Best of the Best
McIlroy leads this field in both strokes gained: off the tee and par 5 scoring, and he’s also second in distance. He’s finished 20th, 20th, and 4th since 2016 at this event and — despite a long layoff — he returned to finish 3rd at the Farmers three weeks back. He’s well worth the salary this week. Justin Thomas (£12,000; 10/1) and Jon Rahm (£11,900; 10/1) are both in the same tier, so it’s really a take-your-pick of the top three for me. I’m leaning Rory.
Xander Schauffele (£11,300 | 20/1)
Schauffele is just someone I can’t quite quit because he fits a course like this so well: 20th in distance, 8th off the tee, 24th in approach, 32nd around the green. His all-around game is just one of the best in the world, and he has finished top-15 in each of his two starts here (9th in 2018 and 15th in 2019).
Hideki Matsuyama (£11,000 | 25/1)
Matsuyama already has finished 23rd, 4th, 11th, cut, and 9th over his past five starts at Riviera. He is long enough off the tee (46th) to contend again and is 11th in approach and 7th around the green. The only blemish is putting.
Paul Casey (£10,000 | 45/1)
Casey ejected at Pebble Beach on Sunday, shooting a final-round 81. He’ll have to shake that off, but he’s ninth in strokes gained: approach over the past 50 rounds, and that’s not nothing. Casey also sits 45th in driving distance and has made the cut five straight years at Riviera.
Joaquin Niemann (£9,400 | 66/1)
Niemann actually finished 6th at this event back in 2017 and then 44th last year despite only being 21 right now. Niemann’s strength is ball-striking, and he’s 22nd in distance. While there’s a lack of poa putting (23 rounds with poor efficiency) to his name, he has overcome it in the past at this course, and a made cut for £9,400 is never anything to knock.
Corey Conners (£9,100 | 100/1)
Conners leads the field in greens in regulation gained and is one of the best total drivers on the PGA Tour. Conners’ struggles come in the short game, and that’s not something we can overlook entirely, but of all the debutants at Riviera, he has the second-best cut odds (behind Matthew Fitzpatrick (£9,700)) in my projections.
Jason Kokrak (£8,900 | 100/1)
Kokrak’s cut odds of 67.6% are more than 5.0 percentage points higher than anyone else priced below £9,000. Kokrak ranks 10th in strokes gained: off the tee, 31st in strokes gained: approach, and 10th in driving distance. He also has played here eight straight years and has three top-25s in the past four years.
Carlos Ortiz (£8,400 | 125/1)
Ortiz is 29th in distance and is actually fourth in poa putting over a 100-round sample (his sample size is 51 rounds). Ortiz has played here in three of the past five years, finishing 20th, 26th, and 9th (last year).
Sebastian Munoz (£8,000 | 175/1)
No course form for Munoz is the biggest knock, but he’s a balanced golfer who is 49th in strokes gained: tee to green while ranking between 51st and 56th in all three tee-to-green stats. Munoz is 28th in driving distance, as well, and his odds to make the cut are way higher than his price indicates.
— The Genesis Invitational (@thegenesisinv) February 11, 2020
Erik Van Rooyen (£8,800 | 100/1)
Underpriced with good PGA Tour splits; just not golfing his best of late.
Scott Piercy (£8,700 | 100/1)
Hot and cold iron player with finishes of 6th and 18th the past two weeks but only one missed cut over the past four years here.
Jhonattan Vegas (£8,200 | 200/1)
Can bomb it (5th in distance, 2nd in strokes gained: off the tee) but 15th, cut, cut the past three years at this track.