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Genesis Invitational 2021 experts picks: Our RED-HOT handicappers are all in on Bryson

Cliff Hawkins

Another week, another win. Two of our experts (Brandon Gdula and Rick Gehman) each picked Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach, following up Pat Mayo and Christopher Powers predicting Brooks Koepka’s victory in Phoenix. If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you know our history—going up 225.30 units last season. This panel tends to stay hot once it’s hot. So if you’re reading this column for a first time, welcome—we hope to keep this hot stretch going.

We’re entering a fantastic stretch of great events leading up to the Masters, which is great if you’re a PGA Tour fan—and even better if you’re a bettor. The fields will be stacked like it is this week—providing serious value on players a little bit down the odds board. No, we’re not talking about Dustin Johnson—there’s no value in betting him as this heavy favorite (+550). But a bit further down, you have Bryson DeChambeau at 16-1. That’s a huge discrepancy between the two. Bookmakers are assigning implied odds of 15.38 percent on DJ, compared to just 5.88 percent for Bryson.

Are those numbers right? Well, three of our experts see an opportunity and value with Bryson’s number this week—so they don't think so. Is DJ the most likely to win? Sure … but you can get a serious break on Bryson’s price, which has our experts excited. And we’ve seen what happens recently when there’s a consensus amongst our group, which includes an anonymous tour caddie reporting from the range at Riviera and data scientists Gehman (RickRunGood.com); Mayo (Fantasy National, DraftKings and Mayo Media Network); Gdula (numberFire and FanDuel); and Lee Alldrick (FanShareSports.com).

Read on to see who we like this week at the 2021 Genesis Invitational.

Genesis Invitational 2021 experts picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from Bet365)

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Jon Rahm (12-1) — This is one of the toughest courses on tour, and Jon Rahm has proven his game is suited for these types of courses. Olympia Fields at the BMW? Win. Memorial at Muirfield Village? Another win. He has a T-9 and T-17 the past two years. This is a ball-striker’s course, and Rahm is one of the most prolific in the world. It’s a good price for someone who’s probably right behind DJ as the second-best player in the world right now.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Bryson DeChambeau (16-1) — We know Bryson’s approach game can be hit or miss, but at Riviera, his irons have been on point—gaining more than two strokes on the field. His impressive short game was on display at Winged Foot, and I think this number, plus his decent record here makes Bryson a strong bet.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Bryson DeChambeau (16-1) — DeChambeau does what you should be looking for to fit at Riviera: he’s a great putter (on Poa, too), and he is an elite ball-striker. Bryson’s distance should be key this week even if—surprisingly—the data shows that it’s the short game rather than the driver that separates the field more than you may think, given the reputation of Riviera.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Tony Finau (25-1) — There are few golfers who can compete with the recent form of Tony Finau. He’s earned four top-eight finishes in his past five starts worldwide. There is, of course, the elephant in the room of him failing to capture victory since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. Finau is putting himself in contention too regularly for this winless trend to continue. The most likely place for him to break that trend is at a difficult course where shooting a 70 on Sunday is good enough to win, like it was for Adam Scott last year.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Jon Rahm (12-1) — I’m not overthinking this. Rahm is No. 1 in my model (built using data at Fantasy National)—he just does everything well. We’re used to seeing him in the 9- to 10-1 range lately, and Rahm has such a good history at Torrey—and we know the corollary with both being played on Kikuyu grass. I think the value is there on Rahm.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Bryson DeChambeau (16-1) — It’s legitimately stunning that we’re still getting Bryson DeChambeau in the teens odds-wise. It’s equally stunning that Xander Schauffele is at a shorter number. I’m not a Xander hater, but c’mon now. Bryson has two PGA Tour victories, including a U.S. Open, plus a Euro Tour victory since Schauffele last won. I can see DeChambeau overpowering this place just like he did Winged Foot, and if the putter gets cooking he’ll win by multiple shots. This drift we’re seeing in his odds is based off of … what? One bad week at Augusta? He’s since followed that up with a T-7 at Sentry TOC and a T-18 in Saudi Arabia. I think his game is in fine shape still, and as long as he’s 15-1 or longer going forward, he’ll have my money.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Xander Schauffele (12-1) — I’m not concerned about Schauffele’s inability to close out Phoenix. We know his game is trending in the right direction—ranking 12th in strokes gained/tee to green over the past three months and third for Opportunities Gained, per Fantasy National. He also ranks 13th in our course-suitability ranking, in large part due to his excellent putting on Poa greens.

Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel is HOT once again. After going up 225.30 units last season, we have now correctly predicted the past two winners—from two of our experts each week. Rick Gehman and Brandon Gdula each called Daniel Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. And the previous week, Pat Mayo and Christopher Powers each nailed Brooks Koepka’s win. Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!

On this week's episode of Golf Digest's betting podcast, “Be Right,” Staff Writer Daniel Rapaport join us. Rapaport was on-site at Pebble Beach last week and has a ton of insight on Riviera, so he helps us break down this loaded field and gives us his players to watch at the Genesis Invitational. Please be sure to download the episode and give us a rating and a review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Genesis Invitational 2021 experts picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (odds from Bet365)

Caddie: Bubba Watson (40-1) — So often we see a player build on momentum found on the last day of a tournament. That’s the case with Bubba in Phoenix. He didn’t play exceptionally well until Sunday, when he was lights out. Those vibes will roll through Riviera, and with his three wins here, his confidence will be high. ubba when he’s confident? Watch out.

Mayo: Marc Leishman (50-1) — Don’t look now, but Leishman has begun to look like his old self again. Averaging over four strokes gained on approach in his three events in 2021, the Aussie has quietly started rolling it at an elite level again on the greens. And while he has a mixed history at Riviera, he has plenty of upside. In the past five years, Leishman sports a pair of missed cuts but two top-five finishes, too.

Gdula: Matthew Wolff (70-1) — I mentioned Wolff as someone who should win us money this year in an earlier column at GolfDigest.com, and well, it’s not off to a great start. But he can get right back on track with a win at 80/1. Wolff is in the 94th percentile in driving distance gained among this field over the past 100 rounds on tour, via FantasyNational. My adjusted strokes gained data has him 80th-percentile or better in approach and off-the-tee play, too. He’s bad around the greens, which should matter here, but these odds are a bit long for someone of his caliber.

Gehman: Talor Gooch (140-1) — Gooch enters this week off a missed cut in Phoenix but has notched two top-five finishes this season. One of them was his fifth-place finish at the CJ Cup, an event that produced many familiar faces in this week’s field. This will be the third time that Gooch has competed at Riviera, finishing T-20 in 2018 and T-10 last year. Gooch gains strokes in all four major SG categories, so there’s no obvious hole in his game.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Dylan Frittelli (200-1) — There are a couple sleepers I’m betting each week at fear of missing out. Henrik Norlander (125-1), who I also like this week, and Cameron Davis (80-1). But Frittelli is the more attractive number. People have made the connection to success here and Augusta, and Frittelli had his break out fifth-place finish there in November. The South African is used to playing on the Kikuyu grass here, and he rates out well in my model—ranking third in par-4 scoring in the crucial 450-500-yard range (there are seven par 4s fitting that bill). Your last little bit of fun trivia: Frittelli made the winning putt at 2012 NCAAs to secure the national title for the University of Texas here at Riviera. Talk about great vibes. Frittelli’s upside is much higher than others in this range.

Powers, Golf Digest: Sergio Garcia (66-1) — Riviera is for classy players only, save for a few rare occasions. Sergio Garcia’s iron play, short game and driving are as classy as it comes, and that’s why he’s done so well here historically (two top-four finishes and a 13th). He’s been in good form since his Sanderson victory in the fall, with a T-21 at the CJ Cup and back-to-back top-12s on the European Tour in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. At 41, he’s shown recently that some of his best golf may still be ahead of him, and a win at Riv would only serve as further proof of that notion.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Luke List (150-1) — List has three consecutive top 30s entering this week, including a top 10 at Torrey Pines. There are definitely similarities from Torrey to Riviera, so List is an intriguing name this weke. The big-hitter ranks second in the field in SG/tee to green over the past three months and fifth in Opportunities Gained over the same period. FanShare’s course-suitability ranking places List 16th in this stacked field.

Genesis Invitational 2021 experts picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Justin Thomas (12-1) — I think Justin is excited for the Florida swing to put a rough start to 2021 behind him.

Mayo: Dustin Johnson (+550) — Best player in the field? Yes. Highest probability to actually win this event? Absolutely. Awful odds. Assuredly. Being a +400 favorite at Pebble Beach last week before the WD actually made some sense with that weak field. With this field, +1000 would be more realistic, so you won’t catch me betting half that.

Gdula: Dustin Johnson (+550) — DJ was actually a good value in my betting model last week at +450 at Pebble Beach before withdrawing. He is no longer a good value at +550 in an infinitely tougher field. The odds simply aren’t there even to make you fear missing out on a win, so I won’t be starting my card with Johnson this week.

Gehman: Jordan Spieth (35-1) — I’m enjoying this run from Spieth as much as anyone, but bookmakers are quickly adjusting to one of the most popular golfers on the planet. They are not going to be blindsided by a victory, and his odds are far too short for this caliber of field. There are plenty of positive takeaways from Spieth’s last two starts but playing from out of position off the tee at Riviera is a recipe for disaster.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Dustin Johnson (+550) — As Mayo and Gdula said, this is just unbettable. I expect him to contend, but with this stacked field, the implied odds just do not add up to this number. If he wins, I’ll be happy for him, and I won’t be upset I didn’t bet it.

Powers, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (12-1) — Until he stops A. starting strong and fading on the weekend and/or B. backdoor top-tenning a la Matt Kuchar, I’m not betting him.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (12-1) — There are so many elite players this week—you must really challenge yourself to find a flaw at the top. For me, it’s JT’s strokes gained/putting numbers on Poa: He ranks 109th in this field in that category.

Genesis Invitational 2021 experts picks: Matchups

Caddie: Xander Schauffele (+135) over Dustin Johnson (DraftKings) — These odds for Schauffele are too good to pass up. Xander against anybody at these odds just don’t make sense—even the almighty DJ. Big numbers are possible for anybody at Riviera, DJ included.

Mayo: Collin Morikawa (+106) over Hideki Matsuyama (DraftKings) — It sounds like Morikawa is switching putting strokes this week, but the bonus is that he can’t get any worse. Hideki has the course history on his side, but he’s just been flat in 2021. Nothing is clicking for him. On the other hand, Morikawa has top 10s in both his PGA Tour starts in 2021.

Gdula: Justin Thomas (-112) over Rory McIlroy (FanDuel) — Rory has two straight top-five finishes at Riviera and four straight top-20s, but the recent data shows a slight edge to Thomas in ball-striking and a pretty significant edge in short-game performance.

Gehman: Cameron Davis (+110) over Bubba Watson (DraftKings) — Bubba Watson has won this event three times and oddsmakers know it. They are making you pay the full price for that resume. But the player in this matchup flashing brilliance as of late is Cameron Davis, and we get him with plus odds. He now has four straight starts finishing inside the top 35, including a third-place finish at The American Express and a T-14 last week at Pebble Beach. His game is maturing at a rapid rate—getting plus money almost feels like stealing!

Hennessey: Joaquin Niemann (+100) over Bubba Watson (Bet365) — Niemann has been one of the best players on the PGA Tour in 2021 with two runners-up finishes. Bubba had one good round in Phoenix. And with his course history and popularity, his price is way higher than it should be. I love Joaco here.

Collin Morikawa celebrates after making the final putt on the 18th green at the 2020 PGA Championship.

Sean M. Haffey

Powers: Collin Morikawa (+108) over Viktor Hovland (FanDuel) — Hovland is far too big a favorite here off his runner-up at Farmers. Morikawa, meanwhile, has gone 7th-7th in his last two PGA Tour starts, and I trust his short game a little more at Riv, where you need to be sharp around the greens to save pars.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Cameron Tringale (-111) over Cameron Smith (Betfair) — In his past five events, Tringale has four top-20 finishes, including a seventh and a third. He also loves Riviera—ranking 13th in strokes gained/total here with an eighth-place finish in 2017. Smith on the other hand comes in ranked just 79th for SG/tee to green over the past three months.

Matchup results from the AT&T Pebble Beach: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Matt Jones (+105) over Rickie Fowler); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Ryan Moore (-118) over Branden Grace); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Cameron Davis (-125) over Sam Burns); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Jordan Spieth (-125) over Si Woo Kim); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Daniel Berger (-136) over Paul Casey); Gehman, Powers: 0 for 1.

Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Alldrick: 14-4-0 (up 8.67 units); Hennessey: 10-6-1 (up 3.11 units); Gdula: 10-8-0 (up 1.14 units); Powers: 7-7-4 (down 0.43 units); Mayo: 7-10-1 (down 3.52 units); Caddie: 5-12-2 (down 5.08 units); Gehman: 5-11-2 (down 5.28 units).

Genesis Invitational 2021 experts picks: Top 10 (odds from FanDuel Sportsbook)

Caddie: Matthew Fitzpatrick (+650) — For a player of Fitzpatrick’s stature, these are very nice odds. He’s yet to win over here, but for a top-10, this is definite value.

