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Genesis Invitational picks 2024: Sam Burns is primed and ready

February 14, 2024
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 11: Sam Burns of the United States looks on from the 12th hole during the final round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 11, 2024 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

And just like that, the West Coast swing has reached its peak with the Genesis Invitational, the second signature event in the last three weeks. A 70-man field of elites with only a small cut should theoretically increase our chances of bagging a winner.

More from Golf Digest

We could use one, badly. The streak of triple-digit longshots has to stop at some point, right? When looking at the recent list of winners at Riv, all signs point to yes. 

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2024 Genesis Invitational. 

Genesis Invitational picks 2024: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Xander Schauffele (16-1, FanDuel) — Schauffele checks all the boxes this week. Good course history (five career top-15 finishes), in solid form (three top 10s in four starts in 2024) and he’s well-rested, having smartly skipped the s---show that was the WM Phoenix Open. And despite what the haters believe, he has plenty of win equity with seven victories to his name. I like him to get No. 8 this week.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Sam Burns (25-1, Bet365) — After a series of near hits to open the season in La Quinta and Phoenix, Burns gets a chance to make it up to us at RIV, the site of his first public implosion. He was coasting to a win here in 2021 but the back nine Sunday ate him alive. But with the way he drove the ball in Phoenix over the weekend, coupled with his standard productivity with the putter, it’s time for Burns to add win No. 6 to the resume.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Collin Morikawa (18-1, FanDuel) — Morikawa is a great iron player, as we know, and the past two winners at Riviera led the field in approach play that week. He’s also putted well on these tricky greens in each of the past two years and has two top-six finishes to show for it.

Keith Stewart, Read The Line: Sam Burns (25-1, Bet365) — Sam Burns finished third at the 2021 Genesis Invitational. Five events later, he won for the first time on tour at the Valspar Championship. Valspar is a ball-striker’s event just like Genesis. Burns comes into Riviera fresh off three straight top 10s. His 64 to close Sunday and third-place finish in Scottsdale was fueled by an incredible driving week (+6.5 SG/off-the-tee). When Sam drives the ball well, he contends and wins. Especially on a course where he has played well in the past.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Sam Burns (25-1, Bet365) — Burns’ start to the year is one of the best of the elites, with a third-place last week, a 10th at Pebble Beach and a sixth at PGA West. He proved in 2021 he loves Riviera, owning a five-shot lead heading into the weekend before Max Homa caught him. The price seems right for someone with his history and form.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Ludvig Aberg (20-1, DraftKings) — It was between Aberg and Cantlay for me this week and despite the fact Cantlay has great history at Riviera, Aberg is in far better form, and likely would have had a very good chance at winning at Pebble if it went another round. The Young Swede has eaten on this West Coast swing, gaining over nine strokes combined tee-to-green at Torrey and Pebble. Poa is also a favorite putting surface of his, which makes me feel better about his lack of experience at Riv.

Andy Lack, Run Pure Sports and Inside Golf podcast: Justin Thomas (18-1, Bet365) — With five top-12 finishes in a row, it’s no longer a question of whether or not Justin Thomas is back. Yet without a victory since the 2022 PGA Championship, Thomas is more than due to get back in the winner’s circle. Coming off a 12th-place finish in Phoenix where he gained strokes in all four major categories, Thomas now returns to a course where he has recorded four top 10s in nine appearances, including a runner-up in 2019. Riviera remains a glaring hole in Thomas’ resume, and this is as fine an opportunity as ever.

Past results: As successful as last season was for this panel, it’s time to turn the page to 2024, when we plan on cashing just as many, if not more, outright winners. We’re also pleased to welcome our newest expert picker, Keith Stewart of Read The Line, to the panel. Keith replaces the great Rick Gehman, who we’ll miss dearly. Good luck to all. Let’s have a year.

Genesis Invitational picks 2024: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Jason Day (55-1, FanDuel) — Much like my Xander pick, Day checks some key boxes this week. He’s coming in off a sixth-place finish at Pebble Beach, where he gained strokes on approach, tee-to-green, around-the-green and putting. Poa is where the Aussie does some of his best flat-stick work, as evidenced by his ninth-place finish here a year ago when he was +4.3 on the greens.

Mayo: Taylor Moore (110-1, DraftKings) — In the year of the triple-digit winner I suppose we need to take a shot in this range. Moore’s distance is never an issue. It’s usually his irons and putter. Last week he was able to gain almost a stroke per round on approach, however. He gave almost all them back on the greens, which is a problem, but that’s never been the case for him at Riviera. In six career rounds at the Genesis, he’s gained strokes putting in five of them.

Gdula: J.T. Poston (55-1, FanDuel) — Distance is a help for sure at Riviera but isn’t vital by any means. Whenever you can make a case for downplaying driver, Poston is a consideration at this point based on how well he’s golfing.

