Written By Robert Cobley - 10th February 2020
Genesis Invitational Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades - Los Angeles, California, USA - Par 71, 7340 Yards
A stone's throw from the centre of Los Angeles sits this wonderful George Thomas design (that was updated in 2008 by Tom Fazio) called Riviera Country Club. Set deep in a canyon in the Pacific Palisades region of the city, Riviera is a largely flat parkland course that has, and continues to, provide a significant test for the World's best players early on in the year. Driving the ball at Riviera is not easy with tight lines and tees pointing away from fairways requiring total concentration, and the ability to shape the ball both ways from the tee is imperative. The fairways are kikuyu grass, more common in the southern hemisphere, and they are beautiful to hit from, but should the players find the rough, it is contrastingly as tough to recover from making for a high premium on good straight driving here. The tree lines create large natural dog legs, and there is good, penal bunkering in the landing zones for all length hitters making this a very tough first shot golf course where clean ball strikers from the likes of Couples to Faldo, and even Adam Scott, invariably prevail.
The approaches to the greens are just as challenging, and require as much creativity as the tee shots with the players facing small, well protected, undulating poa annua putting surfaces. With flags cut often within a few feet of the edges of the greens, it is important that the players take their medicine and know when to attack, and as importantly where to miss. The kikuyu does allow for creativity around the greens, and the likes of Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, both short game specialists, have seen high degrees of success here due to the importance of a great short game, and imagination around the greens.
Course knowledge and previous strong performance here are key indicators to success with a large number of multiple winners over the years. Players who can shape the ball, who hit high numbers of greens in regulation, and those that can get out of trouble most often will be well placed to succeed this week. This is not a putting contest, and anyone hitting over 70% of greens in regulation will be very strongly placed to challenge. Something to note is how well the course sets up for left handers. Phil Mickelson has won here, and Bubba Watson has won three of the last six. There is also a correlation to Augusta National, and players who perform well at Riviera often go on to have a good run at The Masters too.
Last year this tournament provided us with a 150/1 winner in J.B. Holmes.
Last Five Winners:
|2017||Dustin Johnson||- 17|
The Market Leaders
Rory McIlroy (7/1) leads the market this week. Though he has played sparingly over the last three months, Rory's showings when he has turned up around the World have been invariably solid, and a third place at Torrey Pines three weeks ago, helped along by a stunning last round 66, shows exactly the type of golf that the former World number one is looking for in 2020. Rory has made three previous career starts at Riviera with two top 20s followed up by a career best 4th last year with the highlight being his second round 63. That was generally a fairly average week for Rory on the greens, and if he putts well this week then there is no way that he doesn't land somewhere in contention. My concerns are that he sometimes lacks the vision and creativity around the greens so, although his long game fits Riviera perfectly, i do wonder how much that holds him back. In such a strong field i feel that this is a little short for Rory who i find it hard to separate from the other players at the top of the market.
Justin Thomas (9/1) and John Rahm (9/1) have both started the year very well with six top 10s across seven starts between them including Justin's win at the Sentry TOC in Hawaii. In his last outing Thomas finished third in Houston, and he is the exact type of player that should flourish against the tough ball striking challenges that await at Riviera. Last year Thomas entered the final round with a two stroke lead over Holmes and was the commanding favourite having opened with three rounds in the mid 60s, but an unexpected 75 opened the door for JB who duly obliged. I expect the same again this year from Justin who is just a model of consistency, and who has one of the best long games about. His ability to control both distance and accuracy with his long irons and woods is unsurpassed on Tour, and combined with his excellent short game should see him at the top of the leaderboard again this week. John Rahm managed a top 10 on his opening visit to Riviera last year, and he will be looking to build upon that following several close shaves already this year. Rahm Has a win, two seconds, and a further two top 10s in his last five starts, and was agonisingly close to achieving a second Farmers Insurance win at Torrey three weeks ago. He is another with the complete game to contend here, and is no doubt a multiple genesis Invitational Open winner in waiting. This could be his week, but Thomas represents the better value of the two for me.
Dustin Johnson (14/1) has an incredible record here with a win in 2017, and six other top 5s in his last 8 starts. That is about as comprehensive a set of course form that you are likely to see all season, and a fit DJ would without doubt be a bet at the price. That said, there are still some concerns about what shape he is in, and he missed the top thirty at Pebble Beach last week at a venue where he is usually equally as strong. I expect DJ to challenge once or twice before moving back into the winners circle so i will be waiting to see a bit more from him before i make him a bet. Tiger Woods (16/1) has shown that his long game is back to not far off its best over recent weeks, and i am expecting 2020 to be a big year for him as i have written before. Surprisingly, though, Riviera has never been a regular stop for him, and he has only turned up for the last two years after eight years off. He did manage to finish 15th last year, but with just one round in the 60s i'm unsure if he will be able to put them all together at this course. I'm saving my Tiger picks for the Majors.
Rob’s Golf Betting Tips
Headline Betting Tip
With three wins in the last six years (and no finishes outside of the top 15 in the last eight years), Bubba Watson is an easy selection to make this week. Although he has become less and less popular in the betting markets, Bubba has re-established his high end game, and back to back top 6 finishes on similarly challenging courses in his last two events are enough for me to price him up on Riviera form rather than his form of 2019. