Today's unveiling of the player field for next week's Genesis Open at The Riviera Country Club sets up for the PGA TOUR's west-coast swing to finish with a festive flourish of first-class golf.
World No. 1 Jason Day is entered the Genesis Open for the first time since 2012. The Australian leads 19 of the top 30 golfers in the Official World Golf Ranking (as of the week of Feb. 6) who will tee it up at Riviera and try to dethrone long-hitting defending champion Bubba Watson, winner of two of the past three tournaments at Riviera.
In addition to Day, top-ranked golfers set to compete in the Genesis Open include reigning U.S. Open champion and PGA TOUR Player of the Year Dustin Johnson, 2015 Masters and U.S. Open Champion Jordan Spieth, 2013 Masters and 2005 tournament champion Adam Scott, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Matt Kuchar, 2016 PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and World Golf Hall of Famers Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.
"This year's Genesis Open field will be among the best in all of golf." tournament director Mike Antolini said. "We are proud to welcome the world's best golfers to The Riviera Country Club and excited for all of our guests to experience the Genesis Open."
Among the tournament's sponsor exemptions are Belgian Thomas Pieters and American Sam Saunders, the grandson of the late Arnold Palmer, a three-time winner of the PGA TOUR event in Los Angeles in 1963, 1966 and 1967 and runner-up finisher in 1968.
"The Genesis Open is an event I have always wanted to play. It is an event that all of my peers rave about as one of the best of the year," Saunders said. "The history that Riviera has speaks for itself, and I am excited to have an opportunity to be a part of that history. I hope to make my first start at the Genesis Open one to remember."
Pieters has won three European Tour events in the past 18 months, placed fourth in the men's golf competition at the 2016 Olympics, and led the 2016 European Ryder Cup team with a record of 4-1, setting the European record for Ryder Cup points as a rookie. In 2012, Pieters captured the NCAA Individual Championship at Riviera while playing for the University of Illinois.
Members of the 2016 United States Ryder Cup team competing in the field include J.B. Holmes, Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Kuchar, Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Spieth, Walker, and vice captains Steve Stricker, Watson and Jim Furyk, who will captain the United States squad in the 2018 Ryder Cup.
The 2017 Genesis Open field also boasts the tournament's last eight champions dating back to 2007 -- Watson (2014, 2016), James Hahn (2015), John Merrick (2013), Bill Haas (2012), Aaron Baddeley (2011), Stricker (2010), Mickelson (2008, 2009) and Charles Howell III (2007) -- and winners of 10 of the 12 tournaments from the current PGA TOUR season including Justin Thomas (three-time winner in 2016-17) and Hideki Matsuyama (two-time winner in 2016-17).