Last week’s introduction promised noise at TPC Scottsdale and that was delivered in some style, with a racket like no other to greet the two aces on the par-3 16th hole. This week’s final leg of the West Coast Swing will be special for a very different reason. We’re going from golf’s present last week to a reminder this week of the game’s golden era in the years between the two world wars of the early 20th century. The host, Riviera Country Club, is good enough to have hosted major championships, glitzy enough to attract celebrity members, and popular enough to have assembled the best field of 2022.
Last time out
As predicted Hideki Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele repeated their excellent form of the past at TPC Scottsdale. We also collected nicely from Bubba Watson’s return to form and Louis Oosthuizen’s ability to reap a good result straight out of the blocks. We’re content, too, that opposing Joel Dahmen proved the correct decision as he hurtled backwards at the weekend.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||X. Schauffele||$9,900|
Xander Schauffele ($9,900): The Californian makes for a fascinating case study in the difference between betting and DFS. As a punting prospect his odds versus his current difficulties converting good positions into wins represents a problem. In DFS that consistency is not so problematic. Why is he good this week? On the one hand, he’s played four rounds in 41 of his last 43 events (seven no-cut events in that stretch). He also collects lots of points: 17 of his last 25 starts have been top 20s, a quarter of those appearances top fives. His course history suggests the reliability can be trusted: four starts, all top 25, three of them T–15 or better. And he was third last week.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,200) The South African continues to be an absolute monster of a cut-making machine. He also plays four rounds so quietly no-one notices and his salary remains a bargain. In fact, he’s made the cut in 37 of his last 38 starts (two of them World Golf Championship events with no cull). The picky might point out some of that action was on the DP World and Korn Ferry Tours. But he’s on a PGA Tour run of 16-for-17. He has a superb short game (on and round the greens) and knows kikuyu. That will help him out big time on his course debut.
Abraham Ancer ($7,700) It’s tempting to see this salary for the Mexican and think “snap it up”. But buyer beware. He’s played the course four times and, while he has made the weekend on three occasions, he is yet to end the week in the top 40 (and averages 72.66 at the weekend). In fact, it’s an on-theme trend because in 13 starts at Riviera, Silverado, Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines (Californian Poa Annua) he has just one finish better than T–37, and that was T–20.
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Riviera Country Club
If last week’s venue was typical of how modern designers use machinery to move land, this week’s reminds us that the old-timers had to work with what they had. Hale Irwin, a winner here, said of Riviera: “The integrity of the course is influenced greatly by the fact that no two holes are alike and the course has been placed, rather than forced, into the land.”
Another great of the game, Johnny Miller said of it: “Definitely one of the greatest, no-nonsense golf courses in the world. It requires a player to play every club in his bag and every shot in his game.” It’s hosted major championships, it will welcome the 2028 Olympic golf tournament, and the Los Angeles Open (this tournament’s original name) was first played there in 1929.
It plays to a par of 71 with two key grass factors. The first is the kikuyu on the fairways and in the rough. Here’s what Tiger Woods had to say about that: “There’s such a premium on putting the golf ball in play and hitting the ball high. You’ve got to hit the ball high into any of these greens, control your spin and put the ball in the right spots because getting up and down here from kikuyu grass is not easy to do.”
Then there is the Poa Annua on the greens. Here’s what Adam Scott said about that: “I think it’s no secret the least putts are made here on Tour all year. The greens are quite severe. It’s an old, traditional style golf course with severe greens. The Poa seems like if it’s not the right consistency of water versus firmness, they get very bumpy and this is where we start struggling.”
If those first two factors call for diligence, the third requires use of the inventive, as explained by Bubba Watson: “The imagination is huge around here. It’s so much fun. This golf course, they don’t change it, they haven’t changed it since I’ve been around, so it’s a blast every year we come here and I get to create shots. Same thing as at Augusta, you can be creative and use your imagination.”
The weather forecast for Pacific Pasilades (Los Angeles by the beach) looks ideal. Sunday might be partially cloudy, but the first three days will be sunny with temperatures all week in the highs 50s and lows 60s. Humidity might be a change on the final day: predicted to leap from around 35% all week to 65%. There’s almost no chance of rain and the good news is that there should be a decent breeze to add an extra factor. Nothing too severe – about 8 to 12 mph all week – just enough to ask a few questions.
Past Winners of The Genesis Invitational
There are two standout features of the history of this event: number one, there are a lot of multiple winners, and number two, the two greatest players of all-time are not on the honours board. Yes, neither Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods conquered this test. The multiple winners trend has been maintained in the 20th century with Mike Weir and Phil Mickelson both going back-to-back (in 2003-04 then 2008-09), Adam Scott also has two wins (2005 and 2020), and Bubba Watson won it three times (2014, 2016 and 2018).
