By Dave Shedloski
The final stop on the West Coast for the PGA TOUR is one of the most popular on the entire schedule. The Genesis Open, the 15th event of the season, annually draws a tremendous field, and this year is no exception. Heading to revered Riviera Country Club are three of the world’s top four players — defending champion Dustin Johnson, No. 3 Jordan Spieth and No. 4 Justin Thomas — and six of the top 10 in the FedExCup standings: Johnson, Thomas, Brendan Steele, Chez Reavie, Pat Perez and Austin Cook.
Also in the field is No. 10 Rory McIlroy, an array of past champions including the likes of Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Bubba Watson. And Tiger Woods, who grew up in nearby Cypress, California, and played in his first TOUR event at Riviera in 1992 as an amateur, is making his second start of the season, as he continues his comeback from a back injury. It’s his first appearance in the tournament since 2006.
The Genesis Open, which began in 1926 as the Los Angeles Open, is the seventh-oldest tournament on the PGA TOUR. Riviera opened in 1927 and first hosted the tournament in 1929. It also has welcomed the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and U.S. Amateur. The par-71 George C. Thomas design is a pure shot-making challenge measuring 7,322 yards because of its tight winding fairways and small greens.
CBS Sports on-course reporter and swing analyst Peter Kostis breaks down some of the key storylines this week.
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Tiger Woods, who has never won at Riviera, is back for his 11th start there and 12th in the tournament. Given what we’ve seen so far, how do you think he’ll do?
The first thing that comes to mind is that Riviera is a significantly less forgiving golf course than when he played at Torrey Pines. We don’t know if he’s fixed the driver problems we saw in San Diego or if he’s going to go mostly with 3-woods off the tee. We don’t know what his course of action will be. But this is going to be a sterner examination of his comeback, the sternest to date. And he never really has had good vibes at Riviera. So if he plays well there, that will really mean something. It’s going to be very interesting.
The guy who is probably the most dangerous is defending champion, Dustin Johnson, who is coming off a disappointing tie for second at Pebble Beach. He has two wins and seven top-10s at Riviera.
He’s healthy, and he’s motivated, and he clearly loves Riviera. He looks like he’s still…