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Genesis Invitational picks 2023: Why our experts trust Justin Thomas

February 14, 2023
LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 27: Justin Thomas of the United States plays his shot from the fourth tee of the South Course during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on January 27, 2023 in La Jolla, California. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

This week is as good as it gets. Riviera Country Club is one of the best courses on the PGA Tour, and Tiger Woods is back to play at his own event. Now with football behind us, golf betting should be the focus for many gamblers heading into the Masters—and it starts this week.

Lucky for you, you’ve come to one of the best collection of golf minds in the industry. Last week, Brandon Gdula of FanDuel/numberFire hit Scottie Scheffler for his second outright winner of the season. Our experts also went a collective 6-for-7 on their matchup bets. We’re heating up at just the right time.

Our betting panel—which consists of a caddie reporting anonymously from Riviera; Pat Mayo of DraftKings and FantasyNational.com; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Andy Lack of RRG and his Inside Golf Podcast; Gdula and your two authors—tends to run hot once one of us hits an outright. So jump on board and scroll down to read our best bets for the 2023 Genesis Invitational.

Scroll down for our picks at the 2023 Genesis Invitational.

Genesis Invitational picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Collin Morikawa (22-1, BetMGM) — The L.A. kid has been close a number of times already this season. I would look past the MC last week in Arizona. This is Hogan’s Alley, and we’re talking about one of the best iron players of his generation.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Viktor Hovland (25-1, DraftKings) — Per usual, Hovland was submarined by chipping woes in Phoenix. The ball-striking and putting were quite good. Keep that rolling into L.A., and Vik will have a chance to finally break through on the American mainland at a course where he’s finished T-4 and T-5 in two starts.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Rory McIlroy (+950, FanDuel) — ​​Rory never got the putter going last week but was 16th in strokes gained/tee to green. He has been every bit as good as Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler over the past year if not better. He has good form here and is a betting value, via my win simulations.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Jon Rahm (+750, DraftKings) — I rarely choose the favorite, but Rahm leaves me no choice. Statistically, he’s the best player in the field—and it’s not really close. Over the past 36 rounds, he’s gained 3.01 strokes per round, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Only he and Rory (2.70) have gained more than two strokes per round during that stretch. I walked with Rahm’s group for a large portion of his weekend in Phoenix, and it was clear he didn’t have his best stuff. Despite that, he was in the mix throughout and still finished third in the best field of the year. Even if he shows up with his B+ game, he’ll have a chance to win.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Justin Thomas (16-1, BetMGM) — JT looked like old JT with his ball-striking last weekend—he gained more than 8.8 strokes/ball-striking in Phoenix, his best mark since last June. What’s more, for me, is that JT is far and away the best around-the-green player on tour. Look over the past 24, 36 or 50 rounds on FantasyNational, and JT is No. 1. That will be huge at Riviera, where he will finally avenge that collapse in 2019 to fellow Kentuckian J.B. Holmes.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Sungjae Im (30-1, DraftKings) — While Sungjae Im doesn’t have much course history to speak of at Riviera, he remains on an absolute heater and possesses the all-around game needed to win this tournament. With six top-seven finishes in his last 13 events, it’s preposterous he’s still checking in at 30-1 here. As much as I think Jon Rahm or Justin Thomas wins this week, I’d rather make a value play on an elite player like Im.

Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Justin Thomas (16-1, BetMGM) — While the reigning PGA Championship winner remains the No. 1 long-term player in proximity from 150-175, a range where over a quarter of approach shots at Riviera come from, Justin Thomas’ iron play of late hasn’t been up to his usual standards. Yet that is beginning to finally change, as Thomas has now gained over three strokes on approach in back-to-back events for the first time since June. Everything finally seemed to click for him on Sunday in Phoenix—gaining 2.78 strokes on approach in the final round, good for the best out of anyone in the field. Though Thomas has always been known for his iron play, the 15-time PGA Tour winner actually ranks first in this field in SG/around the green over the past 50 rounds. Now he returns to a course where middle-iron play and short game are paramount, and it should not come as a surprise that Thomas already boasts two top-six finishes at this course, including a solo second in 2019. Uncoincidentally, my strongest comp course to Riviera is Southern Hills, the site of Thomas’ last victory.

Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel caught fire at the end of the summer, correctly predicting the winner in five of the final six events of the season. We cooled off a bit during the Fall Swing, though we were able to still pick off one winner at the Houston Open, with Stephen Hennessey and Brandon Gdula each hitting on Tony Finau at 16-1. Gdula just cashed in again at the WM Phoenix Open, hitting on Scottie Scheffler’s title defense at 13-1. Let’s keep it rolling in another elevated event at Riviera.

Genesis Invitational picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Adam Scott (60-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Scotty absolutely loves Riviera. It gives him Australian vibes with the turf and the bunkering. If you’re going to bet him anywhere in 2023, why not here?

Mayo: Si Woo Kim (100-1, DraftKings) — Once the Ricky Bobby of golf, Si Woo has started to develop some consistency the past year. He hasn’t missed a cut since a trip to Scotland last summer and has churned out three top-30 finishes following his win at Sony earlier this year. The new putter has paid instant dividends with Si Woo gaining on the greens in four straight. He also rates out best in the field over the past 24 round in proximity from 150-200 yards, which will be crucial this week, per FantasyNational.com.

Gdula: Keegan Bradley (65-1, FanDuel) — Keegan keeps making sense to target. He’s a great ball-striker with some better-than-average distance, which should matter a lot this week, and with the tough Poa greens, the putting battle is a bit leveled out for this week’s event.

Gehman: Wyndham Clark (80-1, DraftKings) — In terms of course fit, it’s hard to find someone better than Clark. He’s one of the longest players on tour off-the-tee, yet he features a savvy short game—two skills that don’t usually go together. His confidence should be soaring off a T-10 in Phoenix as he’ll look to earn his third top-17 finish in his past four trips to Riviera.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (40-1, BetMGM) — To me, Riviera is a week where you shouldn’t be going purely on data. Feel-wise, Spieth fits Riviera perfectly. He’s a ball-striker and knows where you can’t miss here—same as Augusta National. He might be (very) shaky on the short putts, which could end up costing him, but I trust him to lag these really tough, 30-to-40 foot undulating putts on these George Thomas greens close. If you want to look at the data, well, Spieth just had his best approach performance in more than five years, gaining 8.36 strokes on approach. He was hitting so many shots right at the pin at Phoenix … put him on a classic course, and maybe that putting comes back to his historical baseline.

Powers, Golf Digest: Patrick Rodgers (125-1, BetMGM) — The haters might laugh, but Rodgers has actually played very well here historically, having finished inside the top 30 in five of his last seven trips. Riviera prioritizes what P-Rodge does well, hit it long and straight and run hot with the putter. Coming off his fifth top-15 finish in his last eight starts, confidence should be at an all-time high for the former Stanford Cardinal.

Lack: Shane Lowry (110-1, DraftKings) — This is a pure number grab for me on a player that routinely went off a 35-1 at all of last year’s majors. The 2019 Open Championship winner fits this course to a tee, and remains one of the best long-term middle iron players and bunker players in this field. Critics will point to his poor ball-striking performance in Phoenix, but less than a month ago, he gained 7.2 strokes on approach at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. I expect Lowry to get his PGA Tour season going in the right direction this week in Los Angeles.

Genesis Invitational picks 2023: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Sungjae Im (30-1, DraftKings) — To me, course history matters a lot around here. And Sungjae hasn’t proven to have figured out the riddle that Riviera presents.

Mayo: Xander Schauffele (16-1, DraftKings) — Nothing against Xander, but he’s being priced up against a group of players who are his equal for about 10-15 points deeper.

Gdula: Jordan Spieth (29-1, FanDuel) — I never like rooting against Spieth, and I can see a path to a win for him—but the same can be said for everyone else in his range and shorter. It’s just too steep of a number after he flashed last week.

