Four Ways Tiger Can Make His “Invitational” Special

While most fans will not feel much impact from the Genesis Open’s new “invitational status”, Tiger Woods has an opportunity to leave a special legacy with a few moves.

He can use the example set by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer with their events, put his own twist on the Genesis, and give fans reason to believe last week’s announcement will have a profound impact on this historic PGA Tour stop.

 

Maintain The Open Status 

Last week when the new “invitational format was announced, I was a bit surprised to watch PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan unable to answer a straightforward question about whether the 94-year-old Los Anglees “Open” would retain components of its original status in the form of Monday qualifying, a spot given to the local PGA section and an amateur spot of some kind. After the new invitational format was announced, I heard from many Angelenos wondering if it meant the end of Monday qualifying. The answer we got: TBD.  And the name? Genesis Open is out, to be replaced by something clunky like Genesis Invitational, Genesis Classic or The Genesis.

The narrative for Tiger is a simple one if he agrees to maintain elements of this tournament’s past: “I love Jack and Arnold’s events but this has always been an ‘open’ event, and as long as I can remember I dreamed of qualifying before I got an invitation in 1992 to play that was vital to my career. So even as we go from 144 to 120 players, my foundation will use sponsors invitations to maintain the open nature of this tournament: two Monday qualifying spots, an exemption to the Collegiate Showcase winner, an exemption to the local PGA of America sectional qualifier, and of course, the Charlie Sifford Exemption. Those five spots will maintain ties to this tournament’s past while also not prevent any worthy players from participating. Tiger would be a hero to golf geeks in SoCal and even PGA Tour pros would have to tip their cap at him maintaining the tournament spirit and name.”

 

Hooray For Hollywood 

Tiger has the ability to attract star power like no one else in golf. Since the LA Open’s early days, stars have either been part of the week as spectators or the pro-am. This connection is an essential to distinguishing the Genesis Open going forward for marketing and atmospheric purposes.

The new Celebrity Cup brought out A-listers from screen and sport, while the Wednesday pro-am played in lousy weather brought out fascinating names from sports, business and Hollywood. From a word-of-mouth point of view, the sight of big names early in the week helps attract local television and national media attention. From a fan point of view, seeing major names whapping it around Riviera gives the stop something no other tournament will enjoy.

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Create The Western Hollywood Bowl 

If you’ve ever been at Riviera’s 18th green when a large crowd has assembled, you know there is nothing remotely close in golf. A few thousand people can fit in a very small, shockingly vertical space and the atmosphere is electric. But there is also a tradition at the 18th green dating to the tournament’s early days as a popular place to sit and watch the players come to you. Some of that tradition was built on Scotty Chisholm’s back. For decades, the tournament co-founder would announce every group and their score as they came to the 18th in his trademark kilt. He even performed a modified version in Follow The Sun (1:25 in). I say bring back an 18th green announcer—Chris Harrison and Carson Daly are Tiger/Riviera friends—and get a modern video board situated so that fans can follow the action—there was just a small PGA Tour stock board in the trees 100 yards short of the green.

The focus has clearly been on elaborate corporate structures that do look sensational, but the focus going forward should be on making the 18th green at Riviera one of golf’s most important places to be all week, but especially on Sunday. An announcer, a video board and some promotion as the February edition of the “Bowl” will work wonders for attracting even more fans.  

 Go to the 1:25 mark to see Scotty Chisholm in Follow The Sun:

Win No. 83 At Riviera

With two wins in 2019 and Tiger can return to Riviera next year looking to break Sam Snead’s record at a course where the all-time PGA Tour leader in victories won twice. It would also mean Tiger breaks the record at his event.

The script writes itself!

Hooray for Hollywood!

Chicken Legs Of The World Rejoice! PGA Tour Unveils New Shorts Policy

Prioritizing player comfort, convenience and entitlement or maintaining a sense of gravitas, the PGA Tour will now allow players to wear shorts in practice rounds and pro-ams.

