Monday, March 4, 2024

Genesis Invitational Tips 2024 – Golf Betting System

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Course Guide: Riviera is a stretching 7,322 yard, 35-36, Par 71 old-style golf course. Nicknamed ‘Hogan’s Alley’ it’s a classical course which features tight, uneven tree-lined fairways, plus fast green complexes that average 7,500 square feet and feature plenty of surrounding run-off areas for overly aggressive or wayward approach shots.

The course itself favours longer hitters, where finding fairways is extremely difficult – although the penalty tends to be the danger of blocked approach shots rather than thick, lush rough. The course features some of the deepest bunkers on Tour and fairway positioning is key as approach shots can be blocked by trees. Every season Riviera plays as one of the hardest courses to hit greens, and putting is difficult especially from 10 feet and in on the fast Poa Annua greens.

Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California: Designer: Neville and George Thomas 1926 with Fazio re-design 2008; Course Type: Classical, Medium Length; Par: 71; Length: 7,322 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 0; Number of Bunkers: 58; Acres of Fairway: 37; Fairways: Kikuyugrass; Rough: Kikuyugrass 2″; 7,500 sq.ft average featuring Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: 12.5ft.

Course Scoring Average: 2012: 70.76 (-0.24), Difficulty Rank 29 of 49 courses. 2013: 68.95 (-2.05), Difficulty Rank 40 of 43 courses. 2014: 70.64 (-0.36), Rank 33 of 48 courses. 2015: 70.75 (-0.25), Rank 22 of 52 courses. 2016: 71.03 (+0.03), Rank 20 of 50 courses. 2017: 70.19 (-0.81), Rank 33 of 50 courses. 2018: 70.32 (-0.64), Rank 32 of 51 courses. 2019: 70.51 (-0.49), Rank of 24 of 49 courses. 2020: 70.32 (-0.64), Rank 18 of 41 courses. 2021: 69.46 (-1.54), Rank of 42 of 51 courses. 2022: 70.29 (-0.71), Rank 26 of 50 courses. 2023: 70.98 (-0.02), Rank 17 of 49 courses. 2023: 71.07 (+0.07), Rank 16 of 49 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Tom Fazio designs include:

  • Atunyote GC – Turning Stone Championship 2007-10.
  • Caves Valley GC – BMW Championship 2021.
  • Congaree GC – Palmetto Championship 2021 + CJ Cup 2022.
  • Conway Farms GC – BMW Championship 2013, 2015, 2017.
  • Corales GC – Corales Championship.
  • Eagle Point – Wells Fargo Championship 2017.
  • Raptor Course Greyhawk GC – Fry’ Open 2008/09.
  • Shadow Creek GC – CJ Cup 2020.
  • The Summit Club – CJ Cup 2021.

Fazio has also had re-design input into:

  • Quail Hollow – Wells Fargo Championship 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2023 & 2017 PGA Championship.
  • Merion – 2013 U.S. Open.
  • Oakmont – 2016 U.S. Open.
  • Seaside Course at Sea Island – RSM Classic.

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Riviera Country Club and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • Pete Dye Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.
  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 42 yards wide; 275:40; 300:34; 325:31; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 28 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Southwind: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:28; 325:31; 350:25.

Course Overview: Riviera CC is one of the most classical and undulating golf courses in the United States. It tests the all-round game of a player and undoubtedly takes time to master.

Riviera and Torrey Pines are the only courses on Tour to feature Kikuyugrass fairways and rough. This may sound technical but be aware that west coast specialists, plus Australians and South Africans, have a distinct advantage playing on this.

Course experience is a real premium on this classical set-up which features a testing set of par-4s. It’s a course that can’t simply be overpowered, but the tournament as ever will be decided on the 12 looks at the par-5s. Most recent winners Merrick, Watson, Hahn, Watson again, Johnson, Watson again, Scott, Homa, Niemann and Rahm shot -10 (-19/265), -11 (-11/273 winning total), -8 (-15/269), -6 (-6/278), -9 (-15/269), -7 (-17/267), -8 (-12/272), -5 (-11/273), -11(-12/272) and -10 (-17/267) respectively on the par-5s. The only odd scoring performance away from this par-5 trend was J.B. Holmes (who else!) in 2019, who shot -6 -5 -3 across the par-3s, par-4s and par-5s.

