Using the same ‘horses for courses’ argument, Riviera looks the ideal setting for RORY SABBATINI to finally return to his very best. There’s been much sign of it lately, finishing strongly at both Waialae and Scottsdale for a final position of 12th in both events. Riviera is a much more suitable course, with its fast greens, as his past course record shows. Young players have always been at a significant disadvantage here, so 12th on his course debut in 2000 and runner-up in 2002 suggested great early promise. Since then he’s won the title in 2006, and in total has five top-15s from nine visits.
Before getting to the final selection, a quick word about some of the other candidates. At his best, Ernie Els loves this place, challenging strongly in Elkington’s PGA and winning the Nissan here in 1999. Clearly though, he’s nowhere near that form right now, and could have putting nightmares on these greens. KJ Choi and JB Holmes also fit the bill of having gone well at Riviera before, but are up against it on their recent form.
Top players who can be added to the list of those who seem to hate it here include Geoff Ogilvy, whose 19th place in 2006 is his only top-50 in six tries. Zach Johnson, even despite the ideal fast greens, has a best of 23rd from five. Chad Campbell did finish 2nd here in 2005, but that form is highly dubious as it came in a rain-soaked, 36-hole affair. Even Jim Furyk, that rock of consistency, has only one top-10 from ten starts at Riviera.