Monthly Archives: February 2022


Written By:Brynn Walker

Last week, I wrote about what it is like to plan a year out on the Epson Tour. It’s our best effort to create certainty in the uncertainty. With one week ‘til I tee it up, I’m headed into the unknown and it’s just about time to let it go and set sail.

Before stepping into the smooth, bumpy, or mucky waters, I decided to write a letter to myself to read when I’m dry, when I’m clothed with more experience, wisdom, and probably slightly fatigued at the end of the year. In many ways, it’s my effort to set process goals and gain perspective before I dive in. I had no intention of sharing this, but when I read over it, I found there may be a few things other readers find valuable. So here you have it. A letter from Brynn in February of 2022 to-read December 31, 2022.

Dear Brynn,

Right now, I’m sitting on the beach. I came here to create a vision for the year. I’m looking out at the endless ocean and the water that reflects, in many ways, what I see for you in the coming months. The waves are rough and bumpy, the wind is whipping your hair into your eyes, the surface sand is brushing your calves, but the deep sand is keeping your feet grounded and protected from the scorching sun. Shocker, I am about to hit you with some metaphorical meaning of each of these.

When I arrived at the beach today, I was hoping the water would be still and the sand empty of people so I could have stillness and peace. It’s just the opposite. The waves are crashing and everyone and their brother is here. It’s so windy my curly hair is preventing my eyes from seeing clearly. The sand is creating an irritating tickling of my calves. This is probably going to happen for you this year. The circumstances aren’t going to be what you desire. In those times the only thing you will be able to control is your inner peace. I hope by now you are better at finding calmness and clarity in these moments than I currently can. I hope you didn’t let the surface sand affect you and instead relied on the heavy stuff keeping you grounded. It won’t be easy, but I hope you stayed cemented in who you are and relied on the people who know you best.

As I look out in the poor surf conditions, I’ve only seen two people plunge in. Two young girls with surfboards in hand. They are relentless. I can’t even count the number of waves that have pushed them back to shore and sugar-coated their bodies with sand. Yet, they continually get up and paddle on. Eventually, they caught a swell and rode it. This past year, I hope you kept paddling until the wave came your way. When it did – did you ride it? I mean really ride it. Did you show the world your biggest smile? The one where all your dimples flex and water fills your eyes? I hope you did because that’s worth all of your hard work.

You’re now two weeks removed from your wedding day. I can imagine there is still so much love filling your heart. Probably due to the honeymoon phase of marriage, but I hope it’s also overflowing from a year which you devoted to love. Love for the game – the game that is your craft. I hope you really loved it. With love, you carried the same passion that you did as a kid, engulfed with curiosity about how to conquer the complexity of golf. My wish is that you passed it on to others, that you loved all the people on your path. By now, you’ve traveled far and wide. In each destination, did you leave a piece of your heart? Because if you did, I’m sure there is a piece from each place you were given in return. Each piece you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

I’m imagining there is a new card in your wallet. Not one you’ll swipe at the grocery store. No, the one they’ll scan for inside the ropes access to your biggest dreams: your LPGA tour card. I don’t really want to think about it, but if it’s not there I’m sure you’re frustrated and disappointed. So, take yourself back to me right now. The girl sitting on the beach headed into uncertainty that only you can now see as memories in your past. Can you say that you have grown? That you are better now? That you are closer to your dream or goal in whatever way it has evolved? If so, relax and smile. Hold your husband’s hand and throw the other one up in the air because another chapter is about to start in this book of life.

So, fold this letter and turn the page.

Love, Brynn



The LPGA Tour and Outlyr jointly announced today that Los Angeles will host back-to-back LPGA Tour events for the first time, taking place in April 2022. The JTBC LA Open returns for a fourth year at Wilshire Country Club on April 18-24, followed by the inaugural JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes, taking place as Palos Verdes Golf Club, April 25-May 1. Both events will feature fields of 144 of the world’s best female golferscompeting over 72-holes    for overall purses of $1.5 million each.


Tickets are on sale now for both the JTBC LA Open and the JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes. Tournament Officials also announced the “LA LPGA Dual Ticket” – a weekly grounds pass that provides access to both tournaments, marking the first time that spectators will have the opportunity to purchase one pass for back-to-back LPGA events. Tickets will be sold exclusively via the tournament’s official websites; the JTBC LA Open at and the JTBCChampionship at Palos Verdes at


In addition, all service personnel, including military (active, retired, reserve and veteran), fire, police, and EMS and their immediate family (up to four tickets) will receive complimentary admission to both tournaments. The JTBC LA Open will once again include the Hero Outpost on the 18th green, compliments of SERVPRO. The complimentary SERVPRO Hero Outpost tickets must be downloaded in advance from and proper ID is required at the main entrance. Children under 17 also will be admitted free into the tournament with a paid adult.


