Genesis Open – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California
7,349 yards – Par 71 – Poa annua Greens

Tournament Stimpmeter: 12 to 12.6 feet … Fast Greens
Green Sizes: 5,000 sq. feet … Small Greens
Difficulty (Relative to Par): +0.75 … Hard Course

Strength of Field Rating: 450+ … Strong Field
Fairways Hit (Field Average): 54.3% … Hard Fairways to Hit
Greens in Regulation (Field Average): 56.5% … Hard Greens to Hit
Driving Distance (Field Average): 280 yards … Shorter-than-Average DD

Average Tournament Temperature: 69 degrees … Cold Weather
Average Tournament Wind: 9 MPH … Average Wind

Tournament Angles

#1 Poa Annua Greens
#2 California Courses
#3 Cold Weather
#4 Hard-to-Hit Greens

#5 Fast Greens
#6 Strong Field Events
#7 Hard Courses
#8 Hard-to-Hit Fairways

Previous Winners

2016: Bubba Watson -15 over Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott -14
2015: James Hahn -6 over Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson in a playoff
2014: Bubba Watson -14 over Dustin Johnson -13
2013: John Merrick -13 over Charlie Beljan in a playoff
2012: Bill Haas -7 over Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson in a playoff
2011: Aaron Baddeley -12 over Vijay Singh -10
2010: Steve Stricker -16 over Luke Donald -14

54-Hole Leaders

2016: Bubba Watson -12
2015: Retief Goosen -8
2014: William McGirt -12
2013: Bill Haas -12
2012: Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson -7
2011: Aaron Baddeley -10
2010: Steve Stricker -15

36-Hole Leaders

2016: Jason Kokrak -10
2015: Retief Goosen -6
2014: Sangmoon Bae -9
2013: Freddie Jacobson, Sang-Moon Bae -9
2012: Phil Mickelson -6
2011: Fred Couples -8
2010: Dustin Johnson -11

Important Interview Quotes

Q. When you come to a course where you have lost in a playoff last year, is it positive vibes because you played well or negative vibes because you did lose?
Oh, no, I mean, definitely positive for sure. You know, I feel like I play well here a lot. I really like this golf course. I think it sets up very good to me. It looks good to my eye. It’s a beautiful course.

It’s fun to play. You’ve got to hit a lot of different shots, and it never plays easy. So this is about as easy as it can play right now, good weather and the greens are really soft. Still, the scores are not that low. -2016

Q. You and Bubba and Dustin are among the contenders, but there’s a couple players that obviously are not as long off the tee. Just how much of an advantage is having length here?
Having length is an advantage I think on most golf courses. You can’t hit driver on certain spots but a lot of the long par 4s, you’ve got to hit driver on. A couple of those longer ones are into the wind but the par 5s are all gettable. 1 obviously; I hit just a 4-wood into 17. They are long par 5s, but for us, we can get there in two, as some of the other guys can’t, just depending on where the pin is. -2016

Q. So you’re not really surprised that the big bombers are kind of at the top of the leaderboard?
Well, yeah, No. 4 is a long par 3. So we are able to hit a long iron into there where some of the shorter players might have hybrid or even more depending on the wind. But some of the other holes, like 8, I hit 3-wood, 9-iron — or 3-iron, 9-iron in today. They are not overly-long holes but you can play a little safer off the tee and with a club that you normally hit straighter. -2016

Q. When you look at the leaderboard, it’s a pretty electric mix. Is that also an indication of how good the golf course is?
I think how good the golf course is and a little bit the way the conditions are. I think the softness in the golf course defendant plays into the hands of some of the longer — well, it’s good — longer and shorter, because the guys that are hitting it a little bit shorter have the softer greens and they are a little more receptive with the longer clubs.