Gehman: Xander Schauffele (16-1, DraftKings) — Usually well-rounded, Schauffele has struggled more frequently with his short game than many of his similarly priced peers. He faded in Phoenix, losing strokes both around-the-green and putting in each of his final three rounds. If he cannot clean that up in time for Riviera, it’ll cause significantly more issues.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Max Homa (18-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Homa lost 1.6 strokes/off the tee in the final round and almost two strokes on approach over the final two rounds in Phoenix. Those aren’t the types of metrics I want to see in someone who’s sub-20-1 at some books.

Powers, Golf Digest: Patrick Cantlay (22-1, DraftKings) — Cantlay’s equipment-tinkering talk scared me off him last week and he went on to miss the cut, losing strokes tee-to-green and on approach. This seems to be a spot he’s eventually going to win at, but there’s a few too many question marks right now.

Lack: Matt Fitzpatrick (33-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — For the second week in a row, I will be fading Matt Fitzpatrick purely on health. While he was able to piece together a 29th-place finish last week because he led the field in the strokes gained/around the green, something still doesn’t look right with the reigning U.S. Open champion. Fitzpatrick has now lost over a stroke on approach in three straight starts, and of the elite players, he remains far and away the worst middle iron player. Riviera is the type of course that will expose that weakness quickly, and I would be surprised if he makes the weekend in Los Angeles.

Genesis Invitational picks 2023: Matchups

Caddie: Viktor Hovland (-130) over Sungjae Im (DraftKings) — Like I said in my fade of Sungjae above, course history is big here. Viktor has it (two top-five in as many appearances), and Sungjae just doesn’t.

Mayo: Taylor Montgomery (-120) over Adam Hadwin (DraftKings) — This is just a prime course and skills fit over anything I watched last week. Montgomery was horrible, and obviously, Hadwin was quite good. At Riviera, give me the bomber off the tee every time.

Gdula: Viktor Hovland (-110) over Sam Burns (FOXBet) — There’s a big gap between Hovland and Burns over the past 50 rounds in total strokes gained, and it’s even bigger from a tee-to-green standpoint. Hovland’s thrived at Riviera with consecutive top-five finishes, too.

Gehman: Viktor Hovland (-120) over Cameron Young (Bet365) — Hovland has driven the ball much better since getting to the West Coast, and he’s improved his around-the-green play significantly since this time last year. His aggressive approach play has earned him a T-5 and T-4 in his only two trips to Riviera.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Patrick Cantlay (-111) over Collin Morikawa (Bet365) — This should be a perfect get-right spot for Cantlay at a course he’s said is in his top-five in the world. Morikawa loves this place, too, but I think his short game is more likely to cost him strokes here. I’m surprised this number has moved in Morikawa’s direction—I have some sharp friends out in Vegas who hit this at -125, so I’m getting on board at the better number.

Powers, Golf Digest: Patrick Rodgers (+100) over Seamus Power (DraftKings) — Blindly backing Andy’s pick below. I’ve never needed a reason to bet on Patrick Rodgers other than him being Patrick Rodgers, so to see actually smart people on him this week has made me even more confident in him.

Lack: Patrick Rodgers (+100) over Seamus Power (DraftKings) — I almost went with Patrick Rodgers in the longshot category, as that is how high I am on the Stanford product this week. The 33-year-old surprisingly rates out as above average in all of the statistical categories that I am looking at this week, particularly excelling in Poa putting. Coming off a 14th-place finish in Phoenix, where he gained strokes in all four major categories, Rodgers now returns to a course where he has compiled five top-30 finishes in seven appearances, including a 15th in 2019 and a 12th in 2021. Something in that range will surely get me across the finish line against Seamus Power, who has failed to finish better than 64th in two appearances at the iconic Los Angeles venue.

