Riviera has a new president and major events are on their way

Los Angeles (AFP) – Megan Watanabe made her Riviera debut when her family bought the club in 1989. She took golf lessons and tennis lessons in the summer, left Japan to attend middle school and eventually went to Pepperdine to study art.

You never imagined where it would lead.

Watanabe is the first woman to head the legendary club. And while the Riviera is already considered among the top courses on the PGA Tour, it’s about to get more hits.

Riviera is celebrating its centenary in 2026 by hosting the US Women’s Open, its first women’s tournament. Golf’s participation in the Olympic Games program in Los Angeles in 2028 has been confirmed and will be held in the Riviera.

“We have always sought the majors,” said Watanabe, who spent 10 years as vice president before taking over as her father, Noboru. “In 2017, we had amateurs from the US and we kept looking for opportunities. We haven’t had the US Open since 1948.”

John Bodenhamer, chief tournament officer for the USA Federation, mentioned the upcoming changes to the US Women’s Open with a significant strengthening of portfolios and going to more historic clubs.

“The things he talked about really interest me,” Watanabe said. “Because we’ve never hosted a women’s tournament, that made sense. Also for the Olympics. I wanted the ladies to feel comfortable and experience the Riviera before the Olympics.”

Since 1948 in which Ben Hogan won the US Open, Riviera has hosted the two-time PGA Championship and US Open.

Watanabe has not ruled out the US Open yet again, which may seem like a long shot with the limited ownership in Riviera of the massive build the tournament requires.