It’s the mantra repeated over and over all week by players in the Genesis Open trying to solve the intricacies of Riviera Country Club: “Be patient.” “Don’t get greedy.” “You have to stay patient.”
Jordan Spieth has preached it since Day 1 and says the mental demands at Riviera are similar to those players face during the Masters at Augusta National, where he won in 2015.
“I’m just not quite patient enough to play this golf course.
“I really need to approach it a lot like I approach Augusta. Just here or there I’m trying to do a little too much. … I make a birdie and I’m trying to make three in a row. This course doesn’t allow that to happen.”
Spieth has one top-five finish and two missed cuts in his five previous tries at in this event.
He shot a two-under-par 69 in the third round Saturday, leaving him tied for 20th at three under and seven shots behind leader Bubba Watson.
Of course, situations change. He has to make up significant ground to contend Sunday.
“With a golf course that you can move up the leaderboard with so many birdies, a day like tomorrow, I may as well go out and fire,” he said. “The patience isn’t necessary any more.”
Keep your day job
Watson played in the Celebrity All-Star game Friday night during NBA All-Star weekend. He tried two shots, made none.
One was blocked by Tracy McGrady when Watson tried to drive to the basket. “When I saw him, all I saw was, this is my moment to get hurt, this big tank is about to hit me,” he said. “It worked out, he didn’t touch me, so it was good.”
The other miss was an airball. His explanation: “It was supposed to cut. It didn’t cut.”
Phil the disarmer
Phil Mickelson’s short game is legendary, but he’s also masterful at defusing potentially explosive situations. As Mickelson sized up a chip from the back fringe on the third hole, a fan with drink in hand and already well lubricated at 9:45 a.m., cranked up the volume to frat-boy, WWE levels while addressing Mickelson’s brother and caddie, Tim.
“Way to go, Tim! Keep it up, Tim! You’re doing a great job, Tim!”
Mickleson looked across the green at the fan, smiled and simply said, “Yes he is, isn’t he?”
The 315-yard 10th hole at Riviera is perhaps the most talked about par four in golf, a risk-reward hole that demands precision and game management. Despite its length, it created more bogeys than birdies in the first two rounds.
But the hole that players know they need to score on is the 502-yard par-five first.
How easy is it? The top 25 players on the leaderboard played the hole in 27 under par Saturday, with seven eagles, five pars and no bogeys.
“You feel like you’ve lost a shot if you don’t birdie it, for sure,” Spieth said.
Since 2004, the hole has given up more eagles (408) than any other hole on the PGA Tour.
After 15 players finished their second rounds early Saturday, 76 players made the cut at two over. Shawn Stefani and Michael Kim needed to pick up one stroke in their final two holes to make the cut; Rob Oppenheim and Richard Lee each needed to pick up two strokes. None of them made up the ground; their tournaments ended at about 8 a.m.