The PGA TOUR remains in California this week, Pacific Palisades to be exact, for The Genesis Invitational. Following the multiple course format at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week, the 120 golfers in this field will only play Riviera Country Club (par 71, 7,322 yards), which has been the host of the Genesis since 1973. Adam Scott (-11) is the defending champ and we have seen bombers take home the top prize here over the last five years. In this order, the winners since 2016 have been Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Watson again, J.B. Holmes and then Scott. During the year of their wins at Riviera, all of these golfers ranked inside the top-20 in driving distance. As a result, I will be putting a heavier weight than usual on distance and SG OTT this week when choosing my players. As expected, you also need to be in strong form with your irons to contend at this event. Of those five Genesis champions listed above, four of them ranked inside the top-11 in SG APP during their victories. Additionally, Scott led his field in greens found last year and so did Johnson in 2017.
Without a doubt, the most critical holes for success at Riviera are the par fours. Over the last seven years, every Genesis Open winner has finished T6 or better in SG par fours, with Johnson leading his field in 2017 and James Hahn in 2014. Six of the 11 par fours at this par 71 fall between 450-500 yards and two of the past four golfers to secure the top prize at Riviera have led their fields in strokes gained on these particular holes.
For the second straight week, the PGA TOUR will be hosting an event on POA greens. This is important when examining putting splits and with Riviera being a tougher test of golf in general, it is also crucial that we find players that avoid bogeys at an efficient rate. Of the last seven golfers to take home this title, three have finished 1st in least bogeys during that given week.
We have a star studded field at Riviera this week with Tyrrell Hatton being the only top-10 ranked golfer in the world to not be in attendance. It is important to note that even though this is a smaller field of 120, there is a still a standard top-65 and ties cut line taking place after the first two rounds. In simpler terms, a higher percentage than usual will be proceeding to the weekend. One of the studs is going to win this event and stars and scrubs builds are my preferred route for lineup construction. So, without further ado, I present to you four of my favorite golfers who cost less than $7,500 on DraftKings for The Genesis Invitational.
Henrik Norlander, $7,400
Norlander is in very impressive form right now. In his last four starts, the Swedish pro has finished T12, T2, T22 and T26. That final start was at Pebble Beach last weekend, when Norlander ranked 2nd in SG OTT. His ball striking has been outstanding with him ranking 8th in SGT2G, 18th in SG APP and 12th in SG OTT across his past 12 rounds. Furthermore, during this stretch, Norlander has been avoiding the big numbers on his scorecard (9th in bogeys avoided) and has been very efficient on par fours that are 450-500 yards in length (9th in SG on P4s 450-5).
The only thing going against him this week is that this will be the 33-year-old’s career debut at Riviera. But, Norlander has all the tools to succeed at this track and he is simply too cheap right now. I understand that this is a stronger field than we saw a week ago, but Norlander’s salary has dropped a notable $1,300 since his T26 effort at Pebble Beach.
Maverick McNealy, $7,300
McNealy’s runner-up finish at Pebble Beach last week was the best of his career. He gained strokes in every major category and ranked 3rd in SGT2G, 4th in SG OTT, T4 in GIR and T4 in bogeys avoided. This was the 25-year-old’s sixth made cut in his last nine starts, which is a run that includes five finishes of T21 or better. Similar to Norlander, this will be McNealy’s first ever attempt Riviera, but that shouldn’t stop us from rostering the promising young talent.
Evident from last week, McNealy loves POA greens. Over his five-year career on the PGA TOUR, the Stanford graduate has made it to the weekend in eight of his ten starts on POA. His past three top-tens at the PGA TOUR level have come at courses that present POA greens and with McNealy striking the ball at an extremely high level right now, he has top-25 upside this week, even in this elite field.
Luke List, $7,300
List checks all the boxes this week. He is coming in with great form, making three consecutive cuts, and he fits this course like a glove. During this current cut streak, which includes three finishes inside the top-30, List ranks 7th in SGT2G, 8th in GIR, 4th in SG OTT and 10th in driving distance.
The 36-year-old’s best putting splits come on POA grass and he has made four of his past five cuts on this specific surface. Last, but not least, the bomber carries a 4/5 record at Riviera, with no finishes worse than T30 in those four made weekends. At only $7,300, List is criminally underpriced.
Brendan Steele, $7,100
It’s hard to argue against Steele at this low of a cost. In the year 2021, he has made all four cuts, most notably with a T4 at the Sony Open. Over this time, the 37-year-old’s tee-to-green game has been top notch, ranking 10th in SGT2G, 8th in SG OTT, 10th in fairways gained and 15th in GIR. Steele’s play on par fours has also been outstanding (15th in SG on P4s) and he now makes the trip to Riviera, where the California native has made seven of nine cuts for his career with a pair of top-20s.
After his T34 at Pebble Beach, Steele has now made it through the cut in his last five appearances on POA and I love taking my chances on him making it six in a row this week at only $7,100.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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