Genesis Invitational Preview
After two more laid back events in the PGA Tour Calendar at both Pebble Beach and Phoenix, we now hit a critical stage of the season as the best in the world get their game geared up for the Masters in April.
Starting at the Genesis Invitational this week, this event is followed by the WGC-Mexico Championship, the Honda Classic, the Arnold Palmer and the Players all in the build-up to the first major of the year.
Focusing on this week, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and many more all tee it up at the Genesis.
Played at Riviera, this is a tournament that is fast becoming one of the high-profile events of the year now. At just the right time before the WGC Mexico and a couple of months before the Masters, it gives the world’s best a perfect opportunity to fine tune their game at an extremely tough course.
Riviera, ranked inside the world’s top 100 golf courses, has a major championship style set up to it with tight fairways and thick rough.
And one thing is immediately obvious at Riviera, those who hit it far off the tee tend to play well here. Now admittedly, that is the case for most courses on tour in the modern era, but it is a clear benefit to being able to get it round here.
Bubba Watson is a three-time winner, Dustin Johnson has won and twice finished runner-up, and JB Holmes, Thomas, McIlroy, Rahm and Johnson all finished in the top 10 here last year.
With that, there’s no surprise that McIlroy, Thomas, Koepka, Rahm, Johnson and a bunch of others dominate the top of the market.
Straight away, Johnson (14/1) stands out from the rest with him having such a phenomenal record here and finishing in the top 10 twice in his last three starts.
Even though he’s incredibly tempting at his price, something just tells me to steer clear of him. With no win in almost a year one is surely on the way, but I’m just not sure at this early stage in the season it will come this week.
I could well be mistaken, and there’s an obviously large probability that any of those in the top five in the market could win, but I will ignore them just for this week with the chance of some rustiness still playing a part in California.
My first pick instead, is going to be Patrick Cantlay (20/1). Steady as you like, a fantastic ball striker and rock-solid putter of the ball, Cantlay is a contender every week he plays.
But this week, with it coming to a crucial stage in the season with the build-up to the Masters and the strong field at Riviera, I feel he will be very determined to get a victory to really prove his ability to compete with those at the top.
Forgetting 2012 and 2013 in his early years on tour where he missed the cut at Riviera, he has finished 4th and 15th in the last two visits.
And even with an over par final round at Pebble last week, Cantlay managed to finish 11th, which surely means his game is close. Hopefully this week is the week it finally clicks into place in 2020.
Going from supreme talent and world number 1 amateur to actually competing with the world’s best is no mean feat, and it’s something Cantlay has really established with ease in the past year.
A win at the Memorial confirmed his status as a top 10 player in the world, and another win in an event like this, or even a major championship, looks inevitable in the near future.
20/1 represents a good price for the world number 6, and one I feel will pay dividends by the end of the week.
BET | Patrick Cantlay – 20/1 with Bet365
My next pick is three-time winner at Riviera, Bubba Watson (22/1).
Watson just loves this course, and if history repeats itself, him winning in alternate years since 2014 suggest it’s his time to win the Genesis again in 2020.
It’s easy to look at it and say the reasoning behind picking Watson here is solely due to his impeccable record at this golf course. But the two-time Masters winner has been playing good golf irrespective of his record here.
Top 10s in Phoenix and the strong field before that at the Farmers show he has started the year brightly. Fittingly for himself, he couldn’t go to a better tournament in form.
If he continues to play the way that he has done recently he will be a tough man to beat in California, that’s without even taking into account how at ease he feels playing and winning at this golf course.
At 22/1 for a three-time winner here, like Mickelson at 28/1 last week, I think his general form in combination with his track record at the Genesis will see him near the top come Sunday evening, making it a price worth taking.
My third pick for the Genesis Invitational this week is Bryson Dechambeau (50/1).
Dechambeau, given his PGA Tour pedigree and added length due to bulking up in his off-season, offers up a good price this week. With him having finished 8th in his defence of the Dubai Desert Classic three weeks ago in combination with a 15th place finish here last year, I think he could improve on that a year later.
The 26-year-old ranks 10th on the PGA Tour this season for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, and that is going to be an important factor at Riviera.
Dechambeau hasn’t been short of criticism in his brief time on tour for slow play, sportsmanship issues, and many other things. But one thing that’s evident with Dechambeau is that he is always working hard on making even the most miniscule improvements to his game.
Gaining 17 pounds in his time off is something that he has decided to do this time, and it’s undoubtedly something that could help elevate his game. Driving distance has never been a strong point of his, but some extra strength and flexibility will certainly go a long way in improving that.
Already a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, the 26-year-old has no issue getting it done on a Sunday. Another win here at Riviera will really send a message to golf’s elite that he deserves to be considered as one of them, while adding a fantastic tournament to his trophy collection.
BET | Bryson DeChambeau – 50/1 with Bet365
My final pick for the Genesis is even more of an outsider, Keegan Bradley (125/1).
It’s fair to say Bradley’s form at Riviera has been very up and down. Finishing in the top 10 four times is a positive way to look at it, but he has also missed the cut three times.
However, not too much should be read into that as Watson has also missed two cuts here and that certainly didn’t affect his ability to win at Riviera.
In what is now more considered to be his hay-day, Bradley made four consecutive top 20 finishes from 2012 through to 2015 at the Genesis.
This included a runner-up finish in 2012 and a 4th placed finish in 2014, showing that on form, Bradley clearly feels comfortable at this golf course.
The main issue in his game, as it always has been since the ban of anchoring, is putting. Ranked 181st so far on tour this year in putting, it’s a clear anomaly compared to the rest of the game.
39th in scoring average and 42nd in driving distance, which are two respectable positions in those categories, the rest of his game has been fairly consistent. However, he will need to improve on his putting to contend, especially at such a difficult course where scrambling will be key.
If he can have a good week on the greens and show the sort of form he did years ago in California, Bradley could well be a promising each way bet.