Post by: Mike Philipps
A star-studded field heads to Riviera Country Club – the golf course most associated with Hollywood stars – to battle it out for the 2018 Genesis Open title this week. Riviera (par 71, 7,322 yds) was built in 1926 and has served as the primary venue for the event formerly known as the Los Angeles Open and the Nissan Open, hosting 42 of the last 44 times.
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Last year, Dustin Johnson dominated the field to claim a five-shot victory and ascend to No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings. DJ came out strong with an opening-round 66, and followed it up with rounds of 66 and 64 to coast to the finish line. He has won four more times since last year’s Genesis win, helping him complete a full year ranked as World No. 1.
While Johnson’s accolades are certainly impressive, this field is loaded. Of course you have Tiger Woods’ second PGA Tour start, returning to the course he made his PGA Tour debut on when he was just 16 years old. Woods made the cut in his first start in months on Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open, so while his comeback continues on a positive trajectory, he shouldn’t be considered among the favorites, though his odds will surely say differently.
Three of the top-four-ranked players, and 14 of the top-25 in the world are scheduled to play, so this field is loaded. Add in a total of 52 major titles held by those in the field, and it makes comprising a top-10 list tough, let alone picking a winner. That said, here are this week’s rankings, a few longer shots and a couple players to avoid.
Genesis Open Betting Odds
These odds compare the outright prices on each of the top 20 golfers across three betting sites. If you would like to see why we recommend these bookmakers in particular, you can see this page for an explanation of our thoughts on ranking golf betting sites.
The Top Picks
These players will almost certainly be priced as the Genesis Open betting favourites. Whether you bet on the favourites or not, it is still useful to know where they stand and how they’ll be affecting the field.
1. Dustin Johnson
- World Golf Ranking: 1
- Recent Form: Johnson is beginning to look more like the player that dominated at the beginning of last season. In five starts this season, he’s got a win and two runner-up finishes. Johnson is a statistical monster again, too, as he leads the PGA Tour in three Strokes Gained categories: Off-the-Tee, Tee-to-Green and Total. He dominated the field at last year’s Genesis Open, and he is the clear-cut favorite to repeat this week.
- At the Genesis Open: Johnson is the defending champ and has been a fixture in the top five over 10 career starts. He hasn’t finished lower than fourth in his last four starts, giving him six top-fives and seven top-10s. He’s scored in the 60s in nine of his last 10 rounds. Last year, DJ led the field in Driving Distance and Greens in Regulation, helping him coast to a five-shot win.
- Last event: Johnson entered the final round with a share of the lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but was outplayed by Ted Potter, Jr, and had to settle for second place. Despite the mediocre final-round, Johnson still is putting together a very solid stretch right now, solidifying his place atop the World Golf Rankings.
2. Jordan Spieth
- World Golf Ranking: 3
- Recent Form: Spieth has played six events this season, finishing in the top 25 in five of them. Lately, though, he hasn’t been in contention come the weekend, and for the first time in his career, it’s his putter that is holding him back. Spieth hasn’t finished lower than 42nd in Strokes Gained: Putting over the last five years, but he’s sitting at 192nd so far this season. All that said, it’s tough to bet against the three-time major winner, no matter what his recent results are.
- At the Genesis Open: Spieth has three top-25s in five career starts at Riviera. His best finish came in 2015 when he carded four rounds of 70 or better to steadily move up the leaderboard and finish tied for fourth. He finished T-22 last year.
- Last event: Spieth broke 70 just once at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, finishing T-20. He hit just 58 percent of the Greens in Regulation over the final two rounds, preventing him from moving up the leaderboard.
3. Justin Thomas
- World Golf Ranking: 4
- Recent Form: Thomas, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, has finished in the top 25 in all five of his full-field event starts this season, including collecting his seventh career PGA Tour victory at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. Thomas’ stats so far this season aren’t very strong, but he remains one of the most talented and explosive players on the planet, capable of blitzing a field at any time. So while he hasn’t had great success at Riviera and he hasn’t been playing his best of late, Thomas should not be overlooked.
- At the Genesis Open: Thomas has made the cut all three times he’s played at Riviera, but his results have been pretty mediocre. He has yet to crack the top 35, and has an average finish of 45th Last year he finished T-39 despite ranking second in the field in Driving Distance.
