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77th Pga Championship: Riviera : The Ups And Downs Of Riviera

August 07, 1995

From the time the players in the 77th PGA Championship drop off the No. 1 tee into the ravines and barrancas of Riviera until they climb back up on the 18th fairway, they will have seen it all. Riviera has length, trees and greens with plenty of trouble around the fringes. Its thick Kikuyu turf will grab errant shots in the rough and will only reluctantly let them go.

The character of a course many tour players consider among the country's best can be found on four holes: 1, 4, 10 and 18. No. 1 offers one of golf's most majestic opening tee shots. No. 4 is a mile-long par three Ben Hogan called the greatest in the game. No. 10, a seductive par four, entices golfers to pull out their drivers. Those who succumb can end up with a six as often as a three. The 18th is a finishing hole that yields many more bogeys than birdies.

Corey Pavin, two-time winner of the L.A. Open and a former Pacific 10 champion at UCLA, knows his way around Riviera as well as anyone on tour. Below, he describes each of those four holes:

1st HOLE

"It's a great first hole. You've got a real interesting tee shot from the elevated tee. You can hit out of bounds to the left or push it into the trees. This is one hole where you've got a chance for a birdie or maybe even eagle, only if you hit it straight."--Corey Pavin

PAR 5, 503 YARDS

***

4th HOLE

"Probably the best long par three I've ever seen. You might hit a three-wood or four-wood sometimes, depending on the wind. It's a very wide target. A solid shot into the green, once it hits the surface to the right, will kick left."

PAR 3, 236 YARDS

***

10th HOLE

"It's a fantastic short par four. The risk-reward factor is severe. You can really get yourself into trouble on this hole. Most of the time, I lay up with a four iron or three-wood, then hit a sand wedge. It's a pretty small green and a very tricky second shot."

PAR 4, 315 YARDS

***

18th HOLE

"One of the best finishing holes in the world. You've got a blind tee shot uphill with the eucalyptus trees on the right. The fairway slopes left to right. It's just a hard par four with a very demanding second shot."

PAR 4, 451 YARDS

SCORECARD

Riviera demands concentration. Just ask Hal Sutton. He got careless and tentative in the final nine holes on Sunday during the 1983 PGA, and the course jumped all over him. Before you could say bogey-bogey-bogey, his five-stroke lead over Jack Nicklaus had been reduced to one. Sutton regained his composure on 15, then, needing a par on 18, the third-hardest hole during the tournament, he hit a 201-yard five-iron 14 feet from the pin and two-putted for the championship. A look at the course:

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Hole Yards Par Handicap 1 503 5 17 2 463 4 1 3 434 4 5 4 236 3 7 5 419 4 9 6 175 3 15 7 408 4 11 8 370 4 13 9 420 4 3 OUT: 3,428 35 10 315 4 16 11 564 5 10 12 410 4 6 13 421 4 8 14 176 3 18 15 443 4 2 16 165 3 14 17 576 5 12 18 451 4 4 Total: 6,949 71

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RIVIERA COUNTRY CLUB

For the third time, Riviera will be home to a major tournament. In 1948, Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open there; in '83, Hal Sutton won the PGA. This year, 59 of the 60 top-ranked golfers in the world will compete in the second PGA Championship in Pacific Palisades.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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