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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:46 AM

The Genesis Invitational Picks, Odds and Predictions

Feb. 16, 2021

Golf Expert

My rangefinder for the PGA Tour is clearly in need of some tune ups, as it's now been two straight weeks that's seen the player my 72 hole matchup play is against has gone into Sunday with a chance to win the whole thing.

Last week it was Russell Knox, who beat Phil Mickelson just by making it to the weekend, and two weeks ago in Phoenix it was Xander Schauffele who killed that matchup play over Rory.

There are going to be some awful weeks in golf betting over the course of a year though, as it's just the nature of the game. Trying to get the confidence back in full swing is going to be tough with the deep field we've got for this week's Genesis Invitational, but I guess when you get invited to play golf in Los Angeles, the world's best make it a point to be there no matter what the travel entails these days.

It's a great field that should lead to a great event, probably won by the guy I'm against for 72 holes a little later on down the line.

But we might as well discuss some other options though.

Golf Betting Resources
2021 The Genesis Invitational

In the broad sense, Riviera is a course that compares to Augusta National with how strategic it is and how favorable it has been to lefties.

Augusta National has seen lefties Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, and Mike Weir win there this century, and all three of those guys are multiple-time winners at Riviera as well. The ability to have more control on playing a fade (for lefties) over a draw (for righties) plays a part in the undulations and layout of both tracks, as guys who have found success at one of those two venues, tend to find success at the other at some point.

Other recent winners here that also own a green jacket are Adam Scott, and now Dustin Johnson, the man who comes into this year's event as the favorite.

Other issues Riviera can bring are all around the greens, with sand saves and scrambling skills needing to be showcased at some point for all potential contenders.

There have been a few past winners that gained separation on the field, but for the most part the winning score will be in that -13 to -15 range where a solid four days of -3 or -4 every time out clearly gives you a chance.

Can't be putting up too many crooked numbers to get to that end result, so saving par after some issues earlier in the hole can be critical to guys keeping their good rounds going.

Players with strong approach games won't have to worry about that so much, but again, knowing where to land the ball and more importantly where to miss – like at Augusta National – is how guys avoid those disaster scores as well.

So like last week with course history having the potential to be weighed a little heavier at Pebble Beach, course history at Riviera is a nice thing to lean on with any selections as well. Far from the be all, end all, but knowing where to miss shots to avoid disaster in a sport that's predicated on “misses” can't hurt.

Dustin Johnson (+550) comes into the tournament as the prohibitive favorite, as his withdrawal last week after the long international flight home (off a win) likely was in part to wanting to be fresh for this event that he loves.

No dispute with him being the favorite here, as one win as a part of nine Top 10 finishes here the past 12 seasons is as good as it gets for a track record. I'm sure DJ wishes there were another win or two in there and not five other finishes inside the Top 4, but any win by DJ this week wouldn't be surprising at all given how well he's played in the biggest events the past 12 months.

Price is probably a little tough behind given the quality in this field, but expect DJ to be a factor at Riviera again this season.

Dustin Johnson has been made the top betting choice to win this week's PGA event from Riviera Country Club. (AP)

Take your pick of the names behind DJ though, as Jon Rahm (+1200), Rory McIlroy (+1250), Justin Thomas (+1400), Xander Schauffele (+1600), Patrick Cantlay (+1650) and Bryson DeChambeau (+1700) reside are all up next in price and below the 20-1 mark.

Beyond that we've got names like Tony Finau (+2200), Brooks Koepka (+2500), Daniel Berger (+3000), Collin Morikawa (+3300), Viktor Hovland (+3500) and the defending champ Adam Scott (+4000) right there as well.

The Genesis Invitational
Betting Odds

The Genesis Invitational Contenders

  • Dustin Johnson +550
  • Jon Rahm +1300
  • Justin Thomas +1300
  • Rory McIlroy +1300
  • Xander Schauffele +1500
  • Patrick Cantlay +1600
  • Bryson DeChambeau +1700
  • More Golfers
  • (Odds Subject to Change)

That kind of quality at the top suggests there really isn't that bad of a choice at the top of this field, but at the same time, it might be tough to see all of those names listed involved with a chance on Sunday. There isn't much difference in the game of most of those guys statistically, so if the execution isn't there for one of them and tickets on them go down, that's also just the nature of the beast.

However, there is one possibly notable angle to separate a few of them. Course history here does matter to the degree that every winner of this event for at least the past 13 years had teed it up at this tournament at least twice prior to winning. That does put a hiccup in the potential of some of the younger budding stars like Morikawa (once), Hovland (never), Will Zalatoris (once) and Matthew Wolff (once) among many others.

But hopefully the execution is there for the first selection of the week, as he's had one missed cut and no other finish worse than 13th in his last five starts overall.

With that kind of recent resume, there aren't too many reasons to think the execution won't be there for him this week.

