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    Best bets for the PGA Tour Genesis Invitational


    The Genesis Invitational

    Nick Taylor continued the winning run of long shots (opening price of 100-1 or more) on the 2024 PGA Tour season as the 150-1 Canadian won the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the second playoff hole over fellow long shot Charley Hoffman, who was priced as high as 400-1. 

    Taylor rallied from three down with four holes left in regulation and made an 11-foot birdie putt to beat Hoffman on the second hole of a playoff. 


    He was the runner-up in last year’s event to OWGR No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, the two-time reigning champion, who briefly held the lead early in the final round before his putter went cold, ending his bid for the PGA Tour’s first three-peat in 13 years. Scheffler led the field for Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green but had to settle for a T-3 with his best friend on the tour, Sam Burns. 

    Our nearest contender was Sahith Theegala, who held the 36-hole lead and was the 54-hole co-leader but never got it going in the final round and finished fifth. 

    This week, the PGA Tour has a “Signature” event at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles for the Genesis Invitational, which is organized by the Tiger Woods Foundation. Speaking of Woods, he makes his 2024 debut this week (his first official start since the 2023 Masters) and is priced as high as 175-1. 

    At the top end of the odds board as usual is Scheffler (+650) and Rory McIlroy (9-1), who has two top-5s here in 2019 and 2020. 

    Viktor Hovland also finished top 5 here in 2021 and 2022 and he is slotted at 14-1 along with Xander Schauffele. 

    Max Homa (18-1) is the 2021 champion of this event and last year finished runner-up to Jon Rahm, who will not be defending his title. 

    Patrick Cantlay (18-1) was third here last year. Collin Morikawa (20-1) was runner-up here two years ago.

    Aside from Rahm, nine of the OWGR Top 10 players are in this week’s field. 

    The Event

    This tournament was established in 1926 as the Los Angeles Open and was first played at the Los Angeles Country Club and has been played at a variety of courses in the greater Los Angeles area. Riviera Country Club, located in Pacific Palisades, has hosted the event 59 of 95 times and has been its permanent home essentially since 1984 (Valencia CC hosted in 1998). The event has been the site for several historical milestones in the game of golf. In 1938, the legendary Babe Zaharias became the first woman to play in a professional men’s golf event. In 1992, the Nissan L.A. Open was the site of Tiger Woods’ first PGA Tour event, which he played as a 16-year-old high school sophomore amateur.

    Woods will be in the field while also serving as the tournament host as his Tiger Woods Foundation is the event organizer. This event has had many legendary winners, including Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, Byron Nelson, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Faldo, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Ernie Els and numerous other major champions. 

    South Korea-based Hyundai Motor Group, through its Genesis Motors subsidiary, took over the tournament’s sponsorship in 2017. 

    The Genesis is one of four “Signature” events that will maintain a 36-hole cut, which includes the top-50 and ties and also every player within 10 strokes of the 36-hole lead.

    The Field

    As a “Signature” event, 50 of the top 60 players in the world will be in attendance for the Genesis Invitational. The only eligible golfers choosing not to play are Justin Rose and Matthieu Pavon. As mentioned earlier, Woods returns to action this week. As tournament host, he gave himself a sponsor exemption. The 82-time PGA Tour winner headlines an elite field competing for 700 FedExCup points and a $20 million purse.

    With the field capped at a potential 80 players, only 70 actually qualified through the assortment of categories as set forth by the tour. This includes the top 50 in last season’s FedExCup standings, the Aon Next 10 (which for this event is Nos. 51-60 in the final FedExCup Fall standings) and the Aon Swing 5 (the top points earners not already exempt from the previous four Full-Field events). There are also five sponsor exemptions into the field, Adam Scott, Gary Woodland, Will Zalatoris, Chase Johnson (Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption) and the aforementioned Woods.