Mayo: J.B. Holmes (+1800) — Nothing would indicate Holmes will play well this week, but Riviera is just a happy spot for him, regardless of how he’s playing coming in. Weirdly, for an overall awful putter, he has one of the better stokes on these Poa greens over the years.

Cameron Tringale has two top-12 finishes at Riviera in his career, and he's riding good form entering this week.

Sam Greenwood

Gdula: Cameron Tringale (+600) — Tringale rates out in the 75th percentile in adjusted strokes gained/approach since the start of 2020, via my data, and in the 69th percentile in poa putting over a full 100-round sample, per FantasyNational. He has good current form and has played Riviera well in the past, including two top-12 finishes.

Gehman: Collin Morikawa (+280) — Morikawa finished T-26 here last year, but that result doesn’t come close to telling the entire story. He went out in 40 (+4) in his opening nine on Thursday and with the longest active cut streak looming over him, he easily could have waved the white flag. Instead, he grinded back, made the weekend and touched the lead on the back nine on Sunday. He promptly made triple bogey on No. 11 (thanks to five putts) and fell to T-26. He played much better than that result indicates, and his game is much more mature this time around.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Scott (+320) — The Aussie loves it at Riviera—he’s gained more than 47.73 strokes on the field over the past five years here, the same mark as DJ. We saw the game in good shape at Torrey, so you shouldn’t overthink this one.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tony Finau (+200) — I really need to hit on a top 10 soon, so might as well go with ol’ reliable here. Surprisingly, ‘Tone only has one top 10 in six tries here, but I think he gets top-10 No. 2 this week. He is scorching hot right now, with three top 10s in his last four starts, including his fifth runner-up on tour (Torrey) since the 2018 Genesis, when he, you guessed it, finished runner-up.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jordan Spieth (+360) — I expect Spieth’s stretch of stellar play to continue. His game should translate to Riviera—he ranks 11th in SG/tee to green over the past three months, which is crucial at Riviera. Spieth also ranks 22nd in this field in strokes gained/total at Riviera, gaining more than 26.6 strokes overall since 2014, so Spieth’s improved ball-striking will propel him to another good week.

Top-10 results from the AT&T: Everybody: 0 for 1 (three close calls with Kevin Streelman).

Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 6 for 18 (up 20.1 units); Mayo: 2 for 18 (down 3 units); Powers: 1 for 18 (down 4 units); Tour caddie: 2 for 18 (down 12.95 units); Hennessey: 1 for 18 (down 14 units); Alldrick: 0 for 17 (down 17 units); Gdula: 0 for 18 (down 18 units).

Genesis Invitational 2021 experts picks: One and Done selections

Gehman: Rory McIlroy — All signs point to deploying a stud this week. It’s a small field with a large purse (Adam Scott won $1.6 million last year). Bubba Watson winning three times and Adam Scott winning twice are just anecdotes in a larger, more stable course history dynamic. Those who have played well here, historically, tend to continue to play well. With all that being said, Rory McIlroy is on a short list to fire up this week at “The Riv.” He’s earned a top 20 in each of his four career trips with back-to-back top 5s in his last two. With the tour getting deeper constantly, I believe you can start considering McIlroy for use in non-majors.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day.

Hennessey: Tony Finau — JT would’ve been my pick if I still had him left. I’ll use him in some of my OADs. I do also like Tony Finau. He’s got the course form, and you just want him to have a chance come Sunday. He should be in the mix, and if he finishes T-4 for you, it’ll be a good week.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari.

Powers: Hideki Matsuyama — It's hard to back Deki's putter, but he managed to finish fifth here last year while losing nearly four strokes on the greens. He's been pretty meh the last two starts, but he rarely has three consecutive bad starts. We're going to get a sharp Hideki week this week, I can feel it. If he can just make a few putts ...

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day.

By The Numbers:

Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:

0.676 The number of strokes under par the first hole at Riviera played last year. It’s a par 5 that was the fifth-easiest hole on tour in 2020 (out of 738).

0.306 — The number of strokes over par the 15th hole at Riviera played last year. It’s a par 4 that was the 23rd-most difficult hole on tour in 2020 (out of 738).

57 — The number of times that Riviera Country Club has played host to this event.

5 — The number of consecutive bunker shots that Jordan Spieth hit on the 10th hole in the final round in 2019. He made a quadruple-bogey 8 and showed how difficult this little par 4 can be.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.