Preview: The Genesis Invitational

California love.

Strong it is.

The Genesis Invitational

The Riviera Country Club

Pacific Palisades, California

The Riviera Country Club 
Yards (per official scorecard):7,322
Par:71 (35-36)
Greens:Poa annua; 7,500 square feet.
Stimpmeter:12.5′.
Rough:Kikuyugrass at two inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards58/0
Architects:George Thomas (1927); Coore and Crenshaw; Tom Fazio.
Course Record:61; Ted Tryba (1999); George Archer (1983).
Purse:$9.3 million; $1.674 million and 550 FedExCup points (winner).

Notes:

  • Field of 120.
  • Top 65 and ties play the weekend.
  • Winner gets a THREE year exemption as of last year’s new INVITATIONAL status.

2020-2021 Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
Safeway OpenStewart Cink
120th United States OpenBryson DeChambeau
Corales Punta Cana ChampionshipHudson Swafford
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSergio Garcia
Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenMartin Laird (playoff)
CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEKJason Kokrak*
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPPatrick Cantlay
Bermuda ChampionshipBrian Gay
Vivint Houston OpenCarlos Oritz*
84th Masters TournamentDustin Johnson
The RSM ClassicRobert Streb
Mayakoba Golf ClassicViktor Hovland
Sentry TOCHarris English
Sony Open in HawaiiKevin Na
The American ExpressSi Woo Kim
Farmers Insurance OpenPatrick Reed
Waste Management Phoenix OpenBrooks Koepka
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmDaniel Berger

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details and angles for this week.

Previous Winners: *Playoff

YearWinner Comment
2020Adam Scott-11Wins for the second time (2005) as he defeated Sung Kang and Matt Kuchar by two.
2019JB Holmes-14Trailed by as many as five in the final round before Justin Thomas imploded to finish second.
2018Bubba Watson-12Joined Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead in the three victory club as he held off Kevin Na and Tony Finau by two.
2017Dustin Johnson-17Cruised by five for his only win.
2016Bubba Watson-15Held off Adam Scott and Jason Kokrak by a shot.
2015James Hahn-6Knocked out Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey in a playoff, which featured cold, damp conditions.

Facts and Figures:

Lowest Rounds – Last Year64; Matt Kuchar (Rd 1); Adam Scott (Rd 2); Hideki Matsuyama (Rd 3), Talor Gooch (Rd 3). 65; Max Homa (Rd 3).  
Defending Champion(s) Event:Phil Mickelson (2008-09); Mike Weir (2003-04). Neither are entered this week.
Multiple Champion(s) Entered:Bubba Watson (2014, 2016 and 2018); Adam Scott (2020, 2005).
Youngest Winner:25; Adam Scott (2005).
First Time – TOUR:James Hahn (2015); John Merrick (2013).
First Time – EventAdam Scott (2005).
Odd Fact:Only two internationals have won since 2006.
Odd Fact II:Only Bay Hill had harder greens to hit last year.

Quick Thoughts

Riviera is fantastic.

The history, the layout, the canyon up-and-down, the field, the excitement of the big city, all of it.

For me it’s the February Major and you won’t talk me out of that.

A proper test that uses all 14 clubs, the space between the ears and has a nip of weather factored in (wind) usually.

For those who don’t prefer Poa, this isn’t the week to talk yourself into it.

There’s no faking it around here as the greens are sharp, the fairways are tough to hit and making par isn’t bad at all.

The winners here have a deep connection to Augusta National dating all the way back to Fred Couples in 1990. Go look, the list is impressive.

The irony of the above is that Tiger Woods, master of the Masters in his generation, never fired at Riviera in 13 tries. Nobody said the above was fool-proof either, just interesting.

Dustin Johnson cashed in his Augusta-Riviera double last November to join that exclusive club.

Why are big greens hard to hit? Kikuyu grass rough doesn’t help.

Why are big greens hard to putt? Inaccurate approaches will have three putts written all over them or tough bunkers to navigate.

BUT

Get it close on the first attempt or with the wedge and they’ll go in.

Quick summary: More GIR, the better; the better approach equals more scoring chances. Make pars until your next birdie chance (patience, experience).