    The Course

    Riviera Country Club is located in Santa Monica Canyon, just below the Santa Monica Mountains and one block south of the famous Sunset Boulevard. The course was designed by George C. Thomas and William Bell in 1926 with a Tom Fazio redesign in 2012. It is a classical parklands layout of 7,322 yards and plays as a par-71. Riviera has hosted three major championships: the 1948 U.S. Open and the 1983 and 1995 PGA Championship. It also hosted the 1998 U.S. Senior Open along with the 2017 U.S. Amateur and will serve as the golf venue for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. The course has been nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley” for the legendary Ben Hogan, who won the L.A. Open three times (1942, 1947, 1948) and won the U.S. Open here.

    The Kikuyugrass fairways (only Riviera and Torrey Pines feature both Kikuyu fairways and rough) are very tight (27-yard average width, sixth narrowest on tour) and the players will be hitting into bigger (7,500 square feet, fourth largest on the PGA Tour) and undulating Poa Annua greens that will roll a fast 12.5 on the stimpmeter and closer to 13 on Sunday. While the greens are large, they have the lowest mark (56.7%) on tour for Greens In Regulation. That’s because there are numerous dogleg holes where some players will be hitting blind approach shots, and while the course has just 58 bunkers, they are prominently placed, so shaping shots and creativity are rewarded. Three-time tournament winner Bubba Watson often said he intentionally missed certain fairways to gain better sight lines into the greens. Riviera has ranked as one of the 10 most difficult courses on the PGA Tour in four of the last eight years but was only 14th in difficulty last year. There are also zero water hazards at Riviera.

    The par-3s are all individually distinguishable. The standout par-3 is the fourth. Measured at 235 yards with a huge bunker short of the right-to-left sloping green, it was called the greatest par-3 in America by Ben Hogan. 

    Seven of the 11 par-4s are over 450 yards. They rank as the fourth-toughest set of par-4s on tour. The 10th can extend out to 315 yards. It is a driveable par-4 with a tee shot that will challenge even the best shot-shapers in the world, with deep bunkers protecting the green on three sides.

    Each of the three par-5s is very scoreable with a combined Birdie or Better rate of 44.5%. The most recent seven winners have totaled 59 shots under par on the Par 5s. 2022’s champion, Joaquin Niemann went 10-under on these holes for the week and the opening hole proved to be the difference that year as he outscored runner-up Collin Morikawa by three strokes on the par-5 first.

    Correlated courses that should indicate success at Riviera include Augusta National, Torrey Pines South, PGA National, Quail Hollow, TPC Harding Park and the Copperhead course at Innisbrook. 

    Recent History/Winners

    2023: Jon Rahm (-17/267); 8-1

    2022: Joaquin Niemann (-19/265); 50-1

    2021: Max Homa (-12/272); 60-1*

    2020: Adam Scott (-11/273); 33-1

    2019: J.B. Holmes (-14/270); 150-1

    2018: Bubba Watson (-12/272); 50-1

    2017: Dustin Johnson (-17/267); 9-1

    2016: Bubba Watson (-15/269); 25-1

    2015: James Hahn (-6/278); 200-1**

    2014: Bubba Watson (-15/269); 33-1

    2013: John Merrick (-11/273); 250-1***

    2012: Bill Haas (-7/277); 50-1****

    2011: Aaron Baddeley (-12/272); 100-1

    2010: Steve Stricker (-16/268); 16-1

    Playoff win over Tony Finau – *

    Playoff win over Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson – *

    Playoff win over Charlie Beljan – **

    Playoff win over Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson – ***

    Here are some Genesis Invitational recent winning trends:

    • 14 of the last 16 winners had at least three previous career wins.
    • 16 of the last 18 winners had played in at least four previous Genesis Invitationals.
    • 14 of the last 18 winners have finished 12th or better in a previous Genesis Invitational.
    • 18 of the last 22 winners have finished 35th or better in their last start before the Genesis Invitational.
    • 14 of the last 17 winners played at Pebble Beach or TPC Scottsdale in their previous start.
    • 14 of the last 16 winners were age 29 or older. 