“We are very excited to expand our footprint in Los Angeles with back-to-back events in the area for the first time, adding to the Tour’s already prominent presence in Southern California,” said LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan. “We want to thank our friends and longtime partners at JTBC for providing us the opportunity to bring the stars of the women’s game to the heart of Los Angeles, one of the largest broadcast markets in the world.”


“Los Angeles has a rich history in professional golf, and we look forward to strengthening the LPGA Tour’s presence in embarking on a new spring tradition in women’s golf with these consecutive events in Los Angeles,” said Patrick Healy, executive director for the JTBC LA Open and JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes. “We look forward to working with JTBC in showcasing Wilshire Country Club and Palos Verdes Golf Club to the LPGA Tour’s global audience.”



Historic Wilshire Country Club returns as the host venue for the JTBC LA Open for a fourth  year and will welcome fans back to the championship for the first time since 2019. The tournament made its debut in 2018, marking the LPGA Tour’s return to Los Angeles in more than a decade. Brooke Henderson captured her 10th LPGA Tour win at 16-under par at the 2021 edition of the championship, contested without fans in attendance. The 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic. Wilshire Country Club, which opened in 1919, is one of a select few venues to host events on the LPGA, PGATOUR and PGA TOUR Champions, as well as the PGA Championship.


“Wilshire Country Club has been a strong proponent of women’s golf and our members are excited about the return of the game’s best players – and the return of fans – to the JTBC LA Open,” said Mark Beccaria, President of Wilshire Country Club.


Palos Verdes Golf Club, often referred to as a “hidden gem” in Southern California, has a rich history hosting women’sgolf events. Palos Verdes has hosted the Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge women’s collegiate championship for thepast 25 years. Past individual winners include Carlota Ciganda, Natalie Gulbis, Brittany Lang, Bronte Law, Andrea Lee, Leona Maguire, Lorena Ochoa and Annie Park. The JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes will mark the first professional tournament taking place at Palos Verdes Golf Club.


“We are privileged to welcome the LPGA Tour for this year’s JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes,” said David Klein, President of Palos Verdes Golf Club.  “Our membership is excited to welcome back many familiar faces who competed at Palos Verdes during their collegiate careers, and we look forward to working with the LPGA Tour, JTBC and Outlyr in conducting a first-class event.”


Volunteer registration for both the JTBC LA Open and JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes is now open. Registration forboth tournaments is $55, which includes a polo, hat or visor, food, and beverage, and two daily tickets. For those whoregister to volunteer at the JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes, $5 will be donated to the Race to End Alzheimer’s Association. For more information on how to volunteer, visit JTBC LA Open at; and the JTBCChampionship at Palos Verdes at


The JTBC LA Open and the JTBC Championship at Palos Verdes are owned and operated by Outlyr, a global eventmanagement, sponsorship consulting and activation agency.

Florida swing brings shift in mentality

By Jeff Babineau

  • Golf is hard | ‘Bear Trap’ edition

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – If you were combing through weekly scores looking to find Shane Lowry’s name during the PGA TOUR’s seven-event West Coast Swing, it wasn’t that somebody had forgotten to type it. He wasn’t injured, either.

Lowry, the 2019 Open champion from Ireland, simply was waiting for the TOUR to swing east. Welcome to the 2022 Florida Swing, home of tropical breezes, swaying palms, fruity umbrella drinks … and, if tradition holds up, much more difficult scoring. Yes, tougher. Grittier. Just the way Lowry prefers it.

“I’m happy we’re in Florida,” Lowry said on Tuesday at PGA National, home of the Honda Classic. “It’s harder here, and that’s why I like it. That’s why I wasn’t on the West Coast. I don’t particularly like fast Poa annua greens, and now that I live here (as a U.S. base), I’m used to the grass.

“It seems like a bit of a trend the way that golf is going at the minute where you have to be 20 under to win … I’ve won tournaments where I’ve been well under par, but my better finishes seem to be on the tougher golf courses.”

When the wind is blowing hard – and it is forecast to blow in double-digits (mph) during competition days at the Honda – the Jack Nicklaus-designed Champion Course at PGA National can be an absolute bear. On the heels of a West Coast Swing in which there was little wind and some incredible scoring – the average winning total was better than 21 under par – the change in mentality can be abrupt. The tone for going low was established at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where three players fired 32 under or better, with Australia’s Cameron Smith winning at 34 under, a tournament record.

Florida proved to have some of the tougher PGA TOUR tests of the 2020-21 season. PGA National (Honda) ranked sixth most difficult, at 1.102 shots per round over par; Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational) was ninth, at +1,015; TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (THE PLAYERS) ranked 16th (+ .421); and Innisbrook’s Copperhead (- .036), home to the Valspar, was 20th.