But the guys that can hit it a long way are going in there with shorter clubs, as well. I think just the design of the golf course, it’s not overly long but it’s very tough and there’s no rough. It’s not like you hit it off line and you get penalized that much. Just the design of the golf course is that good that any style of game can do well here. -2016

Q. This looks like the front page of a Masters leaderboard.
Yeah, maybe. Again, I think the golf course, guys are so excited to play, they want to, if you need more incentive to win a golf tournament, then maybe winning at a place like this is something that drives everyone, drives the top guys. -2016

Q. Give us an idea of what it’s like to putt on these poa annua greens in the morning, when they are nice and fresh, as opposed to what they are like in the afternoon?
It’s obviously almost like two different golf courses. In the morning, they are perfect. They are smooth and fast. In the afternoon, you obviously get a few footprints, especially with the rain we had Wednesday. They get — when they are soft, they do get pretty bumpy. But you’ve got to try and take advantage of the early time and I was able to do that. -2016

Q. Plodder’s course, you have to play a shot ahead, figure out where you want to come from and what quadrant am I going to putt the ball on the green.
Some holes I was playing three shots ahead, just making sure I was in the right to get it off the tee, in the right spot to make sure I had the right shot for birdie. That’s exactly right, keep it in front of you, you really try to limit how aggressive you are, at least I have. It worked out the first two days and hopefully it works out on the weekend. -2016

Q. You must feel comfortable here?
Yeah, I really like this course. I have, kind of like you said, a comfort zone here. The kind of course that suits my eye really well. It’s kind of nice to always come back here and feel like when I tee it up, I feel like I’m going to have a good week.

It’s definitely at the top. I think it kind of has withheld the test of time, and, you know, scores are never really low here. So it’s really probably one of my favorites all year. -2016

Q. Does this place suit your eye from get-go?
Yeah, because you’ve got room off the tee. And when I say room off the tee, not that the fairways are wide. The tree lines are wider. Some of the trees are missing, so I can play out of it. Like 12 when I hit a hook 7-iron, probably not too many guys that can do that, and it worked out. 2-putted ten feet, so it was perfect. -2016

Q. How would you classify this course? We keep hearing ball-striker’s course.
You’ve got to remember, today is totally different than yesterday. Yesterday was rock hard, fairways were running, greens were running.

We were wondering how we were going to play No. 3. No. 3 if you don’t hit the fairway, even if a lob-wedge it was hard to stop the ball on the green yesterday. Today obviously with the rain it was easier. The golf course is accepting shots. But this golf course, the history of this golf course, this is one of those golf courses that we talk about a lot, because of the history. There’s not much change around here. The golf course has stayed the same, same kind of grass, it’s not heavy rough. It’s basically getting the right bounce. You lands it six inches short, it stays short. You land it just on the green it could bounce over.

It’s all about hitting the right trajectories, hitting the right line, and hopefully on certain pins, hitting the fairway so you can produce a little bit of spin. So your answer is: It’s just a traditional old school golf course that’s got a lot of history. -2016

Q. How hard is this golf course playing with these greens being firm?
It’s challenging. It’s playing similar to a major championship, and the rough, there’s really no rough. That’s what’s great about this place is it only takes a couple days for them to make it like a major, and they don’t even have to do much to it.
The greens this afternoon, it’s a lot of traffic and it’s tough to make putts. The ball is bumping on poa annua, but there’s nothing you can do about that. They should roll a little better tomorrow morning and hopefully get out there and find the fairway, because only from the fairway can you hit it high enough with enough spin to really hold the greens. -2015

Q. The rough almost makes it harder because now you’ve got to make a decision. If it was long, you just whack it out.
You’re certainly going for the green everywhere out of the rough because the ball sits up okay, but the tough part is when it went in short of the green, it sticks and if it lands on the front, it will bound it back. Really key hitting on the fairway. -2015

Q. You have a long relationship with Riviera and this event, you won the NCAAs in 2012, and got a sponsor’s invite into this event that year for your third start on the PGA TOUR. What does this tournament mean to you?
It means a lot. It’s a special tournament for me. I think this is one of the greatest golf courses in the world. Fans are great here. It’s always set up nice. I like courses where you don’t have to shoot 20-under to win, and certainly if you shoot 20-under, you’ll win by plenty here. I like difficult courses you don’t have to do too much to.
They are not trying to mess with you. They are just throwing pins in some hard locations. It’s a great tournament. It’s one that I owe a lot back to. It was a great experience getting that PGA TOUR start that then helped our team win the NCAA Championship that year. We got some good insight on pin locations and how it would play. Yeah, it’s dear to my heart. -2015

