The Riviera Country Club was established in 1926 and has been open for play since 1927. Noted for its spectacular beauty and uniquely challenging design, the George C. Thomas masterpiece is perennially rated among the very finest in the world.
During the courses construction the renowned golf architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie paid a visit to inspect Thomas’s work. Following his tour of the property, Dr. MacKenzie remarked that the site “Was as fine as any I have seen” and that the George C Thomas’ design is “As nearly perfect as man could make it.”
Sometimes known as “Hogan’s Alley” because of Ben Hogan’s success here, it is also renowned for its par-3 sixth hole with a bunker in the middle of the green. The 18th is probably one of golf’s most unique and most recognised finishing holes. The green rests below the clubhouse in a natural amphitheater and a blind tee shot from below the level of the fairway must carry the crest of the hill to give you a decent look at the green.
My tips to win:
Phil Mickelson 14/1 has an awesome record here, having won twice and picked up two runners-up cheques, one last year when he lost to Bill Haas in a three way play-off. I am still waiting for the odds to come through but it has been a roller coaster year for Phil, he’s played four tournaments finishing outside the Top 25 in each of them by a long way, except one – which he won at a canter, just missing out on a 59 in his first round by one shot at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The question is which Mickelson will turn up this week, but how can you discount his record in this event.
Matt Kuchar 33/1 has not played since the Humana Challenge three weeks ago, so could be a bit rusty, but of all the players teeing it up this week, I do fancy Matt to do well. He’s played three tournaments so far this season and made the Top 25 in all three of them. In fact only one has been outside the Top 10, with his best placing being a fifth place finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii. I think this is the start to Matts’ build up to the Masters and who can forget that late charge at Augusta last Spring that nearly took him to victory, so look for Kuchar to be in one of the final pairings come Sunday.
We’ve tipped Jimmy Walker 33/1 a couple of times this year, most notably when he won money for us at the Farmers Insurance Open. We missed tipping him last week, where he finished with a fantastic round of 66 to take third place, damn it! Oh well you can’t have everything, we did back the winner as well. But look for Jimmy to continue his good form, taking two Top 10 finishes from his last four events. Jimmy seems to have to a taste and his maiden PGA Tour victory may not be that far away.
My each-way tips:
Defending champion Bill Haas 36/1 will be coming into this week in confident mood and looking forward to defending his title. Bill has played four events this year, missed the cut in one and made the Top 25 in the three other tournaments. Two of those finishes being Top 10s, progressing each week up the leaderboard. Let’s hope that progression continues here this week.
Charles Howell III 40/1 is a past winner here and the form that Charles has been in this season has been fantastic, with three Top 10 finishes from his first three tournaments of the year, the first two being Top 5 finishes. His last tournament before last weeks rest was at the Phoenix Open where he still managed to shoot four rounds in the 60s, so he didn’t play that badly. Hopefully that weeks rest has recharged his batteries to play well on a course where he’s not played that great since he won.
My Outside tip:
We did tip Bryce Molder 80/1 earlier this season at the Farmers Insurance Open, the only event he finished outside the Top 25 in the four events he has played so far this season. A final round 64 with four birdies in his last five holes and not dropping a shot all day, saw him go from outside the Top 25 to inside the Top 15 at last weeks AT&T National ProAm. I am sure he will come into this event full of confidence on a course where he had a Top 20 finish last year.
For updated betting odds during the tournament go to planetgolfreview.com