News & Opinion

Dustin Johnson and Riviera make for marquee attraction

Dustin Johnson and caddie Austin Johnson at 2021 Saudi International
Dustin Johnson, with his caddie/brother Austin, will be the man to beat this week at Riviera.

World's No. 1-ranked golfer owns strong history at PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, which is why he will be man to beat this week

There are no gimmes in professional golf, of course, but Dustin Johnson and Riviera rate as something very close.

Johnson returns to the longtime host of the PGA Tour’s former Los Angeles Open as the favorite to win this week’s Genesis Invitational, and with good reason. Not only is he the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, but he owns a strong record at the course renowned as “Hogan’s Alley.” In 13 starts at Riviera, Johnson has racked up nine top-10 finishes, including the 2017 title and two runners-up.

If he doesn't end up holding the trophy on Sunday, Johnson almost certainly will have pushed whoever does.

Johnson has won in four of his past eight starts worldwide, including the European Tour’s Saudi International two weeks ago and the Masters in November. As the reigning FedEx Cup champion who has been No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for 26 consecutive weeks, Johnson will be the clear favorite this week. He will be paired with Riviera past champions Adam Scott and Bubba Watson at 7:24 a.m. PST Thursday off the 10th tee in a field that will feature eight of the world’s top 10 (tee times).

“Obviously, the confidence is pretty high right now,” Johnson said Wednesday at the club in Pacific Palisades, an affluent coastal community that sits west of L.A., between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. “I feel good about what I'm doing. I've got a lot of confidence in everything that I'm doing. I've just been playing really consistent and solid golf.”

That should translate into another run at the top of the leaderboard at Riviera, which he called “one of my favorite golf courses.”

Riviera, a 1926 George Thomas-William Bell design, will be hosting its 58th edition of the PGA Tour’s annual L.A. stop. It also played host to the 1948 U.S. Open (won by Ben Hogan), PGA Championships in 1983 (Hal Sutton) and 1995 (Steve Elkington) and the 2017 U.S. Amateur (Doc Redman).

“It's a tough golf course,” Johnson said. “You've got to drive it well. You've got to be really spot on with your irons and distance control, shot shapes into the green. It kind of makes you think on every shot you're hitting off the tee, coming into the greens and then even when you're on the greens, your putts, especially depending on where you're at. If you're downhill, the greens are really fast right now, so you've really got to be kind of cognizant of that.”

Now, as much as at any time in his career, Dustin Johnson is cognizant of a lot in the game. Especially at Riviera.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.