Feature Photo Courtesy of The Genesis Invitational / J.D. Cuban

The PGA TOUR wrapped up its annual West Coast Swing with the first of five Invitational tournaments of the year. Along with three-year Tour exemptions and sizable checks, golfers earn the prestige associated with tournaments hosted by names like Arnold Palmer (Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard), Jack Nicklaus (the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday), and this week’s host of the Genesis Invitational, Tiger Woods.

This was the first event of the season to host the top 10 PGA TOUR players, with Dustin Johnson being the only player of the top ten to miss the cut Friday. At over 7,300 yards (par 71), the usually stingy Riviera Country Club surrendered a pair of opening 63s to eventual champion Joaquin Niemann of Chile. After a third-round 68 set a new 54-hole scoring record for the Genesis at -19, Niemann entered Sunday with a 3-shot lead.

An eagle on 11 took Niemann to -21 Sunday afternoon, and it looked as if the Chilean might break the scoring record set by Lanny Wadkins in 1985 (-20). But after back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15, Joaquin Niemann was fortunate to steady the ship for a final round 71 and hold off a charge from Colin Morikawa who shot a Sunday 65 to finish runner up. 

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The Genesis Invitational was first played in 1926, then known as the Los Angeles Open. Interestingly, Tiger has yet to win this tournament, but he made his Tour debut as a high school sophomore here in 1992, so it’s fitting he’s now the host.  During his press conference, Sticks & Hacks alike were reassured that while reality may dictate a different schedule than before, Woods is well on his way back to playing competitive golf. Fingers crossed for sooner than later.

Along with the glitz and glamor of being played at historic Riviera Country Club, The Genesis Invitational is home to the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption. Named after the 1969 champion, the exemption has been awarded annually since 2009 to a recipient who represents “the advancement of diversity in the game of golf”. This year’s recipient was former Sacramento State standout and current mini-tour player, Aaron Beverly.

Niemann became the first wire-to-wire winner of this tournament since Charlie Sifford won the 1969 Los Angeles Open. 

Viktor Hovland, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, last week’s winner Scottie Scheffler, and last year’s Genesis champion Max Homa all finished in the top ten

Next week, the TOUR moves to the east coast and begins four straight weeks of golf in the Sunshine State, including stops at PGA National, Bay Hill, and TPC Sawgrass.

Bud Copeland

A self-taught stick with a hack brain, Bud grew up playing golf year-round in north Florida. Born-again New England, Bud learned what an “off-season” is. He now lives in Salem, MA with his wife, daughter, two cats, and dog, Miller. He is the sole Y chromosome in the house, believes we did land on the moon and strongly advocates for walk-up music on the first and eighteenth tees.