Given that most of the players who’ve worn shorts have been lacking in the tanning and muscle department, I say let ‘em get their Vitamin D.

But if I were Commissioner, I’d point out that athletes in other sports are dressing better and rising up the Forbes list while golfers are dressing down and moving down the list of top-paid endorsers.

The timing is also strange given that golf pant fashion has never been better in terms of fit, quality and look, with the performance pants worn by golfers appealing to non-golfers and giving off an athletic vibe.

But hey, these big macho athletes want to be comfortable no matter how it looks. Tiger once famously embraced the policy even though he acknowledged it’s not his strongest physical attribute.

"A lot of the tournaments are based right around the equator so we play in some of the hottest places on the planet," he said. "It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

He resurfaces in Mexico City this week where daily highs in the 70s and 80s are forecast.

BTW, do you think the tournament everyone wants to be like, everyone wants to go to and every player would donate a limb to win, will adopt this policy?

Of course not.

Is A Player Entitled To Wait Out Wind As Long As He Wants?

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Of course not!

J.B. Holmes epitomizes the same weird entitlement Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia exhibited in recent weeks after years of the PGA Tour coddling players.

And while his reading green books, not playing ready golf and in general taking his sweet time amounts to offensive behavior, couple that with the suggestion of a right to wait out gusts, and you are dealing with a mindset only remedied by penalty strokes.

From his post 2019 Genesis Open victory press conference:

So I was never even close to being on the clock all week.  I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I've sped up quite a bit.  Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too.  Sometimes you're waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour.  Like I said, I've gotten better.  There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody ‑‑ never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.

The irony of the PGA Tour fearing the negative press from penalties? Situations like this, which have overwhelmed the “day after” chatter at the Genesis Open and overshadowed a great leaderboard, a win, a famous tournament host, amazing work by all to get the tournament in and the sponsor.

It is, after all, a player organization!

Just One Player Laid Up At Riviera's 10th Hole Sunday, Zero Yesterday

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Longtime readers know I’ve tracked the gradual shift of the ShotLink scatter chart at Riviera’s 10th toward the greensite.

The great risk-reward short par-4 is now officially a one-shot hole given that only one player appeared to intentionally lay up Sunday and only 40 over four days of Genesis Open play at Riviera. The rest—400 attempts—”went for the green”.

That, my friends, is a par-4 in name only.

The round 4 scatter chart:

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When the hole played shorter Saturday, no one laid up.

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And over four days, almost no one is even bothering to try to use the lay-up options once so revered before, you know, kale, high-fiber diets and agronomy conspired to shorten the hole.

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Live Under Par's Architect Departs As PGA Tour CMO, No Word Yet On If He'll Take That Awful Slogan With Him

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The Forecaddie reports on the departure of PGA Tour Chief Marketing Officer Joe Arcuri, architect of the hellacious “Live Under Par” slogan that turns one next month.

It seems Matt Kuchar is still not clear on the difference between the slogan and the tour’s streaming television product. Which about says all you need to know on many fronts.

JB Wins Genesis, Pushes Back On Slow Play: "You play in 25 mph gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for."

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JB Holmes overcame a four-stroke deficit to fellow Kentuckian Justin Thomas in winning the Genesis Open.

My Golfweek game story on a weird day to wrap a weird week.

Obviously Holmes is no fan favorite after last year’s debacle at Torrey Pines but today’s conditions certainly were difficult. That said, as the video embedded below shows, there is a lack of urgency and ready golf issue, as well as a green reading book in this example.

But first, his comments after a final round 70 at Riviera:

Q.  The conditions made things really tough, but there was a lot of discussion on the broadcast and social media about the pace of play today.  What were your thoughts about the pace and is that something you were thinking about or working on?

J.B. HOLMES:  Well, you play in 25 mile an hour gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for.  The greens are fast, the ball  Adam had a putt, he kept setting the ball down and it was rolling.  