Q. Talk about the greens and how difficult they are, because they are so tiny and firm right now.
Yeah, they are tough. Not only do you have to be in the fairway, you have to be in the correct side of the fairway just to be able to hold them on some of these holes. The wind is playing a big part in this, too. If it’s downbreeze, it’s even harder. Very challenging, especially the front pins. -2015

Q: ???
I played well. I really putted well. For the first two days, really I haven’t been striking it quite as well as I expect of myself. But a hot putter will always keep you in there. I just love this golf course. It’s one of my favorites every year, and it’s exciting standing on the first tee and hitting the opening shot.
Hopefully I can keep it going for the next two days. It was a lot of fun. Justin Thomas is a hell of a player. He’s the future of golf. He’s your prototypical new young star: Bombs it and does every part of the game well. It was a pleasure playing with him today. -2015

Q. What was your home course, what was Guadalajara Country Club like, just the way it was, and did it prepare you well for Riviera?
Yeah, it’s actually a pretty similar golf course, tree lines, and there’s a lot of holes that look kind of the same, same grass, same green, so it’s similar. It’s easy for me to shape some shots off the tees, and that’s important out here. -2015

Q. We talked about how important experience is here at Riviera, when you come here year-in, year-out, what are the things that maybe you learn more and execute better?
You just know, sometimes even with a wedge, you just can’t attack flags. That’s the hard part about being here, especially when the greens are firm. You’ve got to play away from a lot of flags and try to use the slopes to get it close. -2015

Q. I feel like Riviera, you don’t read the greens, you learn the breaks.
Well, we have the green book now that helps a lot. But still, local knowledge is very important, from previous times you can see a break going one way and the green back says another way and you have to trust your instincts and hit it. It’s fun to play. It’s in great shape, the greens are beautiful. You’re going to see some low scores. -2015

Q. Even on the good iron shots, we’ve been hearing it’s hard to get it close.
It is. It’s just a tough golf course. I’ve only played one major but from my experience and from what I’ve heard from others, this is very U.S. Open-like, I would say. It’s very firm, and being in the fairway is such a huge premium, and all the spin you can get on it is really important.
There are good pins and the greens are small and severe, so you need to be precise with what you’re doing with your ball. -2015

Q. What do you like about this golf course?
Everything, the green, green speed, the rough. I like this grass, the kikuyu. Pretty much the same as Korea or Japan. -2015

Q. We hear players talk about how special this course. Is what is it about this place that makes it special in your eyes?
Right off the bat for me personally, I say that they don’t tweak it. It’s been the same. They added a tee box on 2 but I don’t know if we have even used yet. I have not seen too many changes that I was worried about. They are letting the golf course just defend itself.
And then when you look at the history, the great names, like Bubba Watson on the trophy, things like that (laughter), you look at the great names on there, it’s an honor to be a part of.
Every tournament has history, but I see it personally for me as they don’t tweak it. They just leave it the way it is. I’m surprised they haven’t tried to move the clubhouse yet, make No. 1 a lot farther like a lot of golf courses think they need to do is add length.
They leave it here, and they let the grass and the winds and the humps and bumps of the greens define their golf course instead of trying to make it extra long. -2015

Q. Is it your game that really fits in with this course, or is it your mentality and your patience and attitude?
Maybe a little bit of both, but if I’m being honest, I was really frustrated and impatient the first three days. It got the best of me for sure. It’s just a tough golf course. It’s a course that par matters. And the last few weeks we’ve been playing birdie-fests, just trying to keep making birdies and move up; it gets draining if you’re not making birdies.
So to play a week where par is a good score and you throw in a birdie, you’re going to move up a few spots on the leaderboard, that’s fun for me. I like playing courses like that. -2015

Q. What’s it mean to win here at Riviera?
Amazing. Definitely one of my favorite stops. Similar to Bay Hill. This is a tournament that I cherish the most. -2015

All quotes from unless otherwise noted.

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