Stewart: Tom Hoge (125-1, Bet365) — Last week, I watched Tom Hoge hit balls on the practice tee for far longer than I needed to. Within three shots I could appreciate his approach mastery, but I just couldn’t walk away. The 2022 AT&T Pebble Beach winner is back in the same form he used to master the Poa on the Monterey Peninsula. Only Lucas Glover and Scottie Scheffler have better approach numbers than Tom in recent weeks. I’d take the guy that can also putt and cash that seventh straight triple-digit longshot winner on the PGA Tour.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Denny McCarthy (100-1, FanDuel) — I like the way Denny closed the weekend in Phoenix. He had a 14th-place here last year, and I trust Denny’s putting prowess on these undulating Riviera greens.

Powers, Golf Digest: Keegan Bradley (60-1, FanDuel) — During his peak early years, Bradley adored Riviera. He and his old Ryder Cup pal Phil Mickelson famously finished T-2 together here in 2012, losing in an epic playoff to Bill Haas. He followed that up with three consecutive top 20s, including a fourth, but hasn’t produced similar results on the George C. Thomas design since. But Bradley is very much back to his old self and is coming in with good form, finishing top 11 in two of his last three. Great ball-strikers have fared quite well over the years, and Bradley is among the best in that area.

Lack: Will Zalatoris (55-1, FanDuel) — Similar to Thomas, Zalatoris is unquestionably on the precipice of something special. Coming off a 13th-place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open where he gained strokes in all four major categories, Zalatoris should find himself extremely comfortable at Riviera, where he has already recorded two top 15s in four appearances. Last year, Zalatoris finished fourth at this event, gaining over seven strokes ball-striking, and surprisingly, he has putted well at Riviera too. This may be the last time this season that we see a 50 attached to Zalatoris’ name.

Genesis Invitational picks 2024: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Rory McIlroy (10-1, FanDuel) — If anybody can flip the switch, it’s Rory, but those numbers were pretty ugly at Pebble. Particularly with the irons. Riviera is not the spot to try and figure that area out on the fly.

Mayo: Scottie Scheffler (+650, DraftKings) — Too short of a price for Team Can’t Putt.

Gdula: Rory McIlroy (10-1, FanDuel) — I like Scheffler a lot this week and pretty much all of the tier behind Scheffler and McIlroy. Rory’s win equity, per my model, isn’t high enough to consider betting him with a loaded tier in the 14-1 to 20-1 range. This one just comes down to the odds for me.

Stewart: Viktor Hovland (14-1, DraftKings) — Walking with Viktor Hovland at Pebble Beach, something seemed off. The FedEx Cup Champion didn’t have the same special touch that defined his successful summer. A day later and he’s out of the WMPO. Concerns around the Hovland community have me holding off on the superstar. In two starts this season, Viktor has lost significant strokes on approach and around the green. I’m going to wait another week (or two) and look for a reversal before he makes it back on my betting card.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Max Homa (18-1, DraftKings) — He has not looked like Max Homa the past few weeks. I’m sure the Riviera vibes could reignate his game, but he’s a pass for me this week.

Powers, Golf Digest: Collin Morikawa (16-1, DraftKings) — Trying not to fall for any of the California boy narratives this week since it’s never that easy. Also saw him with a medicine ball hanging around his neck for a solid 90 minutes on the range today. Seems like a little too much tinkering for my taste. He’ll probably win now that I’ve tried to squeeze in an on-site observation into this handicap now.

Lack: Viktor Hovland (14-1, FanDuel) — I remain incredibly bullish on Viktor Hovland going forward, yet something is unquestionably off right now with the reigning FedEx Cup champion. Hovland has now lost strokes around the green and on approach in both of his starts this year, and while a week of practice at home may have served well, I’m convinced that a course that requires such demanding middle-to-long iron play and places such a strong emphasis on short game will be the soft landing that Hovland is looking for.

Genesis Invitational picks 2024: Matchups

Caddie: Russell Henley (-120) over Denny McCarthy (DraftKings) — Denny had his best career finish here last year – a 14th place – and he needed to gain nearly seven strokes putting to do it. Would rather lean with the stronger ball-striker here in Henley.

Mayo: Wyndham Clark (+100) over Matt Fitzpatrick (DraftKings) — Not so much anything against Fitz, but after his win a Quail, putting at Pebble and general good history at Riv, Clark may win this thing.

Gdula: Wyndham Clark (-120) over Jason Day (FanDuel) — Clark has generally played well at Riviera, including two top-20 finishes in four starts. Day has missed three of six cuts with just one finish better than T-62. Throw in a tee-to-green edge for Clark over the past 50 rounds, and that’s where I’m siding.

