The Tour stays in California this week, for The 2018 Genesis Open, which is held at Riviera Country Club, located in Pacific Palisades. This track is a Par 71 that measures in at 7,322 yards long. In the most recent years, bombers have had an advantage here at Riviera. Arguably the best driver on The Tour, Dustin Johnson is the defending champ (-17), leading the field in driving distance during his win (315.3 yard average drive) and four of the last five winners have ranked in the top 20 in driving distance during their given weeks. Each of these golfers also found these smaller greens at a higher rate than most of the field, with three of those five golfers ranking inside the top seven in greens hit.
Most of the par fours and fives can be scored on, but I think par five scoring is the more important stat of the two, as three of the last five golfers, who took home the big check, have finished in the top five in par five scoring in their victories. Now, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at par four scoring. Seven of these 11 par fours are on the longer side and over 450 yards, so I will be trying to find players who play well on these specific length holes. After last week’s top 60 and ties cut line after the third round, we get back to a normal top 70 and ties cut line for this week. Also, this another strong field of players and I think it is a fine week to use your normal amount of bankroll for cash games and GPPs. @Hunta512.
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Rafael Cabrera-Bello: (7,700) Yes, Cabrera-Bello has no course history here, but he is very unpriced for the caliber of player he is. He hasn’t missed a cut in over five months and already has seven top 30s in ten starts this season, if you include his five events overseas. He is a decently long hitter, with a 294.9 yard average drive over the last six weeks and has ranked well in almost every other stat I am targeting for The Genesis. So far this season, he ranks 25th in SGT2G, 18th in strokes gained approaching the green, 4th in greens found, 19th in par five scoring, 5th in par four scoring, 20th in bogeys avoided, and 33rd in BOB%. (via Fantasy National)
People may worry about this being his first attempt at The Genesis, but RCB is a savvy veteran golfer who can really get it done at any course, especially one like Riviera, which I believe fits his game rather well. He is #21 ranked player in the world, but is the 24th highest priced player in this field. Also, his 66/1 odds to win (via Bovada) are rather strong for a player who has never competed at this venue. I think we see him make the cut this weekend and with a handful of chalky plays right around him in this price range, I feel like Cabrera-Bello may come with a decently low ownership in GPPs. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Brandon Harkins: (6,800) As a rookie, this will be Harkins’ first time playing in The Genesis, but his game fits this track perfectly. He is long enough off the tee and his iron play has been great recently. When ranking everyone in this fields last 12 rounds of golf, he ranks 23rd in SGT2G, 33rd in strokes gained on approach, 57th in greens hit, 20th in driving distance, 13th in par five scoring, 8th in par four scoring, 10th in strokes gained putting, and 14th in BOB%. (via Fantasy National) He has been awesome on par fours, ranking in the top ten in par four scoring last week at Pebble Beach, where he finished with a great T15 in his first attempt at the event. Also, so far this season, he has been effective on longer par fours, like the ones he will see this week, ranking 36th in par four efficiency on par fours that land between 450-500 yards.
This is his first full time season on The Tour, but he hasn’t played like a rookie in anyway, making 8/10 cuts, with seven top 25s and two top tens. There is obviously risk involved here, but I think Harkins has a pretty good chance of making the cut at Riviera. He has had an average ownership level of 3.65% in large GPPs over his last eight starts and I don’t expect it to rise much this week. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) Harkins is a true sleeper pick who could really surprise once again this weekend.
Branden Steele: (7,900) Simply put, Steele has been lights out this season. He hasn’t missed a single cut, has four top 20s, a win at The Safeway Open, and hasn’t finished worse than T29 in six starts. In this current form, he fits this course like a glove, ranking 9th in SGT2G, 16th in strokes gained on approach, 9th in greens hit, 6th in driving distance, 8th in par four scoring, 25th in par five scoring, 46th in strokes gained putting, 35th in bogeys avoided, and 9th BOB% over his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) Furthermore, he has been a beast on par fours between 450-500 yards, ranking 4th in par four efficiency on holes of this length during this span. (via Fantasy National)
To top it all off, he is 6/7 in made cuts here at Riveria, with his only MC coming in his debut at the course back in 2011. He has 50/1 odds to pick up a win and is one of the safer bets to make the cut in my opinion. He is an excellent play in all formats and even though his ownership might not be super low (13-16% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), it could end up being lower than expected with the very likely chalky play in Chez Reavie priced right above him. (17-20% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Also Consider: Charl Schwartzel (4/5 here, including two top tens), Bryson DeChambeau (the WD here last year should keep his ownership low, 2-4% via Fantasy Labs, and I think his game suits this course), Kevin Chappell, Martin Kaymer (will go overlooked with this being his first start here), Adam Hadwin (3/3 here and ten made cuts), Bud Cauley (eight straight made cuts before his MC at The Waste Management), and Hao-Tong Li. (moved up 25 spots in the world golf rankings after his win at The Dubai Desert Classic. He is long enough and his irons can get hot. For sure, he will be low ownded in all GPPs this weekend)