Sobel’s 10 Takeaways from Riviera: Aussie Domination, Early Trends and Bryson’s Surge
Stan Badz/PGA TOUR via Getty Images. Pictured: Tiger Woods, Adam Scott
LOS ANGELES – In a tournament that at times seemed like everyone could win and other times seemed like no one could win, it was ultimately Adam Scott who outlasted his fellow contenders to win a Genesis Invitational title a decade-and-a-half after once winning it unofficially.
There are few gentlemen in the game like Scott, whose coolest-guy-in-the-room persona quickly eases into dude-next-door when you speak with him.
Following his victory, he spoke about getting his usual late start on the competition by making his debut this week and ridding himself of that monkey on his back after not winning a PGA Tour event for nearly four years.
It’s always a bit self-serving to ask a major champion where a specific victory ranks in the moments after clinching it, but Scott handled that question perfectly, intimating, “As far as ranking this, it feels really good right now.”
Let’s get to 10 other takeaways from a tremendous week at Riviera.
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The Riviera-Augusta Correlation
As my colleague Josh Perry pointed out in his Genesis preview, there’s a correlation between winners at Augusta National and those at Riviera, one which helps explain why Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson have accounted for five combined titles on each of those courses. That connection led him to suggest Patrick Reed and me to pick Tiger Woods (I’ll save the self-flagellation for this week’s preview), but Scott – another Masters champion, of course — shouldn’t have been too far from any radar.
If there was any reason to doubt him on a venue where he was once declared an unofficial winner due to it being a rain-shortened 36-hole event, it’s only because Scott was making his first start of the year while every other top player in the field had already gotten his feet wet. As he’s preached so often in the past, though, and proved once again this week, quality beats quantity every time.
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!
Scott becomes the third Australian player to win on the PGA Tour this year and while the simplest connection between him, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman is that they’re all world-class players and deserving champions, there might be a little more to it, too.
There’s long been an idea that, even though these players travel the globe and in the case of these specific three guys, don’t even live in Australia anymore, their biorhythms still understand it’s their summer while players from the Northern Hemisphere are still shaking off the winter cobwebs.
If you’re not buying into that idea considering they all live in warm-weather climates anyway, here’s a more tangible observation: Each of these three played in their home country in the Presidents Cup just two months ago. It might not be a coincidence that a later date than usual has led to a higher number of those competitors winning quickly this year.
The Story Behind the Scott Brown Steam
On Saturday evening, I was introduced to a Riviera CC employee whose friend had been the walking scorer for Scott Brown during the Monday pro-am – yes, the one on Monday, not Wednesday. The scorer told the employee and one other mutual friend all about how Brown had shot 63 in 30 mph winds, including a hole-in-one on the 16th.
The three of them pooled their money, putting down bets on Brown to win at 400-1, plus top-five, top-10 and top-20. Well, the outright wager didn’t come through, which I’m told would’ve netted something in the range of $30,000. But with a runner-up finish, Brown earned himself three new fans, as they cashed each of the other three bets.
When I asked Brown if Monday’s performance led to his Sunday finish, he wouldn’t quite go that far, but did say, “I did play really well in that pro-am. It was a fun day.” For those of you into these kinds of things, Brown will play the Puerto Rico Open this week, site of his lone win in 2013 and a few other strong finishes.