With a host of dog-legs combined with 26 yard wide fairways at the 300 yard landing points, Riviera always ranks in the top 12 hardest fairways to hit on Tour. However with relatively low rough, the penalty for missing fairways is not a key factor this week on a course where getting close to the pin is tough even for players who hit the fairway. Getting the ball close here on approach is always very difficult, with Riviera traditionally ranking in the top 5 hardest for Proximity to Hole on the Tour.

Conditions-wise, Pacific Palisades received a lot of rain in January and February, so we might see conditions a tad on the greener side than we often do here. Expect the standard high-teens victory total in my opinion.

genesis invitational tips

The Genesis Invitational Winners: 2023: Jon Rahm (-17); 2022: Joaquin Niemann (-19); 2021: Max Homa (-12); 2020: Adam Scott (-11); 2019: J.B. Holmes (-14); 2018: Bubba Watson (-12); 2017: Dustin Johnson (-17); 2016: Bubba Watson (-15); 2015: James Hahn (-6); 2014: Bubba Watson (-15); 2013: John Merrick (-11); 2012: Bill Haas (-7); 2011: Aaron Baddeley (-12); 2010: Steve Stricker (-16).

  • 2023: Jon Rahm 65-68-65-69 -17/267
  • 2022: Joaquin Niemann 63-63-68-71 -19/265
  • 2021: Max Homa 66-70-70-66 -12/272
  • 2020: Adam Scott 72-64-67-70 -11/273
  • 2019: J.B. Holmes 63-69-68-70 -14/270
  • 2018: Bubba Watson 68-70-65-69 -12/272
  • 2017: Dustin Johnson 63-69-68-70 -14/270

Path to Victory: Below are the end-of-round positions for Genesis Invitational winners since 2010:

  • 2023 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2022 – Joaquin Niemann: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2021 – Max Homa: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2020 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 15th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2019 – J.B. Holmes: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2018 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2015 – James Hahn: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 7th.
  • 2014 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 35th, Round 2: 40th, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2013 – John Merrick: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2012 – Bill Haas: Round 1: 36th, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2011 – Aaron Baddeley: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2010 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 6th, Round 2 2nd, Round 3: 1st.

Shots From the Lead: Below are Genesis Invitational winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament since 2010:

  • 2023 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2022 – Joaquin Niemann: Round 1: 3 ahead, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2021 – Max Homa: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2020 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2019 – J.B. Holmes: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2018 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2017 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 5 ahead.
  • 2016 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2015 – James Hahn: Round 1: Level, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2014 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 8 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 2013 – John Merrick: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2012 – Bill Haas: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2011 – Aaron Baddeley: Round 1: Level, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2010 – Steve Stricker: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 6 ahead.

OWGR of Genesis Invitational Winners: 2023: Rahm 3; 2022: Niemann 32; 2021: Homa 91; 2020: Scott 14; 2019: Holmes 100; 2018: Watson 117; 2017: Johnson 3.

Cut Line: 2023: E; 2022: -2; 2021: -3; 2020: -1; 2019: -1; 2018: -1; 2017: -1.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2023: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -15; Round 4 -17.
  • 2022: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -16; Round 3 -19; Round 4 -19.
  • 2021: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -9; Round 4 -12.
  • 2020: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -10; Round 4 -11.
  • 2019: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -14.
  • 2018: Round 1 -5; Round 2 -7; Round 3 -10; Round 4 -12.
  • 2017: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -17; Round 4 -17.

Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

My published predictor is available here. Top 10 of my published predictor are: Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Sahith Theegala, Adam Scott and Xander Schauffele.

Our brand new predictor model is running alongside, where you can build your own rankings in live time, using the variables listed on the left hand side.