Bob Rotella, renowned sports psychologist, said Tuesday that after friendly scoring conditions on the West Coast, the Florida Swing “is like a different ballgame.” At PGA National’s Champion, there is plenty of trouble for players to find. Rotalla said players start thinking about the more difficult and demanding test days before the event even begins.

“I think the first thing that you start thinking now is more patience, a lot more course management and strategy,” Rotella said, standing behind the practice tee. “It starts to get in your head already, out here, that hey, I don’t have to birdie every hole.”

Rotella said competing on a more stringent test can pose an interesting road to choose for a player on a hot run. Does one really go after the golf course and try going crazy low, as champion Matt Jones did a year ago in his opening-round 61? Or does a player stick to a conservative game plan?

“I tell guys, you want to be conservative and patient … but sometimes magic happens,” he said, “and when it’s there, you’ve got to take it. That’s the challenge. You’ve got to get your mind ready to shoot low, even here.”

The Champion plays to a par of 70, and a year ago, Jones finished at 12-under 268, winning by five shots. Only one other time since Rory McIlroy won at 12 under in 2012 has a winner reached double-digits under par at Honda (Rickie Fowler, 12 under, 2017).

“I always say, if I shoot 69 and I come in and I’m happy, then I like that golf course,” Lowry said. “I like the way that golf course sets up. I don’t like shooting 68 or 69 and feeling frustrated.”

Jones said to reach his winning score a year ago, pretty much everything in his game was working. This season, he has struggled with the putter, and has missed five cuts in 11 starts. He knows he needs to putt better, for sure, but a player need not necessarily putt great to win at PGA National.

“It’s definitely a ball-striking golf course this week, and that’s what I did great last year when I was here,” Jones said. “I hit my irons great, I drove it phenomenal, and everything was working for me. I’m chipping great. If I do miss a green, my short game is really good right now.”

At Honda, the greens are firm and there’s more rough than players have seen in a while, so distance control can be a challenge. Adding to the difficulty is the presence of so many penalty areas for offline shots, even before a player gets to the 15th tee and the daunting three-hole Bear Trap.

“You know that (shooting) 1 under or 2 under means something around here,” said Hudson Swafford, who captured The American Express in Palm Springs last month. “I get a smile on my face, because this is the grass (Bermuda) that I grew up on. When par means something, it makes for a good week.”

Jones’ key thought when he goes to tee it up on Thursday: Don’t be overly aggressive. Exercise patience, because even in the windiest conditions, there will be birdie opportunities.

“Don’t turn a bogey into a double out here,” Jones said. “It’s so easy to have a big number on this golf course … It’s a very stressful course from the get-go.”

Power Rankings: The Honda Classic

By Rob Bolton

  • Aces from No. 17 at The Honda Classic

The PGA TOUR’s annual migration east to Florida lands familiarly at The Honda Classic, but the 144 in the field are advised not to hit the ground running as much as to build a stance. No, not that kind, you aficionados of the rules, the kind that wards against careening out of control like a beach chair in the wind.

The Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens hosts the 50th edition of the tournament. It was the most difficult par 70 among all non-majors in each of the last four completed season, and in six of the last seven, and it’s been groomed for a stiffer challenge yet this week. You’ll find that detail, where the course compromises and more beneath the ranking of projected contenders.

15 Mito Pereira Mito Pereira
It wasn’t that long ago when the Chilean was contending, and now he’s armed with the inspirational win by fellow countryman Joaquin Niemann. Pereira also fared well at The Riv with a T15.
14 Aaron Wise Aaron Wise
Hasn’t emerged from the holiday break with any pizzazz, but he’s perfect in three trips to PGA National with a T13 last year. Held the lead outright after opening with a pair of 64s.
13 Denny McCarthy Denny McCarthy
Among the TOUR members sleeping in their own beds this week, but he didn’t earn a payday until his fourth appearance last year – a career-best T3. Six top 20s already this season.
12 Joaquin Niemann Joaquin Niemann
Even 23-year-olds can get weary, and especially after the stress of being chased by everyone at Riviera, but he’s been performing at too high a level in 2022 not to expect it to continue.
11 Mackenzie Hughes Mackenzie Hughes
It was at PGA National two years ago when he turned a corner and kept on going. He’s cashed four of five times at the Honda thanks in part to his marvelous short game and putting.
10 C.T. Pan C.T. Pan
Although Riviera played easier than usual last week, he fulfilled his profile as a talent who thrives on challenging tracks with a solo ninth. He’s 3-for-5 at PGA National with a T3 last year.
9 Louis Oosthuizen Louis Oosthuizen
There aren’t many places that give him a hard time, but PGA National has limited him to a pair of top 25s as his only paydays in six tries. Rested since a T14 in Arizona two weeks ago.
8 Matt Jones Matt Jones
It’s been seven years since he defended a title, but at 41 years of age, he’ll embrace it more than it’ll be a distraction. Solid record overall here, anyway; also fresh off a T15 at Riviera.
7 Brooks Koepka Brooks Koepka
Based on emotion alone, it was an unsurprising early exit at Riviera after a T3 in title defense at TPC Scottsdale. PGA National now gives his skill set the next opportunity to shine. T2 in 2019.
6 Shane Lowry Shane Lowry
After a rough open to 2021-22, he reconnected with consistently strong form for four straight top 25s on the DP WORLD Tour. The local resident (Jupiter) also is 4-for-4 at PGA National.
5 Tommy Fleetwood Tommy Fleetwood
With Scottie Scheffler breaking through in Arizona, the Brit climbs a notch on the short list of best without a PGA TOUR victory. In two trips to PGA National: 4th (2018), 3rd (2020).
4 Keith Mitchell Keith Mitchell
Returns to the site of his lone PGA TOUR title (2019) and in arguably the best form of his career. Tee-to-green proficiency has yielded three top 10s and a pair of T12s in last eight starts.
3 Daniel Berger Daniel Berger
He was perched atop the Power Rankings for last year’s Honda before a sore rib forced him out early. Now working through a sacroiliac joint sprain, but his fit here is phenomenal.
2 Billy Horschel Billy Horschel
The Gator gets back to his home state having missed only two cuts in the last 12 months. He put together four sub-70s for a T6 at the WM. Two top 10s and a T16 here since 2016.
1 Sungjae Im Sungjae Im
The 2020 champ gave it a go in his title defense but settled for a T8. Currently third on TOUR in the all-around and second in scrambling with a win (Shriners) among five top-11 finishes.

