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L.A. OPEN : Hogan's Alley

February 22, 1993

Riviera. It's one of those courses Ben Crenshaw says he has to play every year. He hasn't won here, but hasn't missed an L.A. Open since he joined the tour in 1974. He says it's "a special place," an "outdoor chess game" that rewards good shots and makes bad ones expensive.

Ben Hogan, whose legendary success in 1947, '48 and '50 gave Riviera the nickname "Hogan's Alley," Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer and Fred Couples all regard the course with reverance.

It is a blend of Kikuyu grass, eucalyptus and sycamore trees, iceplant-covered barrancas, subtle and not-so-subtle undulations and bunkers designed not simply for aesthetics but to catch shots gone slightly awry. Difficulty isn't the full measure of Riviera. Here's a look at four holes that help explain why Crenshaw says of the course: "You can throw money out the window. People would give their eyeteeth just to win here."

1st Hole: 501 Yards, Par 5

A tee with a view. The Sunday player sees a narrow fairway with out of bounds on the left and trees on the right from the lofty tee area; the pro sees what should be an easy birdie. Short enough to reach in two with an iron, this hole provides the best eagle opportunity on the course. A great way to start a round.

6th Hole: 170 Yards, Par 3

As with No. 1, there's nothing particularly difficult about this hole, assuming you avoid the bunker in the middle of the green. With the pin on the right side of the green, a tee shot in the sand trap makes par a challenge. Players who end up with the sand trap between their ball and the cup make the greenskeeper cranky; they are allowed to use a wedge on the green.

10th Hole: 311 Yards, Par 4

A great hole to watch the big guns on the tour go for the green, especially players who are out of contention and have nothing to lose. A big hitter can reach the green from the tee, but anything but a perfect drive can lead to bogey or worse. The odds aren't great of hitting this green, about as large and hard as a desktop, from the tee. Smart players hit a long iron down the left off the tee and a wedge to the green.

18th Hole: 447 Yards, Par 4

In some ways, the inverse of No. 1, demanding a blind tee shot into a steep hill. Eucalyptus trees line the right side of the fairway, Kikuyu grass and iceplant on the left. Players often find themselves needing to get up and down for par. Tommy Bolt too a triple-bogey seven here during a playoff in 1952, but still won the tournament.

THE WEEK'S SCHEDULE Today.....Practice rounds Tuesday...Practice rounds, Merrill Lynch Shoot-Out, 1 p.m. Wednesday.Celebrity Pro-Am, 6:40 a.m. Thursday..First round of play, 7 a.m. Friday....Second round, 7 a.m. Saturday..Third round, 8 a.m. Sunday....Final round, 8 a.m.

TV SCHEDULE Thursday..USA Network, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday....USA Network, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday..CBS, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday....CBS, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Announcers: Pat Summerall, Ken Venturi, Gary McCord, Ben Wright and Verne Lundquist.

RIVIERA COURSE & FACILITIES HIGH VISIBILITY Prime spots for spectators to watch the competition: --The natural amphitheater around the 18th green is a good spot for viewing the last hole. --The grove refreshment area is the central site for viewing action on the No. 9 tee, No. 13 green and No. 18 green. --There is a triangle formed by the greens and Nos. 3 and 17 and the tees at Nos. 4 and 18. --At the far end of the course, spectators can watch play next to the No. 16 green and can also see tee shots and putts on No. 6, the par three with a sand trap in the middle of the green.

SCORECARD

Hole Yards Par 1 501 5 2 460 4 3 434 4 4 238 3 5 426 4 6 170 3 7 406 4 8 368 4 9 418 4 OUT 3,421 5 10 311 4 11 561 5 12 413 4 13 420 4 14 180 3 15 447 4 16 168 3 17 578 5 18 447 4 IN 3,525 36

TOTAL: 6,946 yards, Par 71

COURSE RECORDS: For the L.A. Open at Riviera Lowest round:

62--Fred Couples 1990

62--Larry Mize 1985 Lowest winning total:

264--Lanny Wadkins 1985 Highest winning total:

296--Densmore Shute 1930 Largest winning margin:

Nine strokes--Mac Smith 1928

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