Matchup Results from WM Phoenix Open: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Thomas (+100) over Im); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Fowler (-112) over Lowry); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Hatton (-110) over Lowry); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Im (-134) over Fitzpatrick); Powers: 1 for 1 (Day (-110) over Hatton); Lack: 1 for 1 (Schauffele -120) over Homa); Caddie: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 10-5-0 (up 4.2 units); Gehman: 9-5-1 (up 3.01 units); Lack: 4-2-0 (up 1.7 units); Powers: 8-7-0 (up 0.63 units); Mayo: 7-7-0 (down 0.56 units); Caddie: 6-9-0 (down 3.23 units); Gdula: 4-10-1 (down 6.33 units)

Genesis Invitational picks 2023: Top 10s

Caddie: Tommy Fleetwood (+750, DraftKings) — Fairway Jesus hasn’t had his best stuff to start his season, but he’s one of the best tee-to-green players in this field. He plays his best on tough, classic golf courses—and I expect his game to rise to the occasion.

Mayo: Max Homa (+220, DraftKings) — For the second week in a row, Homa’s odds opened short and went up throughout the week. Seems like the right week to catch those falling odds. He’s cashed top-10 paydays three of the past four years at The RIV, including a win. Plus, he has a win at the closest comp course in Quail Hollow, and lit up Quail during the Presidents Cup last year.

Gdula: Patrick Cantlay (+220, FanDuel) — Cantlay missed the cut last week on the number. He just couldn’t chip in Round 1, and that was the difference for him. We’ve seen signs of life from his driver and irons and putter in 2023—just never all at the same time. He’s got four top-17 finishes at Riviera over his past five starts.

Gehman: Hideki Matsuyama (+400, DraftKings) — It feels like bizarro world, but Matsuyama has gained a ton of strokes in the short game recently while losing to the field in the ball-striking categories. That’s unusual, but his stat profile looks close to a big rebound. If he can gain strokes on approach this week, seemingly a simple feat for Hideki, he should be able to contend.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Scott (+490, FanDuel) — A course history play for me on Adam Scott, who finished T-4 here last year, won here in 2020 and boasts the best SG/total numbers at Riviera in the field, per FantasyNational.com.

Powers, Golf Digest: Collin Morikawa (+210, DraftKings) — Looking at last week’s numbers, we can chalk up Morikawa’s MC to the usual reasons he MCs: poor chipping and a cold putter. Those two areas, particularly the latter, can turn on a dime for him. As long as the ball-striking remains intact, he’s always a threat to contend.

Lack: Patrick Cantlay (+220, FanDuel) — While last week’s MC in Phoenix was disappointing, the Genesis Invitational is the perfect bounce-back spot for the UCLA product. Similar to Thomas and Lowry, Cantlay is one of the most well-rounded players in the game. The World No. 5 is one of only three players in the world to rank top-25 in all four statistical categories. Now he returns to a golf course that he has ranked as his third favorite course in the world, behind only Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, and I expect him to be firmly in the mix come Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Top-10 results from WM Phoenix Open: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Sam Burns +400); Lack: 1 for 1 (Sungjae Im +250); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Justin Thomas +240); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 6 for 15 (up 16.4 units); Gehman: 5 for 15 (up 11.55 units); Lack: 2 for 6 (up 1.7 units); Mayo: 4 for 14 (up 0.9 units); Hennessey: 3 for 15 (up 0.55 units); Caddie: 2 for 15 (down 6.95 units); Powers: 1 for 15 (down 10 units)

Genesis Invitational picks 2023: One and Done

Gehman: Justin Thomas — Thomas is turning the corner and starting to look like himself again. After a ball-striking slump, he’s gained one stroke per round on approach for his past seven measured rounds. That’s right in line with “Elite JT.” His short game is severely underrated, and he’s earned three top 10s in his past five trips to Riviera.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler.

Hennessey: Justin Thomas — I’ll ride with my pick to win here as JT seems to be onto something big.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa.

Powers: Collin Morikawa — The California native finished second here last year and has a pair of top-threes in his last three starts. Let’s go ahead and ignore last week’s missed cut.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.

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.

Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports