Tiger Woods makes his highly-anticipated return to the PGA Tour at this week’s Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on this week’s field and some potential betting opportunities.
Genesis Invitational Field
Tiger will obviously generate the headlines this week, but the rest of the Genesis Invitational field is loaded with talent so the winner will certainly have their work cut out for them. Riviera has some tough elements to it as the fairways are tough to hit (12th-hardest last year), and you can end up behind trees on wayward tee shots. The greens are difficult and fast, and hitting approaches close is a real challenge as it’s fifth-hardest for proximity to hole so the Par 4’s. Par 3’s can cause problems if approaches and putting aren’t dialed in. The winner will have to be firing on all parts of the game as you can’t completely depend on one part of the game to have success here.
Here are the top ten players in total strokes gained in 2023:
1. Jon Rahm
2. Scottie Scheffler
3. Jason Day
4. Max Homa
5. Colin Morikawa
6. Xander Schauffele
7. Tony Finau
8. Justin Rose
9. Rory McIlroy
10. Sungjae Im
*Biggest surprise this year in total strokes gained has to be Rickie Fowler ranking 14th best.
If history tells us how to win this tournament, it’s being able to post low numbers on the par 5’s. Players will get 12 chances at par 5’s, and with the talent in this field I believe players will need to go -9 or better to have a shot at the win. Here are the top ten players in terms of percentage of getting birdie or better on Par 5’s:
1. Adam Scott
2. Will Zalatoris
3. Tony Finau
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Collin Morikawa
6. Patrick Cantlay/Justin Thomas
8. Aaron Wise
9. Cameron Young
10. Scottie Scheffler
Genesis Invitational Players to Avoid
Last week I went with Viktor Hovland and Justin Thomas as players to watch out for, and Hovland definitely did not perform well. I felt good about the JT prediction until he went ballistic on Sunday to fly up the leaderboard into fourth. This week, the players I’m looking to avoid are:
Rory McIlroy – After his win three weeks ago, he surprised me by saying he didn’t feel like his swing was dialed in, and it certainly was not up to his standards last week. He finished 32nd, and was 53rd in driving accuracy, 38th in greens in regulation and 56th in putting. Those are not terrible numbers, but when you’re priced as a favorite you’re not returning value. Rory has great course history here finishing 10th, 5th and 4th in three out of four years, but he missed the cut in the other year and with him being priced as a top-3 player in DFS and winning odds, I can’t trust him and I won’t be betting on him this week.
Patrick Cantlay – He has stumbled out of the gate this season finishing 16th at the Tournament of Champions where only 37 golfers played, 26th at The American Express and then he missed the cut by one at the Waste Management. I’m not sure what’s going on with him, but all his Strokes Gained stats are down so it’s not one specific category, although him only being +0.20 in putting is a problem as that’s outside the top 70 in this field. He hasn’t finished better than 15th the last four years here, and he was 33rd last year so at his price I think there are many better options for DFS and head to heads.
Genesis Invitational DFS Darlings
Last week’s lineup only got four through to the weekend, but that was good enough to cash in my head-to-heads as there were plenty of surprise missed cuts that ruined lineups. I only do head-to-heads with my lineup as I only want to go up against one other lineup, so last week’s lineup was bad for big tournaments, but good for head to heads.
Kyounghoon Lee ($7,400) – Lee has made the cut in three out of four tournaments this season, and he loves playing here. He has played here four times and made the cut all four times finishing 15th, 13th, 66th, 26th.
Adam Hadwin ($7,500) – I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Hadwin so far as he’s been good in all three tournaments including a 10th place finish last week. He missed the cut last year here, but made the cut the previous seven years. He’s No. 14 in the field in Total Strokes Gaines and is an incredible +1.13 strokes gained putting so far this season.
Wyndham Clark ($7,800) – He’s made the cut in seven-straight tournaments and finished 10th last week. He didn’t play here last year, but he did the two previous years and he finished 17th and 8th.
Final Genesis Invitational DFS lineup: Kyounghoon Lee, Adam Hadwin, Wyndham Clark, Tyrell Hatton, Jason Day, Scottie Scheffler
Genesis Invitational Free Play
Sungjae Im over Patrick Cantlay – I detailed above why Cantlay is someone I won’t be betting on this week, but seeing Sungjae Im as an underdog against him is very surprising so I’ll take Im. In 2023, Im is +2.04 total strokes gained while Cantlay is +1.29. Cantlay drives the ball farther than Im, but this isn’t a course that requires you to be a bomber. They tied at this tournament last year, and they’ve played in three tournaments together this year with Im finishing ahead of Cantlay in all three tournaments. I’ll take Sungjae who is in better form over Cantlay who seems to be stuck in the mud to start the season.