    Statistical Analysis

    Jon Rahm led the field last year as Joaquin Niemann did the year prior for Strokes Gained: Approach during their respective winning weeks at Riviera. 

    Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Scottie Scheffler 54.8
    2. Lucas Glover 43.6
    3. Sam Ryder 33.8
    4. Xander Schauffele 31
    5. Collin Morikawa 29.3
    6. Gary Woodland 27.8
    7. Eric Cole 27
    8. Tony Finau 25.9
    9. J.T. Poston 25.7
    10. Chris Kirk 24.6
    11. Tom Hoge 22.7
    12. Alex Smalley 21.9
    13. Tom Kim 21
    14. Hideki Matsuyama 19.6
    15. Patrick Cantlay 19.5
    16. Adam Svensson 19.4
    17. Will Zalatoris 19.1
    18. Corey Conners 18.3

    Nearly half of the approach shots at Riviera come from 150-200 yards. 

    Proximity Gained 150-175 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Sam Ryder 11.59
    2. Lucas Glover 11.58
    3. Xander Schauffele 10.94
    4. Eric Cole 8.53
    5. Scottie Scheffler 8.1
    6. Harris English 7.97
    7. Chris Kirk 7.27
    8. Sepp Straka 7.2
    9. Collin Morikawa 6.64
    10. Viktor Hovland 6.63
    11. Nick Dunlap 5.89 (4 rounds)
    12. Tom Hoge 5.82
    13. Ludvig Åberg 5.77
    14. J.T. Poston 5.47
    15. Keegan Bradley 5.37
    16. Brendon Todd 5.1

    Proximity Gained 175-200 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Scottie Scheffler 14.54
    2. Eric Cole 14.04
    3. Gary Woodland 14.01
    4. Viktor Hovland 12.72
    5. Sam Ryder 10.79
    6. Kurt Kitayama 10.7
    7. Tom Hoge 9.98
    8. Will Zalatoris 9.95
    9. Lucas Glover 9.62
    10. Adam Svensson 8.63
    11. Patrick Cantlay 8.34
    12. Grayson Murray 7.91
    13. Chase Johnson 7.86 (6 rounds)
    14. Hideki Matsuyama 7.54
    15. Collin Morikawa 7.29
    16. Byeong Hun An 6.86
    17. Sepp Straka 6.17

    Note: The numbers indicate feet gained per shot towards the hole from the distance. 

    The fairways at Riviera are some of the narrowest on tour and the driving accuracy rate is just 52.5%. Good Drives Gained measure drives where the player either hits the fairway off the tee OR the player misses the fairway but still hits the green or fringe in regulation. 

    Good Drives Gained (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Scottie Scheffler 45.7
    2. Rory McIlroy 36.4
    3. Viktor Hovland 34.7
    4. Collin Morikawa 33.4
    5. Andrew Putnam 29.4
    6. Si Woo Kim 27.4
    7. J.J Spaun 26.9
    8. Lucas Glover 24.8
    9. Beau Hossler 23.1
    10. Brendon Todd 20.8
    11. Tommy Fleetwood 20.4
    12. Russell Henley 19.7
    13. Emiliano Grillo 19.4
    14. Eric Cole 18.8
    15. Sam Ryder 18.1
    16. Sepp Straka 15.8
    17. Ludvig Åberg 15.4

    Riviera routinely ranks in the top 10 of toughest courses to gain strokes off the tee.

    Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Rory McIlroy 32.6
    2. Scottie Scheffler 31.4
    3. Ludvig Åberg 27.2
    4. Kevin Yu 26.9
    5. Viktor Hovland 26.3
    6. Byeong Hun An 22.9
    7. Patrick Cantlay 22.2
    8. Corey Conners 22
    9. Si Woo Kim 20
    10. Collin Morikawa 19
    11. Cameron Young 18.7
    12. Adam Scott 17.9
    13. Max Homa 17.6
    14. Will Zalatoris 16.8
    15. Luke List 16.2
    16. Tommy Fleetwood 15.6
    17. Adam Svensson 14.9
    18. Xander Schauffele 14

    The Greens In Regulation rate is only around 56%, so players will miss greens on a relatively routine basis and will have to scramble out of tricky Kikuyu rough, which can be unpredictable and tricky, and onto Poa greens that are faster and full of undulations. The bunkers at Riviera are also a bit tougher than tour average. 

    Strokes Gained: Around The Green (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Russell Henley 16
    2. Rickie Fowler 14.1
    3. Si Woo Kim 13.6
    4. Hideki Matsuyama 11.9
    5. Wyndham Clark 11.6
    6. Brendon Todd 11.4
    7. Justin Thomas 11.3
    8. J.J. Spaun 10.6
    9. Mackenzie Hughes 10.2
    10. Rory McIlroy 10
    11. Sahith Theegala 9.9
    12. Tommy Fleetwood 9.7
    13. Scottie Scheffler 9.3
    14. Patrick Cantlay 8.9
    15. Sungjae Im 8.8
    16. Ben Griffin 8.1

    Scrambling Gained — Poa Greens (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Harris English 20.6
    2. Brian Harman 18.3
    3. Adam Hadwin 17.6
    4. Matt Kuchar 17.5
    5. Jason Day 15.7
    6. Sahith Theegala 15.3
    7. Nick Taylor 14.7
    8. Denny McCarthy 13.7
    9. Andrew Putnam 13
    10. Russell Henley 12.1
    11. Byeong Hun An 12
    12. Chris Kirk 11.4
    13. Tiger Woods 11.3
    14. Mackenzie Hughes 9.8
    15. Max Homa 9.4

    Bogey Avoidance (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Sam Burns 26.4
    2. Collin Morikawa 25.9
    3. Rory McIlroy 21.7
    4. Cam Davis 21.5
    5. Tommy Fleetwood 21.5
    6. Beau Hossler 21.4
    7. Scottie Scheffler 20.9
    8. Ludvig Åberg 20.7
    9. Xander Schauffele 20.5
    10. Max Homa 20.3
    11. Brendon Todd 18
    12. Brian Harman 17.9
    13. Andrew Putnam 17.2
    14. Kurt Kitayama 16.3
    15. Si Woo Kim 16.2
    16. Matt Kuchar 16
    17. Denny McCarthy 15.7

    The par-5s are all scoreable and have been the key to victory for the last two champions at Riviera. 

    Par-5 Scoring (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Cameron Young 22.1
    2. Grayson Murray 17.6
    3. Tom Kim 16.5
    4. Wyndham Clark 16.1
    5. Collin Morikawa 15.8
    6. Will Zalatoris 15.1
    7. Matt Fitzpatrick 13.8
    8. J.T. Poston 13.5
    9. Scottie Scheffler 13.1
    10. Ludvig Åberg 12.7
    11. Max Homa 11.7
    12. Nicolai Højgaard 10.8
    13. Ben Griffin 10.5
    14. J.J. Spaun 10.5
    15. Jordan Spieth 10.2
    16. Patrick Cantlay 10.2
    17. Viktor Hovland 10.1

    Seven of the 11 par-4s measure over 450 yards. 

    Par-4 Scoring 450-500 Yards (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Viktor Hovland 35.8
    2. Rory McIlroy 29.6
    3. Xander Schauffele 24
    4. Ludvig Åberg 21.6
    5. Patrick Cantlay 20.5
    6. Wyndham Clark 17.1
    7. Sahith Theegala 16.3
    8. Eric Cole 15.7
    9. Scottie Scheffler 15.1
    10. Cam Davis 13.8
    11. Andrew Putnam 12.8
    12. Beau Hossler 12.6
    13. Tommy Fleetwood 11.7
    14. Sam Burns 11.5
    15. Hideki Matsuyama 11.2
    16. Nick Taylor 10.9
    17. Byeong Hun An 10.6

    Riviera is the fourth most difficult course on the PGA Tour to gain with the putter. 