The Genesis Invitational Winners & Prices: 2023: Rahm 15/2F; 2022: Niemann 75/1; 2021: Homa 60/1; 2020: Scott 33/1; 2019: Holmes 150/1; 2018: Watson 50/1; 2017: Johnson 9/1; 2016: Watson 25/1; 2015: Hahn 200/1; 2014: Watson 33/1; 2013: Merrick 250/1; 2012: Haas 50/1; 2011: Baddeley 100/1; 2010: Stricker 16/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 65/1; Overall Average: 76/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2023: Thursday: Mostly Sunny. High of 63. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Friday: Mostly Cloudy. High of 57. Wind NE 5-10 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 66. Wind SW 5-10 mph. Sunday:  Sunny. High of 65. Wind SW 6-12 mph.
  • 2022: Thursday: Sunny and breezy. High of 69. Wind NW 5-10 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 71. Wind SW 5-10 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 67. Wind WSW 6-12 mph.
  • 2021: Thursday: Sunny. High of 68. Wind NE 10-15 mph, with gusts to 20 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 65. Wind SW 6-12 mph. Saturday: High of 63. Wind NNW 15-20 mph, with gusts to 35 mph. Play was suspended at 10:08 a.m. due to inclement weather (high winds), with all but the last group having teed off. Play resumed at 2:02 p.m. for a total delay of 3 hours, 54 minutes. The third round was delayed due to darkness at 5:45 p.m. with 23 players yet to complete their round. Those players will be back in position at 6:50 a.m. Sunday, with final-round tee times scheduled to begin at approximately 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. off split tees. Sunday: Sunny. High of 72. Wind SW 10-15 mph.
  • 2020: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 64. Light SE wind in the morning, switching to SW wind at 5-9 mph in the afternoon. Friday: Sunny with a high of 65. Wind SW 4-7 mph with gusts up to 10 mph. Saturday: Sunny with a high of 65. Wind SW 5-9 mph with gusts up to 12 mph. Sunday:  Sunny with a high of 65. Wind SW 5-9 mph with gusts up to 12 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Rain, with a high of 62. Wind SW at 15-25 mph, gusting to 30 mph. Weather caused a suspension of play at 7:30 a.m. Following the suspension of play, the weather rapidly deteriorated and officials announced that play would remain suspended until at least 1 p.m. and all first-round scores would be reset. After a seven-hour delay, the first round restarted at 1:40 p.m. and was suspended due to darkness at 5:34 p.m. Two inches of rain was recorded at Riviera between midnight Wednesday and the restart of round one. Friday: Clear in the morning with rain in the afternoon. High of 57. Wind WSW 10-18 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 62. Wind W at 10-20 mph. The second round resumed at 7:00 a.m. and was completed at 2:46 p.m. The third round began off both Nos. 1 and 10 tees at 3 p.m. and was suspended due to darkness at 5:45 p.m. Sunday: Partly cloudy with scattered showers. High of 59. Wind W 15-25 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. The third-round resumed at 6:45 a.m. and was completed at 11:10 a.m.
  • 2018: Thursday: Sunny. High of 67. Wind SW 5-10 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 70. Wind SW 10 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 70. Wind S 5-10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 62. Wind SW 10-15 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 64. Wind SW 7-12 mph. Friday: Due to inclement weather, round two was suspended for the day at 12:18 p.m. A total of 2.97 inches of rain fell from Friday morning to Saturday morning. Saturday: Scattered showers through early afternoon gave way to cloudy skies in the late afternoon. High of 61. Wind SSW 6-12 mph. Sunday: The third round resumed at 6:50 a.m. and was completed at 12:03 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high of 60. Wind SW 6-12 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Early showers gave way to partly cloudy conditions in the morning before sunshine and mid-60 temperatures in the afternoon. Wind WSW at 8-16 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny and reasonably cool weather with temperatures moving into the mid-60s. Wind WSW at 6-12 mph. Saturday: Mostly sunny and pleasant after a cool start with temperatures climbing to near 70 degrees in the afternoon. Wind WSW at 4-8 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny and pleasant with temperatures reaching the high 60s. Wind WSW at 4-8 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Pacific Palisades, California is here.

