- Los Angeles Open
Los Angeles Open
The Los Angeles Open – or the Genesis Invitational as it was renamed in 2020 after several title changes in the previous twenty-five years – is one of the oldest events on the men’s professional golf calendar, dating back to its first edition in 1926, and it’s regarded as one of the mainstay events on the PGA Tour.
The competition is one of only five given "invitational" status on the men’s professional circuit – the other four are the Bay Hill Classic, the Heritage, the Colonial and the Memorial Tournament – so it operates a reduced field of 120 players, as opposed to most open tournaments with a field of 156.
Glen Campbell was the tournament host from 1971 to 1983 then Nissan became the title sponsor from 1987 to 2007, when it was then known as the Northern Trust Open for the next nine years before Genesis Motors, a subsidiary of the South Korean Hyundai Motor Group, took over in 2017.
This 72-hole stroke play championship is often the concluding event on the PGA Tour’s "West Coast Swing" early in the calendar year, immediately ahead of the professional circuit’s move east to Florida.
The inaugural event was played on the North course at Los Angeles Country Club in 1926, with English-born Harry Cooper winning the second of thirty-six professional victories that he’d amass in his playing career. Until Vijay Singh came along in 2008, Harry’s thirty PGA Tour titles were the most claimed by any overseas player.
Scots-born golfers then dominated the competitions played up until World War II halted play, with the Caledonian contingent either winning or finishing runner-up in nine of the sixteen pre-1942 events that were staged:
Macdonald Smith from Carnoustie won four times between 1928 and 1934; Bobby Cruikshank from Grantown-on-Spey won in 1927 and was second three years later; while Jimmy Thompson (who had reached the semi-finals of the PGA Championship in 1922 and 1923) tied for second in 1936, won in 1938 then lost to Ben Hogan in a playoff in 1942.
The contests in the formative years of the LA Open were held on a variety of courses. El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana hosted for the only time in 1927 then Wilshire Country Club in Hancock Park staged the event the following year. In 1929 and 1930, Riviera in Pacific Palisades was used for the first time before the tournament returned to Los Angeles for the next decade.
From 1931 to 1933, the competition alternated between Wilshire and Hillcrest then it went back to Los Angeles Country Club for three years. The Wilson and Harding courses at Griffith Park were used next from 1937 to 1939, with Babe Zaharias participating in the 1938 edition to become the first woman to play in a men’s professional championship.
The North course at Los Angeles Country Club held its fifth (and last) La Open in 1940 then Riviera and Hillcrest did the honours in 1941 and 1942. Remarkably, there was only a one-year tournament suspension because of World War II and play got back under way at Wilshire in 1944 with Jug McSpadden winning by three strokes.
The championships after the war up until the start of the 1970s were all played at either Riviera (1945-1953) or Rancho Park (1956-1972) with three exceptions: Fox Hills in 1954 when Fred Wampler won; Inglewood in 1955 when Gene Littler won; and Brookside in 1968 when Billy Casper claimed the first of two LA Opens, denying Arnold Palmer a third straight title victory in the process.
In 1973, the tournament moved to Riviera and it has remained there ever since, apart from 1983 when Rancho Park was used while Riviera made preparations for the PGA Championship, and in 1998 when Valencia Country Club stepped in to cover as Riviera prepared to host the US Senior Open.
Chen Tze-chung from Taiwan became the first non-American player in nearly fifty years to win the LA Open in 1987 but there’s been quite a few overseas winners since then. Nick Faldo from England enjoyed a 3-stroke victory in 1997 then South Africans Ernie Els and Rory Sabatini savoured success in 1999 and 2006, respectively.
Canadian Mike Weir enjoyed back-to-back victories in 2003-4 whilst Australians have fared really well in the new millennium with wins for Robert Allenby (after a six-man playoff in 2011), Adam Scott (2005 & 2020) and Aaaron Baddeley in 2011, when he held off nearest challenger Vijay Singh by two strokes.
Macdonald Smith (1928 -1934) and Lloyd Mangrum (1949-1956) share the record of four La Open titles each, followed by Ben Hogan (1942-1948), Arnold Palmer (1963-1967) and Bubba Watson (2014-2018), each with three victories.
Riviera has hosted the event a record 58 times up to and including 2020.
You'll not find any of the following tournament venues below as they're currently not included in our Best in State listings for California: Brookside, Fox Hills, Griffith Park (Wilson) and (Harding), Inglewood, Rancho Park and Valencia.
Los Angeles Open Top 100 Leaderboard