You can't just get up there and whack it when it's blowing that hard.  You've got to read wind and there's a lot of slope on these greens.  It's not an easy golf course and you throw in winds like that.  On 13 or 14, the par 3, I hit a 5iron and it stays pretty good.  He hits a 5iron really good and a gust of wind comes up and he comes up like 15 yards short, and I think he hit it better than I hit mine.  It's very tough.  Then when you get putting like that, it's just not going to be fast anywhere. 


And…

Q.  Adam Scott said just before that we know J.B.'s a slow player and there was some discussion on the broadcast.  Do you think that's a fair assessment?

J.B. HOLMES:  I've been slow in the past.  I don't think as slow as  I mean, I'm not the fastest player, but I mean, like I said, it was really windy today and we waited a lot early.  At the end, I took a little bit longer at the end, but you're talking about getting down to the tournament, you're talking about the last nine holes of the tournament.  I mean, I think  correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a lot of times the last group of the tournament gets a little bit behind.

So I was never even close to being on the clock all week.  I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I've sped up quite a bit.  Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too.  Sometimes you're waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour.  Like I said, I've gotten better.  There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody  never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.

Earlier today on the fourth hole:

"Lucy Li, Tony Romo Situations Are Another Blow To Amateur Golf"

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The USGA letting off Lucy Li for a blatant amateur status violation was not a huge surprise, but juxtaposed with Tony Romo’s Skechers golf shoe ad campaign running during golf telecasts, and the overall commercialization is expediting the de-legitimization of amateur golf and the organizations charged with enforcing the rules.

Even worse, there is a growing sense of the rulemakers playing favorites. My Golfweek column.

USGA Allows Lucy Li To Retain Her Amateur Status...

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The star of an Apple ad and Nike ambassador Lucy Li has been issued a “one-time warning” for a blatant violation of amateur status rules.

In covering this for Golfweek, Beth Ann Nichols includes this from Thomas Pagel:

“Since that time, the USGA has had several discussions with both Apple and the Li family and has confirmed that Ms. Li has neither received, nor will receive, any monetary or non-monetary (e.g., products) compensation for her appearance in the advertisement.”

The USGA said it took into consideration that Li is a minor and that this was her first breach of the rules.

For Immediate Release…

USGA Statement Regarding Amateur Status of 
Highly Ranked Golfer Lucy Li

February 14, 2019

The USGA Amateur Status Committee has ruled that amateur golfer Lucy Li breached Rule 6-2 of the Rules of Amateur Status by participating in an Apple Watch “Close Your Rings” advertisement campaign.  Following that determination, the Committee carefully reviewed the facts and circumstances surrounding the breach in order to determine the appropriate penalty for Ms. Li. 

As a result of that effort, the USGA has issued Ms. Li a one-time warning. She will retain her Amateur Status.

Late last year, Ms. Li was engaged by a casting agent for an acting assignment to promote the Apple Watch. At that time, the nature of her participation was not defined and she was given no indication that she would appear as a golfer. While on this assignment, Ms. Li was filmed engaging in a variety of recreational activities, one of which was golf. The casting agent informed her that her appearance in any final advertisement was not guaranteed, nor did they know how she would be featured.

Ms. Li first became aware of the final content of the advertisement, which featured her as a golfer, on Jan. 2. She was notified by the USGA of a pending review into her Amateur Status on Jan. 3. At that time, Apple immediately took down the advertisement in all its forms. On Jan. 11, USGA notified Ms. Li  she had breached the Rules of Amateur Status.

Since that time, the USGA has had several discussions with both Apple and the Li family and has confirmed that Ms. Li has neither received, nor will receive in the future, any monetary or non-monetary (e.g., products) compensation for her appearance in the advertisement. Ms. Li has affirmed to the USGA that at the time she agreed to participate in the advertisement she did not know she was breaching the Rules of Amateur Status, and at no time did she intend to forfeit her Amateur Status.

In determining the level of penalty, the Committee considered all these facts and circumstances, including a recognition that Ms. Li is a minor and that this was her first breach of the rules. This ruling is consistent with the Committee’s general practice of issuing a warning to amateurs who unknowingly breach Rule 6-2 for the first time and take appropriate remedial measures.  The USGA has communicated this ruling to Ms. Li and this matter is now closed.