First thing to mention here is that Pacific Palisades was hit by 174mm (6.9″) of rain last week, making for a total of 255mm (10″) for February. Now ground staff can work miracles, but I’m expecting some cut in the fairways across the early rounds and potentially non-releasing greens – which we don’t tend to see here at Riviera. No rain is forecast, so the course will continually dry and that will be aided by temperatures which will range from 17-20 Celsius (63-68 Fahrenheit) which is warmer than 2023. All in all, with no real wind to speak of and sunny conditions throughout, the players can’t really ask for a better environment in which to play.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the RSM Classic/DP World Tour Championship which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded, plus the Hero World Challenge. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Tiger Woods; 2) Rory McIlroy; 3) Nicolai Hojgaard; 4) Adam Scott; 5) Viktor Hovland; 6) Corey Conners; 7) Jordan Spieth; 8) Cam Young; 9) Justin Thomas; 10) Kurt Kitayama; 11) Jason Day; 12) Tommy Fleetwood; 13) Tony Finau; 14) Byeong Hun An / Si Woo Kim / Scottie Scheffler; 17) Ludvig Aberg; 18) Keegan Bradley / Russell Henley; 20) Sungjae Im; 21) Wyndham Clark / Sepp Straka; 23) Luke List / Xander Schauffele; 25) Kevin Yu.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 3) Adam Scott; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) Tiger Woods; 6) Wyndham Clark / Nicolai Hojgaard; 8) Collin Morikawa; 9) Tony Finau; 10) Nick Taylor; 11) Tom Hoge; 12) Ludvig Aberg / Keegan Bradley / Kurt Kitayama; 15) Tommy Fleetwood; 16) Corey Conners / Xander Schauffele; 18) Lucas Glover; 19) Rory McIlroy; 20) Chris Kirk; 21) Emiliano Grillo / Tom Kim; 23) Matt Fitzpatrick / Viktor Hovland; 25) Sam Burns / Eric Cole.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Jordan Spieth; 3) Tiger Woods; 4) Max Homa; 5) Tommy Fleetwood / Hideki Matsuyama; 7) Lucas Glover; 8) Xander Schauffele; 9) Rory McIlroy; 10) Collin Morikawa; 11) Sepp Straka; 12) Keegan Bradley / Viktor Hovland / Kurt Kitayama; 15) Tony Finau / Russell Henley / Seamus Power; 18) Byeong Hun An / Wyndham Clark / Jason Day / Patrick Rodgers; 22) Matt Fitzpatrick / Nicolai Hojgaard / Mackenzie Hughes; 25) Beau Hossler.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Adam Scott; 4) Tony Finau / Nicolai Hojgaard; 6) Xander Schauffele / Jordan Spieth; 8) Kurt Kitayama; 9) Tiger Woods; 10) Wyndham Clark; 11) Corey Conners / Tommy Fleetwood; 13) Keegan Bradley; 14) Russell Henley; 15) Ludvig Aberg / Rory McIlroy; 17) Hideki Matsuyama; 18) Si Woo Kim; 19) Viktor Hovland; 20); Lucas Glover; 21) Max Homa / Tom Kim; 23) Matt Fitzpatrick / Chris Kirk / Collin Morikawa.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Sam Burns; 2) Tiger Woods; 3) Jordan Spieth / Nick Taylor; 5) Viktor Hovland; 6) Brendon Todd; 7) Andrew Putnam; 8) Ludvig Aberg / Adam Scott; 10) Ben Griffin; 11) Mackenzie Hughes / Rory McIlroy / J.T. Poston; 14) Harris English / Tommy Fleetwood / Tom Hoge / Taylor Montgomery; 18) Adam Schenk / Sahith Theegala; 20) Cam Davis; 21) Keegan Bradley / Emiliano Grillo; 23) Denny McCarthy; 24) Justin Thomas; 25) Eric Cole / Nick Dunlap / Matt Fitzpatrick.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Scottie Scheffler; 2) Justin Thomas; 3) Adam Scott; 4) Nicolai Hojgaard; 5) Jordan Spieth; 6) Sam Burns; 7) Xander Schauffele; 8) Ludvig Aberg / Kurt Kitayama / Tiger Woods; 11) Tony Finau; 12) J.T. Poston; 13) Rory McIlroy; 14) Tommy Fleetwood; 15) Keegan Bradley; 16) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Viktor Hovland / Denny McCarthy; 19) Russell Henley; 20) Wyndham Clark / Beau Hossler Sahith Theegala; 23) Emiliano Grillo / Chris Kirk; 25) Eric Cole / Taylor Montgomery / Nick Taylor.

Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the Strokes Gained Stats of the Genesis Invitational winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this medium length, classical, tree-lined, Par 71:

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2023, Jon Rahm (-17). SG Off the Tee: 28th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 39th, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 12th.
  • 2022, Joaquin Niemann (-19). SG Off the Tee: 17th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 2nd, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 26th.
  • 2021, Max Homa (-12). SG Off the Tee: 2nd, SG Approach: 21st, SG Around the Green: 9th, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 7th.
  • 2020, Adam Scott (-11). SG Off the Tee: 17th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 17th, SG Tee to Green: 3rd, SG Putting: 27th.
  • 2019, J.B. Holmes (-14). SG Off the Tee: 37th, SG Approach: 6th, SG Around the Green: 33rd, SG Tee to Green: 11th, SG Putting: 1st.
  • 2018, Bubba Watson (-12). SG Off the Tee: 17th, SG Approach: 11th, SG Around the Green: 6th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 21st.
  • 2017, Dustin Johnson (-17). SG Off the Tee: 1st, SG Approach: 20th, SG Around the Green: 44th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 3rd.
  • 2016, Bubba Watson (-15). SG Off the Tee: 16th, SG Approach: 3rd, SG Around the Green: 36th, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 11th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 17th, SG Approach: 8th, SG Around the Green: 23rd, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 14th.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the Genesis Invitational winners since 2010 us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2023, Jon Rahm (-17). 315 yards (6th), 41.1% fairways (63rd), 70.8% greens in regulation (2nd), 36’5″ proximity to hole (9th), 61.9% scrambling (50th), 1.63 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2022, Joaquin Niemann (-19). 297 yards (64th), 44.6% fairways (58th), 65.3% greens in regulation (14th), 33’8″ proximity to hole (5th), 76.0 % scrambling (10th), 1.55 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2021, Max Homa (-12). 290 yards (51st), 57.1% fairways (3rd), 62.5% greens in regulation (5th), 42’4″ proximity to hole (33rd), 66.7 % scrambling (24th), 1.58 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2020, Adam Scott (-11). 305 yards (15th), 41.1% fairways (63rd), 72.2% greens in regulation (1st), 38’5″ proximity to hole (22nd), 60.0 % scrambling (46th), 1.69 putts per GIR (15th).
  • 2019, J.B. Holmes (-14). 281 yards (41st), 51.8% fairways (59th), 72.2% greens in regulation (2nd), 38’5″ proximity to hole (31st), 70.0 % scrambling (17th), 1.67 putts per GIR (6th).
  • 2018, Bubba Watson (-12). 304 yards (21st), 57.1% fairways (27th), 63.9% greens in regulation (7th), 36’4″ proximity to hole (10th), 69.2 % scrambling (20th), 1.65 putts per GIR (13th).
  • 2017, Dustin Johnson (-17). 315 yards (1st), 51.8% fairways (45th), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 34’11” proximity to hole (10th), 81.3 % scrambling (5th), 1.70 putts per GIR (16th).
  • 2016, Bubba Watson (-15). 295 yards (17th), 50.0% fairways (50th), 70.8% greens in regulation (7th), 32’6″ proximity to hole (6th), 76.4 % scrambling (4th), 1.73 putts per GIR (21st).
  • 2015, James Hahn (-6). 287 yards (50th), 51.8% fairways (37th), 55.6% greens in regulation (28th), 36’11” proximity to hole (15th), 68.8 % scrambling (13th), 1.70 putts per GIR (14th).
  • 2014, Bubba Watson (-15). 319 yards (1st), 62.5% fairways (8th), 70.8% greens in regulation (3rd), 31’3″ proximity to hole (5th), 71.4 % scrambling (16th), 1.65 putts per GIR (7th).
  • 2013, John Merrick (-11). 299 yards (20th), 53.6% fairways (29th), 63.9% greens in regulation (24th), 33’9″ proximity to hole (11th), 65.4% scrambling (19th), 1.67 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2012, Bill Haas (-7). 280 yards (60th), 55.4% fairways (32nd), 50.0% greens in regulation (59th), 44’3″ proximity to hole (64th), 72.2% scrambling (1st), 1.72 putts per GIR (12th).
  • 2011, Aaron Baddeley (-12). 277 yards (42nd), 50.0% fairways (57th), 72.2% greens in regulation (3rd), 35’0″ proximity to hole (21st), 80.0% scrambling (1st), 1.83 putts per GIR (54th).
  • 2010, Steve Stricker (-16). 270 yards (37th), 69.6% fairways (29th), 66.7% greens in regulation (11th), 29’2″ proximity to hole (2nd), 75.0% scrambling (8th), 1.63 putts per GIR (3rd).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 30th, Driving Accuracy: 40th, Greens in Regulation: 12th, Proximity to Hole: 17th, Scrambling: 17th, Putting Average 13th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how Riviera Country Club set-up plus what skill sets they favour:

Jon Rahm (2023): “My record is decent in California, right? I think because I grew up on poa annua greens, I feel comfortable and it’s shown. Again, it’s a golf course where you need to strike the golf ball well, you need to move it both ways and tee to green is obviously usually my forte and it plays to my strengths and that’s why I think I’ve had success here.