Chalk – Betting favorites and my opinions on them

Dustin Johnson (+550): In a field THIS deep? Of course he can win any week but with 12 of the top 15 players in the world entered, I’m not that interested. Hitting the top 10 is almost guaranteed but that’s why they call it gambling. Top 10. Heavy.

Jon Rahm (+1100): Only two starts here doesn’t fit the profile but his talent is a bit beyond that. This is different from Torrey so don’t get those two confused. Stick him in for top 20 money and forget it.

Rory McIlroy (+1200): Desert warmups are completed and now it’s time to work the golf ball. If fairways are hard to hit, and they are this week, he should go up. Another top five just like his last two visits wouldn’t surprise.

Justin Thomas (+1200): Heavy heart in Scottsdale as he played after his grandfather passed away while the event was happening. Week of last to handle that business. Inspiration or is life piling on right now? If I have questions, I bail.

Xander Schauffele (+1200): This will be attempt No. 4 and nothing has been better than T9 on debut in 2018. Notoriously slow starter here suggests if you’re hitching up to his hot form, you’ll need to be patient. Last non-top 25 finish was RBC Heritage in June. Top 20 money and take your payday.

Patrick Cantlay (+1400): Checks the form, heat and previous run here. Only Los Angeles native to win is John Merrick. Win ticket.

Bryson DeChambeau (+1600): I’m not sure where he is in the process at the moment. His power at Riviera won’t hurt neither will his putting. Top 10.

Brooks Koepka (+2200): Only his third visit here and not much to show previously. I know, I know, I know, he won last week but as much as I BELIEVE this is a major, I’m not sure HE does.

Tony Finau (+2500): Second win ticket. I’m a glutton for punishment. On Poa, big hitter, his climate. and he’s in form. Go on, lad. End the madness.

Colin Morikawa (+2800): As good as he is he didn’t pop on his first visit last year (T26). His putter was the main culprit.

Viktor Hovland (+3000): https://twitter.com/PGATOUR/status/1361751640571797510?s=20

Adam Scott (+3000): Same as Hovland? More than Morikawa? Third win ticket haha.

My Long Shots and Others 33-1 or worse

Hideki Matsuyama (+3500): I tried this at TPC Scottsdale, not again.

Jordan Spieth (+3500): Another week where he plays golf, not hitting shots. I like it. Top 10.

Joaquin Niemann (+3500): One round of six here is below par plus a long layoff.

Bubba Watson (+4000): Three times a winner here. Are we going down the “Phil at Pebble” road? Not me, I’ll enjoy from a far.

Scottie Scheffler (+4500): Kids man, I’ll wait.

Marc Leishman (+5000): Let’s move him up. Experienced, proven winner, checks the boxes.

Max Homa (+5500): Heat is legit with four of his last five in the top 25. Last week at Pebble was the first top 10. Let’s follow it up with another after T5 last year.

Carlos Ortiz (+6000): All T26 or better in four starts here. Let’s top 20 again.

Sergio Garcia (+6600): He’s gone close everywhere and should have won here in 2015 before he blew a tire on the final few holes. Sharp in the Middle East (T6, T12). Top 20.

Cameron Tringale (+7000): He would fit the Merrick/Hahn profile but his form entering is much better.  Top 5, Top 10 and Top 20.

Russell Henley (+7500): His last top 10 was at Sherwood but he’s T30 or better in seven of his last nine. Top 20 money.

Jason Kokrak (+10000): No faith he can close the deal AGAIN? Already beat a tough field at Shadow Creek last fall. Yes, please. Top 10.

James Hahn (+12500): Go on, take the top 20 money and run.

LATE ADDITION: My dude Jake loves Wyndham Clark (+125000).

Adam Hadwin (+15000): Never missed in six. Top 10 and Top 20 long shot.

Kyoung-Hun Lee (+15000): The week I abandon ship he goes T2. I’M BACK BABY especially with T25 and T13 in his two visits. Top 20.

Vaughn Taylor (+20000): Smokin’ his last three visits so yeah. Top 20.

Sung Kang (+25000): Never missed in six tries, two top 10s and four T22 or better. 

Scott Harrington (+100000): Makes the cut.