The Genesis Invitational co-runner-up Cameron Young, Matthew Wolff, Gary Woodland and Lee Westwood will be among the notables reviewed in Tuesday’s Draws and Fades.

As if PGA National isn’t tough enough, the rough has been allowed to grow as much as another inch from previous years. Now upwards of three inches, the overseeded bermuda framing the landing areas figures to have a direct impact on what already is poised to log as the most challenging test in relation to par of the first 23 courses of the 2021-22 PGA TOUR season.

Last year’s scoring average of 71.102 was typical. So was the invisible variable among the elements. This week’s forecast is favorable in that rain is not expected and daytime highs will touch 80 degrees throughout, but if you ever wanted to witness what wind does to decisions on tees and approach, this will check that box.

That said, given the early peek at what’s in store, it could be worse, but forever respecting how gusts wreak havoc, it will be at times. At least the constant of winds pushing in from east and southeast align with the prevailing direction. That should be valuable for returning competitors who already have hit shots in these conditions on this course.

Of course, The Bear Trap doesn’t care who navigates it, but it’s a shade more bark than bite. The attention to the par-3 15th, par-4 16th and par-3 17th holes is aided by the seven-foot, bronze statue of a bear standing on its hind legs and sporting a menacing mug, which is anything but average, but the none of the three holes is the hardest of its par on the course. It’s just that they’re in succession and at a time on a Sunday afternoon when it pays to be smarter than it.

As a trio last year, the aggregate par 10 averaged 0.546 strokes over par. En route to his five-stroke victory, Matt Jones played the stretch in 2-under for the week with three birdies, eight pars and a bogey.

Jones didn’t let The Bear Trap complicate his quest for the title because he, as the saying goes, golfed his ball. The Aussie led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. He also paced it in par-4 scoring, which is common for winners on tracks with as many as a dozen par 4s.

The soft underbelly of the Champion Course is the pair of par 5s. Surrendering an average of 4.45, Nos. 3 and 18 tied for the fifth-easiest set among 51 courses used in the super season of 2020-21. That’s easily the easiest they’ve played since PGA National debuted as host in 2007, but it probably had more to do with the unusual timing of the tournament being contested in mid-March than its customary position in late February or very early March.


PGATOUR.COM’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.

MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Draws and Fades
WEDNESDAY: Pick ’Em Preview
SUNDAY: QualifiersReshuffleMedical ExtensionsRookie Ranking

* – Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.

WiretoWire: Joaquin Niemann shines bright among stars at Riviera


  • Joaquin Niemann goes wire-to-wire to win at Genesis


Historic course. An event with a storied history. And the event host is Tiger Woods. As if there wasn’t enough pressure on Joaquin Niemann entering Sunday with a three-shot lead at The Genesis Invitational. But the 23-year-old from Chile settled in after a slow start, pulled off plenty of pressure shots and capped it with a final-round 71 to win by two strokes at The Riviera Country Club. Niemann, who opened with rounds of 63 on Thursday and Friday, became the first player to win the event in wire-to-wire fashion since Charlie Sifford in 1969. “This weekend felt like a month,” Niemann said. “I’m so happy it’s finally done. I’m really proud of the way my caddie and I battled.” It was Niemann’s second PGA TOUR win. His first came in 2019 at The Greenbrier. Niemann also came within one shot of tying the event’s scoring record. He finished at 19-under for the week, one short of Lanny Wadkins’ tournament record of 20-under which came in 1985. That remains as the longest standing active scoring record on TOUR. Niemann moved to No. 7 in the FedExCup standings after picking up 550 FedExCup points. The elevated event also brings with it a three-year exemption.


