Genesis Invitational

Tournament host and 15-time major winner Tiger Woods (left) and three-time Riviera champion Bubba Watson were opposing captains for Monday’s “Celebrity Cup” to jump start the Genesis Invitational. Team Woods beat Team Watson to retain the title
Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

PGA Tour’s Best Players Put Riviera’s Historic Course to the Test This Week  

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

If Monday’s “Celebrity Cup” is any indication, plenty of drama and excitement is in store for patrons this week at historic Riviera Country Club, where the Genesis Invitational begins this morning and, weather permitting, ends Sunday afternoon.

Jane Nwaba and Palisades are seeded No. 1 in Open Division.

Tournament host and 15-time major winner Tiger Woods captained his team to a 12-9 victory  over Team Watson, captained by  three-time Riviera champion Bubba Watson, in a four-ball match play-style event starting on Riviera’s iconic 10th hole followed by holes 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. Woods’ celebrity squad included Larry Fitzgerald, Oliver Hudson, Blair O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Pena and Chris Pratt while Team Watson featured Carly Chaikin, Josh Duhamel, Derek Fisher, Sebastian Maniscalco, Kelly Slater and Andy Buckley.

There are many intriguing storylines leading into the 2020 edition of the PGA TOUR’s Los Angeles tour stop, not the least of which is whether last year’s winner J.B. Holmes can defend his titlea feat accomplished only seven times in the 94-year history of the tournament. The last player to  repeat was Phil Mickelson in 2008-09.

First played in 1926 and then  called the Los Angeles Open, it is the TOUR’s fourth-oldest event outside of the majors. This is the first year the tournament has “invitational” status, making it one of the most prestigious and richest venues in the sport.   

Riviera, which was given the moniker “Hogan’s Alley” after the legendary Ben Hogan won there three times in the 1940s, is hosting the event for the 58th time (all but twice since 1973) and grounds crews have been hard at work for two months preparing the lush greens and narrow fairways for the wear and tear of championship-level golf.

Aaron Wise hits a bunker shot in a practice round Monday at Riviera Country Club in preparation for this week’s Genesis Invitational.

A testament to the challenge Riviera presents is how 15-time major winner Tiger Woods, who shocked the world by winning his fifth Masters in May, has fared on the course off Capri Drive. He has yet to win here in 12 tries (twice as an amateur and 10 as a professional), making it the only PGA venue he has played four or more times professionally without a win. Woods, whose TGR Live hosts the tournament for the fourth straight year, is playing the event for the third time since 2006 when he withdrew after shooting rounds of 69 and 74. He tied for 15th at 6-under par last year.

Former NBA star Derek Fisher teed it up for Team Watson.

The purse is $9.3 million, the winner pocketing over $1.6 million and 500 FedExCup points.

One of the game’s most famous holes, the Par 4, 475-yard 18th at Riviera spells doom for even the best players and it’s at that famous green nestled below the clubhouse where the championship is often won or lost on Sunday afternoon. Gates open at 6 a.m. today and Friday and at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The “Collegiate Showcase” saw 12 athletes vying for an exemption into the 120-player field and San Jose State University’s Sean Yu carded the low score, a 1-under-par 70 to earn tee times on Thursday and Friday.

Shuttles run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from downtown Santa Monica to Riviera’s Longworth entrance. The pick-up and drop-off location is on Wilshire Blvd. between Second and Third Streets.