2020 Genesis Invitational Picks, PredictionsPat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2020 Genesis Invitational Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Riviera CC.
2020 Genesis Invitational Picks: Show Index
2020 Genesis Invitational FieldField: 120 Players
Cut: Top 65 & Ties after 36 Holes
First Tee: 9:45 a.m. ET; Thursday, Feb. 13
Defending Champion: JB Holmes
Not only are we blessed with a one-course event, with trackable shots for each of the players, but the 2020 Genesis Invitational may also be the most loaded regular PGA TOUR rotation tournament in 30 years. Since the field is 120 players deep, the quality and depth of the gang at Riviera is better than most WGC events. Maybe The Masters, too, if we’re being honest; Ian Woosnam and Larry Mize aren’t patrolling the grounds this week.
Annually one of the most loaded events anyway, a simple change of one word in the title of the tournament and everyone in the golf world his prepared to navigate the distastes that is getting to and from LAX. I kid. We all know these guys will fly private into Burbank or John Wayne, depending on how early they’ve arrived.
Once the Genesis “Open”, the new season has rebranded this tournament the 2020 Genesis Invitational. Joining Bay Hill, The Heritage, Memorial and Colonial as events with invitational status, The Genesis has cut its field down to 120 players this year and lets Tiger Woods pick and choose who he wants to invite. At least in year one of this change, it appears when Tiger calls you to play, you’re there.
Playing as tournament host, Tiger is joined by eight more of the world’s top-10 ranked players, including each of the top Six. Newly minted world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and Justin Rose round out the top 10 with Tiger. Just these nine players competing outside of a Major would instantly make it the top event of the season, but that’s not even close to the tip of the talent iceberg.
You could actually remove those nine players, and start with the rest of the field, and it still may remain the best of the season: Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Collin Morikawa, Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Sungjae Im, Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Phil Mickelson, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Matt Kuchar, Cam Smith, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Joaquin Niemann, Branden Grace, Alex Noren and defending champ JB Holmes.
Additionally, we’re getting more international trickling over stateside to acclimate to their surroundings in advance of next week’s WGC Mexico, the Florida Swing, ending with Augusta. This week, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Erik Van Rooyen are making their PGA TOUR 2020 debuts.
2020 Genesis Invitational: Key StatsStrokes Gained: Ball Striking
Driving Distance Gained
Par 4s Gained: 450-500 Yards
Strokes Gained: Around The Green
Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from FantasyNational.com
2020 Genesis Invitational: CourseCourse: Riviera CC
2020 Genesis Invitational: Past Winners2019: JB Holmes -14
2018: Bubba Watson -12
2017: Dustin Johnson -17
2016: Bubba Watson -16
2015: James Hahn -6
2014: Bubba Watson -15
2020 Genesis Invitational: NotesWhile 7,322 yards doesn’t sound especially long, the daunting distance of Riviera CC is hidden in the scorecard. There is a mini Par 4 (No. 10), and two of the shortest Par 5s players will encounter on TOUR every season. That leaves seven Par 4s measuring more than 450 yards. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a course featuring more approach shots from 175 yards and beyond.
Almost the entire field is going to have to blast more than their average long irons for the week, the path of least resistance is rostering bombers. Short hitters with excellent long irons are definitely in play, the degree of difficulty on their success is just much larger, however.
Much like Augusta, there has been a bias towards left-handers at Riviera. Shouldn’t be surprising the only lefties to have a Green Jacket hanging in their closets have also won the Genesis: Bubba x3, Phil x2, Mike Weir x2. There a has also been significant leaderboard crossover between Riviera and Quail Hollow historically.
An examination of the strokes gained influence among the top-five finishers from the past decade shows SG: APP to be around twice as impactful to that group as SG: OTT and SG: ATG. That sounds like a lot, but that gap is far more pronounced at most courses, you’re looking for a modicum of balance this week.
Riviera is one of the lowest driving accuracy courses (53%) and sports one of the smallest GIR rates (56%) on TOUR. TOUR averages are 61 percent and 66 percent, respectively. Short game will play a factor in determining the winner, but much like Pebble last week, the green complexes at Riviera, both on and around the putting surfaces, are learned through experience. There’s a reason Bubba can have wonky short game most places, yet know exactly the proper shot here.
After Pebble Beach, Riviera sports the toughest greens to hit from inside 125 yards (76%).
With the narrow fairways, and broadcasters love of saying the word “Kikuyu”, expect the thick grass type of the rough to be mentioned over and over… and over. If you play a Kikuyu drinking game, you’ll likely get alcohol poisoning within an hour.
Since 2004, no hole in golf has ceded more eagles than No. 1 at Riviera. For reference, No. 9 at Waialae CC is second.
Tiger Woods has made 13 starts at Riviera without a victory. The most he’s played any course without a win.
Last year’s tournament suffered from awful Saturday weather, forcing the field to play almost two-rounds on Sunday. With a four-putt on No. 13 and three-putts on No. 10 and No. 14 during the final round, Justin Thomas blew a four-stroke lead in 2019.
Since 2011, Riviera as ranked as the toughest course putting from three feet and in five of the past nine seasons.
Over the past five years, Dustin Johnson (52), Bubba Watson (40), Adam Scott (36), JB Holmes (32), and Justin Thomas (32), have the most Strokes Gained: Total at this event. Conversely, JJ Spaun, Brian Harman, Tyler Duncan and Danny Lee have lost the most strokes.
Holmes, Thomas, Rory, CH3, Scott, Carlos Ortiz, Casey, Kuchar, Phil, Kokrak, Cam Smith, Sung Kang and Bubba, discounting a 2017 WD, all have at least three starts over the past five season and never missed a cut.
2020 Genesis Invitational — Targets From Each Range
Rahm generated a T9 in his debut at Riviera a year ago, and comes to LA with three wins and just a pair of finishes outside the top 10 since last year’s US Open — A span of 16 events. Anytime you get Rahm in California, just play him and figure of the rest later.
Bubba comes in hot with consecutive top 10s, and returns to a venue he wins at every other year. He faltered on his approaches a year ago (-1 SG: APP), but outside of that blip, he’s gained in every Strokes Gained metric at Riviera each of the past five years. That’s resulted in three wins and no finish worse than T15.
From the back end of the field, Ortiz is where you can nab some savings and gran a player who’s never finished worse than T26 in three starts at the Genesis, on his preferred putting surface, who is in the midst of his best season in his PGA TOUR career. Bound to be overlooked after middling T53/T48/MC/T25 results in 2020, but Ortiz clearly has an affinity for this layout, and scores really well on the longer Par 4s. Over the past 50 rounds, per www.fantasynational.com, the Mexican is 15th in the field around the greens, 29th in driving distance gained, and 26th in Par 4s gained 450-500 yards.Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlory, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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