The PGA TOUR switches coasts for The Honda Classic, the start of the Florida swing. Matt Jones’ win last year was his first victory in seven years. He returns to defend, while South Florida locals Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger top the list of notables in the field. Koepka’s brother, Chase, will play on a sponsor exemption, as will 20-year-old Nicolai Hojgaard. The two-time winner on the DP World Tour, including earlier in February, will make his first star on the PGA TOUR at PGA National, the Tom Fazio design that was re-worked by Jack Nicklaus. The course has long been known as one of the toughest on the PGA TOUR thanks in large part to The Bear Trap from hole Nos. 15 to 17. Big names including Louis Oosthuizen, Sungjae Im, Keith Mitchell, Padraig Harrington, and Rickie Fowler are all set to tee it up. The winner will pick up 500 FedExCup points.


Tiger Woods met with the media last week prior to the start of The Genesis Invitational, which he hosts each year. It was a year ago when Woods was severely injured in a single-car accident. He suffered multiple fractures in his right leg and shattered his ankle. “I wish I could tell you when I’m playing again,” Woods said. “I want to know, but I don’t. My golf activity has been very limited. I can chip and putt really well and hit short irons very well, but I haven’t done any long stuff seriously. I’m still working.”


“This has to be one of the toughest courses we play during the year. “I surprised myself with how good I played. During the weekend, I just told myself that we have to finish this and to stay focused.” – Joaquin Niemann, winner of The Genesis Invitational


64 – After shooting his age in Round 1, Bernhard Langer (64) went on to win at the Chubb Classic in Naples, Florida. Already the oldest winner in PGA TOUR Champions history, Langer broke his own record after winning a record fourth Chubb Classic title.

17 – Under-par score for Byeong Hun An to win at the Korn Ferry Tour’s LECOM Suncoast Classic.


This Week Name Points
1. Hideki Matsuyama 1,276
2. Tom Hoge 1,115
3. Scottie Scheffler 1,063
4. Talor Gooch 1,000
5. Sungjae Im 894
6. Luke List 803
7. Joaquin Niemann 792
8. Sam Burns 775
9. Cameron Smith 754
10. Collin Morikawa 730

The Comcast Business TOUR TOP 10 highlights and rewards the extraordinary level of play required to earn a spot in the TOP 10 at the conclusion of the FedExCup Regular Season as determined by the FedExCup standings. The competition recognizes and awards the most elite in golf.

Riviera Romance – Stars align as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and big names start well in LA

By Ben Everill ,

LOS ANGELES – Leader Joaquin Niemann was blushing. Jordan Spieth gushing. And Justin Thomas effused his affection without fear. It was a real lovefest to open The Genesis Invitational.

The praise wasn’t for their own efforts. Or for the silky swing of a competitor. It was for Riviera Country Club. Or The Riv. Or just Riv… you see they’re even giving the course cute pet nicknames these days. It really is true love.

Bathed in Southern California sunshine and dripping with history, Riviera has long been a favorite stop for golfers. Ben Hogan made it his playground in the early days. In 1947-48 Hogan won The Genesis Invitational (then the LA Open) twice and the US Open all at Riviera. They coined it Hogan’s Alley. It was true love for him also.

It’s also long been the home to Hollywood elite. From Humphrey Bogart and Walt Disney to Larry David and Mark Wahlberg… word is Elizabeth Taylor learned to ride a horse here as a child star. Some say many of LA’s dramatic artists have learned to play love based off an actual love for this place.

Now that’s impressive. Because when it comes to love in Los Angeles, so often it’s not actually true love. It’s made to look like real love. Hollywood romances certainly can whisk us away into a dreamworld and if people think you’re a somebody in this town – well you can ride a tidal wave of affection coming from all angles.

But don’t be fooled. This is a town where your 15 minutes of fame usually lasts just 12. And celebrity relationships can be over five minutes after they’ve been spotted on TMZ and earned a combined moniker like “Bennifer”.

At Riv though, the love is real. Niemann was on cloud nine as he negotiated these 18 gorgeous holes sunk into the Santa Monica canyon in the Pacific Palisades. His incredible 8-under 63 meant his lead after the first round is three.

“It’s got to be one of my best days on the golf course, especially in a place like this with this history. Riviera Country Club is one of my favorite golf courses and this event is my favorite during the year,” Niemann said giddily afterwards like a schoolkid with a crush.

