Previewing the Genesis Open
Riviera Country Club is a Par 71 track that plays longer than 7,300 yards most days. After a week of focusing on ball strikers with accuracy and approach shots, the bombers will have a bit more of an advantage this week. The weather will be a factor this week with rain and 20+ MPH winds in the forecast. This course has favored a variety of different playing styles in the past. Given the weather conditions, however, if a guy can bomb it and hit a fair amount of greens, they should be in contention on Sunday.
Vegas has most of the usual suspects up at the top of their odds boards this weekend. Jordan Spieth, fresh off his victory at Pebble Beach, comes in with the best odds to win again this week. Spieth has mentioned how much he enjoys Riviera in the past, but his lack of length off the tee relative to some of the other favorites could prove to be a disadvantage. He did just come off of an incredible week of putting on this same poa annua surface though, which could close some of that gap.
Hideki Matsuyama is back for his first start since his dramatic playoff win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Matsuyama has won or placed 2nd in 7 of his last 10 starts. He is well above average in driving distance for the field and boasts some of the best proximity to the green numbers as well. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Matsuyama continues his hot streak this weekend.
After two tough rounds led to a missed cut at Torrey Pines, Jason Day bounced back and played his way to a T5 last week in Pebble Beach. He shot a 75 on Saturday to pull him out of contention but showed signs that the back injury that he has struggled with may finally be on its way out. He’s ranked number 1 in the world but hasn’t put four rounds together in a long time.
Adam Scott is making his return to the PGA Tour after a few tournaments in Europe and Asia. He’s ranked 7th in the world and has put together a string of consecutive Top-15 finishes in his last 5 starts.
World No. 3 Dustin Johnson bounced back nicely from his missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open to finish 3rd last week. In his last 10 starts, he has 1 victory to go along with 6 Top-10 finishes. It’s no secret that Johnson can bomb it off the tee and he has some of the highest greens in regulation numbers in the field.
Coming off of a missed cut in his last start, Justin Thomas has excellent bounce back potential. He dominated in Hawaii and is looking to get back on the right track this weekend. Thomas is top 10 in this field for Par 4 birdie or better percentage, driving distance, and proximity rank. If I had to make a pick, I like Thomas to bounce back this week.
The “B” Team
Justin Rose falls just slightly out of the top tier according to Vegas odds but has played well in his last few starts. He is top 15 in the field in driving distance, proximity, and 3-Putt avoidance. He should continue to perform well, even though he’ll be without Justin Timberlake this weekend.
Brendan Steele is a little bit further down the odds boards but he has a chance to perform well in Riviera. He’s played his way into three straight Top 20 finishes. Steele isn’t the longest guy off the tee but is in the top 30 for the field. He’s also one of the more accurate ball strikers so far this year.
Luke List is the definition of a bomber. He’s up at the top of all of the driving distance metrics on Tour this year. List is coming off of two missed cuts but he played well in Hawaii and should bounce back this week.
Charles Howell III is also coming into Riviera with 6 straight Top 15 performances. Keegan Bradley has been feast or famine in his last 4 starts. He has a missed cut, T25, T4, and another missed cut. Neither Howell nor Bradley are the longest off the tee, but their ability to avoid three putts and hit greens should keep them in the hunt even though they’ll face some longer approach shots.