- Last event: Thomas finished in style at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, carding a final-round 66 to finished tied for 17th. He led the field in scoring on par fours, playing them in 10-under-par.
4. Rory McIlroy
- World Golf Ranking: 10
- Recent Form: Despite coming off a disappointing season in which he failed to earn a win for the first time in nine years, McIlroy is always amongst the favorites based on talent alone. Factor in that he has finished in the top-three in three of his last five starts, and it appears McIlroy has his game in order. He missed the cut last week at Pebble Beach, but he’s shown the ability in the past to bounce back in a big way after a poor showing. If he can get his putter straightened out, he has a great chance to end his winless streak.
- At the Genesis Open: McIlroy has just one start in his career at Riviera, finishing T-20 in 2016. It looked like it would be a much better result, as he sat in the top five heading into the final round. Unfortunately, a 75 on Sunday knocked him out of contention. He ranked T-63 in Total Putts for the week.
- Last event: McIlroy missed the cut by two strokes at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. He got off to a great start with an opening-round 68, but McIlroy’s performance the next two rounds was about as volatile as the stock market last week. Putting was the primary offender – he sat at -0.725 Strokes Gained: Putting for the week – highlighted by his five-putt on Friday after driving the par four fifth hole at Monetery Peninsula CC.
5. Tommy Fleetwood
- World Golf Ranking: 13
- Recent Form: Fleetwood continues to show that his breakthrough 2017 was no fluke. He has finished in the top 25 in his last nine starts, and placed in the top 10 in four of his last five. His win at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – the second straight time he won the event – now gives him three victories in the last 13 months. He finds himself in second place on the Race to Dubai standings after winning it all last year. He’s looking like he will be a star on the European Tour for many years.
- At the Genesis Open: This will be the first time Fleetwood plays the Genesis Open.
- Last event: Fleetwood finished T-6 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after firing four rounds in the 60s. His ball striking was outstanding for the week, as he ranked third in the field in Driving Distance, Fairways Hit and Greens in Regulation. Unfortunately for Fleetwood, his putter let him down, ranking T-48 in Total Putts.
6. Patrick Cantlay
- World Golf Ranking: 39
- Recent Form: Since making his return to the PGA Tour a year ago, Cantlay has made the cut in all 19 of his starts, highlighted by his first PGA Tour victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November. During that span, he’s placed in the top 15 nine times. His play off the tee has been a real strength, as he ranks fourth on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. That bodes well for a course like Riviera CC.
- At the Genesis Open: Cantlay has played the event twice, both times as amateur, in 2012 and 2013. He missed the cut both times, but was just one shot from playing the weekend in his last appearance.
- Last event: Cantlay came out guns blazing at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, firing an opening-round 66. He couldn’t keep up that pace, though, and failed to break 71 the rest of the way, finishing T-35.
7. Paul Casey
- World Golf Ranking: 17
- Recent Form: Casey has played five events this season, and hasn’t finished lower than T-19 in any of them. One of the most consistent performers in the game, Casey has made his last 25 cuts, and over his last his last 22 starts, he’s finished outside the top 25 just three times. Since a disappointing T-39 at last year’s Genesis Open, Casey has collected 11 top-10 results. If you’re looking for a guy to finish in the top 10, he’d be much higher on the list, but when picking a winner, you can’t ignore that he hasn’t won since 2014.
- At the Genesis Open: Casey has three top-25s in six career starts at Riviera, highlighted by his runner-up finish in 2015. That year, Casey fell in a three-man playoff, but he had a solid all-around week, ranking in the top-20 in Driving Distance, Fairways Hit, Greens in Regulation and Total Putts. He finished T-39 last year, his second straight T-39 result at Riviera.
- Last event: Casey put together another solid week, collecting three rounds of 70 after an opening-round 67, to finish at 10-under-par at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, good for T-8.
8. Phil Mickelson
- World Golf Ranking: 35
- Recent Form: Mickelson has looked awfully good the past two weeks, finishing in the top five in consecutive starts for the first time since 2013. For 2017-18, Mickelson now has three top-five finishes in six starts, and his ball striking of late has been outstanding. Maybe returning to a place where he’s had great success will be what it takes for Lefty to get his first win in four-and-a-half years.
- At the Genesis Open: Mickelson is a two-time champion at Riviera CC (2008, 2009), and had collected two runner-ups, as well. He finished T-34 last year, carding bookend rounds of 67 and 69.
- Last event: Mickelson tried to put together a patented Sunday comeback at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but came up just short. He entered the final round five shots off the lead, and in ninth place. After making birdie on five of the last 13 holes, he ended up with a runner-up finish. Mickelson’s play off the tee in the final round was very encouraging, as he hit 11 of 14 fairways and averaged 313 yards. Another encouraging sign was that Mickelson limited his mistakes for the week, making just five bogeys over 72 holes.
9. Marc Leishman
- World Golf Ranking: 14
- Recent Form: Since late August, Leishman has finished in the top eight six times in 10 starts, including a victory at the BMW Championship. In his 31 starts since the start of the 2016-17 season, the big Aussie has two wins and 21 total top-25s. He is proving to a be a consistent force on the PGA Tour.
- At the Genesis Open: Leishman has three top-20 finishes in eight career starts a Riviera. His best result came two years ago when he carded four rounds in the 60s and placed T-5. He missed the cut last year after a second-round 76.
- Last event: Leishman carded three rounds in the 60s, but that was only good enough for a T-31 finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He did manage to lead the field in Total Putts for the week.
10. Pat Perez
- World Golf Ranking: 19
- Recent Form: Nearing his 42nd birthday, Perez is enjoying the best string of results of his career. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, the former Arizona St Sun Devil has two wins and five more top fives – two in his last five starts. Perez has relied on his touch on the greens – he ranks fifth on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting – to move up to seventh on the FedEx Cup Points Standings.
- At the Genesis Open: Perez is one of the most tenured players in this event, teeing it up at Riviera for the 17th straight year. He’s made the cut 13 times thus far, but has just one top-10 (8th, 2007). Despite opening with rounds of 67 and 66 last year, Perez struggled on the weekend and finished T-28.
- Last event: Perez was putting together another strong outing, but a final-round 74 dropped him 22 spots into a tie for 35th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
11. Daniel Berger
- World Golf Ranking: 32
- Recent Form: Berger has finished in the top-15 in each of his last four starts, and has finished outside of the top-25 just once this season. A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, Berger has improved his play off the tee this season, ranking 12th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He also ranks 21st on the PGA Tour in Total Strokes Gained.
- At the Genesis Open: Berger missed the cut in his only other appearance in the event (2016) after rounds of 72 and 73.
- Last event: Berger found himself in contention again at the Waste Management Phoenix open two weeks ago, carding rounds of 68, 65 and 68 to sit in the top five going into Sunday. A final-round 71 was not enough to keep moving up the leaderboard, and he finished T-11. He ranked in the top 20 in four categories for the week: Fairways Hit (T-6), Greens in Regulation (T-11), Driving Distance (T-16) and Total Putts (T-17).
Other players to consider: Sangmoon Bae, Rafael Cabrera Bello, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Charles Howell III, Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel
Some Longer Shots
These players are less likely to come through with the win, but they are all capable of going hot and putting up a big performance. The betting odds reflect their lower likelihoods of winning, and that makes a winning bet on any of these players all the sweeter.
- World Golf Ranking: 43
- Recent Form: Going back to last year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, Reavie has placed in the top 25 nine times in 10 starts. More impressively, he’s finished in the top two each of the last two weeks, boosting him to sixth in the FedEx Cup Points Standings. He sits in the top 10 in four Strokes Gained categories this season: Tee-to-Green (2nd), Approach-the-Green (3rd), Total (5th) and Around-the-Green (9th). Reavie has won just once on the PGA Tour in his career, but he has things going right now, so it’s making it tough to ignore him.
- At the Genesis Open: Reavie has generally struggled in his career at Riviera. He’s played in seven events there, making the cut just twice. 2016 was the anomaly, as he used an opening-round 66 to help him finish in solo seventh.
- Last event: Reavie came in at 14-under-par at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, earning him his second straight runner-up finish.
