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Genesis Invitational 2022 picks: Our expert's simulations reveal the wrong player is the favorite

February 16, 2022
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Another week, another winner in the Golf Digest expert picks column. With Christopher Powers cashing his Scottie Scheffler (29-1) bet at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, we’ve now correctly picked five winners in the first 16 events of the 2021-’22 PGA Tour season (not including the Hero World Challenge). Not a bad start to the year, but we’ll keep the hot streak going.

That starts with hitting another winner this week at Riviera, home of the Genesis Invitational, the first post-NFL event of this golf season. The field is loaded, as it always is at Riv, with all 10 of the top-10 players in the World Rankings teeing it up.

The 11th-ranked player, Cameron Smith, is also in the field, as is Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Sam Burns, Tony Finau …. OK, you get the point. There are a lot of guys to choose from on the betting board this week, and our experts are pretty divided on who to start your cards with.

Our panel—which consists of an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire and FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports and these two authors—is motivated to keep our hot streak going.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 Genesis Invitational.

Genesis Invitational 2022 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Justin Thomas (16-1, BetMGM) — He was my pick last week, and he hit it well. A warm putter, and he’ll capitalize on this consistent play with a win. Often, guys that struggle putting get a couple to bounce in on greens like at Riviera. Maybe that’ll happen with JT.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Rory McIlroy (20-1, DraftKings) — Rory has drifted as high as 23-1 … that’s the kind of number where we love betting Rory. He’s been overseas and a little out of sight, out of mind—so we’re getting a nice number. He missed the cut here in 2021 but had top-five finishes in the previous two years.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Patrick Cantlay (12-1, FanDuel) — I usually stay away from betting favorites, but Cantlay isn’t the favorite. However, he is just as likely to win this event as Jon Rahm in my simulation model yet has much better odds. There’s significant value on Cantlay, who has been great at Riviera in the past, too.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Collin Morikawa (18-1, DraftKings) — Riviera is a tough test, forcing golfers to rely on their ball-striking. These are the second-most difficult fairways to hit on tour and the third-most difficult greens to hit. That should benefit the best ball-striker on the planet, Collin Morikawa. He laid the blueprint by gaining 7.5 strokes on approach at this event last year, the second-best mark in the field. Now it’s time for him to add another trophy to his mantle.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Xander Schauffele (26-1, Bet365) — Xander gained the most strokes tee to green (13.2) last week at Scottsdale, and that should bode well at Riviera. Now, we have a fair outright number on him at a course where he’s gained the fourth-most strokes compared to the field in his four appearances, leading to four top-25s (including three top-15s). He’s also eighth in this field SG/putting on Poa greens in California, so if he can just be a neutral on the greens, he should contend again.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Dustin Johnson (16-1, DraftKings) — On no planet should DJ be double the odds of Jon Rahm at Riviera, where in 14 career starts his record reads: WIN (2017); 10 top 10s; two runner-ups. He owns this course, and he played very well in Saudi (T-8) and had an elite tee-to-green week at Torrey Pines, where he finished T-25 due to a balky putter.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jon Rahm (10-1, PointsBet) — Rahm has been awesome these last few weeks tee to green, but he just can’t seem to make a putt. A return to Poa greens might make all the difference. He ranks fourth in the field for SG/putting on fast, Poa over the past two years. His solid off-the-tee game also means he ranks first in FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking this week.

Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, with Christopher Powers nailing Scottie Scheffler’s win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 29-1. A few weeks earlier, Pat Mayo correctly predicted Luke List’s victory at Torrey Pines at 70-1 in our “Sleepers/Dark Horses” section. Rick Gehman also hit Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship in the fall, as well as Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.

Genesis Invitational 2022 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Bubba Watson (45-1, DraftKings) — Seems like Bubba and his ex-caddie Teddy Scott are each separately finding success after their break-up. Teddy got his win last week with Scottie Scheffler, so maybe now it’s Bubba’s turn at one of his favorite courses.

Mayo: Tony Finau (50-1, DraftKings) — Finau’s ball-striking was back in a big way on Friday in Phoenix—he gained 1.5 strokes off the tee and on approach Friday alone. It wasn’t enough to make the cut, but he returns to a course he loves with his ball-striking back.

Gdula: Maverick McNealy (90-1, FanDuel) — McNealy keeps lingering. He is long off the tee, and he putts well on Poa. He’ll need to bring the irons, but it’s a good overall setup for him … and you’re getting him at a much better number than many people bet him at two weeks ago at Pebble.

Gehman: Wyndham Clark (200-1, DraftKings) — Clark has gained strokes on the field in six consecutive starts, a feat that he’s only done one other time in his career, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. His best finish during that stretch was a 13th-place finish at the American Express. He’s played the Genesis Invitational each of the last two years and has earned a T-17 and T-8 in those starts.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Matt Fitzpatrick (41-1, Bet365) — We expect Riviera to play firm and fast, which means it’ll be tough. And those are the conditions Fitz thrives in. He’s coming off two straight top-10 finishes, gaining at least two strokes on approach at Pebble and TPC Scottsdale. Fitz was in the final group here last year … he should be feeling confident about making this spot his first PGA Tour victory.

