Genesis Invitational outrights and matchups preview

To me, this is really where the PGA Tour season kicks into gear. Pebble Beach is a historic course and offered a fun event but the strength of the field this week signifies that everyone is back into it and ready to make the push towards the Players followed closely by the Masters. The West Coast swing is nearing its conclusion and this is undoubtedly the best field of golfers we have seen so far.

The field

Leading the betting odds this week is world #1 Dustin Johnson. He is back after a surprise withdrawal last week at Pebble but appears to be fine and, coming off a win in Saudi Arabia, he is the favorite to win at a course he claimed the title at back in 2017.

The next section of outright odds is littered with top golfers. Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele are just a few of the marquee names headlining the Los Angeles tournament. 

The field was set to be a smaller size of 121 golfers but following his victory last week, Daniel Berger has since withdrawn and the field will now be held at 120. As with all invitational tournaments, it will remain slightly smaller in size compared to normal PGA Tour events. 

A few other notables taking on Riviera CC this week are Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Cantlay.

The course

We move from one famous course in Northern California to another one in the southern half of the state. Riviera Country Club has been around since the 1920s. It was the site of the first Los Angeles open in 1929 and has held a number of prestigious events throughout the years. Recently it has been home to the Genesis Invitational which is a Tiger Woods hosted event. 

The course stretches to just over 7,300 yards and plays as a par-71. It is a creatively laid out course that will require strategic thought on every shot. For example, the short par-4 10th hole is one of the more exciting in golf. Everything from Eagle to Double Bogey is in play depending on the approach golfers take off the tee. 

Three of the four par-3s play close to or over 200 yards including the challenging 4th hole which ranks as the 3rd toughest on the course and can reach 230 yards. The par-4s are the most daunting with four of them stretching to lengths of 470-500 yards and certainly will require long drives in order to attack the greens. As with most courses, the par-5s are where golfers will have to score in order to contend. They rank as the three easiest holes including the famous 1st hole which saw a birdie rate of almost 60% in the past. Last year, this was the easiest par-5 on the PGA Tour. 

Driving distance is a skill set that has been important throughout the years. Previous winners such as Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, and JB Holmes all excel with length off the tee and it should be no different for the winner this week. The combination of long drives, accurate approaches, and consistent Poa putting should lead to success in Los Angeles.

Notable stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Driving Distance
  • Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
  • Putting (Poa)
  • Proximity 175-200 yards

Outright value

Bryson DeChambeau +1700

Player NameSG: APPDr DistSG: PP3: 175-200SG: T2G
Bryson DeChambeau103153219
DeChambeau stats

I have to start my card with Bryson this week. We all know by now about his ability to drive the ball but he actually ranks 5th in this field in putting on Poa greens which will certainly be a factor around this course. We haven’t seen Bryson since his 7th place finish at the Tournament of Champions back in early January but we can assume that he’s been in the workshop practicing nonstop. 

His approach game certainly leaves a lot to be desired but with how far down the fairway he can get the ball, he will be flipping wedges into greens that most golfers will be playing mid irons into. It should be a similar strategy that he took to the US Open back in September and we all know how that ended up. This number just doesn’t feel right on the betting board. He shouldn’t be the 7th favorite, which to me screams value. If he wins this week, say goodbye to 17/1 odds for a long time.


Viktor Hovland +3500

Player NameSG: APPDr DistSG: PP3: 175-200SG: T2G
Viktor Hovland4142422021
Hovland stats

There are a number of young golfers in the middle of the betting board that we could take a look at this week. Morikawa is 33/1, Niemann is 50/1, and Wolff is 80/1 but I’m going to roll with Hovland and his current form. He’s played two events in 2021 and has finishes of 31st and 2nd. He ended the 2020 calendar year with a win at the OHL. I love where his game is currently at and the stats show it.

Two weeks ago in San Diego, he gained 10.6 strokes total on the field. This included 5.4 on approach. There is no one stat that Hovland will lead the field in but he is an all-around consistent golfer who doesn’t have many weaknesses to his game. The combination of length and approach is crucial this week and Hovland finds himself being able to hold his own in each category. Over the past 24 rounds, Hovland is in the top-30 in distance off the tee. This all points in the direction of Viktor Hovland finding himself in contention come Sunday at Riviera.


Bubba Watson +5000

Player NameSG: APPDr DistSG: PP3: 175-200SG: T2G
Bubba Watson171981964
Watson

You can’t leave Bubba off your betting card at Riviera. You just can’t do it. Based on course history alone I would feel comfortable making this bet, but he has actually been playing some pretty solid golf as of late. He is 17th in the field in approach over the past 36 rounds and 4th in overall tee-to-green. We all know about his length off the tee as well but what some people forget is his putting ability on Poa. Throughout his career, it is the only surface that he actually gains strokes on.

I don’t need to go into too much detail to bet Bubba at the Genesis. He’s won here three times and has three other top-20 finishes. 50/1 is too big of a number. There are a few courses on tour where you have to like Watson and this is definitely one of them.


Brooks looks on
Aug 2, 2020; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational golf tournament at TPC Southwind. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tournament matchups

Collin Morikawa +100 over Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki really has not looked himself lately. He hasn’t finished better than 19th in his past four starts, including three of these being outside the top-40. This even came at a course he historically has loved, TPC Scottsdale. Morikawa has seen the course twice this year and finished 7th both times. The long iron specialist should be dialed in this week and playing in his home state doesn’t hurt. I’ll take the young Cal grad in this matchup at even money.

Brooks Koepka -110 over Adam Scott

Brooks is back. That is something that the golf world loves to see. After a year battling injuries, Brooks came out and claimed the title in Scottsdale two weeks ago. Put him at another course where length is crucial and you have to like him to contend again. Adam Scott has looked good lately but not as impressive as Koepka was on his way to victory in the desert. I always like to bet against the defending champ as well and Scott claimed the title at the Genesis last year. The numbers should be favored more heavily in favor of the four-time major champ in this matchup.


Finishing positions

Cam Davis top-20 +335

Aussies have historically done well at this course and young Cam Davis will hopefully continue that trend this week. He’s started this year off with some great finishes so far. He has made all four cuts and hasn’t finished worse than 32nd. He’s done so by being able to bomb it off-the-tee. He is 14th on tour so far this year in driving distance. I love the consistency to continue and a top-20 finish doesn’t seem like that big of a stretch.

Patrick Cantlay top-10 +164

We will continue this low-odds top-10 betting strategy and if you have been following along, you know it has been working great. Daniel Berger came through last week to hit the even money top-10 which makes it three of the last four weeks we have won this bet. This week we will ride along with Cantlay who has been hot as of late. His last three finishes have been 13th, 2nd, and 3rd. He has a tough time claiming titles but that doesn’t stop him from being on the top page of the leaderboard seemingly every week. Plus money for him to do it again feels safe to me.


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