Notice something else about three of that quartet? They’re all lefties. That’s seven wins in the last 20 editions for the cack-handers and it could have been nine because Mickelson has lost two playoffs. There’s something else all four of those names have in common: they are all Masters champions. Dustin Johnson has joined them in completing that double and, rather less predictably, Len Mattiace very nearly did (he won at Riviera in 2002, then nearly thrust his arms in a green jacket).
In the last decade there have been some shock winners: Aaron Baddeley in 2011 and Bill Haas in 2012 were not massive surprises, but John Merrick in 2013 and James Hahn in 2015 were. Either side of Scott’s most recent win J.B. Holmes triumphed in 2019 and then an emotional Max Homa lifted the title 12 months ago – he’d walked the fairways as a local kid, dreaming of being inside the ropes.
The left-handers and the Augusta National connection is worth recalling. As is course form because the last six winners already had a top five finish at the course in their record book. Folk who succeed here also tend to know how to deal with Californian golf on Poa so recall Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Silverado. Golfers who move the ball left to right also like it here, the driving lines tending to favor that shape.
Here’s A Line-up of Core Picks For The Genesis Invitational
|A list||D. Johnson||$10,200|
|B list||B. Watson||$8,500|
|B list||T. Gooch||$8,000|
|Deep dive||D. Ghim||$6,500|
Dustin Johnson ($10,200) Could this be the time for DJ to rediscover his mojo? His T–8 here 12 months ago ended a run of 10 straight top 10s and his long game stats were immediately afterwards poor. It was notable that at Torrey Pines those numbers were better than at any stage since he ended that great spell. Now he gets to play a course and event he says “I should have won it a couple times more than once”. He’s made 14 starts and had two missed cuts and a T–59 in the first six. But he also has no less than 10 top 10 finishes, six of them top four including that win in 2017. His shot shape is ideal for the test, especially since his mid-20s.
Bubba Watson ($8,500) “Bubba on courses he likes will repeat good golf,” we wrote last week and he duly delivered. There’s no reason not to go in again, not least because, with a packed top end of the salary ranks, we get his course log book at great value. There’s no doubting it is feast or famine, but when it is feast it tends to fill you up: 13 completed starts, five missed cuts, eight top 20s (three of them wins). Best of all? He loves the vibe on and around the course. He hangs out at Warner Studios picking creative brains and then uses his own imagination on the course. A fizzing Bubba brain is a fuelled one.
Talor Gooch ($8,000) Unquestionably one of the form players of the 2021/22 season. He’s made 11 starts, missed just one cut (a consequence of just one bad round) and landed nine top 30 finishes, including a maiden victory in the RSM Classic. Like Watson, the high quality top end allows us to purchase that consistency at a fantastic price. He also likes the layout. He’s played it three times, has been top 10 on each appearance, top 12 in two of them and here’s an odd quirk: he’s always gone low on Saturday (67-64-69) and has always carded a 71 on Sunday.
Alex Noren ($7,500) Pushing for victory when bang in the hunt last week, the Swede knocked his approach at the par-5 15th into water. But before then he had impressed and looks to be back at his consistent ways of 2021. He ended the week T–6 and he can spin off that this week. He hits the ball the right way (which is to say left-to-right) and he’s proved a neat fit in the past. He was T–16 on debut in 2018, T–59 in 2020 and T–12 last year when in-contention all week.
Francesco Molinari ($7,000) Ahead of last year the Italian said: “It’s a tournament I’ve always loved, but unfortunately I never really played that well in the past. Now I’ve got to know and play the course all winter, I can have more success around here.” What did that mean? He moved to L.A. in 2020 and became a member at Riviera. It immediately transformed his Californian returns. He’d landed four top 20s (only one of them a top 10) in 19 starts before then. He has since reaped five top 20s (four of them top 10s) in just seven starts. That includes T–8 here last year.
Doug Ghim ($6,500) There are a few players in the field with good memories of Riv as an amateur (Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris and Sahith Theegala among them). They are all big salaries, however. Ghim got to the final of the U.S. Amateur here (he lost to Doc Redman). His missed the cut by a shot on tournament debut last year, but has made his last two cuts at Torrey Pines, was T–21 last time he played Pebble Beach, and T–14 at Silverado in 2020.
Other Player Options For The Genesis Invitational
• As noted, Will Zalatoris has good vibes here, winning the Collegiate Showcase seven years ago. He also plays major championships and major championship courses very well. That he missed Pebble Beach because of Covid is a concern.
• Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick was T–30 on debut here in 2020 and backed that up with T–5 last year. He was also top 10 at both Pebble Beach and Scottsdale, when excellent tee-to-green.
• Tony Finau is a puzzle. The win last August has not prompted more success, but has seen his consistency dip. The flipside? His last 16 starts on Poa in California have reaped 12 top 20s, eight of them top sixes including a pair of seconds at Riv.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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