It’s a difficult golf course out there. Yesterday morning it was still a little bit softer so you could be a bit more aggressive. Those greens were getting a little crunchy and a little firmer, so the margins are already small on this golf course and you’re playing with even smaller margins with running fairways and firm greens, not to add the poa annua factor in the afternoon. So to just shoot even par I’m really happy about be cause it did not look good for a while and luckily I got it together for the last seven holes.”

Joaquin Niemann (2022): “I’ve been here a couple times. Obviously I played the U.S. Amateur a couple years ago. I remember last year I played great golf the first two days, then the weekend I didn’t play good. I think it’s one of those courses that you do everything right; you have to hit it good off the tee, you have to hit your irons pretty good and you’ve got to putt unbelievable, especially on these type of greens because they’re so fast.”

“On 12 I knew I had like – I think I had like 200 front and I had a little window there that I had to cut it like 20, 30 yards with a 4-iron. Obviously he didn’t like the idea of that, but I felt pretty confident of that shot and I felt that I was able to do it. I hit actually a really good shot, just a little bit lower than I thought and it just didn’t carry that, but it was close to being pretty good.”

Max Homa (2021): “I know the golf course pretty well. I’ve been fortunate to play a few more times since college and it’s the grass I grew up on. Kikuyu, poa annua, it’s very, very comfortable for me.”

“I was patient. I did a lot of the things the same as yesterday. My touch wasn’t quite as good around the greens, left myself too many six- to eight-footers, but stayed patient, waited for some good numbers, took advantage when I had them at the end. Yeah, it felt very similar to yesterday, just kind of Riviera doing what it does. But the fairways are really firm, so it’s running. If you can hit the ball in the fairway, you’re going to have a pretty short club in. If you miss it in the rough, you’re going to have quite a bit longer in, it just stops it right away. It was similar to yesterday. Tough test. Some pins a little easier, but some pins much harder.”

“I didn’t make a bogey over the final 26 holes. I was proud of that. Fred Couples oddly enough has been texting me especially throughout this week and he told me Thursday or Friday that solid golf wins at Riviera and just keep playing solid, and I’ve been thinking about that ever since and especially on a day like today. Really difficult this morning when we came back out, made two great putts to start, kind of settled my nerves and I just was trying to be as solid as I could. My coach and caddie, Joe, we’ve had a mantra this week, position over perfection, so we were just trying to leave it in the best spot all week and I thought we did a really good job of that this week.”

Adam Scott (2020): Yeah, I really just like a lot of the holes out here. You know, I stand on the tee very comfortable here, and shots into the green. Somehow I manage to putt generally well here when it’s one of the courses that guys struggle most on tour with. Something about it reminds me a lot of some golf in Australia, too, in areas. Just feel very comfortable every time I’m here.”

“I guess I scrambled well today. I think I got up and down five times out of five, so probably that. You know, it’s very tough here in the afternoons putting. Yesterday when I missed a green and I chipped them up, even good chips, it was hard to be sure you’re going to make them from inside that 10 feet, five feet, and missed a few. This morning when you could chip them up, you’re just a little more confident with the smoother greens. So my chipping and my putting was very solid out there this morning.”

“But I think with the putting, it’s a bit of both. I seem to not struggle too much on the greens here and I guess at least by the stats everyone else does compared to normal. I don’t know what it is because they putt on poa at other places, but maybe it’s just the undulation and it’s more difficult here. But I’ve kind of always been fairly comfortable on these greens.”