Among those sitting second at five under are former housemates Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler. Their bromance has always been healthy but the 12-time TOUR winning Spieth and last week’s WM Phoenix Open winner Scheffler were also swept up by the siren song of George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell’s masterpiece on Thursday.

Spieth has history with Riviera, a venue that has been kind to many a Masters champion over the years. He’s looking to join the likes of Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Adam Scott who have triumphed in both spots.

“If I could pick one non major / PLAYERS Championship to win on the PGA TOUR, it would be here,” Spieth said. “I love Riviera. I think it’s in the conversation as the best golf course in the world.”

Spieth’s Texan Longhorns won the National Championship over Justin Thomas’ Alabama Crimson Tide at Riviera, something he constantly reminds his friend about. That result, particularly a famous eagle hole out from the fairway on the difficult par-4 15th from Spieth that helped turn their match, gives Thomas a love/hate relationship with The Riv.

But Thomas fired a 4-under 67 of his own to sit tied sixth – on track to erase some of those college memories and the burn from losing a four shot 54-hole lead a few years ago to J.B. Holmes. Any hate was forgotten Thursday.

“This is the best golf course we play all year. I think you could probably ask the majority of the TOUR and we would play here every other week if we could,” Thomas espoused.

“It’s just the perfect example of what I say all the time, that length isn’t the answer. You’ve got zero rough out here, no hazards, no out-of-bounds and this place holds its own every single year. I love playing here.”

The top 11 ranked players in the world are all in the field this week – a testament to the popularity of the course. Of those, only Hideki Matsuyama (72) and Dustin Johnson (73) started over par. Seven of them sit inside the top 22 of the leaderboard.

Perhaps the fact the Genesis Invitational is an elevated PGA TOUR stop hosted by 82-time winner Tiger Woods and his TGR Foundation that offers a three-year exemption on TOUR and 550 FedExCup points helps with the love?

“You all know I love Tiger as much as anybody else, but no offense to him, I don’t think it’s him that people come here for,” Thomas said loud enough for the iconic gum trees and tricky poa annua greens around the property to soak in the sentiment. “It’s just a great, great designed golf course.”

Let the love live on.

An Exceptional Journey by an Ordinary Person

By: Avis Brown-Riley

Golf has always been my passion. As a little girl, it was my dream to be an LPGA Tour player. I wanted to be like my role model Renee Powell. She inspired me to pursue my dream of one day becoming a part of the LPGA.

I had a phenomenal junior golf career in San Diego. But during the seventies, it was very rare that I saw other Black people on the course. I was the only Black girl playing in San Diego Junior Golf Events and Junior PGA Golf Events. There were certain golf courses we couldn’t go to or even go into the pro shops. As a little girl, I didn’t really understand racism. It was there but I focused on playing golf.

I started playing golf at age 7 and won my first tournament at age 8. I won the 1974 Junior World Championship when I was ten years old and I am the only African American female to hold four Junior World trophies. I am proud to say that my photo is in the golf shop at the world-renowned Torrey Pines golf shop next to that of Tiger Woods. I am also the only African American female to win the San Diego Women’s City Amateur Championship.

I earned a full collegiate golf scholarship at the United States International University. During my collegiate golf career, I won the first inaugural National Minority Collegiate Golf tournament and was ranked no. 25 out of 820 women collegiate golfers in the nation. I graduated with a degree in communications and competed on what is now known as the Epson Tour, winning several events and shooting the women’s course records at Canyon Crest Country Course during the Michelob Golf Classic. I am one of five African Americans to play in the U.S. Women’s Open.

It was a struggle being the only Black woman playing out there at that time, and I can relate to the adversity that other African Americans like Jackie Robinson went through. After 25 years of playing competitive golf, I reinvented myself and joined FedEx, where I served as a Customer Service Agent, Senior Human Resources Coordinator and one of three African American female Operations Manager in the San Diego District. Breaking the glass ceiling had its challenges, but it has been extremely rewarding.

I made the decision to retire early after being diagnosed with breast cancer. My Stage I cancer quickly progressed to Stage IV. That was the toughest eighteen holes of golf I ever played. But I am happy to say that I am now 12 years cancer free.

It was my strong faith, dedicated doctors, a strong family support system, and the Desire, Dedication, Determination I learned and demonstrated during my golf career that helped me to win the battle.

In 2017, I was invited to join the LPGA Professionals. When I received my Class A certification, it brought tears to my eyes. Dreams do come true; I never gave up and returned to my passion. I became an LPGA Professional to help make a difference and introduce this wonderful game to women and young girls. It’s such a joy. And I am grateful to be a part of the LPGA today.

Being a third-degree burn victim at five years old, overcoming cancer, having major back surgery (the same anterior lumbar procedure as Tiger Woods), and having to deal with adversity my whole life, I knew I had to keep fighting and smiling. And in my heart, I also knew that I had to give back.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Now I am a motivational speaker, sharing my story with others who may face similar challenges. I also love being able to give back to kids in the inner city and community.

