Players Face NewOld Riviera

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When the professionals tee it up for the first round of the Nissan Open, they will be playing a Riviera Country Club that is more similar to the one played by Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan than today's players.played the course, which was designed by George C. Thomas in 1925.
 
The course, designed by George C. Thomas in 1925, was heavily damaged by a flood in 1939. Crews fixed the damage, but the flood altered the look of two holes, Nos. 7 and 8.
 
A two-year redesign project by Tom Fazio changed those holes back to their original design. Fazio also reworked four other holes, adding length and changing tee and green areas.
 
The hope by officials at Riviera is that the course will be worthy to host a U.S. Open. The course hosted the 1948 U.S. Open, but has not been considered by the USGA for another major championship, even though the 1983 and 1995 PGA Championship was held there, as well as the 1998 U.S. Senior Open.
 
If the comments of the players in this weeks event are any indication, the course will be hosting a U.S. Open.
 
'It is a totally different course, said Sergio Garcia. I think the changes are really good. I really like the eighth hole.
 
The eighth hole received the most attention. The 416 yard par-4 hole that doglegs left has been changed to Thomas original design and has a split fairway. The left side is more difficult but shorter, with players having to negotiate their way through a row of eucalyptus trees. The right side, which was a maintenance road and was restored, is free of the trees and offers a better option as far as attacking the green.
 
If it were up some, it might make a difference, said Brent Geiberger. But with the tee all the way back, the play is to the right fairway.
 
The seventh hole also received extensive work. The 408-yard par-4 added a long fairway bunker on the left side that was wiped out in the flood. The bunker extends down most of the left fairway and comes into play no matter where the tee markers are set.
 
The bunker definitely comes into play, Garcia said. Before, if you hit it left, there was a couple of trees and nothing. Now its quite narrow and you cant hit driver anymore.
 
That should bring more players into the field, including those who havent played the course before.
 
Its an awesome course, said Charles Howell III, who makes his debut at Riviera. Its everything I heard it was. It is very much like Augusta, a classic golf course.'
 
John Daly, who uses his driver sparingly at Riviera because of its tight fairways, said he is a fan of the changes.
 
The course looks great, Daly said. I really like the changes.
 
The other four holes that were changed - Nos. 5, 9, 12 and 13 - added length to the course, and the hope by Riviera officials is to try and get the 2008 U.S. Open.

The course has serious competition from Torrey Pines Golf Course, which also underwent a major renovation in the hopes of landing the 2008 U.S. Open.