The Riviera Country Club has a new president and big events are brewing – Daily News


By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer

LOS ANGELES — Megan Watanabe first showed up at Riviera Country Club when her family bought the club in 1989. She took golf and tennis lessons over the summer, left Japan for college and eventually dated Pepperdine to study art.

She never imagined where this would lead.

Watanabe is the first woman to serve as president of the legendary club. And while Riviera is already considered one of the best courses on the PGA Tour, it’s poised to attract a lot more traffic.

Riviera celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2026 by hosting the US Women’s Open, its first women’s championship. Golf has been confirmed for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic program and will be played at Riviera.

“We’ve always looked for majors,” said Watanabe, who spent 10 years as vice president before succeeding her father, Noboru. “In 2017 we had the US Amateur and we kept looking for opportunities. We haven’t had the US Open since 1948.”

She said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s head of championships, mentioned changes coming to the US Women’s Open with a big increase in purses and more historic clubs.

“The things he talked about really interested me,” Watanabe said. “Because we never organized a women’s championship, it made sense. Also for the Olympics. I wanted the women to be comfortable and experience Riviera before the Olympics.

Since the 1948 US Open won by Ben Hogan, Riviera has hosted the PGA Championship twice and a US Senior Open.

Watanabe hasn’t ruled out another US Open, which would seem like a long shot with limited ownership in Riviera for the massive build the championship requires.

Riviera was set to host the US Open in December 2020 without fans during the peak of the pandemic until the British Open was postponed and the US Open moved from June to September and remained at Winged Foot .

Next year the US Open will go down the Riviera Road at the Los Angeles Country Club, which has 36 holes and plenty of space. Watanabe preferred a comparison at the other end of the country. Merion had the 2013 US Open and will host again in 2030 and 2050.

“Merion is probably about the same size as us. I think if they can do it, I think we can do it,” she said. “Yes, parking is always a problem. If we could have an additional property to put a merchandise tent and corporate tents that would be great. At the same time, I would be throwing a smaller, bigger US Open. It could work. That’s what we do well here.

Cameron Young plays his shot from the ninth tee during the second round of the Genesis Invitational last Friday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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