Date: February 15-18, 2018
Location: Riviera CC - Pacific Palisades, CA
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
By: Evergreen of Predictem.com
We are quickly moving toward Spring and the Masters and this weeks Genesis Open marks an important spot on the calendar for those looking forward to Augusta. For one, the former L.A. Open is the last stop on the West Coast or California Swing as the PGA moves to Florida next. Additionally, the last few Euro stars that have yet to tee it up in the states are making their way to Riviera CC this week to battle with one of the strongest fields for any regular Tour stop. Folks keep an eye on that groundhog every February but golf fans know winter is nearing its end when all the top Euros are playing on Tour. Dustin Johnson will defend his 2017 title against the likes of Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and, of course, Tiger Woods. This is one of the few courses that Tiger has failed to win at he is a 40 to 1 longshot to end that drought this time around. Johnson walked to a five stroke victory here last season and he should be a contender again as he has been T4 or better in his last four Genesis starts.
Riviera is a stalwart course on the Tour rotation with roots back to the days of Ben Hogan. The 7,322 yard, par-71 course has a bit of everything and was really designed to provide a true overall challenge. One of the key features is the kikuyu rough. The drought resistant turf is a staple on many Cali courses and can be devilishly thick if allowed to grow. Riviera also has one of the better short par-4s on Tour as the 315 yard, 10th hole presents a chance for most in the field to take a shot at the green from the tee. That short opportunity is balanced by three par-4s that stretch to 475 yards or more on the way in and those holes have a way of almost always playing into the wind. Long hitters like Johnson, Bubba Watson and Mickelson have won here but control-first players like Steve Stricker and two-time champ Mike Weir have also seen success. Riviera is fair to all styles but solid approaches and a hot putter are required to push past 10-under and into relevant contention.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the best values on the board. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that are most commonly found around the various golf betting sites. Here are our picks to win the 2018 Genesis Open.
Thomas isnt quite as hot as he was in 2017 but three 2018 starts have produced nothing worse than a T22 finish and that is great if those results are your slump. He has not factored heavily at Riviera in the past but he has made three straight cuts here so look for a possible run to the top as his expereince is only growing at individual Tour venues. He is certainly long enough to take on the course and he hits plenty of fairways considering his 300+ yard driving average. His putting average doesnt jump off the sheet at you but he has the clutch gene as his birdie conversion rate ranked 6th last season. He makes them when it matters and that fact trumps the base data. Thomas is in a marquee pairing for Thursday and Friday but is beyond being star-struck and could easily be the pace setter in his group.
Dont worry if you havent kept tabs on Mr. Fleetwood. Tommy has been busy playing overseas and the results have been fantastic. Since a T20 at the HSBC, Fleetwood has four top-10s in five starts including a win in Abu Dhabi. His fast finish that led to winning the 2017 Race to Dubai seems to have crept over into the early 2018 and that is good news for a 30 to 1 value. It is hard to compare his PGA Tour stats with others as Fleetwood doesnt have enough data points in to be officially ranked but his EPGA stats jump out as a 300+ yard average drive is coupled with a 70% fairways hit mark. He nears 76% of greens hit on the EPGA and putts well enough for the 3rd best scoring average over there. Most of those numbers wont export directly but Tommy would be safely in the top-10 or top-20 at worst if he played out a full Tour schedule. If you couple Fleetwood and Justin Thomas, you would have the two hottest finishers from last season.
Steele is off to a nice FedEx start as he has made the cut in all six of his starts so far and nabbed a win back in October at the Safeway. He is coming off a T3 in Phoenix so it looks like the high level play is not coming to an end anytime soon. Brendan is a top-10 player in tee box metrics and bookends that with a solid putter to produce the 9th best birdie rate on Tour. He is 22nd in driving distance, 17th in greens hit and is a capable scrambler when he does miss the green. That basically covers all the bases from a stat standpoint and he has had some success at Riviera with a T14/T10 mini-run in 2014-15. This course can play tough at times but Steele is a grinder that can survive the rough spots yet still cash in the birdie opportunities at a high rate.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with your favorite online betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Casey is one of most well-rounded players on Tour with very few true weaknesses. Much of the same can be said about Leishman so the sportsbook did another fantastic job in pairing very like players for this week. Casey appears to be the better play as he is inside the top-5 in greens hit while Leishman is back at 50th. That is enough of a gap at a key stat to swing this matchup but Casey also nets a few more birdies per week on average and is the slightly better scrambler. No one is going to be surprised if Leishman wins but on a course that demands some solid ballstriking, give me the giu that is one of the best overall tee-to-green players out there.
Pieters broke through to a large extent here last year with a runner-up to Dustin Johnson, although he could get no closer than five strokes in that 2nd place finish. Both players are nearly identical in terms of ballstriking but Pieters is the better putter and he is ahead of Grace by nearly a full stroke per round. That edge in putting is directly leading to more birdies and it negates Graces slight edge in overall accuracy. Look for the comfort level to be high with Pieters as he revisits the near-miss from last season.
Good luck and good golf.
Check out Bovada for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.