J.B. Holmes (2019): “I knew that it was going to get really windy in the afternoon and that’s what the weather had said. Always thought that would have been a better chance for me; usually when the conditions are crappy I do better. You never know out here. This is a tough golf course and you throw that kind of wind in there. But yeah, at one point it looked like,  Brandon looked at me and said, Do you think Justin is going to get to 20 under, and I was like, You mean this round? He was playing unbelievable there that third round. You can’t just get up there and whack it when it’s blowing that hard. You’ve got to read wind and there’s a lot of slope on these greens. It’s not an easy golf course and you throw in winds like that. On 13 or 14, the par 3, I hit a 5-iron and it stays pretty good. He hits a 5-iron really good and a gust of wind comes up and he comes up like 15 yards short, and I think he hit it better than I hit mine. It’s very tough. Then when you get putting like that, it’s just not going to be fast anywhere.”

Bubba Watson (2018): “You know, there was a great champion that went bogey free on the weekend one time. But no, it’s a tough one because of the greens, because of this grass. We know late in the day you’re going to get some bounces that you don’t agree with, so it’s very difficult. You’ll hit a chip shot or an iron shot that you think is great, hits a little bounce and goes opposite or whatever, or your putt does that. So it’s very difficult and you’re going to make a mistake. It might not be a mistake by you, it might be the ball bounces the other way. So you’ve got to just keep fighting and hopefully you make more birdies than bogeys. This golf course stood the test of time. Nobody’s talking about changing it unless they mention a major involved with it. They added a tee on No. 2 a long time ago, a few years ago, and we never played it because No. 2 doesn’t need it. So when you think about history and not messing with the golf course, today, this day and age you can’t build a golf course like this. It stood the test of time. It’s the only golf course that has a perfect par 3 with a bunker in the middle of it. You know, it’s just a beautiful layout and it’s fun to play. You’ve got to hit shots from every different angle, you’ve got to move it right to left and left to right, so it’s just fun. Then the greens are the equalizer so it makes me look, I putt as good as the other guys.

Jordan Spieth: “I mean, you can go back in your memory, and I can picture all the holes, I know where the pins are, I know where the breaks are on those greens. But you’ve still got to get on to the practice greens and then dial in the feel, dial in the speed. This poa annua putts differently than it did last week at the courses that we played there in Pebble Beach, and so you’ve got to be careful here. It can get away from you very quickly. And it’s hard to get below the hole. That’s the thing out here. So you start to go to the driving range and I’ll start to try and work on some shots where you kind of float ones in, work on a lot of shots that you can loft up in the air more than maybe you would do last week. So there’s still a lot of adjustments to be made, even if you are familiar with the place, because with the weather here compared to what it could be last week, normally it’s less wind here and it’s more positioning. You’ve got to be in the fairways, even with little rough, to be able to hold these greens. You start working on a lot of different shots.

Rory McIlroy: “It’s a great golf course. We don’t play golf courses like this very often anymore on Tour, and it’s a real treat when you come to a golf course like this where it’s not overly long, you don’t have to really bomb it off the tee, but it’s real strategic. You’ve got to place your ball on the right sides of the fairways. You have to make sure you hit it to the right side of the greens. You really can’t short-side yourself here. You can’t really get it above the pin. It’s a real thinker’s golf course and it’s a real treat to play something like this because we don’t get to play them that often anymore. Especially those, I think I saw a stat the other day, that there was more 3-footers missed here than there was anywhere else last year, I think by a long way actually. Inside sort of five or six feet is going to be really important this week, because you’re not going to hit the amount of greens that you’re used to hitting. You hit 12 greens around here, you’ve done pretty well. So there will be a lot of those holing-out-type distances for pars that will be important. I think that’s one of the big things this week for me, and I’ve been trying to work on that.

Bubba Watson: “Today obviously with the rain it was easier. The golf course is accepting shots. But this golf course, the history of this golf course, this is one of those golf courses that we talk about a lot, because of the history. There’s not much change around here. The golf course has stayed the same, same kind of grass, it’s not heavy rough. It’s basically getting the right bounce. You lands it six inches short, it stays short. You land it just on the green it could bounce over. It’s all about hitting the right trajectories, hitting the right line, and hopefully on certain pins, hitting the fairway so you can produce a little bit of spin. So your answer is: It’s just a traditional old school golf course that’s got a lot of history. I love it because of the history, and as you can see, there’s some trees down compared to where the first time I played here. I think I started playing here nine, ten years ago. And so you can spray it a little bit but still manage the golf course. But at the same time, you can hit fairways and manage the golf course. It’s one of those golf courses where it can bite you at any minute, but at the same time you can score and you can imagine a bunch of shots around the trees and around the greens.”

