The TOUR is staying on the West Coast for one more week and travels south on US-101 before getting on the I-405 en route to the Genesis Invitational played at the famed Riviera Country Club. The course will play as a Par 71, steps off at 7,322 yards and will again be putt on Poa Annua greens.
This will be the 58th time Riviera Country Club has hosted a tournament, which dates back to 1926 when it played as the Los Angeles Open. It’s also been played as the Northern Trust and Nissan Open, but has been partnered with Genesis since 2017 and will be hosted by none other than Tiger Woods ($10,400). This will be his 11th time teeing it up at Riviera as a professional and he has yet to win one. He’ll be joined by an elite field, including Rory Mcilroy ($11,600), Brooks Koepka ($9,400), Justin Thomas ($11,000) and defending champ J.B. Holmes ($7,700), who had a record-setting week on the greens gaining his second-most strokes putting since 2008 (+8.2).
The Par-3 sixth hole is famous for its bunker in the middle of the green and the Par-4 10th hole is arguably the best drivable Par-4 on TOUR, but the novelty wears off with how difficult this course has played in years past. Even with no water hazards on the course, Genesis has played very tough, ranking inside the top 10 last season and the year previous in scoring relative to par. The fairways are tough to hit, recording just under eight percent less than TOUR average and may be penal if guys miss the fairway with Kikuyu rough, a grass that is thick and rarely used on TOUR. These are also tough to hit greens, recording about 8.5% fewer greens hit in regulation due to the small, undulating Poa Annua greens along with a lot of runoff areas around the greens. This is why Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green is important this week, with winners here gaining an average of 2.52 strokes around the greens over the past five years and it might be why we don’t see a lot of winners close it out after holding the 54-hole lead. Since 2000, only seven winners have won after holding or sharing the lead after the third round.
As always, and similar to last week’s accuracy game, Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green is the primary metric we should hone in on this week when rostering golfers as well as Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee. Even though it’s not a long course, we should be rostering golfers who are able to hit it long with Holmes, Bubba Watson ($9,600) and Dustin Johnson ($10,000) all finishing inside the top 20 or inside the top 5 in driving distance at the end of the year they won.
WILL TIGER PICK UP HIS FIRST WIN AT RIVIERA?
Set your lineups here: PGA TOUR $800K Invitational Special [$200K to 1st]
Patrick Cantlay ($9,800)You can’t go wrong with anyone from the top, but Cantlay has been playing great of late. Outside of the 40th at the Safeway Open last season, Cantlay hasn’t finished worse than 21st dating back to late July of last year. He’s also been extremely consistent, not missing a cut since the Players Championship in March last season and has gained strokes tee-to-green in 13 of his past 14 tournaments. Cantlay has solid finishes in his past two appearances at Riviera and over his past three tournaments on TOUR he ranks fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-green, just outside the top 20 in driving distance and has gained an average of two strokes around-the-greens.
Adam Scott ($9,000)He hasn’t played on TOUR for a while, but his history at Riviera is impeccable, ranking fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green, fourth in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and fifth in DraftKings scoring over the past six tournaments at this course. With so many big names around him, Scott could have single-digit ownership, which is great value for someone who ranks third in Strokes Gained: Total since 2015.
Sungjae Im ($8,000)Sungjae has been the epitome of consistency making 14 straight cuts on TOUR and ranking 32nd in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, 11th in putting and eighth in Strokes Gained: Total over the past 24 rounds. There are some similarities in grass type on golf courses in South Korea as we see here at Riviera, which could be a slight advantage Sungjae has over the field. He’s got solid finishes so far this season and should make the cut for his 15th straight event this week.
Jason Kokrak ($7,100)Over the past 29 rounds at Riviera CC, Kokrak ranks 17th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and 12th in DraftKings scoring, but hasn’t played extremely well of late, missing the cut in two of his past three events on TOUR. Kokrak should be able to right the ship this week at a tournament he plays well at, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Total since 2015. Even though he’s a fantastic ball-striker, he’s struggled with his short game losing an average of 1.1 strokes around-the-green over his last five tournaments, but he has been getting it close with his approach ranking 10th in overall proximity over his last six tournaments.
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