10 times and never won. His best finish in the event was NOT at Riviera either. History with Woods is not of my concern anymore. I’m more interested in the course/player matchup. Pars are good this week and nobody grinds any better.
Tony Finau: Psst, he’s NEVER played well at TPC Scottsdale. He knows which corners and doglegs he can cut to shorten the course as he proved last year (T2). He’ll also get to swing driver a few more times this week and he won’t mind that.
Jon Rahm: It’s now six straight in the top 10 worldwide. Riviera isn’t for everyone in their first visit but Rahm has more than proven he doesn’t belong in that category. The more demanding the course, the more interested I become in Rahm.
Adam Scott: Nobody is more frustrating in fantasy land for my money but I try and not remember that when evaluating him. If the recipe is tee-to-green, I’m leaning on guys who excel in that department and cashing in nine of 10 starts here doesn’t hurt either.
Hideki Matsuyama: I’m looking to catch him up the up as his T3 and T15 in his last two suggest he’s getting back to normal. Of 14 rounds 10 are in red figures so I’m hoping he continues to chop wood.
Louis Oosthuizen: Nobody is hotter (third, WIN, T7 and T4) but I’ll point out he’s brought his wheelbarrow to those tracks before. First trip to Riviera since 2014 will test the heat.
Sung Kang: If you don’t care for him because he allegedly broke the drop rules last summer, good for you. He’s cashed T20 or better in three of four starts this year and is 20-under the last three years at Riviera.
Adam Hadwin: Another who has won at Innisbrook, the Canadian awfully steady throughout the bag. He’s never MC in four tries and he’s 20-under with three 66’s on those weekends.
Matt Kuchar: I’d be more encouraged with firm and fast but I can’t deny he’s playing great.
Scott Stallings: Last time he went back-to-back in the top 10 was Pebble Beach and Riviera last year. He was solo third last week.
Tommy Fleetwood: It should be natural that his T45 last week scares people off this week. When they zig, I’ll gladly zag. He didn’t forget how to play in a week.
Jason Kokrak: Big boy gives it a knock and has gone close here before. He’s rattled off 12 straight on TOUR.
Keegan Bradley: 15 straight on TOUR.
Si Woo Kim: I give up.
Michael Thompson: Hot fall has turned into hot winter. Choo choo!
Chris Stroud: He’s only made two cuts from 10 tries but he enters on back-to-back top-10 paydays. He’s not a kid anymore and that should help.
Coming in HAWT
Long Shots, Course Horses, Wings, Prayers
Chez Reavie: You can probably flip him with any of the guys above. Dire record here besides solo seventh in 2016 but playing really well.
Rafa Cabrera Bello: 13 straight on TOUR. Classy player.
Martin Laird: No recent form on courses he’s annually played well scares me with his recent results in the last three here.
J.T. Poston: Hush. All y’all. Be quiet.
Brendan Steele: SoCal native has racked out seven straight here.
Luke List: Profile fitter enters with no recent reason for suggestion. Congrats on your win, Luke.
Sam Saunders: 67 to open last year. 64 the year before.
Bud Cauley: Duh.
Brandon Harkins: West coast dude T26 WMPO and T28 last week.
Sangmoon Bae: New gamers might forget he was ballin’ out before army duty. He’s never missed here and OH LOOKY LOOKY he’s won at Innisbrook.
Talor Gooch: Monster tee-to-green. T20 as a rookie last year.
J.B. Holmes: See: Laird, Martin.
Ryan Moore: Dire 2019 but enough pedigree and course history that he should be a flier on any deep roster.
Jhonattan Vegas: 66 and 67. 77 and 81.
Keith Mitchell: There were plenty of guys who played here in the 2012 NCAA championship. He was T9 and makes his debut this week.
Jordan Spieth: What was more impressive last week? Getting it to 11-under and stalking the lead Saturday or cashing T45?
Marc Leishman: Bizarre record here with more bad ones than good ones.
Kevin Na: Top four in the last two years both without a previously broken pinky.
Charles Howell III: His win in 2007 is his last top 10 and he plays here annually. He has one top 25-payday in that stretch.
Sergio Garcia: Apologizing on social media is hardly facing the music. The band should be tuning up as we speak.
Charl Schwartzel: He’s MC in four straight worldwide. He MC once in 2016 and four times in 2017. His first two trips here were top five paydays.