Powers, Golf Digest: Joaquin Niemann (60-1, DraftKings) — Niemann was at similar odds in a similarly strong field at Torrey Pines, and he tied for sixth. I was stunned to see him this high again off that good of a performance. Don’t forget, he was T-2 in the Genesis after 36 holes a year ago, only to blow up on a windy Saturday. He can absolutely contend against this elite field, and he’s definitely hungry. He was a couple bounces away from winning three times on tour a season ago.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Thomas Pieters (80-1, PointsBet) — Pieters has finished top 16 in all five of his past five events, which includes two victories. His power hitting will absolutely suit Riviera, and we have him ranked 12th in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking this week. His suitability for this course can be seen in his second-place finish here in 2017.

Genesis Invitational 2022 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Jon Rahm (10-1, PointsBet) — I’m predicting a finish outside the top 10, and Rahm’s first over-par round in seven months. He is so good and so consistent, but even Tiger struggled here at Riv.

Mayo: Patrick Cantlay (10-1, DraftKings) — Why would you bet Cantlay at this number when you can get elites like Morikawa and Rory at nearly double the odds?

Gdula: Collin Morikawa (17-1, FanDuel) — It’s really hard to settle on a fade this week because of the star power. For me, Morikawa’s lack of distance is the deciding factor here. He’s striped his irons at Riviera in the past but hasn’t been able to figure it out totally yet (T-26 and T-43). The odds should be longer given the course fit.

Gehman: Scottie Scheffler (22-1, DraftKings) — It’s not easy to fade Scheffler, who just notched his first victory last week, outdueling Patrick Cantlay in a playoff. However, I believe the fade is warranted from two angles. First, the eye test. We know it’s hard to back up a breakthrough victory with another good week right after. Secondly, of all the golfers at the top of this board, Scheffler has the worst history at Riviera. It’s not bad, it’s just not as good as his peers. In three trips he is gaining 0.27 strokes per round and a T-20 is his best finish.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Patrick Cantlay (10-1, DraftKings) — Doesn’t Cantlay have to be tired after contending in his last three starts? You’ll hear the UCLA narrative with him this week, but he only has one top-10 here in six appearances. You can make the case for most of these guys at the top of the odds board … but the number is short with Cantlay, and I think he might be tapped out.

Powers, Golf Digest: Scottie Scheffler (22-1, DraftKings) — This one pains me, as Scottie is my first winner in this column in 2022, and the manner in which he won was nothing short of incredible. I just don’t think he’s winning in consecutive weeks in these two marquee events. If he does, Go Scottie Go.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Collin Morikawa (17-1, FanDuel) — I have question marks surrounding his putting on fast, Poa greens. Historically he loses 1.3 shots per round with the putter over the past two years.

Genesis Invitational 2022 picks: Matchups

Caddie: Bubba Watson (+100) over Adam Scott (DraftKings) — I know Adam has had plenty of success here, but so has Bubba – and like I said above, Bubba seems to be knocking on the door for another win.

Mayo: Tony Finau (+100) over Max Homa (DraftKings) — Homa’s irons cooled off big time on Sunday, whereas Finau’s approach play was stellar in his final round.

Gdula: Sergio Garcia (-102) over Joaquin Niemann (FanDuel) — Garcia has the edge in course knowledge and recent ball-striking but is the underdog in this matchup.

Gehman: Rory McIlroy (+105) over Hideki Matsuyama (DraftKings) — It’s a little jarring to see Matsuyama as this large of a favorite over McIlroy. Maybe it’s “out of sight, out of mind” for McIlroy who has played his last four events on the DP World Tour, most recently finishing third at the Dubai Desert Classic. McIlroy should be able lean into his main weapon, the driver, this week at Riviera. In five previous trips to this event, he has four top-20 finishes and two top-five finishes.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (-125) over Brooks Koepka (Caesars Sportsbook) — Most would be tempted by Koepka at plus money coming off the close call in Phoenix. But he gained more than six strokes putting last week. I’ll choose to trust the larger sample size, which favors Burns. Add in the success Burns had here last year, and Koepka’s lack of success here, and I think this is a good bet.

Powers, Golf Digest: Matt Fitzpatrick (-120) over Sam Burns (DraftKings) — This line is talking to me. “How could you bet against one of the hottest golfers on the planet, Sam Burns, who was 12 under after 36 holes at Riviera?” you may be asking. Well, Burns has cooled off considerably of late, while Fitzpatrick is trending in a very good direction with consecutive top 10s. Fitzy is live to win this week, while Burns is trying to avoid three straight MC hammers.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Will Zalatoris (-120) over Brooks Koepka (Bet365) — Historically Koepka loses 0.2 shots per round here at Riviera to this field. He also loses 0.2 shots per round to this field when putting on fast Poa greens. Zalatoris, on the other hand, gains 0.8 shots per round on this surface and his form has been excellent, ranking fourth in the field this week for SG/total over the past two months.