We encourage amateur golfers who are unsure about taking a proposed action to engage with their governing body early in the process, in an effort to protect their Amateur Status.

Video: Phil's Epic Four That Will Vanish From The Record Books After Early Round 1 Genesis Scores Nullified

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With round 1 suspended and early scores nullified due to the rules staff deciding the poor visibility. Mark Russell’s comments on this rare nullification of scores:

Q. Finally, you nullified the scores that were posted for the few players that were out earlier this morning, first time in more than five years since it's happened on the PGA TOUR. What was the decision for that? 

MARK RUSSELL: We don't do that very often, but if I had it to do over again, we would have delayed the starting times. We tee off at sunrise. We have to because here a lot of times we don't finish, we have to use all the available daylight we have. We teed off at sunrise and I was on the first tee with the players and it was very marginal, thinking in my mind this is going to get better every minute. They teed off, we had their balls under control, but the visual never got better. The cloud cover's so thick that you just couldn't see. 

So once we did suspend play, the committee got together and just decided that we need to nullify these scores because the visual, it never got where you could see where your ball went, barely see the flagstick. And like I say, under normal circumstances it would get better every minute. It never did. As a matter of fact, it got worse, so we decided to nullify the scores. That's not a common thing, but the committee does have the discretion to do that. We felt in this situation that's the thing to do. 

In his one hole that has now been nullified, Phil Mickelson did make this spectacular four:

Kuchar Digs In: It's A Social Media Issue, Won't Lose Sleep And Even Throws Steiny Under The Bus For Trying To Mop Up His Mess!

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Matt Kuchar spoke to GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray Wednesday at the Genesis Open and FedExCup leader, all-time leading money winner without a major who won last fall’s Mayakoaba event after a four-year winless drought with his “lucky charm” local caddie, is digging in.

Mooooooooooch!

Kuchar confirmed he paid “El Tucan” $5000 and the Golf.com report that his agent has since offered an additional $15,000 refused by Ortiz. And he’s not happy about that either. But more on that momentarily.

The graciousness ended fairly quicklky in the chat with Gray.

“I kind of feel like unfortunately some other people have got it in his head that he’s deserving something different than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said.

He’s certainly correct that he paid $1000 more than they agreed upon, but given that it was Kuchar’s first win in __ years and that a winner’s bonus usually comes with the PGA Tour territory, he’s been blasted for not paying more.

“I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”

Good to see he learns from his mistakes!. And that he has shrewd sounding boards all around!

This may be the fatal quote…

“It’s done. Listen, I feel like I was fair and good,” he said. “You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not going to buy people’s ability to be OK with you, and this seems to be a social media issue more than anything. I think it shouldn’t be, knowing that there was a complete, agreed-upon deal that not only did I meet but exceeded.

“So I certainly don’t lose sleep over this. This is something that I’m quite happy with, and I was really happy for him to have a great week and make a good sum of money. Making $5,000 is a great week."

Glad he’s not losing sleep. But in digging in, he’s certainly losing fans and at some point, endorsement income built on a “good guy” image.

Another interview with Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger comes off even worse, suggesting “someone got in his ear”, referring to El Tucan, and says the attempt to make a payment was the idea of his agent. But he didn’t exactly approve of the idea.

Kuchar seemed slightly embarrassed that the additional sum had been offered, as he felt his financial obligation to Ortiz was complete. Asked how it came to be that the additional sum was offered, Kuchar said, “That was the agency.” He was referring to Excel Sports Management, which represents him. Kuchar’s agent there is Mark Steinberg, who also represents Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

And in case those legendary cheapskate cred wasn’t strong enough…

Kuchar smiled and said, “It’s not coming out of Steinberg’s pocket.” In other words, Kuchar would be paying. He said the additional proffered payment was Steinberg’s effort at damage control.

Given that when you start typing Matt Kuchar into the Google Machine “Matt Kuchar El Tucan” pops up, the issue will, fairly or not, define his career.

It's Come To This Files: Adam Scott Begs To Take A Slow Play Penalty Just So The PGA Tour Will Finally Start Enforcing Its Rules

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Over the years I’ve seen my share of slow play stories and silly quotes—mostly Tim Finchem’s infamous moratorium on penalizing slow pokes—but this takes the cake.

After the 144-player Genesis Open officially became a 120 player event in part because pace dictates a change, Adam Scott has offered to be the first player (of note) to be penalized in hopes of the PGA Tour finally enforcing its rules.

It’s come to this. And Scott isn’t even slow.

From Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com:

Adam Scott said he recently told the PGA Tour’s chief of tournaments and competitions Andy Pazder that he’d be willing to take a penalty in order to get guys to speed up, the theory being that the tour would show that it was serious about pace of play and enforcing a penalty that is rarely enforced.

“Make me the victim,” the 2013 Masters champion and 13-time PGA Tour winner said. “I’ll take the penalty. The only way it’s going to work is if you enforce it.”

Scott goes on to explain that some of the problems with pace—like spending 20 minutes around walking to back tees—is out of the player’s hands. Some is solely a slow-poke issue. And all of it starts at Tour HQ where, for over 25 years, the idea of tainting a player’s brand with a penalty stroke has been considered sinful.

Phil's Fighting Words: The Players Is Not A Must-Play For Me

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With The Players moving to March, fresh rye grass growing and Phil Mickelson targeting only courses he can win at, his rationale for possibly skipping The Players Championship is sound. Except that in Ponte Vedra, these are fighting (and fining) words!

From Will Gray’s GolfChannel.com item:

“It’s not one I feel like I have to play,” Mickelson said. “It’s not a must-play for me because I’m 48 and I’ve played it 25 times and I’ve already won it. If I were young and early in my career, I would say yes because I think it’s as close to a major as it can get. But it’s not the best course for me.”

That’s a no, he’s passing.

Sergio Says "Emotional, Personal news" Played Role In Petulant Saudi Arabia Showing

We all certainly wish the best for anyone in the sport receiving bad news in the middle of a tournament, though nearly two weeks after a bunker meltdown and on-course vandalism of five-greens, Sergio Garcia tells Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that there was more to his rough week in Saudi Arabia.

From Rex Hoggard’s report on the Golf Central interview:

“I received some very emotional, personal news earlier that week that didn’t help. It was in the back of my mind. As I became frustrated on the course everything erupted,” Garcia told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis on Wednesday ahead of the Genesis Open.

Garcia didn’t go into detail about the personal news but said he spent last week reflecting on his behavior at the European Tour event, where he damaged several greens and was disqualified for what officials deemed “serious misconduct.”

“It was a mix of some emotional and personal things going on and a little frustration with the greens,” said Garcia, who also issued an apology on Tuesday via social media.

The full interview aired on Golf Central and will be posted online.

AP’s Doug Ferguson also talked to Garcia and several of his peers. Garcia admitted he agreed with Brooks Koepka’s recent assessment and also took hits from Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.

This from McIlroy:

"It doesn't matter where you're from. It's not acceptable," McIlroy said. "If you've got stuff bothering you, let the course be your sanctuary. I've had to deal with that in the past."

Genesis Open Moving To Jack And Arnie Status, Field Reduction To 120 Should Liven Up The "Playing Opportunities" Chatter

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ESPN.com’s Bob Harig reports that the Genesis Open hosted by Tiger Woods will move from 144 players to 120 in 2020 and see boosts in both purse and exemption-legngth from winning.

Sources told ESPN that the Genesis Open will receive "elevated status,'' which means it will have a significantly higher purse, offer a three-year PGA Tour exemption to the winner (up from two years) and will have an invitational field that will be reduced to 120 players. This week's tournament at Riviera will have 144 players.

According to sources, an announcement on the new status for the tournament is expected to be made Wednesday, when Woods addresses the media after playing in the tournament pro-am.

