Some of the biggest names in golf descend on California this week for the Genesis Invitational as 120 players battle-it-out for a tournament which is being played as an invitational for the first time with the winner receiving a three-year exemption.
Tiger Woods is back in action as he seeks a record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour victory while Rory McIlroy makes his fourth start at Riviera having finished in a tie for fourth place a year ago.
All of the top five players in the world will be in attendance with Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, and Dustin Johnson joining McIlroy with 500 FedEx Cup points on offer.
Pebble Beach Recap
As usual, the first three days of the tournament was unwatchable due to the production, the format and all those celebrities that nobody cares about, but wow did we get our money’s worth on Sunday.
The wind picked up, the greens got baked out and people were just trying to hold on for dear life. Dustin Johnson, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Paul Casey three top 25 players in the world shot a combined 22 over par.
Out in front, we had the riveting final pairing of the legend of the game Phil Mickelson with 44 tour wins and Nick Taylor the 31-year old that hasn’t had a top 3 finish since 2015 and has kept his card by just a couple of spots the last two years.
He did look a little rattled when he went +4 on holes 11-14, but Taylor composed himself and birdies on 15 and 17 made the final score look more comfortable than it actually was.
We also saw some potential resurgences with the aforementioned Mickelson, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth all in the top ten and with their best PGA tour results in months so that will be some interesting storylines to track for the next few weeks.
Course: Riviera Country Club
Length: 7322 yards
Greens: Poa Annua
Architects: George Thomas and William Bell
The Genesis Open has become an invitational for the first time while, add to the fact that the tournament host is Tiger Woods, and you will understand why this is the strongest full-field event outside of the majors and the Players this year with Webb Simpson the only golfer missing from the top 10 in the world ranking.
Riviera is a somewhat long par 71 track with hard to hit fairways, small poa annua greens with seven holes between 445-500 yards and three 190+ yards par 3s which leads to mid and long irons being an important quality this week.
Everyone will miss a lot of fairways here so it’s more important to be longer than straight off the tee while the greens are infamous for being difficult especially in the afternoon.
With as many long holes and small greens that Riviera has the golfer’s short game will also have to be on point this week and with a top tier golf course that requires all parts of the game to be firing, I see a top tier golfer getting it done this week at a winning score in the teens under par.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
- Driving distance
- Proximity 175-200 and 200+ yards
- Strokes gained short game
- Strokes gained approach
- Par 4 scoring 450-500 yards
- Poa annua putting
- Par 5 scoring
2019/20 Season overview:
Wagered: 87 units
Won: 149.66 units
Result: + 62.66 units
Outright winners: Hero World Challenge – Henrik Stensson (25-1) & Farmers Insurance Open: Marc Leishman (50-1)
Brooks Koepka 23.00* (2 pts to WIN)
Brooks has one start here a missed cut in 2017, he had a knee injury in the fall that saw him miss the Presidents Cup so this is the reason for the number we get here, a number that’s twice what it should be in my opinion.
Koepka does his best work when he feels that he has something to prove and with Rory surpassing him as world number one last week he will be extremely motivated to show everyone that he is still the head honcho.
He comes of two starts in the middle east (34th and 17th) where he had one good, one bad and two average rounds in each of the tournaments so any rust should have been shaken off. He also has three wins and three runner-up finishes in his last twenty starts at the PGA tour, here are some of his finishes in his starts before those results: 26th, 27th , 50th and 56th.
Tony Finau 26.00* (2 pts to WIN)
Finau took last week off after the brutal playoff loss to Webb Simpson in Phoenix and though I’m not in the habit of backing the talented American and why would I? He has one win in 151 PGA tour starts.
But something tells me that he is right on the cusp of breaking through with a couple of wins and he didn’t choke away the Phoenix tournament it was more that Webb just came and took it with 3 straight birdies to finish off.
The stats set up perfectly at the place where he finished runner up two years ago, he ranks in the top 20 in proximity 175-200 yards (1st), par 4 scoring 450-500 yards (2nd), around the green (5th), approach (12th) and driving distance (20th) over the last 36 rounds. His three PGA tour starts this year: 14th, 6th and 2nd.
Justin Rose 36.00* (1 pt EW)
Like with Brooks Koepka, this is another number that should have been much shorter, in my opinion, seeing that Rose started the year with a runner-up finish in Singapore before jumping straight on a plane and missed the cut at the Farmers.
He has had two weeks off since then, however, and should be nicely set up for a bounce-back at a course that suits the former U.S Open champion good.
In his last four starts here he has just finished outside of the top 16 once and he had his best performance here when he last played the tournament in 2017 with a T4.
*Odds subject to change
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