The strongest field of the 2020 PGA Tour season thus far is at Riviera Country Club this week for the Genesis Invitational. The event hosted by Tiger Woods welcomes nine of the top 10 golfers in the Official World Golf Ranking to Pacific Palisades, Calif., including new world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. Brooks Koepka will participate in his first PGA Tour event of the year and, of course, Tiger himself will tee it up for the second time in 2020 after finishing T-9 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Below, we look at the best betting picks at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for the 2020 Genesis Invitational.
With the 2020 Masters just eight weeks away and The Players Championship a month from now, the 2020 season is really starting to ramp up. The odds are greatly suppressed among the top stars, while value exists among the forgotten names. My strategy for these types of events is to place a larger wager on one big name while sprinkling smaller investments on several longshots. Playing prop bets and group betting is a good way to ensure at least a small profit.
The course: Riviera Country Club
Riviera CC has played host to an annual PGA Tour event since 1999 and had done so intermittently since 1929. The George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell design has also hosted the 1948 US Open, and 1983 and 1995 PGA Championships. The 2028 Summer Olympics golf events will be played here, as well.
The course measures 7,322 yards and plays to a par 71. The greens are Poa Annua, a common surface among the tournaments early this season. Unlike several of these early-season events, all golfers play a singular course with a cut after 36 holes at the top 65 and ties. Only one of the four par 3s exceeds 200 yards (223) and the shortest is just 163 yards. The par 4s vary from a drivable 302 yards to a long of 480 yards. The par-5 first hole presents an immediate eagle opportunity at 495 yards in length and playing from an elevated tee box. The other two measure 585 and 584 yards.
As such, No. 1 plays as the easiest hole on the course with 73 percent of golfers making birdie to just one percent carding a bogey. The 467-yard, par-4 12th is the most difficult with a scoring average of 4.374 as 37 percent of golfers card a bogey or worse.
Key stats to consider for the Genesis Invitational
Winning scores since 2010 have ranged from James Hahn‘s minus-6 playoff win in 2015 to Dustin Johnson‘s 17-under in a five-stroke victory in 2017. Three of the last 10 runnings of the tournament went to a playoff, with two of those being three-man playoffs. The Genesis tournament is operating as an Invitational for the first time in 2020 and hosts a field of just 120 golfers. It has helped draw an even stronger crowd after last year’s event ranked 13th by Strength of Field. J.B. Holmes was able to pick up his fifth win while entering the tournament ranked 100th by the OWGR.
My model at Fantasy National this week looks at Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Around the Green, Birdies Gained, Driving Distance Gained, and Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 Yards. These stats have been most closely correlated to success over the last three years at Riviera CC. The model is set to the last 50 rounds for each member of the field on courses measuring 7,200-7,400 yards. We need to go back far enough to include tournaments more of the top contenders played together, as many of those at the top of the OWGR have either been playing in marquee European Tour events or simply taking time off early in the year.
Genesis Invitational betting picks: Sleepers and value bets
Outright: Francesco Molinari +17500
This was an auto-click for me Monday morning. Molinari is a major champion and enters the week ranked 24th in the world. He was ninth as recently as the Euro Tour’s BMW PGA Championship in September. Though he missed the cut in his first two events of 2020 at The American Express and Farmers Insurance Open, he’s less than a year removed from his last PGA Tour win at the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational. He skipped last year’s tournament after missing the cut in three of his previous four appearances.
He’s ranked 19th overall by the stat model with a top rank of 17th in SG: Ball Striking. This is about value for one of the top golfers in the world. He has +13000 odds at FanDuel and is a must-get at DraftKings.
Leader After Round 1: J.B. Holmes +6500
The defending champ enters the week off of three top-20 finishes (T-14, T-16, and T-16). The 37-year-old failed to break 70 in the final round at each of those events, as he has relied on strong play Thursday and Friday. I don’t like him to win the event after he benefited from poor Sunday weather a year ago, but the value is high for someone who has played each of the last three weeks to strong results.
Group Winner (Group C): Adam Scott +300
Scott is in a group with Jason Day (+300), three-time champ Bubba Watson (+300), Paul Casey (+400), and Matt Kuchar (+450). He’s coming off a victory at the Australian PGA Championship in late December and will play his first PGA Tour event of 2020. He has two top-10 finishes here in the last four years, and he ranks third in the field among those with at least 10 rounds played at Riviera in Strokes Gained, according to Data Golf. He trails only Johnson and McIlroy. He’s looking to be the third Australian to win on the PGA Tour in 2020 (Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith).
To Make the Cut: Marc Leishman (No) +300
Leishman, the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open Champion, has had mixed results at Riviera. He tied for fourth a year ago after missing the cut each of the two previous years following a T-5 in 2016. He has struggled off the tee and around the green this season and ranks just 52nd by the stat model. The 19th ranked golfer in the world is far from a certainty to see the weekend with little more than half the field making the cut.
Genesis Invitational betting picks: Our winner
Brooks Koepka +2600
Like Molinari, this was an easy bet to make once the odds were released. Koepka was knocked out of his spot atop the OWGR by McIlroy Monday morning, after regaining the No. 1 title with his win at the 2019 PGA Championship. He missed the cut here in 2017 and hasn’t played since, but he’s sixth by the stat model and has plenty of motivation. There’s also good value for a top-5 finish at DraftKings with +550 odds.
This article was originally published on Monday. Odds subject to change.