If you can sense a little extra West Coast vibe from this week’s Report, that’s because I’ve just returned from a week-long trip to Los Angeles. Four of us — me plus coworkers Dylan Dethier, Zephyr Melton and Sean Zak — got to live the dream, covering the Genesis Invitational in person, riding top-down in our convertible rental car and even enjoying some team yoga in the living room of our AirBnB. Returning back to the New England cold was a harsh dose of reality, but I feel plenty alive thanks to all the Phil Mickelson chatter plus the steady stream of content coming from Paulina Gretzky’s bachelorette party. But before we get too far into this week’s action, let’s debrief my first-ever trip to the City of Angels.
I saw Tiger!
Tiger’s press conference was the place to be last week. I couldn’t tell you the whenabouts of the other pressers but I knew one thing: Tiger would be speaking at 12-noon on Wednesday.
The energy of the media center completely shifted as we waited for Tiger to arrive. Cameramen and photographers who weren’t there for previous press conferences filed in. Soon the room reached maximum capacity for the first time all week. People were buzzing, the coffee station shut down and soon there were no open seats left, so stragglers opted for the standing room in the back, hoping to sneak a direct view of Tiger between the rows of heads in front of them.
When Tiger entered the room, all eyes turned in his direction. Once he got to talking, he made it clear he’s not yet ready to play, but I thought he looked young. His face was expressive and full of energy. He seemed genuinely happy to be there. Conversations ceased and you could hear necks creaking as the room turned to follow his every move. He wore all black, sipped coffee and strode to the front of the room, where he took his seat at the podium alongside Charlie Sifford Exemption Aaron Beverly. Then he took questions.
Within 30 seconds of Woods’ presser ending, the room emptied out. Adam Scott — a guy who is accustomed to commanding a room — entered. Very few seemed to notice. Tiger is a tough act to follow.
Everyone loves Riviera, especially the pros
The event may be pressure-packed but it’s clear the players had a LOT of fun at Riviera last week. I spent some time hanging out by the flash zone where post-round player interviews happen, and no one seemed to be in a rush to get out of there. Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland caught up, and Collin even took the time to take some photos of his fiancee and her friends following his final-round 65. All this is to say that if the World No. 2 has time to take an Instagram for his gal, so should you.
The talk of the town
I went into the week expecting everyone to be talking about Tiger and Riviera. Those two got some attention, but the real topic of interest at the Genesis was the Saudi League. Every player was asked about it. In fact, it seemed like questions about the course or play were simply a formality before reporters would get to the questions everyone wanted answered. Joaquin Niemann declined to comment, Viktor Hovland said he’d play wherever the best in the world went, and on Sunday DJ and Bryson DeChambeau (neither of whom were in attendance) released official statements that became the talk of the town.