This article is part of our Yahoo PGA DFS Picks series.
The Genesis Invitational
Pacific Palisades, California
The Riviera Country Club - Par 71 - 7,322 yards
Field - 129 entrants
Purse - $20M
As if back-to-back elevated events with major-esque fields and $20M purses weren't enough to reward golf fans for surviving the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Tiger Woods announced his commitment to play in this week's Genesis Invitational while sending everyone into "move the needle" mode. Now, I might be afraid of needles, but I'm not afraid to fade a $21 Big Cat in his own tournament. Despite the ongoing recovery from attending all four rounds (and a practice sesh) in person at TPC Scottsdale last week, let's dive into a brief assessment of The Riviera Country Club.
Riv's slick poa greens are among the toughest on Tour to hit in regulation, and although the surrounding kikuyu rough might not penalize wayward tee shots as much, it can wreak havoc around the putting surfaces as a proper short game becomes necessary early and often. There are six par-4s that measure between 450-500 yards and all three of Riviera's scorable par-5s fall shy of the 600-yard mark, so expect a majority of approach shots to come from the 150-225 range as mid-long iron play is predominant. Chilly morning temperatures could have the 7,322-yard layout playing slightly longer, but the average winning score over the last seven years has landed right around 14-under despite eight holes lending bogey-or-worse rates north of 20 percent.
Key Stats to Victory
Proximity: 150-225 yards
Par-4: 450-500 efficiency
Yahoo Value Picks
Based on $200 salary cap
Cream of the Crop
Jon Rahm - $50
The Spaniard didn't even have his best ball-striking stuff at the WM Phoenix Open and still landed in Sunday's final group, eventually placing third with four consecutive rounds of 68 or better. Rahm leaned on a hot putter to rank sixth in scrambling and seventh in SG: Putting. He's never finished higher than fifth at Riviera, but over his last 24 measured rounds, Rahm sits second in SG: Off-the-Tee, third in Par-5 Efficiency, fourth in Prox: 150-175 and seventh in Prox: 175-200 yards. Not to sound like a broken record, but he remains much more affordable from a DFS perspective at $50 than he is in the outright betting market.
Justin Thomas - $43
Thomas was wildly under-rostered last week at just 7.8% in Yahoo's $20K Baller contest, but he delivered 101.1 fantasy points while ranking second in SG: Tee-to-Green at TPC Scottsdale. Despite the solo-fourth finish in the desert, Thomas could once again be a candidate for somewhat limited exposure in lineups with so many gamers expected to either reach for one of the three super-elites or favor a slight discount and drop down to the nearby Tony Finau or Max Homa, for example.
Tony Finau - $40
Twice a runner-up at the Genesis, Finau's all-around game has been stellar when examining his last 50 measured rounds. During this stretch of brilliance, he's No. 1 in both SG: T2G and P4: 450-500 Efficiency, second in bogey avoidance and SG: Approach, third in Prox: 175-200 and sixth in scrambling. Most recently, he tied for 14th at the WM Phoenix Open despite struggling with the flat stick.
Sam Burns - $38
Burns ascended into a tie for sixth after playing his final 36 holes in a collective 10-under-par at TPC Scottsdale this past week, where he ranked T3 in scrambling and ninth in SG: Around-the-Green to flash some greenside finesse before heading to The Riviera Country Club where it's ultra-important. Burns has gained strokes across the board in back-to-back starts since The American Express, and his Genesis Invitational resume includes a solo-third here in 2021 when he gained more than six strokes both with his irons and putter.
Tyrrell Hatton - $34
The Englishman finished fourth or better in the WMPO field in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach and driving accuracy on the way to 21 total par-breakers, ultimately posting his first top-10 of the 2022-23 season in just his third start. Hatton is second to none in P4: 450-500 Efficiency and seventh in scrambling over his last 24 measured rounds.
K.H. Lee - $31
Lee's results have plateaued a bit since his top-10s around the turn of the calendar year at THE CJ Cup and the Sentry Tournament of Champions, but he still grades relatively well for me as he resides 17th or better in SG: Around-the-Green, Prox: 150-175, Prox: 175-200 and P3: 175-200 Efficiency over his last 24 rounds. He's gained with both his irons and wedges in five of his last six measured starts, and he's a perfect 4-for-4 in cuts made at the Genesis with three top-30s.
Jason Day - $29
The 35-year-old's resurgence continued in Scottsdale where he secured first-round leader honors before eventually notching a solo-fifth finish. He ended the week ranked fourth in both GIR percentage and scrambling, which resulted in just four total bogeys in 72 holes. Taking a look at his last 24 measured rounds, Day is first in bogey avoidance, fifth in SG: T2G and seventh in P4: 450-500 Efficiency.
Wyndham Clark - $21
Clark was a popular "sleeper" selection last week at the minimum salary, and his rostership could reach even new heights at Riviera with just a $1 bump in price. Known as a bomber off the tee with a capable flat stick, Clark has actually gained with his irons in five of his last six starts as well. Further promoting his potential popularity is the fact that he's finished T8-T17 in two career Genesis Invitational outings.
Alex Smalley - $21
Smalley's short-game issues make him a frightening click in cash-game formats, but his ball-striking upside provides GPP appeal given we saw him gain a combined 10 strokes from tee to green across the AmEx and the Farmers Insurance Open in late January. Surprisingly enough, he posted the fifth-best putting performance of his career during his Riviera CC debut last season, so sparks could fly if Smalley manages to capture that feel again and pair it with the iron play he's capable of this time around.