The PGA Tour’s West Coast swing concludes this weekend with the second iconic course in as many weeks.
The Riviera Country Club will play host to the Genesis Invitational with arguably the best field of the young PGA season, or at least the best group of players we’ve seen since the calendar flipped to 2021. That’s what happens when Tiger Woods plays host.
A purse of more than $9 million is at stake with Adam Scott looking to defend his title. He’ll have to hold off some of the Tour’s top stars with players like Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Bryson Dechambeau, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy all expected to tee it up this weekend in Pacific Palisades.
Here’s a betting/DFS preview for the Genesis Invitational.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Adam Scott (11-under)
THE COURSE — The Riviera Country Club
Yardage: 7,322 yards
This figures to be one of the tougher tests on the PGA Tour this season. It’s a long course with tight fairways, placing a premium on being able to get off the tee. Because of those tight fairways, second shots are often coming from the rough — get ready to hear all about the kikuyu grass — and that makes missing the green more likely. So if you’re not hitting greens, you better be able to get up and down around the putting surface.
(All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook)
Dustin Johnson +550
Jon Rahm +1200
Rory McIlroy +1300
Patrick Cantlay +1500
Xander Schauffele +1500
Bryson DeChambeau +1800
Brooks Koepka +2400
Tony Finau +2800
Adam Scott +3100
— Johnson is an absolute menace at Riviera. He has six top-four finishes, including a win in 2017 and is a staggering 67-under par over his last seven trips to Pacific Palisades.
There’s also this:
— Rahm is on some kind of a run dating back to last summer. Take away a 52nd-place finish at the St. Jude, he’s finished no worse than 23rd (including eight top-10 finishes and two wins) since winning at Memorial. Even when he doesn’t have his best, he’s still likely to be on the first page of the leaderboard.
— Is there where Finau breaks through? Probably not because he’s Finau, but he did finish second here in 2018 and has been playing out of his mind in his last three tournaments. Finau gained nearly 15 strokes on the field at the American Express en route to a fourth-place finish and then gained more than 10 strokes to finish second a week later at the Farmers. He also was in contention at Saudi Arabia two weeks ago. Putting it all together is obviously his biggest hurdle left to clear.
— Last week’s winner at Pebble Beach, Daniel Berger, withdrew Tuesday morning. He was 31-1.
Si Woo Kim (top 20, +320): The one number that really jumps off the page with Kim is his around-the-green prowess. He’s first in the field in strokes gained (SG) around the green over his last 24 rounds. He also continues to be a terrific ball-striker. Kim missed the cut last week at Pebble, but this stat gives us hope.
Doug Ghim (top 20, +450): There’s nothing about Ghim’s game that really stands out, but he does everything pretty well. His biggest strength is his ball-striking, so that plays well here, and he’s among the better players around the green, another notch on his belt. Ghim is also sneaky long, ranking 34th among players in the field in driving distance over the last 24 rounds. Since missing the cut at Sony, he’s finished fifth, 37th and 21st. He’s an average putter on Poa, so if you add it all up, there’s a chance he gets it going this weekend.
Bryson DeChambeau (outright win, +1800): The big fella has played just once since the calendar flipped, but that was at the Tournament of Champions where he finished seventh. It just feels like we’re getting some value here on a player who looked ready to completely flip the sport on its head last year. We know all about the length, and with seven par-4s of less than 460 yards, he’ll be playing a lot of wedges into greens even if he does miss fairways.
DFS SAMPLE LINEUP
We’re gonna pay up for DJ, which means we have to mix in some barrel-scrapers at the bottom of the lineup. It’s obviously a little more volatile, but it definitely has a chance to hit.
Dustin Johnson — Like we said, he’s a freak at Riv and is the best golfer in the world right now.
Tony Finau — The great thing about Finau in DFS is he doesn’t have to win. One of those top-10 finishes will do us just fine as the second fiddle here.
Adam Scott — He won here last year, so we like that, but it’s far from the first taste of success he’s had on this course. Scott has finished 11th or better in five of his last six trips here, and that includes a second-place finish in 2016.
Doug Ghim — In addition to the evidence mentioned earlier, Ghim keeps making cuts (nine of 11) this season. That’s huge for DFS.
Harold Varner III — HV3 finished 13th here a year ago, despite infamously topping a tee shot on the 10th. His approach game was dialed in, and he’s shown improvements in that area lately, too. The putter is a big question mark, but we’ll roll the dice.
Robby Shelton — Speaking of taking chances, Shelton has made just five of 11 cuts. However, he’s better on Poa than any other putting surface, and he’s good around the green. He also has encouraging numbers on par-4s of 400 to 450 yards, of which there are four at Riviera.
Historical strokes gained data via Fantasy National Golf