California Golf

California Golf + Travel Jan18

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"I haven't played at Riviera in a tour- nament in a very long time. To be able to play in an event that I used to come to as an amateur, as a junior and now as the tournament host, that is on one of the most historic sites in all of golf, it's a dream come true." The Genesis Open is now operated by Woods' event management company, TGR Live, and benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. His best results in the Los Angeles- area event were second in 1998, when he lost in a playoff to Billy Mayfair at Valencia Country Club the only time the tournament was not played at Riviera, and a tie for second behind Ernie Els the next year. "I still am and always will be a huge Tiger Woods fan," Thomas said after playing alongside Woods in the Bahamas. "It was really cool to see him having that much fun and grinding it out and playing well. "If he stays healthy, I really do think he'll have a great year." Mickelson, who was an All-American at Arizona State, has claimed 19 of his 42 PGA Tour victories in California and Arizona, but hasn't won since the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield to capture a third leg of the Career Grand Slam. Among those West Coast titles are four at Pebble Beach, three at Torrey Pines, three in Tucson, three in Phoenix, two at La Costa, two in the California desert in the old Bob Hope Classic and two at Riviera. Mickelson's last victory in his two favorite states came in the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open, although he nearly tied Mark O'Meara's record of five wins at Pebble Beach before finish- ing one stroke behind winner Vaughn Taylor two years ago. Lefty gets another chance to tie O'Meara's record Feb. 8-11 at this year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, played on three of the Monterey Peninsula's most heralded courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore. The Pro-Am fea- tures 156 professionals paired with 156 amateurs for the first three rounds, with the low 25 teams plus ties advanc- ing to the final round of the pro-am part of the event. As always, the amateurs include a number of movie and television stars, prominent business leaders, and family members of the professionals. The Pro- Am format dates back to founding host Bing Crosby's National Professional- Amateur event in 1937, held in Rancho Santa Fe in southern California, and the "Crosby Clambake" has continued to thrive since moving to its current home of the Monterey Peninsula in 1947. The Crosby name was dropped from the tournament after the 1985 event, with AT&T becoming the title sponsor in 1986. Mickelson ran hot-and-cold last season, but was a driving force as the United States captured the Ryder Cup early in October before tying for third in the Safeway Open at Silverado a week later. "Iron play is back, distance control, putting," said Mickelson, who has won four titles at Pebble Beach, three in Phoenix, three at Torrey Pines, three in Tucson and two at Riviera. "The game has just come back. My focus is better. I am staying present, focused and hit- ting the shots. I'm going to win. It's a matter of time." That time might come on the West Coast. PHOTO MICHAEL WEINSTEIN Tiger Woods 16 JAN/FEB 2018 / W E S T C O A S T S W I N G /

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