The Genesis Invitational: Course Notes, Daily Fantasy Golf Picks, Win Simulations, and Best Bets

After a down-to-the-wire, playoff finish last week at the WM Phoenix Open, we're onto another strong field at Riviera for The Genesis Invitational in what is sure to be another elite viewing experience.

Each of the world's top-10 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings are teeing it up in this 120-golfer, invite-only event.

You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.

Course Information and Key Stats
Golfers With Great Course History
Win Simulations
Best Bets
Daily Fantasy Picks

Riviera Country Club Course Info & Key Stats

Par: 71
Distance: 7,322
Average Green Size: 7,500 square feet (large: around 125% of the PGA average)
Green Type: Poa annua
Stimpmeter: N/A
Past 5 Winning Scores: -12, -11, -14, -12, -17
Past 5 Cut Lines: Even, +1, Even, +2, Even
Key Stats: Strokes Gained: Approach, Driving Distance, Strokes Gained: Around the Green, Par 4 Scoring, Course History

This week, we've got large poa greens, a rare surface with small putting splits for virtually everyone on Tour. The fairway and rough is kikuyu, which is another rare option (Torrey Pines also features kikuyu rough).

With cutlines around even par and winning scores around 12-under, we're looking at a tougher setup than most of what we've seen recently. (By the way, the 17-under winner was Dustin Johnson back in 2017, and he dusted the runners-up by 5 shots.)

There's a noticeable de-emphasis on driving accuracy this week, which works because these are some of the hardest-to-hit fairways on Tour and also the least penal.

These greens are hard to hit, as well, and it's hard to putt here! No wonder it plays to the scores that it does.

There is also actually an uptick in wedge play importance. Going back to the kikuyu grass, there's probably an angle to give weight to chipping this week.

Golfers With Great Course/Event History

Past winners in the field include Max Homa (2021), Adam Scott (2005, 2020), Bubba Watson (2014, 2016, 2018), Dustin Johnson (2017), and James Hahn (2015).

The following golfers have at least 8 rounds at Riviera with an adjusted strokes gained average of at least 1.5, via DataGolf: Dustin Johnson (+2.43), Jon Rahm (+2.20), Wyndham Clark (+2.08), Adam Scott (+2.04), Talor Gooch (+1.96), Xander Schauffele (+1.96), Matt Fitzpatrick (+1.83), Rory McIlroy (+1.65), Max Homa (+1.63), Hideki Matsuyama (+1.63), Sergio Garcia (+1.61), and Bubba Watson (+1.55).

Win Simulations

Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuelSalary Win% Top-10% MadeCut% FanDuelSportsbookWinOdds
HaroldVarner III$8,8001.0%12.1%64.4%+10000
Erikvan Rooyen$9,0000.4%6.9%55.6%+9000

Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets

For the first time in ... like a year? ... Jon Rahm (+950) isn't the models' win favorite. It's very close, but Patrick Cantlay (+1200) edges out Rahm in the win simulations. The real tie-breaker is expected course fit. At the odds, Cantlay is the much better betting value, though Rahm is still a positive expected play given the high win probability.

Cam Smith (+2200) is another high-end value, same as Viktor Hovland (+2700) to a lesser degree. With betting value on those four, there isn't much left for anyone else.

Talor Gooch (+5500) has played well here in the past (three straight top-20s) and putts well on poa. He's the only long-shot I'm interested in at early in the week.

I'll wind up with a card featuring Cantlay, Smith, Hovland, and Gooch.

Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for The Genesis Invitational

All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.

Best of the Best

Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,100 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +950) - I know it's tedious to keep playing Rahm, but there's really no reason to avoid it. We could see people move away from him in favor of Patrick Cantlay ($12,000), but Rahm ranked 3rd in strokes gained: tee to green last week as well as 1st off the tee and 11th in approach. He's finished 9th, 17th, and 5th the past three years here.

Cameron Smith ($11,100 | +2200) - Smith's 2022 season includes five top-15 finishes (including a Tournament of Champions win) in six starts. He missed the cut at Waialae after his win at Kapalua. He also finished T4 at the Saudi International. He finished solo fourth at Riviera last year. Smith does everything well enough to top-five here again.

Others to Consider:
Dustin Johnson ($11,500 | +1600) - Owns 10 top-10 finishes in 14 tries at Riviera; ball-striking is there currently.
Sam Burns ($10,300 | +3100) - Hits bombs and might be overlooked after two straight missed cuts.
Talor Gooch ($10,100 | +5500) - Has three top-20 finishes here and 92nd-percentile irons.

Mid-Range Picks

Adam Scott ($9,900 | +4100) - Scott has been a force at Riviera over the long haul and just won here two years go (in addition to a 2005 win). Scott's best putting surface -- by far -- is poa, and that's what he gets this week. Scott returned to the PGA Tour last week with a T38 at the WM Phoenix Open after two DP World Tour top-10s in January.

Cameron Tringale ($9,300 | +8000) - Length is an issue for Tringale, but that hasn't bothered him at Riviera in the past. Tringale has made 9 of 10 cuts at this event with six top-26 results. Tringale has been the definition of boom-or-bust with results of T2, cut, T7, cut, T3, and cut in his past six starts. His 95th-percentile short game should help out at a tough track.

Others to Consider:
Paul Casey ($9,700 | +6000) - He's got 99th-percentile iron play and should gain distance on the field.
Sergio Garcia ($9,700 | +5500) - Distance and overall ball-striking is there; T12 and T24 overseas in 2022 thus far.
Seamus Power ($9,300 | +5500) - Elite bogey avoider due to great tee-to-green numbers.

Low-Salaried Picks

Luke List ($9,000 | +6500) - We have seen mixed results from List at Riviera in the past with two missed cuts in six tries, but the other four results were all top-30s. He hasn't really putted well here (though that's not a surprise). He sits in the 86th percentile in adjusted tee to green play over the past year.

Maverick McNealy ($8,900 | +9000) - McNealy is really settling in with his newfound form that has led to three made cuts in January and February in as many tries. He is one of the best poa putters in the field and rates out in the 67th percentile in adjusted tee to green play even with his modest irons and wedges. He putted well here in his missed cut last year.

Others to Consider:
Harold Varner ($8,800 | +10000) - Hasn't done too well here in the past; overseas win could help capitalize.
Jhonattan Vegas ($8,500 | +13000) - Three straight missed cuts at Riv without much form overall here; nukes it, though.
Wyndham Clark ($7,900 | +21000) - Launches it off the tee and putts extremely well on poa in his 40 rounds; has finished 17th and 8th here in the past.