LOS ANGELES – The Genesis Open is Graeme McDowell’s second start on the West Coast, which is about the norm for the Northern Irishman who often splits his early schedule between the PGA Tour and the European circuit.
In fact, last year the Genesis Open was McDowell’s only start on the West Coast, but as he finished his second-round 66 at Riviera Country Club for a share of the lead he’d started to rethink that strategy.
“We were saying why I don’t play the West Coast swing when some of the best results of my career have come on the West Coast,” McDowell said. “It’s funny, I was talking to SkySports yesterday and they’ve got that fancy graphics machine behind them and they pulled up my record from Riviera and it didn’t make for very great reading, and I was like, ‘please switch that off.’”
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McDowell’s record at the Genesis Open is not the best, with three missed cuts in five starts, but he did win the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and is a two-time champion of the Hero World Challenge when it was played at Sherwood Country Club, which is just north of Los Angeles.
His West Coast reluctance is even more curious when you consider his affinity for Riviera, which is widely considered one of the circuit’s best ball-striking golf courses.
“I certainly don’t see it as a bomber’s golf course this week,” said McDowell, who began his round with three consecutive birdies. “There’s no rough out here and yet we’re looking at a 2-over cut. No one’s getting away, 4, 5 under par is right in touch.”
McDowell’s play is particularly encouraging considering he began this week following four consecutive missed cuts coming into the Genesis Open.