- World Golf Ranking: 79
- Recent Form: Schniederjans has found his way back into the top 100 of the World Golf Rankings thanks to a strong start to the 2017-18 season. He’s earned top-25 finishes in five of his seven starts thus far, and has placed in the top-seven in two of his last three. He ranks eighth on the PGA Tour in Total Strokes Gained and 12th in Scoring Average. The former Georgia Tech All-American is on the short list of best young players that has yet to win on the PGA Tour. Look for him to continue to rise in stature in the game.
- At the Genesis Open: Schniederjans finished T-8 in his debut at the Genesis Open last year, carding a pair of 68s and a pair of 69s, to come in at 10-under-par.
- Last event: Schniederjans rocketed up the leaderboard at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after a final-round 65, eventually finished in a tie for third. He ranked second in the field in Greens in Regulation for the week.
- World Golf Ranking: 33
- Recent Form: Li burst onto the world golf scene last summer when his final-round 63 gave him the clubhouse lead at the Open Championship. Perhaps suffering an extended hangover effect, Li’s results for the next few months were not very good. But since mid-November, the 22-year-old from Shanghai has come to life. He’s finished in the top 25 in four of his last six starts, including a win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic over the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood.
- At the Genesis Open: This will be the first time Li plays the Genesis Open.
- Last event: Li missed the cut by five shots at Maybank Open in Kuala Lumpur. He has sandwiched two missed cuts around a win in his last three starts.
- World Golf Ranking: 64
- Recent Form: In just six starts, Bradley already has as many top-five finishes this season (two) as he had in all of 2016-17. He finished runner-up at the CIMB Classic and fifth at the Farmers Insurance Open. Combine that start with a strong resume at Riviera, and, while he hasn’t won since 2012, Bradley offers strong odds this week.
- At the Genesis Open: Bradley has a pair of top-four finishes in his previous seven starts in the event (T-2, 2012; T-4, 2015). He was part of a memorable finish in 2012 when he birdied the 72nd hole to make it into a three-man playoff, where he eventually fell to Bill Haas. Last year, he placed T-34 despite ranking third in the field in Driving Distance.
- Last event: Bradley got off to a strong start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, carding an opening-round 68 and sitting in 12th place, but he fell off the pace, eventually finishing T-43.
Players to Avoid
These players may look good based on name recognition, but a closer look shows serious problems that make them bets best avoided for now.
- World Golf Ranking: 117
- Recent Form: The two-time Masters champion has fallen on hard times lately. He has just one top-10 since mid-June last year, missing the cut four times in his last 14 starts. Ranked as high as No. 2 in world as recently as 2015, Watson now sits at No. 117. He’s a big name and a fan favorite who’s results just haven’t been there.
- At the Genesis Open: Watson is a two-time winner of the event, taking the trophy in 2014 and 2016. In all, he has six top-20 finishes in 11 career starts at Riviera. He withdrew from last year’s event after severe weather suspended his second round, and it was clear he would miss the cut.
- Last event: Watson opened with a 68 at Pebble Beach last week, but failed to break 70 the rest of the way, eventually finishing T-35.
- World Golf Ranking: 51
- Recent Form: The 37-year-old Scott is one of the best players of his generation, but his results have fallen off greatly the past two seasons. 2017 was just the second time in 17 years that he failed to earn a professional win. He hasn’t earned a top-five since October 2016, a span of 19 starts. He’s only played three times in the 2017-18 season, but his finishes are a 25th, T-50 and missed cut. Scott’s had a lot of success at Riviera, but his trajectory is not very appealing.
- At the Genesis Open: Scott has had great success in the event, winning in his debut back in 2005 and earning two more runner-ups in 2006 and 2016. He finished T-11 last year, ranking T-7 in Greens in Regulation for the week.
- Last event: Scott missed the cut by five shots at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He wasn’t able to recover from an opening-round 77 in which he went out in 40.
Past winners in the field: D. Johnson, Watson (2), James Hahn, John Merrick, Aaron Baddeley, Mickelson (2), Howell III, Scott
Major winners in the field: Bradley, Ernie Els (4), Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Retief Goosen (2), Padraig Harrington (3), D. Johnson, Martin Kaymer (2), Graeme McDowell, McIlroy (4), Mickelson (5), Geoff Ogilvy, Schwartzel, Scott, Vijay Singh (3), Spieth (3), J. Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Watson (2), Woods (14)