Johnson goes after elusive win at Riviera
LOS ANGELES — Dustin Johnson has five tournaments he would love to win.
Four of them are majors. The other is Riviera.
“I love that place,” Johnson said. He doesn’t love the outcome.
A year ago, he finished two shots behind Bubba Watson. In 2015, he thought he had it won with a sick flop shot behind the 10th green in a playoff, only for James Hahn to match his birdie and then beat him with a 25-foot birdie putt on the next hole. In 2014, he was one off the lead with three holes to play and couldn’t catch Watson. And in 2012, he needed a birdie to force a playoff and missed the 18th green.
So yes, you could say he’s due.
It could take some good golf to get it done at the Genesis Open, which has a stacked field. Along with Jason Day, who does not have a good record at Riviera and is playing there for the first time in five years, eight of the top 10 in the world ranking are at Riviera.
Only one other tournament is in America this week, and that’s on the PGA Tour Champions in Florida. Europe and the LPGA Tour are in Australia, a pair of PGA Tour smaller circuits are in South America and the Sunshine Tour is at Fancourt, site of the 2003 Presidents Cup.
The Genesis Open has a new title sponsor (Hyundai Motor America), a new host organization (Tiger Woods Foundation) but still no Tiger Woods. He withdrew with recurring back spasms, and while that was predictable, the more curious announcement was when he withdrew from a press conference.
The stars are out in force, however.
Watson is going for his third victory, though it will take more than that for Riviera to be referred to as “Bubba’s Alley.”
One of the benefits of a new sponsor is that anyone making a hole-in-one on the 14th or 16th holes will get a Genesis car. That brings back memories of when Rich Beem made a hole-in-one at the old Nissan Open and fell in love with his new car on the spot.
Another memory no one wants to see: Rain is in the forecast for Friday and lingering into the weekend. Adam Scott won on a Monday in 2005 in a playoff over Chad Campbell after only 36 holes were completed. He got the cash. He got the trophy. He just never got credit for an official victory.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
The LPGA heads Down Under for the start of its Australasia swing — the Women’s Australian Open this week, followed by Thailand and Singapore. Lydia Ko makes her 2017 debut with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Gary Matthews) and new clubs (PXG). She still has her old No. 1 ranking, though the Korean-born Kiwi hasn’t won a tournament since July.
The first LPGA event of the year was in the Bahamas, and not only did Brittany Lincicome win, five Americans were in the top five. That had not happened since the 2011 Canadian Women’s Open. And odds are it won’t happen this week.
Television: Wednesday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. (Golf Channel); Thursday-Friday, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Golf Channel).
The European Tour is going outside the box, and it won’t be the first time this year. The World Super 6 Perth is a combination stroke play and match play, and it figures to move quickly at the end.
There will be a 36-hole cut, followed by another cut after 54 holes to 24 players. Those who survive will play six-hole matches in single elimination until they get a winner. It’s a creative format, lacking only big-time players. Alex Noren at No. 11 is the highest-ranked player in the world. Also playing is Thorbjorn Olesen, who teamed with Soren Kjeldsen to win the World Cup of Golf for Denmark last fall in Australia.
But this is not a team event. Besides, Kjeldsen is playing in Riviera.
Television: Wednesday-Friday, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. (Golf Channel).
AROUND THE WORLD
The PGA Tour Champions moves across the state of Florida to Naples for the Chubb Classic. John Daly is playing. He withdrew on Sunday from the Allianz Championship with a bad back and a missing putter. Daly says he tossed it over his shoulder to his caddie, who wasn’t paying attention, and that’s how it wound up in the water. “If I throw a putter, it’s going to be in two pieces, not one. And it’s going to be 50 yards in the lake, not 5,” he said.
The Web.com Tour is in Panama, where three players have a chance to get one spot to the highest-ranked Mexican player for the World Golf Championships event in Mexico City next month. That would be quite the one-week promotion. The Panama event has a $625,000 purse. The WGC purse has a $9.75 million purse. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour Latinoamerica starts off its year in Colombia.
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