Incoming Form of Genesis Invitational winners since 2010:

  • Jon Rahm: 3rd TPC Scottsdale/7th Torrey 1st PGA West /1st Kapalua.
  • Joaquin Niemann: 8th Saudi/6th Torrey/MC RSM Classic/MC Houston.
  • Max Homa: 7th Pebble/42nd TPC Scottsdale/18th Torrey/21st PGA West.
  • Adam Scott: 1st Aus PGA/MC Aus Open/11th WGC HSBC/33rd ZOZO.
  • J.B. Holmes: MC Pebble/26th TPC Scottsdale/MC Torrey/48th Mayakoba.
  • Bubba Watson: 35th Pebble/40th Torrey/MC PGA West/67th RSM Classic.
  • Dustin Johnson: 3rd Pebble/MC Torrey/2nd Abu/6th Kapalua.
  • Bubba Watson: MC Pebble Beach/14th TPC Scottsdale/10th Kapalua/1st World Challenge.
  • James Hahn: 29th Pebble/41st Torrey/59th TPC Scottsdale/20th PGA West.
  • Bubba Watson: 2nd TPC Scottsdale/23rd Torrey/30th Thailand/3rd World Challenge.
  • John Merrick: 16th Pebble/57th TPC Scottsdale/MC Torrey/MC PGA West.
  • Bill Haas: 19th TPC Scottsdale/4th Torrey/64th PGA West/20th Kapalua.
  • Aaron Baddeley: 6th Pebble/37th TPC Scottsdale/MC Torrey/34th Waialae.
  • Steve Stricker: 3rd Waialae/10th Kapalua/10th World Challenge/6th East Lake.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2023 – Homa/Mitchell – AM/PM -7/64 – 35/1 & 80/1.
  • 2022 – Niemann – PM -8/63 – 66/1.
  • 2021 – Burns – PM -7/64 – 85/1.
  • 2020 – Kuchar – AM -7/64 – 60/1.
  • 2019 – Holmes – PM -8/63 – 100/1.
  • 2018 – Cantlay/Finau – Both PM -5/66 – Both 55/1.
  • 2017 – Saunders – AM -7/64 – 300/1.
  • 2016 – Villegas PM -8/63.
  • 2015 – Fathauer/Goosen/Hahn/Singh/Summerhays/Watney – 5AM/1PM -5/66.
  • 2014 – D Johnson – AM -5/66.
  • 2013 – Kuchar – AM -7/64.
  • 2012 – Mickelson – PM -5/66.
  • 2011 – 9 players -4/67.
  • 2010 – D Johnson – AM -7/64.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 4 – Jason Day, Max Homa, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods.
  • 3 – Collin Morikawa.
  • 2 – Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Nick Taylor, Gary Woodland.
  • 1 – Patrick Cantlay, Wyndham Clark, Cam Davis, Harris English, Tony Finau, Matt Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, Emiliano Grillo, Tom Hoge, Viktor Hovland, Matt Kuchar, Luke List, Hideki Matsuyama, Andrew Putnam, Xander Schauffele, Sahith Theegala, Justin Thomas.

There’s undoubtedly a form link between Riviera and a couple of other classical golf courses. The course here features Kikuyugrass fairways and rough, agronomy which is only shared with Torrey Pines, so it’s hardly a surprise to see that recent winners like Baddeley, Haas, Johnson, Merrick, Watson, Scott, Homa, Niemann and Rahm had all previously finished 11th or better (Merrick’s was at the 2008 U.S. Open) down the coast in La Jolla, San Diego. 2015’s shock winner James Hahn doesn’t share that distinction, but he had finished 3rd on the Poa Annua greens at Pebble Beach in his rookie season of 2013. Steve Stricker, who won here in 2010, has no Torrey Pines form of note, however he’d finished 2nd at Riviera 12 months earlier showing he could handle the Kikuyu.

So I’m looking for upwardly mobile ball-strikers this week who have a penchant for playing positively at Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, or naturally here at Riviera. A high ball flight to hold fast greens, the ability to grind when scoring is tough, plus the ability to move the ball confidently both ways are also key attributes for me this week.

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