News & ToursFebruary 16, 2008

Tinkering With Riviera's Greatness

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Reverence for the Riviera CC continues to abound among PGA Tour players, a sentiment that occasionally is expressed with a caveat, that it remains a gem in spite of some of its changes.

"They've changed it a little bit, but they haven't ruined it," said Scott Verplank who, heading into the final round, stands tied for fourth in the Northern Trust Open, six shots behind leader Phil Mickelson.

"They haven't ruined it" smacks of damning it with faint praise. Several greens have been expanded by architect Tom Fazio and his design associate Tom Marzolf, though not necessarily as a counter to their tending to shrink over time. They've been expanded in places where there has never been green before, contrary to architect George Thomas' original design.

"I haven't been all that impressed with some of the changes," Verplank said, "but the golf course is so great. As long as you don't do anything too major, it's a brilliant place. They changed some of the greens a little bit, and it seemed to be a little bit out of character with Riviera, but it's still great. Every great golf course goes through stages of changing it and tinkering with it and all that. It would be pretty hard to mess this one up too much."

-- John Strege

More from The Loop