Matchup Results from the Waste Management Phoenix Open: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Scheffler (-110) over Schauffele); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Homa (-110) over McCarthy); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Cantlay (-105) over Hovland); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Gooch (-111) over Ancer); Powers: 1 for 1 (Ancer (+100) over Varner III); Gehman: VOID (Simpson W/D); Alldrick: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 12-2-2 (up 9.26 units); Powers: 11-4-1 (up 6.75 units); Caddie: 9-6-1 (up 2.62 units); Hennessey: 7-8-1 (down 3.71 units); Alldrick: 5-10-1 (down 5.82 units); Gdula: 6-10-0 (down 4.37 units); Gehman: 3-10-3 (down 7.49 units)

Genesis Invitational 2022 picks: Top 10s

Caddie: Sam Burns (+410, FanDuel) — He’s going to be angry, and likely beat a bunch of balls, after missing a rare cut last week in Phoenix. Look for him to come out strong with a pulse on getting some momentum back before the Florida swing.

Mayo: Robert McIntyre (+800, DraftKings) — Lefties at Riviera are one of the narratives this week, as is crossover success at Augusta National and Riviera. The Scot checks both of those boxes.

Gdula: Cameron Smith (+240, FanDuel) — Smith’s long-term form when adjusted for field strength and recency puts him behind only Rahm and Cantlay in the field. His odds are too long for how well he’s playing.

Gehman: Thomas Pieters (+500, DraftKings) — Pieters has been impressive in 2022, winning in Abu Dhabi and earning two more top-25 finishes on the DP World Tour. That victory made it two trophies in his last five starts worldwide. He’s only played at Riviera twice, highlighted by his T-2 in 2017. This is a case of decent course history with a golfer who is playing his best golf in quite some time.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Will Zalatoris (+320, Bet365) — Willy Z finished T-15 in his debut here last year and nearly won in his last start on Poa greens at Torrey. We know he thrives on tough, major-type layouts, so if he’s feeling OK post-Covid, I’d expect him to be a factor yet again.

Powers, Golf Digest: Adam Scott (+350, DraftKings) — Scott’s course history is impossible to ignore and he’s not that far removed from a top-five at the CJ Cup and a playoff loss at Wyndham this past August. Last week was his first PGA Tour start since the RSM in November, and he played fine, just cracking the top 40. I like the idea of that being a little tuneup for the big show at one of his favorite courses this week.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Adam Scott (+350, DraftKings) — Scott is a course specialist at Riviera. Amazingly, he ranks first in the field this week for SG/putting on fast, Poa greens over the past two years. It’s not surprising then to see that along with his excellent long game, Scott ranks third in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking this week. Scott’s form is also solid, having posted three top-10 finishes in his past six worldwide events.

Top-10 results from the Waste Management Phoenix Open: Everybody: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 5 for 16 (up 16.75 units); Alldrick: 3 for 16 (up 9 units); Gehman: 4 for 16 (up 4.7 units); Mayo: 2 for 16 (up 0.45 units); Hennessey: 4 for 16 (down 0.53 units); Caddie: 4 for 16 (down 5.15 units); Gdula: 1 for 16 (down 12.6 units)

Genesis Invitational 2022 picks: One and Done

Gehman: Xander Schauffele —
Schauffele is fresh off a T-3 in Phoenix where he missed the playoff by a single shot. That was his best finish since his Olympics victory and he showed some encouraging signs. He was excellent off-the-tee, gaining 4.95 strokes on the field—his second-best total in the last year. He gained another 4.16 strokes on approach and actually lost strokes with the flat stick. The latter is unlikely to happen often, and Schauffele is likely to contend again this week.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler. Sentry TOC: Sungjae Im. Sony Open: Corey Conners. American Express: Talor Gooch. Farmers Insurance Open: Tony Finau. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Daniel Berger. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland.

Hennessey: Will Zalatoris — I’m rolling with Willy Z, who just finished T-2 out in California and has said he loves playing on Poa. With the correlations between Augusta and Riviera and his runner-up at the 2020 Masters, I expect another top finish from him.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Marc Leishman. American Express: Sungjae Im. Farmers Insurance Open: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Lanto Griffin. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Viktor Hovland.

Powers: Adam Scott — The only other time I’d use Scott is in a major, and as much as I’d love to see him nab one more, it’s going to be tough against some of these young superstars who are winning the big ones earlier and earlier in their careers now. Play him here at one of his favorite tracks, Riviera, where he won in 2020 and finished runner-up in 2016.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Daniel Berger. Sony Open: Kevin Na. American Express: Seamus Power. Farmers Insurance Open: Luke List. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Cameron Tringale. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Bubba Watson.

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) was nominated as the 2021 Golf Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writing Association, having won the 2020 FSWA 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 in 2020. He was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year) and is a finalist again for the Podcast of the Year for 2021. His 23 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, was nominated for the 2021 FSWA Podcast of the Year and won 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula (@Gdula13) 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.