Congrats to Jordan Spieth for winning at Pebble Beach last week! He said he hates playing “boring golf,” but man is he fun to watch when he’s on. And not to toot our own horn too loudly here, but the Fantasy Golf Source has now endorsed the winner for the past three consecutive tournaments. So of course, by bragging and referring to ourselves in the third person, we’ve inevitably jinxed ourselves for the next three tournaments or more.
That brings us to the first installment of The Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. Formerly called the Northern Trust Open, Riviera has also played host to The U.S. Open and The PGA Championship, and is a staple on the PGA Tour. The players will continue to putt on Poa Annua greens, which bodes well for players who played last week and have had past success here. Final food for thought: Riviera is routinely ranked as one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour, and the weather report is far from ideal. Early reports indicated rain was likely for Friday-Sunday, but recent reports show that Friday will by far be the worst day affected. There are strong chances of both rain and high winds on Friday, and chillier temperatures are expected throughout the weekend, but the rain is not expected as much on Saturday and Sunday. So check out those Friday morning tee times if you’re looking for any pick tie breakers!
Pick of The Week
Luke List $6,400 – It seems like I am rotating between Steele, Kirk and List each week, but they are bringing something new to the table with every course. List was not going to be my immediate pick, and I’m admittedly a little worried after his showing at the Phoenix Open, as Riviera similarly favors big hitters. However, List is still ranked number 1 in driving distance, which is routinely a statistic that shows up here. Coupled with high strokes gained putting and off the tee ranks, and I like List to contend. The time off should serve to get his body back in form after playing the wrap around season as well.
Jason Day $10,000 – Honestly, there is no one I feel super confident with this week as a featured pick of the week. But Day is as good a bet as anyone in my book, because of the combination of consistency, birdies or better, overall talent, and likelihood of going overlooked. He played really solid last week for three rounds, and just got out of the flow with early bogeys and worse on Saturday. That is more of an anomaly in my opinion, which can be turned into a sneaky strategy, because the average fan will just look at his recent results and lean instead on Spieth, Matsuyama, and Johnson.
Thick Steak Plays
I want to start by saying that Dustin Johnson ($11,400) and Bubba Watson ($8,300) are so obvious as course horses this week, that it wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors by putting them in the pick section. They’re both course horses, and I like both of them to contend. If you want to anchor your lineups with either of them, I have no problem with that, and will probably do so myself to a degree.
Sergio Garcia $9,300– Sergio would be right up there in driving distance, and I’m banking on him being relatively forgotten, as this will be his first PGA event for 2017. He’s had a great season on the euro tour and is consistently a world class player. Additionally, he seems to like Riviera, consistently placing top-20, and even notching a few top-10’s. Last year’s cut should serve to keep ownership lower than it probably should be.
Justin Thomas $9,600 – “The Forgotten One,” or, at least, I’m hoping. Justin Thomas started off this season as hot as husky in El Paso, but he’s taken some time off. JT missed the cut at the Phoenix Open, but I have full faith in him at Riviera. He’s been bombing it off the tee, and his putting has been better than the average bear. He’s been pretty average at Riviera, but I do think this is a breakout year for him, so I like him to contend here, and prove that Hawaii wasn’t a fluke.
I’ve started the Whole 30 diet, so no thick steak plays for me this week. Just kidding – Whole 30 is for losers, and anyone who does it, including close friends of this blog, is lame.
Okay, seriously though, good for you if you have that kind of commitment, and I am actually skipping the traditional two high-end picks this week because I think the best strategy is to fill your lineups with the mid-range plays. Similar to Jon’s statement, I think you can choose a few of those thick steak guys to anchor lineups, so just be intentional about how many you will target, how heavily you will play each, and how you will choose to fill rosters around them.
I agree with rolling out the course horses in DJ and Bubba (although maybe not so much Bubba – see below). I also am fine with riding the hot hands in Spieth, Matsuyama, and Thomas (despite his missed cut). I will personally be avoiding Adam Scott (also see below), and my strongest endorsements up here in the clouds would have to go to DJ, JDay, and Garcia.
Middle of The Road
Tony Finau $6,800 – Notice my theme of bombers? Finau fits the mold of a player that should perform well here, and though he hasn’t in the past, he’s quietly having himself a hell of year. He’ll need to get his putting under control if he wants to win, but I certainly have faith that Tony can contend.
Graham Delaet $7,700 – I really like Graham this week. He’s started his 2017 campaign off in the right way, and it looks like the time off last year was exactly what he needed. He’s played really well at Riviera in the past. He’s been big off the tee, and his putting has been above average, which is exactly what he’ll need to contend here. Graham came in t8 in 2015, and I like him to continue on that trend, rather than the cut last year.
Ryan Moore $7,300 – A lot of DK players will be listening to the advice of the talking heads this week, and targeting bombers, which most people know Ryan Moore is not. That is exactly why I like Moore – he is solid tee-to-green, he is consistent, and he has had some great results in this tournament. So with that price and little threat of high ownership, sign me up.
J.B. Holmes $7,100 – Holmes is another player with some strategy behind him. I simply think Brendan Steele, Kevin Na, and Brooks Koepka will all be more popular than Holmes at 7.1K. So give me a guy that has the most hardware to his name of the bunch, and who has had some good finishes at Riviera before.
Hudson Swafford $6,600 – I’m putting my money where my mouth is, so when I said I’m not as high on the high-end guys, I will in turn throw in another low-end play. The Georgia Bulldog’s price sure is low for a guy who has already won in 2017. Maybe it’s because he missed the cut in his first and only start following his breakthrough win. Maybe it’s because he’s missed the cut all three times he’s teed it up at Riviera. But those are just distractions, people! Aside from a difficult 78 on Friday of the Farmers Insurance Open, Swafford is at the top of his game, so I’m all in while others are too distracted to notice.
Tom’s Fade of The Week
Adam Scott $10,300 – I alluded to it earlier, I’m not ready to roll out Scott into my lineups, as I expect many are. Scott finished runner up here last year, and also went on to win two tournaments in a row after that. Although he does have a good overall history on this course, I’m fading him simply because he was playing at the highest level possible last year, but he usually doesn’t wait this long to tee it up, so there is no telling if he’ll get right back to the top of the leaderboard. Worth the risk to fade.
Bubba Watson $8,300 – This fade is more “at your own risk.” As Jon and I mentioned above, we can not fault anyone for anchoring lineups with a guy who has won here multiple times, and finished high plenty of other times. He is a true course horse. I also think he’s off his game more than usual at this time of the year, and with the threat of crappy weather, I just don’t love taking the tempermental lefty. But the icing on the cake for me, though, is this price. Given his history here and talent overall, $8,300 seems like a price that equates to Draft Kings begging players to roster Bubba. It worked pretty well to fade him in the Waste Management Phoenix Open where he was above 30% ownership, so I will be keeping that strategy up this week.
Jon’s Flyer of the Week
Jason Kokrak $7,800 – Kokrak might not be a typical “flyer” for Riviera CC. He’s only missed the cut once here since he’s been on the tour. Kokrak actually finished 2nd here last year (again, not your typical flyer). Riviera is seemingly made for long hitters and Kokrak ranks high in driving distance on the year. He’s performed well at Riviera in years where he had a solid showing at Pebble, and he did just that last week.