Golfers to Watch - The Genesis Invitational
Top Picks and Predictions

Contender to Back
The Genesis Invitational

Justin Thomas +1400

Thomas followed up his 2019 runner-up finish at this event with a missed cut here in 2020, something I do not expect to see from him in consecutive seasons.

It's his only missed cut in six starts here, and with a True Strokes Gained number of +1.39 in 22 career rounds at Riviera, the finishes on his resume here should probably look even better. Three starts in 2021 have brought a 3rd, 13th, and missed cut for Thomas, and if the latter isn't a concern, 14-1 isn't a bad ticket to have in your pocket come Sunday afternoon if those other types of finishes are in store for Thomas.

There aren't any holes in his game to be considered more than anything but a minor concern, and as long as he's finding fairways off the tee, Thomas will have plenty of opportunities to find his way into contention this week.

On American soil – his missed cut came in Abu Dhabi – Thomas' worst finish was his 13th two weeks ago, going back nine starts all the way to the US Open that was played last September. He's been knocking on the door for another win for some time now, and that run of great finishes includes a 4th at Augusta National. It was his third straight Top 20 finish at the Masters and we already know how that can help here.

So in a field with plenty of choice at the top of the odds board, it's Thomas who appears to me to be one of the better options in that group. His recent form at this course (and a highly correlated one in Augusta) is quite good, his recent form on Tour has been spectacular, and yet it can get somewhat glossed over because there hasn't been a victory for Thomas in there. Hopefully that comes this week.

Mid-Range Value
The Genesis Invitational

Hideki Matsuyama +4500

Another guy with a strong course history here, as Matsuyama's True Strokes gained number in 22 career rounds at Riviera is even much better than that of Thomas at +1.85. He's finished 5th and 9th here the past two seasons, and outside of missing the cut in 2017, he's never finished worse than 23rd here in six tries.

Outside of having a green jacket, Matsuyama's another guy that's had great success at Augusta National throughout his career too, as that's another check in the box for him as well.

Recent form is where the questions start to pop up for Matsuyama though, as it's been a few too many finishes in the 40's in recent starts, being one of the first guys out there on Sunday's trying to collect as big of a check as they can.

But prior to those outings was another strong showing at Augusta in November (T13), and when ball striking and having control of the golf ball at all the times is key, Matsuyama's is up there with the best of them when he's on.

Courses like this where course history does matter a bit more can work as a spark to get guys going in the right direction in the coming weeks on Tour, and if the flatstick holds up for Matsuyama this week, Riviera could do just that for his game moving forward this season.

Long Shot Pick
The Genesis Invitational

Keegan Bradley +17500

Bradley's put up a True Strokes Gained number of +1.24 in his 32 career rounds at the event, but a lot of that came in the first half of last decade before the putting rules changed for him. But he's another guy that's got to get mentioned when overall ball striking is a more important talking point. And despite missing the cut here in four of the past 10 years, Bradley's never missed the weekend at Riviera in consecutive years, and he is coming off a missed cut here last year.

But as is always the case with Bradley, if his approach game is on (SG: Approach ranks 5th on Tour this year) he'll be among the leaders. If it's not and he's forced to scramble too much (SG: Around the Green ranks 119th) or needing to make too many 20-30 footers for birdie (SG: Putting ranks 227th) he won't have a shot.

Winners of better than 100-1 have connected here three times since 2013 though, and Keegan's got the game to be another one of those if he's executing at the highest degree. Top placement wagers are always going to be the better option, but the win potential is there with Bradley as well to take a piece of the outright too.

72 Hole Matchup to Take
The Genesis Invitational

Jon Rahm (-125) over Patrick Cantlay

Both of these guys have had quality finishes at this tournament in limited starts, as Rahm's got a 9th and 17th on his resume here, while Cantlay's three starts have seen finishes of 4th, 15th, and 17th. Current form is slightly tilted in Cantlay's favor as well with a 3rd, 2nd, and 13th in his last three starts compared to Rahm's 13th, 7th and 7th.

But the one tournament where they both were involved was Cantlay's 13th and one of Rahm's 7th, and Cantlay's started to give off the scent of a guy that prefers to be one of the bigger fish in the smaller pond so to speak. You start to get fields with all (or nearly all) of the top players in the world involved, and Cantlay's name enters conversations, but tends to never stick around for that long.

Not one person with better odds than Cantlay to win outright this week teed it up last week for Cantlay's 3rd place, or his 2nd place at the American Express a few weeks back – Cantlay's two most recent starts – and with Rahm being one of the better of that group of golfers I would classify ahead of Cantlay, I'll lay the 25 cents with the Spaniard this week.

How to Bet on Golf

Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.

2021 Golf Betting Schedule

Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.

Understanding Golf Odds and Bets

Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.

If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.

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