If the higher-ups at the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open are open to not-so-nutty ideas, and even have a decent sense of humor, they’ll put Tiger Woods with Phil Mickelson in the same grouping for the first two rounds of this week’s event at Riviera Country Club.
Call it “The Re-Match,” if you need some branding. Outside of a major, this might be a rare opportunity.
Woods, who in the recent past has skipped this L.A. stop of the tour because of a poor success rate on the course, is now an avid supporter since his foundation benefits from the funds raised by this event. Problem is, he missed the cut last year and then disappeared on everyone. Woods made his PGA Tour debut here as a 16 year old with an exemption in 1992. He has never won in 12 events – still the course he has played the most on the PGA Tour without winning. He nearly won the 1998 event, but it was held at TPC Valencia that season, and he lost in a playoffs. He was also second in ’98.
Mickelson, a back-to-back winner at Riviera (2008-’09) and runner-up in a 2012 playoff, originally was going to skip this tournament on his early 2019 schedule, the same way he surprisingly passed on the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torey Pines, considered to be his home event. Mickelson originally said he wanted a week off between Pebble Beach (where he holds a two-stroke lead with two holes to play when the final round finishes Monday — 8 a.m., Golf Channel) and the WGC-Mexico Championship, which he won last year. But Mickelson, who missed the cut at Scottsdale two weeks ago, decided to jump in at the Genesis Open before the deadline.
So now, on Valentine’s Day, Woods and Mickelson share a Riviera grass patch, in an event together for the first time since their odd pay-per-view “The Match” event in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving weekend, where Mickelson ended up with the $9 million winner-take-all share. Get these two on the kiss cam before it’s too late.
In an event that already has seven of the top 10 players in the world, now we have Woods (at No. 13) and Mickelson (No. 29), who finish sixth last year behind winner Bubba Watson.
For the record, Watson has won three of the last five years at Riviera, so if form holds, he will give it up this time. He had an emotional scene as he took a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after three rounds a year ago and converted it into a two-shot win over Kevin Na in the finale to claim a $1.29 million paycheck. World ranked No. 1 Justin Rose and No. 2 Brooks Koepka have passed on Riviera. But No. 3 Dustin Johnson, the 2017 winner, returns. So does No. 4 Justin Thomas, No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 6 Jon Rahm, No. 7 Xander Schauffele and No. 9 Rory McIlroy. Former champions here coming back include James Hahn, Bill Haas, Steve Stricker, Charles Howell III, Adam Scott, Ernie Els and crowd favorite Fred Couples, the 59-year-old who won way back in 1990 and ’92. Other notables showing up: Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III, Charl Schwartzel, Vijay Singh and Jordan Spieth.
And then there’s the important weather update: Showers on Tuesday and Wednesday lead into the first round, and more rain is forcast for Friday’s second round. Sun is expected for the final two rounds.
More info: www.GenesisOpen.com
* Golf Channel has the first two rounds (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday)
CBS (Channel 2) has the final two rounds (noon-to-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday).
NBA All Star Game in Charlotte, N.C. (Sunday, 5 p.m., TNT) gives the league a chance to remind everyone that Michael Jordan still holds an ownership stake in one of its 30 teams. In case you forgot. Which we often try to do. This whole “Team LeBron” against “Team Giannis” is another magic trick to try to get us to watch. LeBron James has picked Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, LeMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and Dwyane Wade for his squad, as well as making at trade with Giannis Antetokounmppo to get Ben Simmons on his roster in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Antetokounmpo picked Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Nicola Vucevic,Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Kyle Lowery, Dirk Nowitzki as well as Westbrook, who apparently has a nice feud going with Embiid.
Also this weekend: Team U.S. vs. Team World in the Rising Stars game, Friday at 6 p.m., TNT (The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzman and Lonzo Ball were picked for Team USA with the Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on Team World).
