Genesis Invitational DFS picks 2023: My expectations for Tiger Woods
If you thought last week’s elevated event was big, it’ll be basically the same field at a major-championship caliber golf course, all while injecting Tiger Woods into the field!
Riviera Country Club is one of the best courses on the schedule, demanding precision from tee through green. The fairways and greens are difficult to hit, so there'll be more of an emphasis on short game this week. (There were only nine courses last year where strokes gained/around the green was more correlated to success, per my RickRunGood.com course regression model.)
For a second straight week we have an elevated field, and now with Will Zalatoris here we have 23 of the top 25 players in the world—it’s only fitting that the stars have shown out in Los Angeles.
Here are the players who have my interest—and those who certainly don’t—this week at the 2023 Genesis Invitational.
Golfers I'm Definitely Playing
Jon Rahm ($11,100 DraftKings | $12,200 FanDuel)
Rahm didn’t have his best stuff in Phoenix, and he was still in contention throughout the entirety of the event. Over the past 36 rounds, Rahm is gaining a staggering 3.01 strokes per round—the most in the field, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Riviera should set up better for him off-the-tee than TPC Scottsdale, and he has the complete game to contend again this week.
Sam Burns ($9,100 DraftKings | $10,600 FanDuel)
Burns is quietly coming off a T-7 at the Phoenix Open and a T-11 at The American Express. His advanced metrics show a well-rounded golfer who can compete in strong fields. He held the lead at this event in 2021 heading into the back nine on Sunday. He faltered and finished third but has racked up four PGA Tour wins since that disappointment.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8,200 DraftKings | $10,100 FanDuel)
Matsuyama never gets enough credit for his around-the-green play, a facet where he’s earned at least two strokes in each of his past five measured starts. His putter has also been great, beating the field in that category in eight of his past nine. In a shocking turn of events, it’s his approach play that has held him back. The hope is that Matsuyama finds his DNA this week and puts it all together.
Wyndham Clark ($7,800 DraftKings | $9,500 FanDuel)
Riviera will reward distance, a solid short game and experience en route to success this week. Clark can check off all three of those boxes! He’s one of the longest hitters on tour and has gained strokes around-the-green in five straight. He has two top-17 finishes in his past three trips to this event and is coming off a T-10 in Phoenix last week.
Adrian Meronk ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,500 FanDuel)
Meronk has been padding his resume on the DP World Tour recently, winning the Australian Open, finishing T-10 in Abu Dhabi and earning a T-4, most recently, at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. He’s a big hitter with an all-around game. He just needs to translate that global success to the PGA Tour, but his skill set should match up to Riviera.
Golfers I Might Play
Justin Thomas ($10,100 DraftKings | $11,600 FanDuel)
We’ve been tracking Thomas for weeks, and he seemed poised for an upturn. His approach play since the U.S. Open has been pedestrian, but he’s gained over seven strokes in his past seven rounds—the rate we would expect from Thomas. He might have the most underrated short game on tour, and he’s no stranger to playing well at Riviera—earning three top 10s in his past five trips.
Tony Finau ($9,500 DraftKings | $11,400 FanDuel)
Finau had a stretch of 10 straight events in which he gained strokes putting, but that came to an end with losses in two straight. Despite the negative flatstick, he still finished T-9 and T-14 in those events. His floor is very high right now, and he has two runner-up finishes in his past five trips to Riviera.
Tyrrell Hatton ($8,100 DraftKings | $9,900 FanDuel)
Hatton’s T-6 in Phoenix was impressive—earning 10.18 strokes in the ball-striking categories, second to only Scottie Scheffler. That makes four top 15s worldwide in his past five starts—all with gains off-the-tee and on approach. This is some of the best golf Hatton has played in quite some time.
Sahith Theegala ($7,800 DraftKings | $9,600 FanDuel)
Riviera is a much more friendly setup to Theegala than TPC Scottsdale. He often plays from the rough, but he’ll have company this week as Riviera features some of the hardest fairways to hit all year. Though still volatile, he’s starting to get a hair more consistent—posting three top-five finishes in his past eight starts.
Sam Ryder ($6,700 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel)
You can sense the confidence growing in Ryder, who earned a T-4 in La Jolla and a T-20 in Phoenix, two stern tests of golf. He’s separating himself from his peers on approach and with the putter, two skills that will be rewarded again this week.
Golfers I'm Fading
Xander Schauffele ($9,900 DraftKings | $11,700 FanDuel)
It’s not fun taking a stand at the top of this stellar field, but it’s a task that we must complete. Schauffele’s short game has left him at times recently, costing him valuable strokes coming down the stretch. When comparing price and skill-set to his peers, he’s the odd man out.
Cameron Young ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,400 FanDuel)
Douglas P. DeFelice
Young finished runner-up at this event last year but has lost his touch on and around the greens since that week. In the last year, he’s lost 0.24 strokes putting per round and has lost 0.09 per round in the short-game categories combined. Of golfers priced $7,700 and greater on DraftKings, only Morikawa’s short game has been worse during that stretch.
Corey Conners ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,600 FanDuel)
Speaking of sour short games, enter Corey Conners. He’s been bleeding strokes back to the field the closer he gets to the green. With the importance of those skills at Riviera, it should be little surprise that he has missed the cut in all three trips to this event.
Tiger Woods ($7,300 DraftKings | $8,900 FanDuel)
It’ll be great to see Tiger play this week but let’s temper any expectations. His last top-35 finish came three years ago, and he’s lost strokes to the field in nine consecutive starts. In fact, the three times we did see him in 2022, he lost more than 18 total strokes to the field. He is priced with peers like Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood, who have been competitive all over the globe. I’ll be thrilled if he plays well, but he won’t be making an appearance in my lineups.
Jhonattan Vegas ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,600 FanDuel)
Vegas has played well in 2023, earning a T-23 in Phoenix and T-25 in La Jolla. Those two golf courses are much better for him than Rivera, which will expose the worst parts of his game. Vegas struggles around-the-greens, and he’s dismal once he gets on the putting surfaces. The path to the top of the leaderboard for him is very narrow.
Riviera Country Club
Pacific Palisades, CA
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.