PGA Hot Picks for The Genesis Invitational 2021

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The PGA Tour stays in California again this week, heading to Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Invitational. The AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach had a rather weak field last week, but many of the Tour’s biggest names return to action this week. Last year, Adam Scott shot 11-under-par, picking up a two-shot victory over the field.

Course Breakdown and Weather
Riviera Country Club is a 7,340-yard, par-71 layout and is consistently one of the most difficult golf courses each year off the tee. Bubba Watson has won here three of the past seven years, showing that length off the tee correlates directly with scoring low. For short hitters to have any chance, they will have to consistently put the ball in the fairway off the tee. The weather this week is expected be sunny for all four days, but once the weekend comes around forecasters are anticipating gusts of wind up to 20 miles per hour.

The Favorites

The No. 1 golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson (+500), is back in action this week for the first time since his win overseas in Saudi Arabia. Johnson won this event back in 2017 and has collected a top-20 finish in each of his starts here since 2013. With his length off the tie and the rest of his game appearing to be in fine shape at the moment, he will no doubt be a contender who is tough to beat.

Rory Mcllroy (+1100), Jon Rahm (+1200), Xander Schauffele (+1200), Justin Thomas (+1200), Patrick Cantlay (+1400), and Bryson DeChambeau (+1600) are right behind Johnson on the oddsboard. Johnson is the only one of the top seven who has collected a win at this event in the past. Thomas was close in 2019 before letting a 54-hole lead slip away with a final round 75.

As tempting as it might be to make the safe play on Johnson to win, the first bet with better value to look at is Patrick Cantlay at +1400. Cantlay has collected a second and a third in his two starts in California this season, more than proving he has found his form. Cantlay finished in fourth place in this event back in 2018, so the course suits his game well.

Brooks Koepka (+2200) and Tony Finau (+2200) are next on the oddsboard. Koepka is fresh off a win in Phoenix, but he has never made any noise in this event in the past. Finau finished second here in 2018 and with the length of this course, it fits right into Finau’s game. However, with Finau’s inability to close out golf tournaments, the safest bet is to take him to collect a top-10 finish.

The Picks: Patrick Cantlay (+1400)
Tony Finau Top 10 Finish (+165)


Best Value Plays

This middle tier of players offers plenty of big names, including defending champion Adam Scott (+2800)!

Other big names such as Collin Morikawa (+2800) and Jordan Spieth (+3300) are also worth noting. Spieth will be a popular pick this week after holding a 54-hole lead in each of the past two events, but his inability to consistently find the fairway off the tee will likely prove to be a huge detriment this week. Because of it, he very well may struggle, so stay away from him.

The first name to look at in this tier is Joaquin Niemann (+4000).

Niemann took second place in both events in Hawaii and this will be the first tournament back on Tour since then. Niemann’s form has been far too solid to be the 15th man on the oddsboard, making Niemann a must bet at this number.

Sticking with players who have been playing really well as of late, Max Homa (+5500) is heading into his hometown, where he finished tied for fifth a year ago. Homa finished tied for seventh at Pebble Beach and was in the mix on Sunday for the third time in this short season. Homa is +425 to collect a top-10 finish, which is the better bet with a loaded field like this due to the potential of a top player running away and hiding with the lead.

The Picks: Joaquin Niemann (+4000)
Max Homa Top-10 Finish (+425)


The Longshots and Other Plays

In this loaded field at this course, there is only one outright longshot bet to place and that is James Hahn (+11000). Hahn recently held the lead on Sunday at the Waste Management Open before Brooks Koepka caught him and squeaked out the win. Hahn was unable to play weekend golf at Pebble Beach last week, but the weekend off might have allowed him to get better prepared for this event that he won back in 2015. Hahn is a boom-or-bust golfer, as his last win (one of only two in his career) coming at the Wells Fargo back in 2016 was followed by eight consecutive missed cuts. Still, there is no reason to overreact to the missed cut last week. At 110-1 James Hahn is worth a small bet.

The first matchup play that is worth a bet is Hideki Matsuyama to finish two or more strokes ahead of Jordan Spieth. As stated earlier, Spieth’s golf game is not suited for Riviera due to his inconsistency off the tee box. Matsuyama has six starts in this event throughout his career, and he has collected four finishes of 11th place or better. Although Matsuyama has not finished better than 19th place in his four starts this season, he has also not finished below 53rd, either. Matsuyama will be happy to return to a comfortable golf course in hopes of collecting his first great finish of the season. Regardless of where he ends up on the final leaderboard, it’s almost certainly going to be two or more strokes better than Spieth because of Spieth’s wildly inconsistent and costly driver.

The Picks: James Hahn (+11000); Hideki Matsuyama -1.5 over Jordan Spieth (-105)


Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.