Genesis Invitational DFS picks 2022: Peak Dustin Johnson might be back
Somehow, this week might even surpass last week’s incredible WM Phoenix Open. We head to one of the best courses on tour, Riviera Country Club, for the 2022 Genesis Invitational—with all top-10 players in the World Rankings slated to be there, in addition to dozens of other stars in this stacked field.
Whoever wins this week will need to be in complete control of their game. These were the second-most difficult fairways to hit on tour last season (only 47.24 percent). And at only 54.17 percent, these greens were the third-most difficult to hit on last season. Riviera will challenge the game’s best in ways they’re not always tested on a weekly basis.
One of the most interesting names this week is Dustin Johnson. We’ve seen him only once on the PGA Tour this season, but his ball-striking numbers were indicative of peak Dustin Johnson. With his insanely good course history, he’s likely to be an incredibly popular play—so the key is finding pivot plays later in your lineups. We’ll help you do that below.
Here are my favorite plays and fades this week at the 2022 Genesis Invitational.
Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Dustin Johnson ($10,200 DraftKings | $11,500 FanDuel)
We are starting to see signs of Johnson returning to his top form. At Torrey Pines, he gained over seven strokes combined between off-the-tee and approach. It’s the first time he’s done that since the 2020 Houston Open, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That, of course, was the week before his dominant Masters victory, so this could be the sign of a return to the winner’s circle for DJ. He followed his Torrey ball-striking clinic with a T-8 on the Asian Tour and now he heads to the friendly confines of Riviera Country Club. In 13 starts since 2009, Johnson has 10 top-10 finishes, including a win in 2017.
Safest Option: Xander Schauffele ($9,900 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)
Schauffele is a top-25 machine at nearly every tour stop, and the Genesis Invitational is no different. In his four trips to the event, he has never finished outside the top 25. He was absolutely sublime with his driver last week, gaining 4.95 strokes off-the-tee. That will be the key to his success this week at Riviera, where the fairways were the second-hardest to hit on tour in 2021.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Cameron Smith ($9,100 DraftKings | $11,100 FanDuel)
I hate to include Smith here, but the top end of this player pool is absolutely stacked. Smith’s results at Riviera are a bit volatile, compared to his peers. His best finish, fourth, came last year and that was the first time in six trips that he had gained strokes off-the-tee. He’s also struggled on Riviera’s putting surfaces, losing strokes in half of his starts. I wouldn’t call these “red flags” but certainly more concerns than the other big names.
Pick To Win: Collin Morikawa ($10,400 DraftKings | $11,700 FanDuel)
Morikawa has gained a combined 41.87 strokes on the field over his last seven starts, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That stretch includes a runner-up finish, a win and four more top fives. Now he goes back to a course where he gained 7.52 strokes on approach last season and requires precision ball-striking on nearly every hole.
$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Sam Burns ($8,700 DraftKings | $10,300 FanDuel)
I’ll be keeping a close eye on Burns this week, who is coming off two straight missed cuts, the first time he’s done that since March 2021. His two recent cuts are both by just one stroke and now he returns to Riviera where he led on Sunday last year—before finishing third. If he can return to form, this is one of the best spots on tour for him.
Safest Option: Adam Scott ($8,200 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
The champion here in 2020 and 2005 has been flashing brilliance in 2022. He earned back-to-back top 10s on the DP World Tour and then finished T-38 last week in Phoenix. That marks seven events in his past eight that he has gained strokes on the field, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Scott’s success at Riviera extends nearly two decades with two wins and nine top 15s in his 13 starts.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Bubba Watson ($8,500 DraftKings | $10,200 FanDuel)
Any potential “fade” of Watson this week has more to do with game theory than anything else. This is a “Bubba Track,” and Watson has hoisted the trophy three times. He will be one of the most popular golfers on the slate and he still plays a volatile style of golf. He’s lost strokes on approach in six of his past 10 starts. To off-set the three wins, Watson has missed the cut or withdrew from this event in 7 of 15 trips. It will be a terrifying name to avoid, but I’d prefer to zag while others zig.