Last Week’s Recap

Chalk – Betting favorites and my opinions on them

Patrick Cantlay (+750): Form isn’t the question. Only one round in the 60s on Pebble Beach in four events. Did open with 66 at Spyglass last year before T11. Last time out closed 61 at AMEX for 2nd. He opened with 62 at Pebble to claim T3 but couldn’t make anything on Sunday. Absolutely rolling at the moment.

Daniel Berger (+1400): MC last week but all 8 rounds here previous are 70 or better. Ding. Winner. 65 on Sunday, MC means nothing to these guys. Third consecutive winner on TOUR to MC the previous week.

Paul Casey (+1600): Should have won here in 2019 but couldn’t hold off a charging Mickelson. Red hot desert form in the Middle East included a win, T8 and T12. MC last year 73-81 gives me pause but T8 in 2018 helps. Red-hot form translated to T5, his fourth consecutive world wide T12 or better. Not bad after 3 weeks in the desert!

Will Zalatoris (+1800): He was +4000 last week, folks and cashed T17. First-timers at Pebble are beyond rare but he’s special. Not for me at this price. First-timer T55, not surprising.

Jason Day (+1800): Same as Zalatoris? Ok, mate. Do your thing here as you always do. Any rust should be well gone entering this week (MC-MC). Never really threatened but another top 10, T7, easy peasy.

Jordan Spieth (+2200): False positive? Negative positive? Spin it any way you like, but the blood is flowing again and the feels are returning. Combine that with a track where he’s won and I’m more than curious. New factor this week will be doing it in the breeze. Nibble. Tough finish but an excellent follow-up to Phoenix. No trophies handed out after 54 holes ever but T3 should feel all right.

Francesco Molinari (+2200): Quietly going about his business with T15, T10 and T8 in his last four. Has no problem getting around links golf. Interesting. Blown away on the weekend (5-over) for 59th.

Si Woo Kim (+3000): A bit too much all or nothing for me at this price. 68-76 MC. Let me know when he’s back on a Dye Course!

My Long Shots and Others 33-1 or worse

Max Homa (+3300): Big form and big course history makes for an excellent combo. Closed with 67 on Pebble his last two visits. Top 10. T7, pay the man his munny.

Sam Burns (+3300): Smashes the shit out of it but this week will test more facets. Only one round in the 60s for T39.

Kevin Streelman (+3300): Loves small greens and this event so don’t be surprised if it’s four top 10s after this week. Stings as he began the back eagle-birdie but double on 16 wiped him to 13th.

Cameron Davis (+3300): This will be his fourth consecutive appearance. T38 last year was the best of the bunch. Let’s keep the trend going into top 20 money. Payday. T14 after opening with 74 as well.

Cameron Tringale (+4000): Another week, another top 20. Back up the truck. T7 and playing beautifully on his favored coast.

Phil Mickelson (+4000): Gotta stick him in. Each way. Top 10. Top 20. Let’s go down in flames if we’re gonna jump on with him. I GOT FLAMES, BABY.

Matt Jones (+5000): Best was last year’s T5. Enters on nine straight. Move him up. Opened with 67 and stalled out for T34. That’s 10 straight makes though.

Matthew NeSmith (+6000): Too many GIR and solid irons. Can he pop on Poa? T16 as he knocks out another top 20. Nice recovery after 74 to open.

Maverick McNealy (+7500): T5 last year, Stanford, Bay Area. Solo second. Hope you went with home court advantage.

Scott Stallings (+8000): Another course horse. Form is off-putting. T30.

Andrew Putnam (+8000): First player to go bogey free at TPC Scottsdale over four rounds, ever. T55

Scott Piercy (+10000): Strong course form combines with recent WD issues. T50 but he at least showed up and played.

Kevin Chappell (+15000): Top 20. Nope, MC.

Joseph Bramlett (+15000): T18 last year and a quality ball-striker. T63

Grayson Murray (+30000): Make the cut. Did not.

Rob Oppenheim (+30000): Top 20 for my dude, Jake. T39, did not.

Tim Wilkinson (+30000): Make the cut. Did, T30.

Chris Baker (+40000): Same.

MY INDIANA BOYS DID NOT

Bo Van Pelt (+75000): Yeah.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter (@mikeglasscott) or email me: mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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