All-Star Saturday Night (dunk contest, 3-point contest, skills challenge), Saturday at 5 p.m., TNT
More info: www.nba.com
The Lakers this week:
* At Atlanta, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Spectrum SportsNet
The Clippers this week:
* At Minnesota, Monday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
* Vs. Phoenix, at Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
Sure, we’d absolutely love to see what a Top 25 college basketball program looks like these days. And a Wooden Award finalist. So, thank you, No. 4 Gonzaga (23-2, 10-0), led by junior forward Rui Hachimura, for making the trip to L.A. for a West Coast Conference Valentine’s Day meeting with Loyola Marymount (17-8, 5-6) at Gersten Pavilion (Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN2). Look at the stat above about the Zags’ dominance, which, if the tournament started today, would land them the top seed in the West bracket. Through their first seven conference games, the Zags were outscoring WCC opponents by more than 200 combined points (with one of them a 59-point triumph at Santa Clara on Jan. 24). One other stat: They have trailed only four minutes of the first 280 minutes in conference play. One more: The Zags, who lead the nation in scoring at 91 points a game, have won 28 conference road games in a row.
Oh, and they could be ranked No. 3 now since Virginia lost to Duke last Saturday.
Gonzaga handled LMU 73-55 when they last met in Spokane, Wash., in mid-January. By a quirk in the WCC schedule, Gonzaga doesn’t stay in Southern California to play Pepperdine this trip, or this season. Pepperdine’s only time facing Gonzaga comes next week in Spokane.
* Also this week for LMU: At Gersten Pavilion vs. BYU, Saturday at 1 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Also this week for Pepperdine: At San Francisco, Thursday at 7 p.m.; At Saint Mary’s, Saturday at 8 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
In the rest of Southern California games of interest:
* In the Pac 12, which still does not have a Top 25 team and may not now that Washington has lost one game in conference:
* UCLA (12-12, 5-6) at Cal, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* USC (13-11, 6-5) at Stanford, 8 p.m., ESPNU
* USC at Cal, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* UCLA at Stanford, 7 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
In the Big West:
* Long Beach State (9-16, 3-6): At Cal State Fullerton, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3; At UC Davis, Saturday at 7 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge (10-14, 4-4): At UC Davis, Wednesday at 7 p.m.; vs. Cal State Fullerton at the Matadome, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Games of national interest:
* Monday: Virginia at North Carolina, 4 p.m., ESPN; Kansas at TCU, 6 p.m., ESPN
* Tuesday: Purdue at Maryland, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network; LSU at Kentucky, 4 p.m., ESPN; Michigan State at Wisconsin, 4 p.m., ESPN2; Michigan at Penn State, 5:30 p.m., Big Ten Net; Duke at Louisville, 6 p.m., ESPN; Air Force at UNLV, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN; San Diego State at Colorado State, 8 p.m., ESPN2
* Wednesday: Providence at Villanova, 3:30 p.m., FS1; Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 6 p.m., ESPN2; Arizona State at Colorado, 7:30 p.m., FS1
* Thursday: Arizona at Utah, 6 p.m., ESPNU
* Friday: Harvard at Princeton, 4 p.m., ESPNEWS
* Saturday: Maryland at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 11; North Carolina at Wake Forest, 9 a.m., ACC Network; Clemson at Louisville, 9 a.m.; Oklahoma State at Texas, 10 a.m., Channel 2; Notre Dame at Virginia, 11 a.m. ACC Network; Xavier at Providence, 11 a.m., Channel 11; Army at Navy, 11:30 a.m., CBSSN; West Virginia at Kansas, 1 p.m., ESPN; Iowa State at Kansas State, 1 p.m., ESPN2; Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh, 1:30 p.m., ACC Network; North Carolina State at Duke, 3 p.m., ESPN; Iowa at Rutgers, 3 p.m., FS1; LSU at Georgia, 3 p.m., SEC Network; Boise State at San Diego State, 4 p.m., CBSSN; Tennessee at Kentucky, 5 p.m., ESPN; Washington at Washington State, 5 p.m., ESPNU; Gonzaga at San Diego, 7 p.m.; Nevada at Wyoming, 7 p.m.; Arizona State at Utah, 7 p.m., FS1; Oregon at Oregon State, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net; UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine, 9 p.m., ESPN2
