Top Golfers Coming to Genesis Invitational
February 13, 2020
The last leg of the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing will redefine itself this week at The Riviera Country Club as the previously named Genesis Open has received an upgrade. The 94th edition of the Los Angeles Open is officially known as the Genesis Invitational. This has not been lost on the tournament host, Tiger Woods.
The first edition of the Genesis Invitational begins this Thursday, February 13, and concludes on Sunday, February 16. Notably, the tournament is now par-elite with two other invitational tournaments on the PGA Tour and equal in FedEx Cup points: the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus.
"Just to have that elevated status and be part of two iconic figures in the game of golf in Jack and Arnold, to have that type of association, it's incredible for us," said Woods at the Tuesday morning pre-tournament media conference.
There are a number of distinct changes with the elevated status. First: The purse has been increased by $1.9 million as the tournament will distribute a total of $9.3 million to a reduced field of 121 golfers. Previously, 144 players participated at Riviera since the TGR Live and auto manufacturer Genesis partnered up and began running the tournament in 2017. The winner will receive a healthy $1.674 million check on Sunday and 500 FedEx points.
"To have the players that come and support this tournament over the years and to have it on this iconic layout with the history we have here at Riviera, it just adds to the event and how the players support this," said Tiger.
Riviera has always been a popular stop for many of the Tour players but the invitational status and Woods' popularity have drawn nine of the top ten players in the world. Besides Tiger (currently World No. 8 ranked golfer), the field includes reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year Rory McIlroy (World No 1), Brooks Koepka (No. 2), Jon Rahm (No. 3), current PGA TOUR FedExCup points leader Justin Thomas (No. 4), 2017 Genesis Open tournament champion Dustin Johnson (No.5), former UCLA golfer Patrick Cantlay (No. 6), Xander Schauffele (No. 9) and 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Justin Rose (No. 10).
Also entered are defending champion winner J.B. Holmes, Bubba Watson (three-time winner of the event), and Phil Mickelson, (5-time Major Champion and winner of 44 PGA Tour events and a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee. Mickelson also won at Riviera in 2008 and 2009 when the tournament was the Northern Trust Open.
Woods on the importance of the Genesis Invitational for the TGR Foundation, his organization to empower students to pursue their passions through education: "It adds to our ability to help as many kids as we've had in the past and we'll continue to. Without the players' support, the top players playing in the event, obviously we wouldn't be able to fund-raise, we wouldn't be able to help as many kids as we are going forward."
There have also been a few changes to the course at Riviera for this year. "We've lengthened 12, redone 8, they've moved a few tees back. Yes, the alleyways are still the same but when they moved No. 12 back, what, 70 yards? It used to be just a 1-iron and a wedge and now you're hitting driver and 4-iron," stated Tiger.
"There have been some holes that they're able to extend, but for the most part the confines are what they are here. So where they've tried to add distance, they have, but there's really nowhere to go."
Woods made his debut at Riviera Country Club in 1992 as a 16-year old amateur. He has yet to win in the 12 times he has played the event and even received some good-natured ribbing from fellow competitor, Bubba Watson: "I have historically never really putted well here. I've played here so many rounds. It suits a natural cutter of the golf ball, so I figured that's what I have done pretty much my entire career."
"But when it comes right down to it, you've got to hit the ball well here because the greens are so small and they're so slopey. But for some reason everything kind of breaks toward six and I still haven't quite figured that out. Yesterday when I was out there with Bubba, he was giving me pretty good grief. He's won here, what, three times, and I haven't."
Tiger was able to give a little grief back to Watson in Monday's 2020 Celebrity Cup powered by CDW as the 6-hole event was won by Team Woods, a 12-9 winner over Team Watson. Larry Fitzgerald, Oliver Hudson, Blair O'Neal, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Pena and Chris Pratt represented Team Woods. Carly Chaikin, Josh Duhamel, Derek Fisher, Sebastian Maniscalco, Kelly Slater and Andy Buckley were competing for Team Watson.
The 6th Annual Collegiate Showcase started things off on Monday morning as San Jose State University's Sean Yu won with a 1-under-par 70 score. Yu received an exemption into the 2020 Genesis Invitational for winning the showcase in the 13-player field event. Tied for second place with a score of 72 were
Allen Hamilton of the University of Kentucky and Spencer Soosman of the University of Texas.
Also receiving an exemption was Joseph Bramlett as the recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Award. The exemption has been awarded since 2009, which represents the advancement of diversity in the game of golf. Bramlett, who also received the exemption in 2011, becomes the first two-time recipient of the Sifford exemption.
PGA Tour fans attending the event will also enjoy: the Genesis Lounge, a first-class lounge at the 14th Hole; the Genesis Performance lab where fans can learn to putt like the pros; the Genesis Juggle Challenge, an Instagram-led initiative for fans to upload a video of themselves juggling a golf ball. Charging stations and premium high-speed Wi-Fi will be available throughout the course as well as Genesis Courtesy Shuffles, a golf cart shuttle that brings fans to the Genesis Lounge at 14th Hole