The West Coast Swing wraps up this week on the PGA Tour at one of the most classic shot-maker's courses on the annual schedule. Riviera Country Club hosts the Genesis Open and a star-studded field outside Los Angeles.
For the third time in four weeks, the PGA Tour finds itself in California, playing a few of the most storied courses in the state, if not the world. Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Pebble Beach last week now to Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. Each stop in the Golden State this past month has come with rain and colder temperatures, and while Californians are thrilled to have the drought basically over PGA Tour players have found the conditions to be very difficult. Riviera ought to be no exception this week with rain in the forecast Friday and Saturday and heavy wind accompanying the wet conditions on Friday.
Riviera is a ball-striker's course and one of the best courses the Tour plays all year. It is a personal favorite of many of the players. Most of the holes have doglegs, so shaping one's shots is necessary for success. It really makes these guys play their golf ball and hit big-time shots. Big hitters have fared well here traditionally, but you must also find the fairway -- especially this particular year. You will hear all week long about the Kikuyu grass and how it is so gnarly and unpredictable to negotiate around the greens. With all of the moisture, the Kikuyu will be especially difficult this go round. Not only will finding fairways be important off of the tee, but hitting greens in regulation will be paramount in order to avoid the struggles the Kikuyu presents. Once on the greens, there is still much work to be done as the players will find very fast surfaces, likely to be bumpy and softened quite a bit this week due to the rain. Interestingly enough, Riviera owns some of the hardest greens to putt on Tour from shorter distances, anywhere inside of 10 feet.
With the inherent difficulty of the golf course and the weather thrown in to stir the pot even more so, it will take all facets of one's game and a great deal of patience in order to succeed. It all should make for a very exciting week of golf betting in Southern California at a classic venue.
Dustin Johnson (+780 Pinnacle): The favorites have won the last two weeks on Tour, and it just might be DJ's turn this week. He loves this course and it shows as he has six Top-10s in nine trips, including a run of 4th, 2nd, 2nd the last three years.
Jordan Spieth (+790 Pinnacle): Can he go back-to-back? To begin 2017, Spieth has three straight Top-10s and a win. In four tries at Riviera he's been cut twice but also has a 4th- and a 12th-place finish.
Hideki Matsuyama (+1050 Pinnacle): After defending his title in Phoenix two weeks ago, the hottest player in the world the last three months comes to a place that he has finished 11th, 4th, and 23rd the last three years, which are his only three years playing the event.
Sergio Garcia (+2302 Bookmaker): Sergio won in Dubai three weeks ago, wire to wire, and at Riviera he has seven Top-25 finishes, three of which are Top-10s. He's only missed the cut once, last year, in 10n attempts.
Adam Scott (+2647 Bookmaker): Scott won here in 2005 and followed that up with a 2nd-place finish in 2006. He was also 2nd last year. Aussies have an affinity for this place, like fellow winners Aaron Baddeley and Robert Allenby. Masters champions, as Scott is, also do well here: Mickelson, Faldo, Couples, Bubba Watson, Mike Weir, Craig Stadler, Tom Watson and Ben Hogan have all won at Riviera.
Justin Rose (+2862 Pinnacle): Rose will be playing in this event for the 11th time, but it is only in the last four years that he has really found the zone, with one Top-10 finish and two Top-15s. In 2017, he's finished 2nd, 4th and 39th last week at Pebble Beach.
The Long Shots
Keegan Bradley (+7250 Pinnacle): Bradley has been playing his best golf in a couple of years, and he really has a good game for this course. He drives it long and straight and putts well from inside 10 feet. It would not surprise me to see him easily inside the Top 20 this week.
Charl Schwartzel (+6550 5Dimes): Many say the South Africans have an advantage here with Kikuyu being a native grass, and we've seen fellow countrymen, Ernie Els and Rory Sabbatini win this tournament. Schwartzel has never missed a cut here in four tries, has a 3rd-place finish and a 5th ... and he also has a Masters green jacket.
Thomas Pieters (+9000 5Dimes): This is indeed a long shot with it being Pieters' first ever entry into the tournament, but the 6-foot-5, big-hitting Belgian out of the University of Illinois has loads of talent. He was tremendous at the Ryder Cup and I believe he has Top-20 player in the world type capability. Jon Rahm has burst onto the scene in a big way this year. Pieters may be the next to do so.
J.B. Holmes (+4190 Pinnacle) :Speaking of big hitters, J.B. is one of the biggest, and with the wet conditions this week that should work largely in his favor. Overall, Holmes is not a great putter but he is very good from inside of 10 feet. He has only missed the cut here once in 10 visits. Holmes has four Top-10 finishes as well as a 12th- and an 11th-place last year. He can rack up birdies in a hurry, and if you are into the Masters connection thing he finished 4th at Augusta last year. He may not win it this week, but I feel you are getting over 40-1 odds on a guy who should be closer to 25-1.