* Sunday: Ohio State at Michigan State, 10 a.m., Channel 2; Wichita State at Cincinnati, 10 a.m., ESPN; Houston at Tulane, 11 a.m., CBSSN; Villanova at St. John’s, 2 p.m., FS1; Arizona at Colorado, 5 p.m., ESPNU
In last year’s 60th running of the Daytona 500. Austin Dillon went from the 14th spot on the opening grid and survived an incident with overtime leader Aric Almirola to pull away for the win. Rookie Darrell Wallace was second and Denny Hamlin was third. A major wreck with six laps left in the final stage that took out drivers Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and leader Ryan Blaney led to the extra two-lap overtime. Brad Keselowski is the early favorite to win what’s generously called the Super Bowl of the NASCAR Cup Series. The 11-year veteran and Team Penske driver has never won this but has the best odds at 8-too-1 posted by BetOnline.ag, followed by Kevin Harvick and defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano both at 9/1. Seven-time NASCAR cham Jimmie Johnson has a new-look No. 48 after leaving long-time crew chief Chad Knaus, coming off a winless 2018 season. Truex has moved to Joe Gibbs Racing. Meanwhile, 21-year old William Byron and 25-year-old teammate Alex Bowman have the front row for the race based on Sunday’s qualifying — the youngest front row in Daytona 500 history. The last Daytona 500 pole-sitter to win the race was Dale Jarrett in 2000. The last four failed to get a Top 10 finish.
* Fox (Channel 11) has the race Sunday at 11:30 a.m. from Daytona International Speedway.
The MLB spring training clichés that The Sporting News deftly documented a year ago still hold true today.
Such as: “Last season is in the past.”
Which means: “I don’t want to bring up how crappy last year was, please, thanks.”
For the Dodgers, that’s recalling another World Series loss.
For the Angels, that’s recalling another playoff season missed entirely.
Pitchers and catchers report for the Dodgers and Angels on Tuesday in Arizona. Full squad workouts begin the week after. The Cactus League starts Feb. 21, and the Grapefruit League opens the next day.
If you can’t deal with that, the college baseball season will start this week. UCLA start with a No. 3 ranking by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America and No. 5 by D1Baseball.com and has returning pitchers Ryan Garcia (a junior from La Salle High of Pasadena, 8-1 with a 2.23 ERA last season) and Zach Pettway (sophomore from Long Beach Wilson, 8-4 with a 3.35 ERA a year ago). The offense is led by junior second baseman Chase Strumpf (team-best .363 last season).
* UCLA vs. St. John’s at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* USC vs. Nebraska-Omaha at Dedeaux Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at noon.
* Loyola Marymount at UC Santa Barbara, Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Pepperdine in the Angels College Classic at Tempe, Ariz.: Vs. Cal State Bakersfield, Friday at 11 a.m., vs. Cal, Saturday at 5 p.m., vs. Wichita State, Sunday at 10 a.m. and vs. Stanford, Sunday at 2 p.m.
*Long Beach State at Florida, Friday at 3:30 p.m., SEC Network; Saturday at 1 p.m., SEC Network; Sunday at 9 a.m., SEC Network
* Cal State Northridge vs. Kansas State at Matador Field, Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton at the MLB Collegiate Tournament in Talking Stick, Ariz.: vs. TCU, Friday at noon; vs. Vanderbilt, Saturday at noon; vs. Virginia, Sunday at 2 p.m.
* In the NHL, the Kings finish their six-game, 10-day road trip against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Caps (Monday, 4 p.m., FSW) before returning to Staples Center for games against Vancouver (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FSW) and Boston (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., FSW). The Ducks, with a new interim coach to keep up with the Kings, are home at Honda Center for the first time this month against Vancouver (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket), Boston (Friday, 7 p.m., Prime Ticket) and Washington (Sunday, 6 p.m., Prime Ticket).
* The Harlem Globetrotters annual Southern California appearance hits Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid (Friday, 7 p.m.), Ontario’s Citizens Bank Arena (Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and downtown L.A.’s Staples Center (Sunday, 2 p.m.). Next week are stops in San Diego and Anaheim.
* The 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – while not a traditional sport – still seems to get lumped into this category like a National Spelling Bee. Fox has the final two nights of coverage – Monday and Tuesday, 4:30 p.m., FS1.