6 players to watch at the Genesis Open

Matt Kuchar

The PGA Tour's 'West Coast Swing' concludes this week with the Genesis Open (or Los Angeles Open to give it its non-sponsored name).

One of the oldest events on tour, it takes place at Riviera Country Club and will this year welcome 11 of the world's top 20 players... as well as a certain 14-time major-winner currently ranked 550th.

Who should you be keeping an eye on as the week progresses? We've picked out six players below...

Matt Kuchar

A victory for Matt Kuchar this week would see the likeable American climb into the top ten on the PGA Tour career money list. Kuch is currently 13th on the standings with total earnings of $42,355,747 but with Steve Stricker (10th, $43,454,719), Zach Johnson (11th, $43,094,599) and Justin Rose (12th, $42,851,082) all sitting this week out, he can leapfrog them all by taking home the $1.296m winner’s cheque. He's showing some form, too - he was T5 a fortnight ago at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

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Dj

World No.1 Dustin Johnson might be the bookies’ favourite to make it back-to-back wins this week but history suggests he won’t have it easy. In the 92 years that the tournament has been contested, the defending champion has retained their title on only seven occasions: Macdonald Smith (1928/29); Ben Hogan (1947/48); Paul Harney (1964/65); Arnold Palmer (1966/67); Corey Pavin (1994/95); Mike Weir (2003/04); and Phil Mickelson (2008/09).

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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the event since 2006. The LA Open was where, in 1992, a 16-year-old Woods made his first PGA Tour appearance whilst still at high school. However, he has never won the title. The closest he has come was in 1998 when he lost in a play-off to Billy Mayfair. To date, it is the only play-off defeat inflicted upon Woods. He was runner-up again the following year. Should he win this week, the former world No.1 could jump to as high as 70th on the OWGR.

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Cameron Champ

Since 2009, the LA Open has offered an exemption for a player who “represents the advancement of diversity in golf”. Called the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption, this year’s place goes to Cameron Champ. If you’re wondering why that name sounds familiar, it might be because Champ was tied for fourth after 36 holes of last year’s US Open at Erin Hills. He ultimately finished in a tie for 32nd.

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Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson, chasing his first win since the 2013 Open, will fancy his chances of breaking that duck this week. Not only is a two-time former winner at Riviera, he is coming into the event off the back of finishing T5 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open a fortnight ago and T2 at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

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Pat Perez

A win this week could propel Pat Perez into the top ten on the world rankings for the first time in his career. Currently No.19, the three-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t missed a cut in 13 events, stretching back to last summer’s Open Championship. In that time, he has had one win and four other top ten finishes.

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