The last stop in California will take place in Pacific Pallisades for The Genesis Invitational played at the Riviera Country Club. The course will play as a par 71, measuring 7,322 yards and will again be putt on poa annua greens.
All of the top 10 golfers are in the field this week, which include the likes of Dustin Johnson (+1600, $10,200), Rory McIlroy (+2200, $9,700), Cameron Smith (+2200, $9,100) and Collin Morikawa (+2000, $10,400). Like the Farmers Insurance a couple of weeks ago, this week will also have a smaller field at 120 golfers with the top 65 and ties making it to the weekend. The smaller field gives you a better chance of getting your entire DFS roster through the cut, with 23% fewer players in the field than a regular tournament.
Even with no water hazards, Riviera CC has played difficult, ranking inside the top 10 in scoring relative to par over the past few seasons. The fairways are tough to hit, recording close to a 7 percent less hit rate than the TOUR average. These are also tough to hit greens registering about an 8 percent fewer green-hit-in-regulation rate than the TOUR average due to heavy undulations that runoff to tight collection areas. When golfers miss these greens, gaining strokes Around-the-Greens (ARG) becomes more necessary than usual. We’ve seen winners here gain an average of 2.2 strokes ARG over the past five years. The par 3 sixth hole is famous for its bunker in the middle of the green, and the par 4 10th hole is arguably the best short par 4 on TOUR. The novelty eventually wears off with how difficult this course has played in years past, especially on the closing eight holes. The closing nine is a contributing factor to why we’ve only seen eight golfers since 2000 go on to win after having the 54-hole lead.
Like Torrey Pines, Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and those who are playing well Tee-to-Green are golfers we need to consider this week. Also, look at rostering players who perform well in par 4 efficiency on holes measuring 450 to 500 yards, with six in this range. For contrarian roster construction, build lineups will golfers who have distance Off-The-Tee. Even though it’s not a long course, past winners include Johnson, Bubba Watson (+4500, $8,500), who has won here three times, and J.B. Holmes. Last season, three golfers who finished inside the top 5 in driving distance here also placed inside the top eight for the tournament.
Will Zalatoris (+2800 to Win, $8,800 on DraftKings)
The last time we saw Zalatoris was in a playoff loss at Torrey Pines, where he led the field (on the South Course) in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (12.4). Last season, a top-15 finish at Riviera CC came as a result of excellent iron play and solid navigation of these poa annua greens, which is what he should recall rather than his struggles a few weeks ago in San Diego. Zalatoris was able to gain 4.9 strokes on Riviera’s greens last season, the highest he’s achieved in any tournament during his professional career. Zalatoris’ ball-striking has been elite, gaining strokes with his irons in seven-straight measured events. The former Deamon Deacon performs well on par 4s measuring between 450 to 500 yards, ranking fifth over the previous 24 rounds. Scottie Scheffler (+2200, $9,200) got his first win last week, and it’s time for Will’s this week.
Marc Leishman (+6000 to Win, $7,900 on DraftKings)
Leishman should still be in our sights as someone to roster if we’re still on the West Coast. The Aussie is always a threat in California, with a win at Torrey Pines and two top-five finishes here dating back to 2016. Leishman has a knack for playing these traditional courses well, finishing top five twice at Augusta National along with a pair of top-five finishes at Muirfield Village (Memorial). He’s gained strokes with his irons in eight straight Genesis Invitationals and has shown he can compete with the best in the world. Leishman ranks 33rd in par 4 efficiency on holes measuring 450 to 500 yards and 15th in par 5 efficiency in the previous 24 rounds.
Si Woo Kim (+9000 to Win, $7,300 on DraftKings)
The three-time winner should feel comfortable this week with how well he plays on the West Coast. A 26th-place finish last week, gaining 1.63 strokes with his irons and 1.91 Off-the-Tee on Sunday and three top 11s in his California events this season (Fortinet Championship, The American Express, Farmers Insurance) are enough to give him a nod this week. A win at the 2021 American Express and a third place in the 2019 Genesis Invitational make him one of the favorites in this range.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests. The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups.
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