The last stop on the West Coast swing and generally the best one as well. The Genesis Open (formerly the Northern Trust Open) always draws a strong field and this year is no different. From the top ten players in the world only two are not here this week (Stenson and McIlroy). If you hated the slow rounds and hard to predict rotations from last week rejoice! This tournament is played on one course—Riviera—and one that’s generally very well liked by the players.
Riviera is a par 71 layout that plays fairly long at over 7300 yards and is usually rated as one of the tougher courses on tour year in year out. Bonuses like eagles and birdie streaks from your picks will be hard to come by this week on DraftKings so don’t expect a huge week of fantasy scoring.
Important Genesis Open Notes
Bombers Delight: A lot like Torrey Pines a few weeks ago, Riviera is a course that has really been handled the past three or four years by bombers. Seeing the likes of Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson near the top of the leaderboard every year is our first sure-fire sign that length off the tee matters this week but the stats bear this out as well. Seven of the top ten golfers from 2015 ranked in the top 25 for Driving Distance for the week of the tournament that year, and at last year’s tournament—from the top five—only KJ Choi averaged less than 295 yards off the tee for the year in 2016. While Riviera is a long par 71 that comes in at over 7300 yards, it can be outmuscled by big hitters as we’ve seen here and should mean players with lots of length carry a little more upside here for DFS as well.
Recent Form: Last year was a great example of how this course rewards players in good form. Of players who finished inside the top five last year only Marc Leishman had missed a cut in his previous start. To go one step further as well, of the past six winners of this event the worst a player has finished in their previous start before winning here was 29th. Riviera hasn’t been a place where players suddenly “find their games” and as the sort main event of the West Coast swing, emphasizing players who have performed well at the previous few events is not a bad idea.
Dustin Johnson ($11,400): Hard to argue with Dustin at all this week. Some point to Pebble Beach as his favorite course but this venue might actually suit him better. He’s finished 4th or better in four of the past five years. As well as Spieth is playing this is a much different venue and tournament than the one he won last week. The longer course and shorter rounds favour Dustin and for the price difference between them I would happily roster DJ as my main cornerstone in any lineup.
Jason Day ($10,000): The other player who I’ll find it almost impossible to ignore this week is Jason Day. Day only finished a stroke behind DJ last week but saw his price drop down $1,600, to the point where he is now the fifth most expensive golfer on DraftKings. Day had three very good rounds last week and looks on the verge of throwing down the hammer soon. His course history looks bad but he hasn’t played here since 2012, and don’t forget that he was able to overcome bad history at the Players and the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year too for big wins. This could be déjà vu in that regards.
Sergio Garcia ($9,300): See my write-up on him below in gpp section. Deserves to be included in top plays for the week as well.
Paul Casey ($8,600): Casey is grouped with a bundle of very good quality players this week but he still sticks out to me as the best option. He started 2017 fairly slowly but I really like the fact he was in contention at the Farmers a few weeks ago, a course he’d never challenged at previously. Casey brings great course history to this event and also a tee to green game which is amoung the best in the world right now. He’s my favorite from the 8k range which is littered with great players.
Others: Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker
Marc Leishman ($7,600): Leishman has been disturbing consistently so far in 2017 by putting out finishes of T20-T20-T24 on the year in three starts. He’s really just been one round away from a bigger week and was in contention until late on the back nine here in 2016. Averaging over 300 yards off the tee thus far in 2017 and just a general all-around great player whose consistency can go overlooked in a talented field like this. A big week would not shock me here as he’s looked on the cusp thus far in 2017 and at $7,600 he sticks out to me as a little too cheap in DraftKings soft pricing.
Seung-Yul Noh ($7,400): He’s easy to overlook this week due to the pricing on others in his range but still sticks out to me as a fine play. Noh has never finished worse than 22nd at Riviera on three tries and is coming off an eighth last week. Perhaps more of a tournament play but it’s hard to ignore such a good course history, especially when a player is coming off of two made cuts and his best finish (8th) in 2017. Averaging over 300 yards off the tee in 2017 thus far too, which is five more than his average from 2016 so its possible the added length might factor into his best finish yet at this event.
JB Holmes ($7,100): Another player who is rounding into form and looks on the brink of a top ten or better is JB Holmes. Holmes found his groove late last week and was second in the field in strokes gained: tee to green, and on approaches, through the final two rounds. He’s made nine of ten cuts at this event and has six finishes of 12th or better in that span. A wet course that plays longer than usual should play directly in his favour as well.
Kyle Stanley ($6,800): Stanley is definitely shaping up as a great value and sleeper play this week, so much so that I might even prefer him over the also very strong, very cheap Tony Finau (who I also included in my list of playables below). Stanley is 11th in strokes gained: tee to green on tour thus far and 3rd in greens in regulation hit. He’s made six of seven cuts on tour since the swing season and is trending to a big week here on a course that should suit his game—which is really all about ball striking. Another player who is averaging over 300 yards off the tee thus far in 2017 as well.
Others: Tony Finau, Camillo Villegas, Adam Hadwin
High-Upside GPP Pivot Picks
Sergio Garcia ($9,300): Outside of Jordan Spieth you could argue that Sergio Garcia is the second best option in this field given his mix of recent form and course history. Garcia won two weeks ago over in Dubai and also has a nice history at Riviera. He was the leader down the stretch in 2015 and has two 4th place finishes here over the span of his last four starts. Given the cheap pricing on some players below him, he should be well under-owned given how well he sets up for the week.
Byeong-Hun An ($8,200): An would likely be a hotter commodity this week if he hadn’t imploded so dramatically on Sunday in Phoenix. His price jump puts him in a range with some other very popular players however meaning that it’s quite likely he’ll be in a very small number of lineups this week. This is An’s first visit to Riviera but he’s big off the tee and has taken down a quality field like this before, on an older course like this before, back in 2015 at the BMW PGA Championship.
Ollie Schniederjans ($6,900): Four straight made cuts to start the year and three finishes of T27 or better. Averaging over 300 yards per drive thus far in 2016 and should also find this longer/tougher track more to his liking, much like he did at Torrey Pines. A great swerve off of the numerous popular plays in his range this week.
Others: Brian Harman, Kevin Chappell, Graham DeLaet
Players to Consider (in no order):
– Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Marc Leishman, Seung-Yul Noh, Kyle Stanley, JB Holmes, Tony Finau, Adam Hadwin, Brandt Snedeker
– Byeong-Hun An, Ollie Schniederjans, Brian Harman, Camillo Villegas, Kevin Chappell, Graham DeLaet
Good luck with your DraftKings picks and lineups this week for the Genesis Open!