Stars seeking Genesis Open glory
Past Masters winners Adam Scott and Bubba Watson see this week's US PGA Genesis Open at Riviera as a key tuneup for the year's first major championship at Augusta National.
Watson, who took the green jacket in 2012 and 2014, is defending champion at Riviera and also won in 2014 while Scott, who became the first Australian to win the Masters in 2013, was Riviera runner-up to Watson last year by a stroke.
"If I could get myself in contention in the next three weeks, I would be really pleased with that," Scott said Wednesday. "It's good to be playing well going to Augusta. It's better to have played in contention and even better if you've won."
Watson, who has not won since last year at Riviera and slid to 15th in the world rankings, said the sense of history at 91-year-old Riviera excites him much the way it does at Augusta National for the Masters.
"Augusta has a lot of history and you get to see it year after year, and if other majors would do that I think those majors would be even better because the history adds up over time," Watson said. "And at Augusta, I've got to live it, so when I get there I get goosebumps and get excited about playing that course."
Seventh-ranked Scott followed up his second place last year at Riviera with triumphs the next two weeks at the Honda Classic and the World Golf Championships event at Doral and hopes for a similar charge this year.
"I'm very excited to start my season here and hopefully kind of pick up where I left off last year, using that favorite golf course to my advantage and hitting some good shots and good vibes and playing my way into contention and then onto a good Florida swing," Scott said.
"You just start kind of building that momentum and if I can work my way into contention, that's good for the confidence, too."
Scott will need it with the likes of world number one Jason Day and sixth-ranked US star Jordan Spieth, fresh off a Pebble Beach victory last week, to test him from now until the Masters on April 6-9.
"The standard of golf is very high," Scott said. "If it's not Jordan one week, I bet you Jason's ready to get himself in contention this week and then it will be the next guy and he'll lift his game. So I'm going to be one of them trying to lift my game up and get in the mix and go to Augusta with confidence.
"I've got a pretty short schedule to get that to happen, I've got four events before Augusta so I had better get to it."
Scott took an unofficial victory at Riviera in 2005 when torrential rains trimmed the event to only 36 holes.
"I think I've moved on," Scott said of the non-win. "It is quite fascinating that I do have the trophy and the world ranking points and everything else but it's not a win. But I'm determined to get an official win here and hopefully it's this week."
Watson, who played at the 2016 Rio Olympics, supports the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympics, which would play golf at Riviera if the International Olympic Committee approves the bid in September.
"It would be an amazing time if LA had it and it would be an honor and a privilege to be part of the Olympics again," Watson said.