Pick To Win: Sungjae Im ($8,600 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)
Im hasn’t played in two weeks, which feels like two years based on his normal playing schedule. When Im is at his best, this is a perfect set-up for him. He’s gained strokes off-the-tee in every event since the 2021 John Deere Classic – 14 straight. He’s also gained multiple strokes on approach in six of his past 12 events, while gaining multiple strokes around-the-green in five of his last eight. He’s flashing well-rounded brilliance heading into this week.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Tom Hoge ($7,500 DraftKings | $9,200 FanDuel)
We are seeing an emergence from Hoge right now. It’s not only the win at Pebble Beach and the close call last week before finishing T-14. It’s also the runner-up at The American Express and T-4 at the RSM Classic. Over the past 20 rounds, only Hideki Matsuyama has gained more strokes than Hoge (of golfers in this field). He’s on a torrid pace and heading to a course that rewards strong ball-striking.
Safest Option: Paul Casey ($7,600 DraftKings | $7,600 FanDuel)
Four straight starts for Casey have come on the DP World Tour. His two starts this year have been a T-12 in Dubai and a T-24 at the Saudi International. On paper, Riviera should benefit the better ball-strikers, which is great for Casey. In reality, his results here have been … fine. He’s played this event nine times and while he’s made the cut in each of his past eight, he doesn’t have a top-20 finish in his past five starts.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Patrick Reed ($7,400 DraftKings | $9,700 FanDuel)
It’s been a real struggle for Reed, who has been unable to get any real traction in recent months. There are 123 ranked players in this field at the moment, and Reed is 96th in strokes gained/total over the past 50 rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. During that stretch, he’s been the worst ball-striker in the field. He’s losing 1.36 strokes per round between off-the-tee and approach—the only golfer losing more than one stroke per round in that period.
Pick To Win: Thomas Pieters ($7,400 DraftKings | $9,200 FanDuel)
Pieters hit the ground running to start 2022—winning in Abu Dhabi and then following it up with a T-12 in Dubai and a T-24 in Saudi Arabia. We should have seen this coming after his win at the Portugal Masters in November, meaning that he’s won twice in his past five starts worldwide. This will only be his third trip to Riviera and first since 2018, but he did finish T-2 here in 2017.
$6,900 and below
High Upside: James Hahn ($6,500 DraftKings | $7,900 FanDuel)
I guess we’re going to do the James Hahn thing this week! He hasn’t made the cut in two starts this year, but he’s gained strokes in both of them (weird quirk of the course rotations). More importantly, he’s gained two-plus strokes on approach in both, which is generally the path to success for Hahn. Hahn won this event at 200-1 in 2015 and has three top 15s in his past three trips.
Safest Option: Wyndham Clark ($6,500 DraftKings | $7,900 FanDuel)
The last two weeks have been better for Clark than the box scores want to show. He had an MDF at Pebble Beach, which means he “made the cut” but with the amateurs in the field needing to play on Sunday, he was paid out and did not play the final round. Then last week in Phoenix, he missed the cut despite a 68 on Friday, gaining over two strokes on the field. Before that, he had found the weekend in six straight and has finished T-17 and T-8 in his past two trips to Riviera.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Rickie Fowler ($6,600 DraftKings |$8,500 FanDuel)
The concerns continue for Fowler, who has missed the cut in all of his three starts this year. The bigger concern to me is that he’s lost 7.88 strokes putting in four measured rounds. Once his weapon, Fowler’s flat stick has let him down more often than not. It’s hard to back a golfer who doesn’t have the best part of his game.
Pick To Win: Martin Laird ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,500 FanDuel)
Laird checks off the boxes better than most in this price range. Does he have legitimate winning upside? Sure, he won the 2020 Shriners. Is he playing well now? Yes, he’s coming off a T-14 in Phoenix which marks his third top 25 in last four starts. Does he have good course history? Sure, he has three top-11 finishes in the past six years. That’s about all you can ask for from someone at this price.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Rick Gehman, 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.