Golf Odds: Tiger Woods Back in Action at Genesis Open

Brady Kannon

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 2:41 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 2:41 PM UTC

With Hollywood hoping the return of Tiger Woods proves to be a classic fit for the silver screen, the man appropriately makes another return to action this week in L.A. at the PGA Tour's Genesis Open.

The final piece of The West Coast Swing has us in California for the fourth time in five weeks, and what a better way to finish strong than at historic Riviera Country Club in beautiful Pacific Palisades for The Genesis Open.

Riviera's 10th hole is arguably the best short par 4 in the world. The 6th hole is a par 3 with a bunker in the middle of the green. The 18th hole heads up a hill to a green that sits in the shadow of a towering, gorgeous, Spanish-style clubhouse and an elevated, amphitheater-like viewing area for the gallery. While this classic course has a little bit of everything, it is primarily known as a pure ball-striker’s layout with plenty of doglegs that force players to work crisply hit shots around corners with savvy and creativity.

Riviera Country Club opened in 1926. It has hosted The L.A. Open 54 times (now called The Genesis Open) as well as three major championships. Another area of distinction for the course is the grass: Kikuyu. It makes for a wonderful playing surface in the fairways as the sharp blades prop the ball up high and cleanly atop the turf, but in the areas that are not closely mown -- in the rough and around the greens -- the Kikuyu is a bear. It is sticky and gnarly, will allow balls to bury in it, and will grab a clubhead more so than any other type of grass these players will see all year.

But who better to deal with a great test of golf than the best field we’ve seen all season? World No. 1 1 Dustin Johnson is your defending champion, and also in the field are No. 3 and No. 4, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, respectively. Rory McIlroy makes the trip down the coast after missing the cut at Pebble Beach last week. More top-notch European players are in the field too in Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry, Paul Casey and first-timer Tommy Fleetwood. But from a popularity standpoint, none can hold a candle to Tiger Woods. Yes, he’s back for his second appearance in 2018 after a very respectable 23rd three weeks ago at Torrey Pines. Tiger has never won at Riviera, where he made his PGA Tour debut in 1992. While his short game was excellent in San Diego, he’ll need to tidy up his game off the tee if he is going to make another splash this week. Woods is better than 60-1 to win currently at Bookmaker.

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How often do you think @DJohnsonPGA drives it 300+ yards @GenesisOpen?

Watch and learn. 🏌👇

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 14, 2018

The Favorites

Dustin Johnson (+625 Pinnacle): The record speaks for itself here. DJ is a machine at Riviera, notching seven Top-10 finishes in 10 appearances. Last year was his first victory here, and with a win earlier this season at Kapalua and a 2nd last week at Pebble, he looks to have another head of steam coming in.

Jordan Spieth (+3.54 Pinnacle): Still warming up to the new season, Spieth is beginning to put it all together. His putting improved last week in finishing 20th. He’s played here five times with three Top 25s. He was 4th in 2015.

Rory McIlroy (+1354 Pinnacle): Rory’s first-ever appearance at The AT&T last week did not go so well with a missed cut. He comes to The Genesis Open for just the second time after finishing 20th in 2016. He had three rounds in the 60s that year before closing with a disappointing 75.

The Contenders

Phil Mickelson (+2630 Bookmaker): Phil came out prior to this season saying he was extra focused on having a big year, and right now he’s living up to that claim. He was 2nd in Pebble last week and 5th before that in Phoenix. It is the first time he’s put together two straight Top 5s since 2013, the last year he won a tournament. Mickelson is a two-time winner here.

Paul Casey (+3026 Bookmaker): Casey looked his usual sharp self last week, hitting greens in regulation and ball striking his way to a Top 10 finish. He’s only missed one cut here in six trips and took 2nd in 2015.

Tommy Fleetwood (+3317 Bookmaker): Ball striking is the key at Riviera and Fleetwood leads The European Tour in Greens in Regulation. He is coming off of a win and a 6th-place finish on The Euro Tour in January. He has vaulted to No. 13 in the world rankings, and this is his first trip to The Genesis.

The Long Shots

Branden Grace (+5250 Bookmaker): Grace spent his January on The European Tour going 37-15-and-2. He followed that up last week with a 20th at Pebble Beach in his first ever time playing the event. The South African will be plenty familiar with Kikuyu Grass this week, a place at which he finished 22nd in his debut last season.

William McGirt (+10000 5Dimes): If Johnson is not this week’s horse for the course, McGirt certainly is. He is all ball striker and his putting has improved as well. He is 10th on Tour in Scrambling. His last three trips to Riviera have gone 20-14-6.

K.J. Choi (+20000 5Dimes): Maybe the most impressive stat in Choi’s career: He’s played here 17 straight years and hasn’t ever missed a cut. Only once has he finished worse than 35th and he’s put together five Top-10 finishes.

The Pick

I picked DJ here last year too and that turned out just fine, so we'll go with Johnson again. It is tough to play such short odds and it is tough for anybody to repeat as champion, but I don’t know if there is a better choice in the field this week. We mentioned he has seven Top 10s here in 10 tries. How about six of those are Top 5s! He is nearly unstoppable here. What I like the best about this setup is the fact that Ted Potter Jr. did not crack last week, and Johnson was beaten to finish line by Potter at Pebble. Coming up short like that I believe gives DJ a little something extra this week – and that’s about all he needs.

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