I have mixed feelings as anything that elevates such a historic stop is exciting while rewarding the role of Woods and Genesis for making a long term commitment. It’s a wealth of riches for the L.A. stop given Tiger’s involvement, the cachet of Riviera and a prime spot on the calendar for drawing big audiences.

Reducing the field from 144 to 120 is, in part, a statement about the inability of getting a full field around Riviera this time of year. As I noted for Golfweek, a tournament that has gone from 156 to 144 to 120 should open a few eyes to the perils of chasing distance to the point a course cannot defend itself or function. Slow play is often more than just about golfers not making up their mind.

The downside to this news?

The event has been an “Open” competition since 1926 and with that comes a spot for the local PGA section, amateur qualifiers or the successful “Collegiate Showcase” replacement. Throw in four Monday qualifying spots and we know larger fields deliver more storylines, diversity and competitiveness. They also help offset some of the dead weight that turns up too often ( welcome again to LA Vijay, enjoy LAX on a Friday night!).

Sergio: "I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me"

In anticipation of his 2019 PGA Tour debut, Sergio Garcia has posted an apology for his actions in Saudi Arabia, that included a bunker tantrum for the ages and vandalism to the Royal Greens course, leading to disqualification.

Happy to be in my first @pgatour event of the season and have my brother on the bag again this year. I’ve obviously had some time to reflect, and want to again say I’m sorry to my fans and fellow competitors. What happened is not an example I want to set, and it's not who I truly am. I am an emotional player and while I believe that's one of my biggest strengths, it's also one of my biggest flaws. I’m focused on working hard to channel that emotion the correct way and to be the best me, learn from it and move forward. Thanks for all the support.

90 Years Later: How The 10th At Riviera Evolved

The 10th hole as bunkers are added around the green in 1928. The left “lay-up” bunker had also been recently installed. The two foreground bunkers and far right bunker were part of the original design.

The 10th hole as bunkers are added around the green in 1928. The left “lay-up” bunker had also been recently installed. The two foreground bunkers and far right bunker were part of the original design.

A few things to remember about Riviera when it hosted its first Los Angeles Open 90 years ago.

—The course was in the “countryside” and a bit of a gamble as a location so far from the city center downtown.

—Riviera was just a year-and-half old with a reputation for extreme difficulty (“Where do the members play?”-Bobby Jones).

—The course underwent modifications prior to the tournament by George Thomas and Billy Bell despite concerns about the difficulty.

When I wrote The Captain in 1996, a year after The Riviera Country Club : A Definitive History, we only knew from mentions in the tournament program that modifications were made to the 5th and 9th holes (greenside bunkers added). A huge bunker on the 7th fairway could also be seen in aerial photos, as could the most significant of all: new bunkering at the world famous short par-4 10th.

After the books were published, I traveled to Golf House and with the help of USGA researcher Patty Moran, found many wonderful articles including this Country Club Magazine piece below by Scotty Chisholm, co-founder of the L.A. Open and friend to Thomas, Bell and many other luminaries.

In it he details why the bunkers were added by Captain Thomas throughout the course under Billy Bell’s supervision—a right he and Bell retained when taking the commission in 1926.

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The remainder of the story. Also note the “Boles McCrackan’s Bletherings” by Chisholm explains Riviera’s 6th hole design by Thomas and when the hole was a 145-yarder, not as played from the silly back tee since added.

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The explanation of 10th hole changes suggests the original bunkerless green was not challenging enough.

“This hole has been too easy to score on even for the so-called dubs. It measures 320 yards and it is a well known fact that the golf architect of today experiences more difficulty in designing a hole of this length than any other. Although the green lies at almost right angles to the tee and difficult to hold with a pitched shot, Thomas has decided to trap it heavily to the right and cut down the putting surface.”

That decision proved a brilliant one, though as the bunkers have become deeper, the green smaller and more pitched with modern speeds pushing 13, the 10th has teetered on the edge of silliness.

Playing now as a long par-3 due to modern driving distances, some of the lay-up strategy is gone as well and silly bottlebrush bushes are needed to defend the hole from even more tee shots driving near the green without regard for accuracy.

