Table of Contents

    By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast

    PULLING THROUGH AT THE RIV

    After a rather boisterous Super Bowl + Waste(d) Management week in Phoenix, the world of golf and sports takes a big (and brief) sigh as we move to a new part of the sports calendar – the football-free part. For the PGA Tour, it’s their time to shine and showcase the nicest west coast + Florida tracks in springtime conditions, and what better place to keep that theme rolling than Riviera? This week it’s the Genesis Open aka the LA Open, and with the Netflix doc dropping this week AND the late announcement of Tiger’s return to competitive golf on Tour, there’s no shortage of intrigue.

    Last week at TPC Scottsdale, Scottie Scheffler went back to back, and his 2023 start looks eerily similar to his historic 2022 heater. Is it going to be another spring sweep for Scottie as we head toward Masters season? Does Rory have the juice to keep his #1 ranking, or is it finally Jon Rahm’s turn at the top? The storyline continues this week and we’re out to find ourselves a winner.

    AP Photo/Darryl Webb

    RIVETING AND DEMANDING

    After a slew of birdie binge events, we might finally have somewhat of a challenging track for the PGA Tour’s best at Riviera. As in, the winner may finish at less than 20 under par. As far as the track itself, RIV is tightly packed into the heart of Los Angeles, and its lush green fairways and devilish demands off the tee make for a fun challenge. The driveable par 4 10th and closing 18th present lots of drama, and they even have a par three with a bunker in the middle of the green. For all of its charm and quirk, it’s a parkland track that has decades of LA open history, and the 7300-yard, par 71 course should make for a Hollywood movie finish.

    After the loaded field at the Waste Management, it’s yet another ”designated” event aka we’re giving away a lot more money to everyone that makes it to the weekend. Naturally, the loaded field is flanked by the current big three or Rahm, Rory, and Scheffler. JT and the gold medal winners Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau round the top half dozen in the odds to win this week. Of course, we’ll have cameras fixed solely on Tiger for his 2023 debut start. The last time we saw him he was limping around flat Florida courses – I hope the legs hold up the trek around Riviera.

    FORECASTING THE GENESIS

    This event is a grind of a tournament that concludes with a devilish stretch of golf to test anyone in contention. The decade or so of winners would indicate that it’s kind of a bomber’s track, and precision has lost its luster as the Riv as driving distances have been lengthened. Interestingly enough it’s a track that Tiger never won on – could be a small piece of his inspiration to play there. As for where we’re centering our picks this week, I’m going with one name for the top pack of world talents, but also chasing some west coast friendly players who like Cali golf and playing at The Riv.

    1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top-10 streaks, and consistent play are never a bad thing.

    2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.

    3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.

    4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.

    At TPC Scottsdale, my top two picks in Finau and Rahm were circling contention, but Scottie had too many birdies and a big eagle to lock up the W. We’re still on the heater but it took a week off, so we’ll call the picks a B- this week. I famously hit Joaquin Niemann at 66-1 odds here last year so we’re poised to repeat the feat.

    THE PICKS

    (Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)

    1: Rory McIlroy – I’ll be looking at Rahm, Rory, or Scheffler in almost any designated event. That week it’s Rory due to the strong past at Riviera and the unlikeliness of Scheffler to contend and win in back-to-back weeks.

    2: Collin Morikawa – The 2022 runner-up at this event shot -17 and was a model of consistency. He has a familiarity to the course much higher than most of the field. 

    3: Tom Kim – riding the KIm wave for a hot minute, his solid showing at Scottsdale will keep me clinging for one more week to the loveable newcomer. 

    4: Tyrell Hatton – This pick isn’t on Riviera course form, it’s on recent form as Hatton is looking to back up his T6 finish in Scottsdale.

    5: Keegan Bradley – A couple of weeks after a solid second-place finish I’m back on Keegan here, a course where he’s had some high finishes and an electric playoff with Phil back in 2012.

    6: Taylor Montgomery – Well, we took a wee off picking our favorite Mr. Reliable and he missed the cut. The rookie clearly needs our good juju to keep this season rolling in the right direction.

    RYP One and Done Pick: Collin Morikawa

    THE DEETS

    Where to watch: Golf Channel and CBS all week – the overhead blimp shot of Riviera’s location in the heart of LA always gets a gasp out of me.

    Why to watch: Off of the craziness of the WM Phoenix Open, Riviera presents as a classic parkland-style test of golf, with the 10th and 18th holes being the best watches of the week.

    What to eat: When I think of LA food I think of trends. The hot one in the streets right now is Birria Tacos…worth a try!

    Purse: $20 million

    Winner’s Share: $3.6 million

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    About Author

    Alex Lauzon

    Lauzon is a podcast host, live broadcaster, analyst and betting extraordinaire for the Course of Life brand. After earning a degree in broadcast journalism at Quinnipiac University, he worked in ESPN and ESPN radio newsrooms. He has interviewed athletes and celebrities from all walks of life who often love to play golf. When he's not playing golf or talking about the game on Course of Life, Lauzon enjoys time with his wife and dog, checking off the next island vacation destination or counting down the days to the next Dell Match Play in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

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