Genesis Invitational – Riviera Country Club

2024 PGA Tour

The PGA Tour moves on from what was a shambolic Phoenix Open to the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.

2024 US PGA Tour

Genesis Invitational

Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, California

15-18 February

Sahith Theegala at Sanderson Farms Championship (Pic – EPA/Erik S. Lesser)

It seems like the Phoenix Open was a ticking time-bomb. The frat-boy, spring-break atmosphere that has become synonymous with TPC Scottsdale boiled over into farcical scenes last weekend, with public urination and full-on brawls the order of the day.

You know that you have overstepped the mark when Zach Johnson – the most Zen figure in American golf – steps in to reprimand the crowd.

Honestly, is it going to take a death for the PGA Tour to see that this isn’t the way forward?

To be fair, they did suspend the sale of alcohol beyond a certain point on the weekend.

But the damage was done, and perhaps the reputation of the event was permanently tarnished this week.

They are desperate to compete with all the garish trimmings of LIV, but there surely has to be a better way than resorting to a week-long hazing ritual.

Genesis Invitational

The tour moves from Arizona to California for the latest edition of the Genesis Invitational. This event was first staged way back in 1926 and was originally known as the Los Angeles Open.

Riviera has hosted this event on a near continuous basis since 1973 and it remains one of the most beloved, iconic courses on the tour. This tournament has always attracted a stellar field and that will only be exacerbated by its new Signature Event status.

Also, this week marks the return to action of a certain Tiger Woods. Woods actually made his PGA Tour debut here as a 16-year-old and he is still yet to taste victory at Riviera.

In fact, this is the PGA Tour event he has played the most times without emerging victorious.

Interestingly, the last two winners of this event – Jaquin Niemann and Jon Rahm – now ply their trade on the LIV Tour.

Riviera Country Club

Designed by George C. Thomas Jr, Riviera is an iconic layout that has hosted two PGA Championships and one US Open. This 7322-yard par 71 is a real throwback in this era of target golf.

It is a tough, tree-lined test that is regularly ranked as one of the most demanding courses on the entire tour.

The scoring average has been over par in 13 of the last 14 years. Riviera can’t simply be overpowered, and the multiple doglegs require some shot-shaping. The tight, Kikuyu fairways and penal rough require surgical precision.

But the real challenge comes in finding these tricky Poa Annua greens. Players need to attack the pins from the right portion of these Kikuyu fairways. Furthermore, steep runoff areas will penalize wayward irons, putting an emphasis on strong scrambling.

This actually has strong Augusta vibes. 13 different Masters Champions have won 23 of the 60 renewals here, with Jon Rahm capturing both titles last season.

The tight Kikuyu fairways and Poa Annua greens also correlate well with Torrey Pines (so have a quick glance at recent form at the Farmers Insurance Open).

The Contenders

World No.1 Scottie Scheffler is knocking on the door of a win this year and he makes a very compelling favourite this week. He flirted with a threepeat last week and his solid tee-to-green game makes him a great candidate around Riviera.

Rory was really poor at Pebble Beach and he will be desperate for an improved performance as the tour approaches some pivotal early events.

Reigning FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland has struggled to find his rhythm this year and he could also do with a solid outing.

The likes of Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas will always attract attention while 2021 champ Max Homa will look to bounce back following an uncharacteristic missed cut at the Phoenix Open.

This year’s PGA Tour has been wildly unpredictable, and it will be interesting to see if that holds this week.

To Win Outright:

  • Scottie Scheffler 13/2 | Rory McIlroy 10/1 | Viktor Hovland 14/1 | Xander Schauffele 16/1 | Justin Thomas 16/1

Value Bets

  • Sahith Theegala- To Win 33/1 | To Place 7/1

Sahith Theegala will probably feel rather disappointed with his fifth-place finish at TPC Scottsdale.

He was the halftime leader at 13-under-par, but he couldn’t really get things going during the rowdy weekend.

He finished runner-up in Arizona last year and he looked motivated to finally take the title this time around.

Si Woo Kim – To Win 50/1 | To Place 11/1

Si Woo Kim makes plenty of sense as an outside bet this week. The South Korean can be deadly with his irons and he is slowly clawing his way into some decent form.

He finished 25th at the AmEx, 14th at Pebble and 12th in Phoenix.

He has previously won the American Express in California and he has also won a Korn Ferry event in the Golden State.

The Man to Beat – Sam Burns – To Win 20/1 | To Place 44/10

Sam Burns is returning to prime form and he arrives at a course that suits him perfectly.

He had a solo third here in 2021 but it’s his recent form that really interests me. He followed a T6 at the American Express with a solo 10th at Pebble Beach.

He then managed a T3 finish during the chaos of last week’s Phoenix Open. He currently sits fifth on Tour in GIR and that stat will prove vital to success here.

 

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