Rain this year may take some of the fire out of the 10th green, and that’s not all bad given how it has teetered on the edge of sanity in recent playings. Regardless, the changes made 90 years ago have held up well and are a credit to the original architect’s willingness to make adjustments. And, contrary to an attempted scam designed to reduce the role of Thomas and Bell, the changes were very much made by the original designers as documented at the time.

In the 1929 L.A. Open program after bunkers were added around the green.

In the 1929 L.A. Open program after bunkers were added around the green.

Genesis Featured Groupings: Tiger Reunited With McIlroy, Thomas While Champ, DJ And Bubba Will Chase Distance

With 7 of the world top 10 and 13 of the top 20 the first significant event of 2019 gets underway Thursday in Los Angeles and we have some extra big-boy groupings!

The PGA Tour has released the 2019 Genesis Open’s featured groups and the same Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy-Justin Thomas threesome from last year was a bit surprising in its lack of originality, the real eye opener is that bomber’s group.

Note: PGA Tour Live has featured group coverage and there is a special demo this Thursday on Golf Channel from 10 am to 2 pm ET before regularly schedule Genesis Open coverage starts at 2.

PGA TOUR releases featured groupings for Genesis Open

Woods seeks first win at Riviera Country Club grouped with Thomas and McIlroy;

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Mickelson playing with Spieth and Schauffele

Pacific Palisades, California -- The PGA TOUR released today the four featured groupings for Thursday-Friday at this week’s Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club.

Starting times and day (Thursday/Friday) for the featured groupings will be announced when the official groupings and starting times for the entire 144-player field are released on Tuesday afternoon at approximately 3 p.m. EST.

To watch the featured groupings on Thursday-Friday, fans in the United States can tune into the Golf Channel telecast (2-6 p.m. EST) and stream PGA TOUR LIVE via subscription on NBC Sports Gold (www.nbcsports.com/pgatour) and Amazon Prime Video Channels (amazon.com/video/pgatourlive).

Featured Groupings

Tiger Woods – Rory McIlroy – Justin Thomas

  • NOTABLE:  Woods (2), McIlroy (1) and Thomas (1) have four FedExCup titles among them.

  • The Genesis Open is the lone PGA TOUR event where Woods has made 10 or more starts without producing a victory.

  • With 80 career PGA TOUR wins, Woods is two shy of Sam Snead’s all-time wins record of 82.

  • McIlroy, the 2016 FedExCup champion, enters the week with top-5 finishes in each of his last two starts on TOUR (T4/Sentry Tournament of Champions, T5/Farmers Insurance Open).

  • The 2017 FedExCup champion, Thomas has three top-5 finishes in six starts in 2018-19. He is making his fifth start at Riviera Country Club and is coming off his best result, a tie for ninth in 2018.

Phil Mickelson – Xander Schauffele – Jordan Spieth

  • NOTABLE: With 124 career PGA TOUR wins between them, Mickelson (44) and Tiger Woods (80) have combined for 24 percent of the 516 career PGA TOUR victories among the 144-player field. Mickelson and Woods each have 14 PGA TOUR wins in the state of California.  

  • Winner of Monday’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Mickelson won his first PGA TOUR event (1991 Northern Telecom Open) more than two years before both Schauffele and Spieth were born in 1993.

  • Schauffele is one of two multiple winners in 2018-19 along with Matt Kuchar, having captured the WGC-HSBC Champions and Sentry Tournament of Champions.

  • Playing with Mickelson for the first time in the final round of the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship, Spieth fired a 62, resulting in a Mickelson phone call to U.S. Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples lobbying (ultimately successfully) for Spieth as a Captain’s Pick for the 2013 Presidents Cup.

Bryson DeChambeau – Matt Kuchar – Jon Rahm

  • NOTABLE:  Kuchar leads the FedExCup standings by eight points over Schauffele.

  • DeChambeau has four wins in his last nine worldwide starts, including two FedExCup Playoffs event last August.

