LOS ANGELES — Patrick Cantlay loves playing Riviera Country Club.
The former UCLA and Servite High star said so before this week’s Genesis Invitational began, but his actions since play began have proved it: He shot a 4-under-par 67 in the second round Friday to move into sixth place all by himself, three strokes behind the leader Max Homa.
“I think it defends par without getting tricked up better than any golf course I’ve ever been to,” said Cantlay, whose best PGA Tour showing at Riviera was a tie for fourth in 2018, when he finished 9-under – though he finished tied for 15th twice, including in 2021.
“They rarely grow any rough, there’s basically no rough out there, there’s no water, you only can really hit it out of bounds on the 12th hole and yet 13, 14, 15, 16 under wins pretty much every time,” he continued. “They could make it a lot harder if they wanted to, and they give you the first hole as a par-5 with a 3-wood and a 7-iron. I think it’s an amazing test of golf.”
He passed it Friday, birding five holes – including three on the back nine – and bogeyed only No. 5 – to move up eight places on the leaderboard.
Cantlay hit his approach shot to 3 feet for birdie on No. 13 and drained a 16-foot birdie putt on No. 7.
He attended PGA tournaments at the course as a kid, he’s said, and told reporters this week he vividly remembered standing near a green, within feet of a hole, with his dad and grandpa and being impressed with the professional shot-making he saw.
“Being amazed at watching three golf balls in a row all come in and all be right there in front of me,” said Cantlay, who likely is creating similar impressions on fans in attendance this week. “Because in my head I was like, well, we might get hit standing here, we’re that close, and yet they all came in there, must have been a wedge, and they all had inside 10 feet for birdie. I remember being amazed.”
Some impressive scholars had a pretty cool task this week: Serving as honorary starters on the first and 10th tees, where they are introducing players as they stepped to the tee to start their rounds at the Genesis Invitational – which is managed and operated by Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation.
The foundation serves 5th-12th-graders at a state-of-the-art campus in Anaheim and provides support for college-bound students like Jerry Fonseca Garcia and Sergio Vazquez – who announced the second round’s afternoon field – through the Earl Woods Scholars Program.
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That wing of the foundation helps make underserved students’ transitions to colleges smoother with mentoring support, internships and career preparation. Vazquez said he’s leaned on the cohort for encouragement and studying strategies while studying to become a primary care physician at Dartmouth.
Fonseca Garcia, a business major at USC, said the help he got inspired him to start a club called Uplift SC (aka “Uplift South Central”) that offers many of the same benefits at the TGR Foundation program that has helped him.
“Before, I thought of Tigers Woods as a celebrity whose thing is golf, right?” Fonseca Garcia said. “But then after joining the TGR foundation, you realize that he has a passion both for golf and for making an impact in the community and that I’ve taken as a lesson.”