There are so many different challenges in life and despite being an inductee of the San Diego Hall of Champions and the African American Golfers Hall of Fame and serving as a Board Member for numerous foundations and organizations, being a champion in life far outweighs all the accolades.

When you love yourself and give back to your community, it makes all the difference in the world. That keeps you smiling.

Remember, it’s not the adversity you face, but how you face adversity that defines you as a person and builds character.


The driver Tiger Woods used in his TOUR debut at the 1992 Genesis Invitational


  • Tiger Woods talks about his PGA TOUR debut

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Tiger Woods’ PGA TOUR debut at Riviera Country Club. The 16-year-old needed permission from his school principal to play, and he called it a “life-changing moment for me” after shooting 72-75 to miss the cut.

Little did we know what the next three decades would hold. Woods went on to amass a record-tying 82 TOUR wins, including 15 majors. He’s back at Riviera this week as the host of the tournament now known as The Genesis Invitational.

Much has changed in the world of golf, as well. Most notably for our Equipment Report, there have been huge advancements in club technology since 1992.

To celebrate Woods’ 30-year anniversary of his PGA TOUR debut, we wanted to take a closer look at the driver the 16-year-old Woods used that week (Want to read more on Tiger’s historic gear? Click here for more on Tiger’s famed Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter).

As a TaylorMade representative has confirmed, young Woods used a TaylorMade Tour Preferred Burner Plus driver equipped with a “Tour Gold From TaylorMade” shaft.

Woods averaged 263.3 yards off the tee in his two rounds at Riviera, slightly below the field average (263.9 yards) for those two days and 25 yards between the leader in that category (Joey Sindelar, 288.0 yards). Fred Couples, who went on to win that week, averaged 282.5 yards in the first two rounds, while Davis Love III, the 36-hole leader who eventually fell in a playoff to Couples, averaged 283.8. Woods ranked 77th in the 144-player field in that statistic.

TaylorMade was a pioneer in the metalwood space, releasing the first metal driver, the Pittsburgh Persimmon, in 1979. The Burner Plus model that Woods used in 1992 was part of a series of TaylorMade drivers that were available in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

According to a TaylorMade catalog from 1989, the Tour Preferred drivers were made with stronger-than-usual lofts, but the designs utilized “tri-dimensional weighting” to move the center of gravity lower and farther back in the heads. The combination of strong lofts and rearward weighting allowed TaylorMade to enhance both distance and accuracy.

The drivers also were designed with thinner hosels to reduce drag throughout the swing, and the reduction in weight allowed TaylorMade to increase perimeter weighting in the clubheads for increased forgiveness.

If you read up about new golf club technology in the year 2022, golf club companies are still trying to achieve similar engineering improvements. The typical goal is to reposition weight in a head to enhance forgiveness and increase speed.

Woods’ Burner Plus was made of stainless steel, which was a common material that drivers used in the era between persimmon and the introduction of titanium in the early 90s. As you’ll notice, Woods’ driver had in 1992 a significantly smaller head than the drivers of today.

Drivers have gotten significantly bigger as materials have gotten lighter, and companies have gotten smarter through the years.

In his most recent appearance, at the 2021 PNC Championship, Woods used a TaylorMade Stealth Plus driver that debuted TaylorMade’s new carbonwood technology. The club’s black-and-red face is made of 60 layers of carbon, has sole-weight and hosel adjustability, and a crown made of carbon.

The Stealth Plus is a far technological cry from the driver Woods used in his PGA TOUR debut 30 years ago. Just for kicks, if you’re interested in owning a Tour Preferred Burner Plus for yourself (if you don’t have one in the garage already), they’re readily available on third-party websites for less than $20.

Pick one up and give it a try: Our guess is you won’t hit it nearly as far or as straight as a 16-year-old Woods!


Written By: Amy Rogers


President, Avis Brown-Riley Golf Extravaganza What does Black History Month mean to you?

Avis Brown-Riley: It is a time to reflect on the past and build toward the future. I celebrate a culture and a people who made personal sacrifices and contributions to make this country a great place to live. To pay tribute to those who help to lay a foundation, where I can continue to build upon for future generations; like my father, Gordon Brown, Sr. who had to drive 100 miles to play a round of golf, when there was a public golf course 10 minutes from his house. Today, I can play golf at Pebble Beach and other famous golf courses.

Q: Which historical African American has been a source of inspiration in your life (and why)?

A: Mr. Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame 1962. Despite the odds and his personal safety, he displayed courage, perseverance, inner strength, self-confidence, resilience and strength of character that empowered his generation and future generations. If not for Mr. Jackie Robinson, there would be no Lee Elder, Charlie Sifford, or Tiger Woods.