Stewart: Patrick Cantlay (+100) over Viktor Hovland (DraftKings) — Patrick Cantlay has six professional starts at the Genesis and five top-20 finishes. The UCLA alumni has countless rounds at Riviera and claims it as his favorite course on tour. His well-rounded skill set fits perfectly and hence his popularity as an outright prediction. Viktor Hovland needs to get his short game back in order. Since 2024 started, he’s lost an average of 1.5 strokes to the field around the green.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Collin Morikawa (-110) over Max Homa (DraftKings) — Morikawa doesn’t have a win at Riviera like Homa, but he does have a runner-up in 2022 and a sixth place last year. I like the way he’s started his season way more than Homa.

Powers, Golf Digest: Ludvig Aberg (-110) over Adam Scott (DraftKings) — Tough to go against Scotty at Riv, which he loves, but Aberg is my pick to win and he’s contending on a regular basis. I don’t see that stopping this week.

Lack: Patrick Cantlay (+105) over Viktor Hovland (DraftKings) — This is an easy one, as I always love Patrick Cantlay’s chances at Riviera. However, I have considerable questions about the state of Hovland’s game. Cantlay has spoken often about his love for Riviera, and his results back that up as well. In eight appearances at the George C. Thomas design, Cantlay has recorded five top-20 finishes, including a third-place last year.

Matchup Results from the WM Phoenix Open: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Todd (-115) over Eckroat); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Scott (+100) over Cole); Powers: 1 for 1 (Theegala (+100) over Fitzpatrick); Hennessey: 0 for 1; Lack: 0 for 1; Caddie: 0 for 1; Stewart: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Gdula: 5-0-1 (up 4.39 units); Mayo: 5-1-0 (up 3.87 units); Powers: 4-2-0 (up 1.97 units); Hennessey: 3-2-1 (up 0.48 units); Lack 3-3-0 (up 0.26 units); Caddie: 2-3-0 (down 1.34 units); Stewart: 2-4-0 (down 2.14 units)

Genesis Invitational picks 2024: Top 10s

Caddie: Sahith Theegala (+300, DraftKings) — He’s on a heater on this West Coast swing. Might as well ride it out for one final week.

Mayo: Adam Scott (+260, DraftKings) — Third in approach last week as he sneakily shook off a rough start to the event to grind out a T8 finish. That follows up his T20 at Pebble to kick off his PGA season. Obviously, he won this event in 2020 just before the COVID shutdown, but he’s not immune to great results here in other year. Scott’s picked up a total of six Top 10s at RIV in his past nine starts.

Gdula: Adam Scott (+250, FanDuel) — Scott has two career wins at Riviera and is playing really well right now, including gaining distance on the world average golfer, per datagolf, over the past 50 rounds. Everything is pointing toward a good week for Scott.

Stewart: Ludvig Aberg (+200, FanDuel) — Riviera requires you to check off a couple of very significant boxes. First, can you be an elite driver? Ludvig Åberg – check. Can you lead the field in approach from long range? Åberg – check. Can you successfully balance birdie-or-better percentage and bogey avoidance? Ludvig – check. Finally, can you putt Poa annua greens? Ludvig Åberg – check. The Swedish superstar has every skill needed to reach the top of the leaderboard. I’m betting on ball-striking AND the putter to break through the top 10 betting blues at the Genesis.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sahith Theegala (+300, DraftKings) — I love Theegala on this course … I’ll probably on him outright. I know last week must’ve taken an emotional toll, but his creativity and experience on Poa is a great match for Riviera.

Powers, Golf Digest: Max Homa (+190, DraftKings) — I know, I know, I said no Cali narrative plays, but Homa at Riviera is the exception. Been a quiet start to the year for him but if anywhere can fix him it’s this place. He’s going for five consecutive top-10 finishes here this week.

Lack: Xander Schauffele (+150, DraftKings) — Time to stop getting cute here and get back on the board. My numbers suggest that Xander Schauffele remains the most well-rounded player in the field, and Riviera is a golf course that rewards complete tee-to-green play and weakness-free golf. Schauffele possesses power off the tee, is an elite middle-to-long iron player, with a deft touch around the greens, and a tremendous track record on Poa putting surfaces and at Riviera in general. +150 in a 70-man field feels like a gift.

Top-10 results from the WM Phoneix Open: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Sahith Theegala +350); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Sahith Theegala +350); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 2 for 6 (up 4.5 units); Hennessey: 2 for 6 (up 4 units); Mayo: 1 for 6 (down 1.5 units); Powers: 1 for 6 (down 3.1 units); Caddie: 0 for 6 (down 6 units); Stewart: 0 for 6 (down 6 units); Lack: 0 for 6 (down 6 units)

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. 

Keith Stewart is a five-time award-winning PGA professional, a betting contributor for Golf Digest and founder of Read The Line, the premier on-site live golf betting insights service covering the LPGA and PGA TOUR. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter here and raise your golf betting acumen. Keith's winning content can also be found on Sports Grid, Bleacher Report and The Sporting News. Follow him on Twitter @readtheline_.

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 the head of golf content for Run Pure Sports, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for RickRunGood.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports