Who’s going to survive Riviera for PGA Tour glory? Oddschecker’s Tom Jacobs has made his picks to win in California
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Tiger Woods is back! This is the tournament the 15-time major champion has played most without ever winning – but do I fancy his chances? Scroll down for my Genesis Invitational betting tips, but first…
- Also this week: Thailand Classic betting tips
Genesis Invitational preview
Venue: Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles, California
Date: February 16-19, 2023
Course stats: Par 71; 7,322 yards
Course summary: One of the most popular stops on tour, Riviera is a strategic, shot-maker’s heaven. Ball striking is key, with a hot putter also required to challenge in what is usually a fiercely contested event. Riviera has a number of links with Torrey Pines, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. The challenging, tree-lined, Kikuyu fairways are similar to those at Torrey. The comparisons do not end there, with both venues using Poa Annua greens, making previous form at the Farmers Insurance Open very interesting when studying the field here.
Purse: $20 million
2022 champion: Joaquin Niemann (-16)
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf from 3.30pm and Main Event from 10.15pm
Friday: Sky Sports Golf from 3.30pm and Main Event from 9pm
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf from 3.30pm and Main Event from 8.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf from 3.30pm and Main Event from 8.30pm
2023 Genesis Invitational betting tips
The Banker: Sungjae Im @ 28/1 with Bet365
Sungjae Im missed his first two cuts at Riviera, posting one good round versus one poor one, to miss the weekend both times, but he bounced back last year with a 33rd place finish, and I think he can turn that into contending form this time around.
Im shot rounds of 66 and 67 here last year, and while a Saturday 75 meant he couldn’t push himself closer to the top 10, the Korean must have taken some confidence from his opening and closing rounds at this illustrious course.
With 4th and 6th place finishes in his past two starts, where he has ranked 2nd and 12th in SG Approach and 5th and 7th in SG Tee to Green, Im has never arrived at Riviera in better form and I suspect that will show this week, as he looks to challenge at this event for the first time.
There has been a crossover between Honda Classic winners here, the event where he got his first win, and Augusta is always used as a comp course, where he has 2nd and 8th place finishes at the Masters. Still just 24, Sungjae has plenty of time to figure out this course, and it normally takes four or five goes round here before winning, so I would not be surprised if he hugely improved on his past performances at this course, this week.
The Each-Way Play: Matt Fitzpatrick @ 40/1 with Bet365
This is a price play for sure, and his odds are surely based on the concern around his neck injury, but a final round 65 in Phoenix leads me to believe his injury is freeing up enough for him to contend again this week.
On top of his generous odds, Fitzpatrick has shown a liking for this golf course in his two visits, finishing 30th on debut, before a 5th place finish in 2021. He was 2nd going into the final round two years ago, and now he has a major win under his belt, he surely has the killer instinct to kick on and perform better on Sunday if he finds himself in a similar position.
His SG Approach numbers are worrying, but this is an all-round test, where his strong short game could keep him in the hunt, so I am willing to bet on the Englishman here.
The Long Shot: Adam Scott @ 66/1 with Bet365
Adam Scott will be looking around him at the moment, at the resurgence of Justin Rose and Jason Day, knowing that it is his time to make moves once again, and where better to do that than Riviera.
Scott is a two-time course winner, 15 years apart, and with another 4th place finish last year, the Aussie showed just how much he loves this place. Add to that his current form, which has seen him post four top-six finishes in his past nine starts, and not miss a cut since the 2022 PGA Championship in May, and I am certain Scott can be a feature here.
In total, Scott has eight top-11 finishes in 14 starts here at Riviera Country Club, and he can win a 3rd Genesis Invitational by building on back-to-back top-five finishes in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and his 2nd and 6th place finishes internationally before the Christmas break.
It has been a slower start to 2023, with two so-so finishes in Hawaii, but now the season really begins for Scott, on what is his favourite regular Tour event of the season.
Another Each-Way Play: Justin Rose @ 66/1 with Bet365
Finally, I will take a shot on Justin Rose going back-to-back this week, something he has managed to do twice in his career, albeit the second win on both occasions coming on the DP World Tour.
After winning for the first time since 2019, a fortnight ago, Rose will be excited to get back on the course and continue to build his form, and this is a course that should allow him to do just that.
Rose has a strong record at Riviera, making his first four cuts, before missing the weekend for the first time in 2008. He has since made the cut seven times out of seven and with two top-nine and two top-16 finishes in this span, it is clear he has got to grips with this layout.
When 37th in 2010, he was 4th after 36 holes and it was a similar story when 56th on his last outing here in 2020, as he was in 11th place going into the weekend. Add those efforts to his two top-nine finishes, and it is clear he spends his time on and around the top page of the leaderboard here, so why would that not be the case again, as he comes into this one as a recent winner? Rose is still looking to prove he is capable of being an elite player once more, and that starts here by contending in a way stronger field than the one at Pebble Beach. That win didn’t come out of the blue, Rose was on a run of good form and he finally capitalized on it, and now is the time to keep it going.
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