  • FedExCup leader Kuchar ended a four-plus year victory drought with a win at the 2018 Mayakoba Golf Classic and later followed up with a second title at the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii.

  • Rahm, making his first-ever start at the Genesis Open, has four top-10 finishes in five starts in 2018-19.

Cameron Champ – Dustin Johnson – Bubba Watson

  • NOTABLE: Watson and Johnson have combined for four of the last five wins at the Genesis Open.

  • Champ, who leads the TOUR in Driving Distance (318.6 yards) and won the Sanderson Farms Championship in October, played the 2018 Genesis Open as the recipient of the tournament’s Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption.

  • Including his victory in 2017, Johnson has seven top-10s in 11 starts at the Genesis Open.

  • A three-time winner and defending champion of the Genesis Open, Watson looks to join Lloyd Mangrum and MacDonald Smith as four-time winners of the event.

90 Years Later: Slow Play Escapades Were Part Of Riviera's First Los Angeles Open

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Ninety years since Riviera hosted its first $10,000 Los Angeles Open and fourth played, the world’s best return to play for $7.4 million and a Genesis luxury automobile.

Just getting tees in the ground and 72 holes played that week was a miracle, as organizers were having trouble raising funds for the purse and days were too short for getting a full field around the brutal test Riviera posed.

A December Sportsman’s fundraising dinner was hosted by comedian Will Rogers—fresh off an aborted run for President—at the incredible price of $100 a plate. Rogers paid his way at what was called the first $100 a plate dinner. A total of $9000 was raised for the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce to host the event, which founded by Scott Chisholm, Sherman Paddock and Willie Hunter (gracing the 1929 program cover below and later Riviera’s longtime pro).

As I detail here for Golfweek, headliner Walter Hagen threw a bit of a fit when faced with a slow pairing alongside Tommy Armour. Given Brooks Koepka’s recent criticism of inconsistent pace enforcement, some things never really change. Well, Hagen never used a private parts reference. That we know of.

But as I note in the piece, the slow play issues at Riviera are now less a player-driven issue and more of a product of traffic jams brought on by the shortening of holes. Fitting for this city.

My Instagram post of the 1929 program:

What's More Entertaining? Phil Wanting To Finish In The Dark Or Watching Paul Casey's Face As Lefty Makes His Case?

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The eyes bulge ever-so-slightly, otherwise Paul Casey does one spectacular job not engaging in a full eye-roll as the set and light was all but gone at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Bill Speros recaps the zany post-sunset antics.

Skratch posts the conversation followed by Mickelson’s reaction when the horn sounds (at 17 tee, apparently hoping someone changes their mind!). Play over the final two holes resumes Monday at 8 am PT.

Trump Properties, E-Verify And The Golf Industry

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After reading Joshua PartlowNick Miroff and David A. Fahrenthold  Washington Post story on the pipeline of illegal Costa Ricans working at various Trump Organization properties for years, it’s easy to see how this will put pressure on the golf industry to either suggest this is a one-off situation, or adopt E-Verify.

Many of the immigrants interviewed worked on the construction of Trump Bedminster, home of the 2022 PGA Championship.

“Many of us helped him get what he has today,” Angulo said. “This golf course was built by illegals.”

The Washington Post spoke with 16 men and women from Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, including six in Santa Teresa de Cajon, who said they were employed at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. All of them said they worked for Trump without legal status — and that their managers knew.

While Mr. Trump now villifies such illegals, the company has adopted the E-Verify system at select properties.

Of 12 Trump golf courses in the United States, three of them — in North Carolina, Southern California, and Doral, Fla. — are enrolled in the E-Verify system, according to a federal database. Eric Trump said that “a few” other clubs, including a Trump course in the Bronx, use a private vendor to screen new applicants. 

The Post story noted that competitors in the industry more consistently rely on E-Verify. But shouldn’t the golf industry, presumably supportive of this policy, proactively push for industry-wide use of the program?

Oh right, they like cheap labor more. Scratch that thought!