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NCAA Men's Golf National Championship Course Preview
This afternoon, starting at 2 p.m. (PST), Liberty will go off the No. 10 tee at the Riviera Country Club for the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship.
The Flames, the No. 14 seed at this year's national championship event, will be paired with familiar East Coast programs. Liberty will be playing the first two rounds at this year's event with golfers from Virginia and Chattanooga.
Liberty earned the right to make the trip across the country by winning the NCAA Greensboro Regional at the Grandover Resort, May 17-19. The Flames captured the title, finishing three strokes ahead of Florida and six strokes ahead of regional top seed Auburn.
Head coach Jeff Thomas will send the same starting five out to the Riviera Country Club that helped Liberty capture three straight team titles leading into this week's event (River Landing Intercollegiate, Big South Men's Golf Championship and the NCAA Greensboro Regional).
The 30-team field consists of the top five teams from each of the six NCAA Regional events, and the teams will play 54 holes of strokes play on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Following the first three rounds of golf, the top eight programs will move on to three days of match play where an eventual new national champion will be crowned on Sunday.
The 156-man field will be battling the renowned Riviera Country Club, which will play at 7,292 yards and a par 71.
The Riviera Country Club has hosted four major championship events: 1948 U.S. Open (Winner: Ben Hogan), 1983 PGA Championship (Winner: Hal Sutton), 1995 PGA Championship (Winner: Steve Elkington) and 1998 U.S. Senior Open (Winner: Hal Irwin).
Opened in 1926, the Riviera Country Club has had many famous members, which included Humphrey Bogart, Glen Campbell, Vic Damone, Peter Falk, Jack Ging, Dean Martin, Gregory Peck, Walt Disney, Hal Roach, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
The Riviera Country Club has hosted an annual PGA Tour stop since the course opened in 1926. Formerly the Los Angeles Open, some of the most notable PGA professional golfers have raised the trophy at the now Northern Trust Open.
Previous winners include: Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Ben Crenshaw, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Craig Stadler, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Mike Weir and Phil Mickelson.
As part of its continuing coverage of this year's NCAA Men's Golf National Championship, LibertyFlames.com brings you an insider look at the Riviera Country Club, with a short hole-by-hole description and photo gallery.
Photo gallery information:
In this photo gallery, you will see the following photos of each hole: the hole marker, view from the tee box, view from the fairway (excluding par 3s) and a view of the green.
No. 1 – Par 5 – 503 yards (Handicap: 17)
The opening hole at the Riviera Country Club is the only par 5 on the front nine, providing golfers with a chance to get off to a solid start and into red figures early. An elevated tee box, more than 100 feet above the fairway, allows golfers to get some extra distance off the tee. An oddly shaped green that is guarded by a large bunker in the front will provide multiple pin placement options for the NCAA Championship committee.
No. 2 – Par 4 – 463 yards (Handicap: 1)
One of the easiest holes on the course is followed by the No. 1 handicap hole, this lengthy par 4 that zigzags to the right and plays back up the hill. The elevated putting surface is a two-tiered green, with three bunkers on the left side. The green slopes from the middle to the front, but pin placements on the back of the green will give the golfers a better chance on the flat top tier.
No. 3 – Par 4 – 434 yards (Handicap: 5)
This dogleg left is played slightly downhill and to one of the most open driving areas on the entire course. Deep bunkers on either side of the green protect one of the more flat putting surfaces on the front nine. The bunker to the right is larger than the left, but both will present challenges if golfers find either one of them.
No. 4 – Par 3 – 236 yards (Handicap: 7)
Ben Hogan called this hole "the greatest par 3 in America." It requires an accurate drive off the tee with a long iron or hybrid club, depending upon the direction of the wind and the length of each golfer. A large bunker guards the entire front of the green that is only 25 yards deep. There is a bailout area to the right, but the shot will leave a very slick downhill chip to a green that slants right to left.
No. 5 – Par 5 – 434 yards (Handicap: 11)
One of the most visually intriguing holes on the course, golfers will hit a tee shot from an elevated tee box to a landing area that will leave an iron shot of 160 yards left to the green that is below the fairway hitting area. The large green is 34 yards deep and has very few flat areas on the entire putting surface.
No. 6 – Par 3 – 199 yards (Handicap: 15)
Certainly the most unique par 3 on the course, No. 6 could present some challenges to the golfers if they find the wrong part of the green that is 32 yards deep. The test will come if the golfer's ball comes to rest on the opposite side of a pot bunker that sits directly in the middle of the green. The front part of the green slopes left to right, while the top back left tier is the flattest part of the putting surface.
No. 7 – Par 4 – 408 yards (Handicap: 9)
A 3 wood could be the club of choice on this dogleg right. There is danger off the tee to the left in a bunker that runs the length of the landing area, starting 250 yards out and running more than 50 yards up the fairway. The narrow green is one of the smallest on the course at 28 yards deep and will run off into a collection area should ball find the front left edge.
