The 2019 Genesis Open, known previously as the Los Angeles Open, kicks off this Thursday at LA’s Riviera Country Club. The tournament concludes the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing and is one of the oldest events on the tour, starting in 1926. The tournament has been won by some of the best golfers in the history of the sport, including Phil Mickelson, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. This year’s tournament has a very competitive field, though if recent history is anything to go on then this tournament may be Bubba Watson’s to lose.
2018 Champion Bubba Watson
Last year Watson was trying to end a dry run stretching to 2016 when he last won the Genesis Open. Watson played a steady first two rounds, but it wasn’t until a spectacular 65 scored during his 3rd round that he looked a true contender. However, he still had to overtake Patrick Cantlay in order to claim his 3rd title at Riviera Country Club. He did this with a final round 69 that included a error-free performance down the back 9. The win was his 10th total PGA Tour win, and sparked an excellent year that saw Watson pick up 2 more wins and claim a spot on the American Ryder Cup team. Watson has also won the even in 2014 and 2016, and if he repeats his feat from last year he will be only the third 4-time winner, and the first since Lloyd Mangrum’s 1956 triumph.
In addition to Watson, there are many other favorites competing for a trip to the winner’s circle. Dustin Johnson, currently ranked as world number 3, looks a good bet as his early season form has been stellar. Francesco Molinari is also a strong contender, as is fellow Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy. Xander Schauffele has already picked up a win this season and will be looking to continue his climb up the rankings with a win this weekend. Numerous eyes will be on Tiger Woods as he makes his second start this season. The Genesis Open was where Woods’ first got his taste of the PGA Tour when he played the event as a 16 year old amateur in 1992. Woods has yet to win the event in 10 tries, to put that in perspective he’s never played at a PGA Tour venue anywhere else more than 4 times without recording a win. Folks looking for an underdog story should watch Tim O’Neal, a star on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, who tees up on the Charlie Sifford exemption to promote diversity in golf. An outsider at the event, O’Neal will surely be at his best to prove he belongs here.