    Strokes Gained Putting — Poa (Last 36 rounds)

    1. Denny McCarthy 42.3
    2. Max Homa 27.7
    3. Wyndham Clark 24.7
    4. Matt Kuchar 23.9
    5. Xander Schauffele 20.5
    6. Adam Scott 18.9
    7. Andrew Putnam 17.8
    8. Mackenzie Hughes 17.8
    9. Sepp Straka 16.2
    10. Sam Burns 15.4
    11. Nick Taylor 15.2
    12. Seamus Power 14.5
    13. Sahith Theegala 14.2
    14. J.T. Poston 14
    15. Jason Day 13.7

    Finally, we can examine the players who have been successful here at Riviera using Total Strokes Gained.

    Strokes Gained Total — Riviera Country Club (Average Strokes Per Round)

    1. Cameron Young 2.4 (8 rounds)
    2. Adam Svensson 2.16 (4 rounds)
    3. Viktor Hovland 2.05 (12 rounds)
    4. Max Homa 1.85 (24 rounds)
    5. Collin Morikawa 1.85 (16 rounds)
    6. Adam Scott 1.8 (36 rounds)
    7. Rory McIlroy 1.56 (26 rounds)
    8. Xander Schauffele 1.5 (24 rounds)
    9. Will Zalatoris 1.44 (14 rounds)
    10. Patrick Cantlay 1.43 (28 rounds)
    11. Wyndham Clark 1.33 (12 rounds)
    12. Justin Thomas 1.14 (32 rounds)
    13. Scottie Scheffler 1.1 (18 rounds)
    14. Sahith Theegala 1.05 (12 rounds)


    Patrick Cantlay (20-1, Circa Sports)

    Cantlay finished third here last year, leading the field for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green, and fourth in 2018. 

    He finished a disappointing 11th at Pebble Beach but was second after the first round and was the overnight betting favorite. 

    Tony Finau (35-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

    Finau finished sixth at Torrey Pines recently and ranked second in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach.

    He is a two-time runner-up (2019, 2021) at Riviera. 

    Sahith Theegala (36-1, Circa Sports)

    Theegala was one of our plays last week in Phoenix and settled for fifth after being the 36-hole leader and 54-hole co-leader.

    He finished sixth here last year, ranking third for Strokes Gained: Around The Green and fourth for Strokes Gained: Approach. 

    Cameron Young (40-1, Bet365)

    Young was the runner-up here in 2022.

    After a disappointing 2023 season, Young has finished third (Dubai Desert Classic) and T-8 (Phoenix), where he was second in the field for Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee, over his last two starts. 

    Will Zalatoris (55-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

    Zalatoris’s best finish thus far in 2024 was 13th three weeks ago at Torrey Pines, but he did shoot the lowest round in the field in that event’s third round and has gained strokes in all categories over his last two events. 

    Keep in mind, Zalatoris was ranked No. 8 in the OWGR (now No. 54) just one year ago heading to Riviera. He looks like he is returning to that form after the back surgery that kept him out for close to nine months. 

    Matchups and placement markets will be available Wednesday at VSiN.com/picks

    Wes Reynolds
    Wes Reynolds
    Wes Reynolds writes a weekly golf column and contributes NFL and college football best bet write-ups throughout the season. He is the co-host of VSiN Tonight (9 p.m.-12 a.m. ET, M-F), The Lookahead (Sunday nights), and the Long Shots golf podcast. He has a Masters in Athletic Administration and Sport Management from Indiana University and previously worked in sales and marketing for the Indiana Pacers, Indiana U., and the Indiana Firebirds (AFL).

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