Golf fans everywhere should beat Riviera Country Club. I’m among them, and though I , it could have been 50.
This event has a laugh-out-loud good field to go with an awesome course and an historic list of winners (that doesn’t include the most historic player in the field). Let’s dive deeper into the field, see who’s played great here in past years and take a lcloser ook at this week’s contest.
What: Genesis Invitational | When: Feb. 13-16
Where: Riviera Country Club — Los Angeles, California
Ranking the field
- Rory McIlroy (15/2): Even if you ignore the top-10 finish last year, his run since the start of 2019 makes him the favorite in every tournament he enters.
- Bubba Watson (22-1): Crazy? Maybe. But he has two straight top 10s and has won here in every even-numbered year since 2014.
- Jon Rahm (10-1): Blindly slotting him into my top four on any course anywhere in the world right now.
- Justin Thomas (9-1): Would have lost some dough here last year when he shot 75 on Sunday and lost by one.
- Patrick Cantlay (20-1): T15 last year, T4 the year before that when I thought he was going to burn Paris down at the Ryder Cup.
- Adam Scott (30-1): Top 12 in three of the last four. Fits him perfectly.
- Tiger Woods (16-1): Remember when we used to gin up intrigue in the Big Cat in a given week. No longer needed. He’s legitimately one of the six best golfers in this elite field.
- Xander Schauffele (22-1): Four top 20s in his last five worldwide.
- Tony Finau (25-1): T15 last year, T2 the year before that. Coming off a great showing in Phoenix.
- Dustin Johnson (12-1): I get the course fit and all of that, but I don’t trust the ball-striking right now.
Field strength — A+: It’s basically a major field if several golfers in the top 50 were hurt. That’s how good it is. Is it always this good? I remember it being strong in the past, but this is ridiculous.
Three things to know
1. Non-bomber win? Winners of five of the last six events here have been among the longest drivers in the game (Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and J.B. Holmes). Riviera is so nuanced that it seems like it would set up well for a shorter, more precise player.
2. Brooks? One of the guys I haven’t heard (or talked) much about this week is the No. 2 player in the world, Brooks Koepka. Maybe that’s because he hasn’t done anything of late. Mired in injury issues last fall, he has just one top 10 (a fourth-place finish at the Tour Championship) since winning the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in July. I get that he doesn’t care unless it’s one of the four big ones, but — like we’ve seen — that’s not a great formula for staying No. 1.
3. How will weather affect the event? Despite its reputation for great weather, we’ve seen cold and rain transform this tournament over the last few years (remember last year when they had to squeeze four rounds into three days after Round 1 got canceled?). Weather.com tells me 60s and sunny, which would be ideal for a field of this caliber, but we’re still a long way from Sunday afternoon and plenty of unexpected events could change the game plans of these favorites.
Tiger Woods has infamously never won here, but that’s a bit of a misnomer considering he’s only played Riviera twice since 2006 and one of those was a T15 last year. Expectations for him are that he’ll finish top 10 in any event he enters, and this week (with that swing he has going right now) is no different. Also, shout out to the round he played last year with no fans on the course!
- 2019: J.B. Holmes
- 2018: Bubba Watson
- 2017: Dustin Johnson
- 2016: Bubba Watson
- 2015: James Hahn
Genesis Invitational picks
Winner — Patrick Cantlay (20-1): I labored over this one and wanted to pull the trigger on Adam Scott, but Cantlay is coming off a great week at Pebble Beach and has a couple top 20s here in a row. Riviera would fit nicely in his bag of wins.
Top 10 — Rory McIlroy (-125): Again, 20 top 10s since the start of 2019, including one here last year.
Sleeper — Justin Rose (40-1): My first reaction was, “Wait, Justin Rose is 40-1?!” T4 and T16 in his last two starts here, and while he hasn’t been great, he only has one missed cut since missing the cut at the 2019 Masters. At 40-1, he’s worth the value here.