Q: In the coming years, what role do you see African Americans playing in the golf industry?

A: The same role as everyone else. That is what diversity is all about. It is what our founding fathers intended when they built this country. “We the People”. We the People embrace our shared belonging and demand prosperity for everyone, not just the wealthy few. Together, we stand for a society with equality, justice, and dignity for all.

Q: How do you celebrate/honor Black History Month each year?

A: As an African American and motivational speaker, I celebrate and honor Black History Month each month of the year. I share with all who listen, diversity is a way of life, it’s about our American culture and the people, who have made personal sacrifices and contributions to make this country a great place to live. We stand for and support a society with equality, justice, and dignity for all.

Q: What resources/tools do you recommend for those would like to learn more about Black History? (Movies, documentaries, series, books, podcasts).

A: Black History is more than looking back at the past. We should be looking at today and tomorrow. People of color are living history every day! As Americans, we should exhibit the qualities of dedication, grace under pressure, personal sacrifice, compassion, hope, and dignity that characterize the promotion of human welfare and social reform.

Scottie Scheffler gets it done at WM Phoenix Open

By Cameron Morfit

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Ted Scott thought he was done as a caddie.

The Lafayette, Louisiana, resident had racked up double-digit wins over a long career carrying the bag for Paul Azinger and then, most famously, Bubba Watson. It had been a good run.

Then Scottie Scheffler, who birdied the third hole of a sudden-death playoff against Patrick Cantlay to make the WM Phoenix Open his first PGA TOUR victory, hit his radar. Scheffler needed a caddie last fall, and they shared the same faith, which seemed like a good start.

“The other thing he said is, ‘I really like competing,’” Scott said. “I said, ‘I like competing. Sounds like it could be a fun thing.’ So, we hashed out the details.”

They started at The RSM Classic last November. First round: 63. The rest: forgettable (T57).

Faith was at a premium as Scheffler made four bogeys in the middle of the final round Sunday, but he and Scott knew the game was there. After all, this was a player who had hit all 18 greens and shot a best-of-the-week, 9-under 62 just the day before. They just had to hang in there.

They did, and the partnership yielded a victory for the first time as Scheffler birdied four of his last six holes in regulation – nearly winning it in regulation from just inside 5 1/2 feet – before ending it with a birdie putt from 25 feet, 7 inches on their third extra crack at the par-4 18th hole.

Scott reminded Scheffler that one putt, the miss at the end of regulation, didn’t define him.

“Yeah, you know, it’s tough to really say exactly what’s going on between us,” said Scheffler, who goes to fourth in the FedExCup, ninth in the world. “But I think we kind of sit on the same wavelength. We get along really well. He does a good job keeping me level-headed and making jokes and having fun.

“He’s a really, really hard worker, which I appreciate,” Scheffler continued. “I have a lot of faith in him as a caddie and I trust him on the golf course, and it really helps me kind of believe in myself. Just having him out there by my side is extremely helpful.”

Scheffler, 25, held the outright 54-hole lead at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open last fall before finishing T2. That marked his second career runner-up on TOUR and first since the 2021 World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

But he wasn’t obsessed with winning, seemingly the only thing he hadn’t done after shooting 59 in a TOUR event, coming so close at the WGC-Dell Technologies in Austin, Texas – where he was a star for the University of Texas – and beating world No. 1 Jon Rahm at the Ryder Cup.

“The only time I thought about it was when you guys asked about it,” he said of the hole in his resume.

Now, though, he’s done it, hoisting his first trophy one week after Tom Hoge broke through at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am and two after Luke List won the Farmers Insurance Open.

Scheffler’s victory marks the first string of three straight first-time winners in standalone events on TOUR since Nate Lashley, Mathew Wolff and Dylan Frittelli won the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic, 3M Championship and John Deere Classic, respectively.

It also validated Scott’s eye for talent, plus a lot of opinions that Scheffler was good enough to win.

The caddie’s first indication of how good Scheffler is: Partners Scheffler and Watson tied for eighth in the two-man Zurich Classic of New Orleans last April. Scott, then still on the Watson’s bag, saw the game.

Still, it was not until the Ryder Cup last fall, when Scheffler beat Rahm in singles and Scott watched it all on TV, did the caddie realize the full breadth of Scheffler’s skillset.

“I was like, Wow, he’s really good,’” Scott said.

Now everybody knows it – if they didn’t already. Because friends are the shock absorbers of life, and player and caddie were too united to fall apart even after bogeys on 5, 7, 8 and 12.

“We had a lot of fun together even through all the bogeys and stuff,” Scheffler said. “We never felt totally out of the golf tournament, and I looked at him on 14 green, we were only I think maybe two back at the time, and I think I was a little bit surprised still to be that close to the lead.

“He just did a good job keeping me in it mentally and keeping me focused on the task at hand.”