Scott Shapiro's Genesis Invitational preview
After Nick Taylor took the field gate-to-wire for an upset victory in the Pebble Beach Pro-AM, the PGA Tour will make its final stop on the West Coast Swing in Los Angeles starting on Thursday morning.
The Genesis Invitational (known by various names, but originally the Los Angeles Open), easily offers golf fans the strongest field of the year, in large part because of a reduced field size and a $1.9 million purse increase. It also benefits from now being known as Tiger Woods' tournament, much like the Memorial with Jack Nicklaus and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
The Genesis takes place at Riviera Country Club, which is a Par 71 with poa annua greens and narrow fairways. Long iron play, distance off the tee, and a hot putter are likely to be the key ingredients for those who perform best this week. I will be putting a premium on strokes gained ball striking, birdies or better gained, driving distance, and the ability to score on par 5s and long par 4s. Success over this course is also an important asset.
Odds leaders to win the Genesis Invitational
Here is my betting card for the event.
Justin Thomas (+900)
It is difficult to separate those at the top of the outright betting market on BetAmerica, since so many of the best in the world come in at the top of their game, but favorite Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas grade out a cut above the rest in my model this week.
McIlroy certainly has a big chance, but I prefer the additional value Thomas offers. He also has proven to be a better putter on poa greens.
Thomas ranks well in just about every relevant statistic this week over his last 24 rounds. He is ninth in the field in driving distance, second in birdie or better gained, first in ball striking, and second in par 5 scoring. Combine that with a pair of top 10 performances over the last two years, including a runner-up effort to J.B. Holmes a year ago, and you have an elite golfer who fits this course exceptionally well.
Other than a missed cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii a month ago, where he lost nearly 4 1/2 strokes on the greens, Thomas comes into Los Angeles in great form, with a win in the Tournament of Champions to start the campaign and a third-place finish two weeks ago in Phoenix. The value is not great, but I expect a huge effort from the world’s fourth-ranked golfer.
Paul Casey (+5000)
Casey did not play well at Pebble Beach last week and has yet to crack the top 15 in 2020, but he fits Riviera well. The 42-year-old Englishman is an elite ball striker, scores well on par 5s, and is long enough off the tee to not be at a disadvantage to his main competition. He also has shown an affinity for this course, including a second-place finish back in 2015.
Casey has struggled to win tournaments on the PGA Tour, other than the Valspar Championship, so maybe a victory this weekend in Southern California is a bit of a reach. However, if he can get his flat stick going, he has shown the game to excel on this course and the value is fair. Perhaps a more conservative approach would be to bet him for a top five (+1000) and top 10 (+450), with a tiny sprinkle into the outright market.
Carlos Ortiz (+17500)
If you are looking to stab at a longshot, Ortiz is your man. The 28-year-old Mexican has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but played well on this course in his only try a year ago, when he finished in a tie for ninth.
Ortiz putts well on poa and ranks in the top 30 in this field over his last 24 rounds in driving distance, birdie or better gained, scrambling, and par 5 scoring. His price is enormous in all markets, which makes him worth a slice of my bankroll this week.