No. 8 – Par 4 – 433 yards (Handicap: 13)
The drive off the tee presents the golfer with an option on this par 4, as the fairway is split directly down the middle and has two different landing areas. Golfers who do not find either landing area will find some challenges in the "wasteland" that will have very unpredictable lies. Any approach shot that is short and right will roll off the green back down a slope and into a hazard, demanding accuracy with approach shots from either of the fairways.
No. 9 – Par 4 – 458 yards (Handicap: 3)
The challenge off the tee on the closing hole on the front nine is to avoid two bunkers that jut out into the landing area, one to the right (238 yards to carry) and the other from the right (272 yards to the front edge). The uphill hole plays to a two-tiered green that has three bunkers that guard the front sides of the putting surface.
No. 10 – Par 4 – 315 yards (Handicap: 16)
The first hole on the back nine at Riviera is one of the more talked about holes each year on the PGA Tour, as it is a drivable par 4, but those who are adventurous will need to be accurate. The sliver of a green is guarded on the right side by three bunkers that are very difficult to get up and down from, due to their depth well below the hole. Those unwilling to challenge the back corner will have a long fast cross-green putt, much like the 40-plus foot putt 2012 Northern Trust Open champion Bill Haas sank in his eventual march to a title earlier this year in February.
No. 11 – Par 5 – 583 yards (Handicap: 10)
Golfers will face their first par 5 in 10 holes and No. 11 will present the longer hitters the chance to get home in two on this straightaway hole. Trees line both sides of the fairway, but an accurate drive will give the longer hitters the change to reach a shallow green in two (28 yards deep). The mostly flat green is guarded on the front right and will present a challenge if a golfer finds it, with parts of the bunker being eight to 10 feet below the putting surface.
No. 12 – Par 4 – 460 yards (Handicap: 8)
The second shortest par 4 on the course, No. 12 is still challenging as it is a dogleg to the right and plays to a narrow, but deep green (37 yards deep). The left side of the green is protected by a large sycamore tree that was made famous by actor Humphrey Bogart, a renowned fan of the Los Angeles Open, who used to sit right under the tree during the professional event, year in and year out.
No. 13 – Par 4 – 459 yards (Handicap: 6)
An accurate tee shot is demanded at No. 13 with a narrow corridor off the tee on this dogleg left. The kidney shaped green is deep at 40 yards and guarded 40 yards out by a bunker on the right side of one of the flattest putting surfaces on the back nine.
No. 14 – Par 3 – 189 yards (Handicap: 18)
The easiest hole on the course for the membership will still present some challenges to the college golfers. The green is long, but narrow, as it is only 21 yards at its deepest point. The front of the green has an opening, but is guarded by a deep bunker to the right and two bunkers to the left. Pin placements over either set of bunkers will certainly raise the scores throughout the week on this short hole.
No. 15 – Par 4 – 487 yards (Handicap: 2)
No. 15 is the longest par 4 on the course at 487 yards and golfers will be looking to avoid a bunker on the right side of the fairway off the tee. In order to clear the bunker, golfers will need to carry almost 290 yards off the tee to a landing area that will allow them a shorter approach on this dogleg right. A large, deep bunker protects the right side of the green that is developed down the middle by a valley.
No. 16 – Par 3 – 166 yards (Handicap: 14)
The shortest hole on the course is played to a very small green that is only 21 yards deep and is completely surrounded by four deep bunkers. The green is slightly lower than the tee box, which will mean the golfers will have to think before making their club selection.
No. 17 – Par 5 – 590 yards (Handicap: 12)
The final par 5 on the course has a very inviting and open landing area off the tee, but the same cannot be said about the area around the green, which is guarded by three large bunkers on the front. The 42-yard deep green slopes back to front and golfers who find either of the bunkers short left of the green will have challenging long shots to the putting surface.
No. 18 – Par 4 – 475 yards (Handicap: 4)
One of the more famous finishing holes in all of golf, the closing hole at Riviera will certainly challenge golfers one last time off the tee. Their final drive of the day is to a fairway that is more than 60 feet above the tee box and requires a shot to the left-hand side in order for the golfer to have a clear look at the green. The 30-yard deep green is surrounded by a massive sloped area of grass that creates a natural amphitheater for this fantastic finishing hole.
Live scoring will be provided throughout the NCAA Men's Golf Championship by Golfstat.com, while Liberty will continue its social media coverage of the golf team through its Twitter feed.
@LibertyFlames will be providing detailed coverage for one of Liberty's golfers each day throughout the NCAA Championship. Due to NCAA policies on live blogging, @LibertyFlames will be more limited on how many updates it can provide throughout the round.
Additionally, NCAA.com will be video streaming select holes on the final round of stroke play (Thursday), plus all three rounds of match play (Friday through Sunday).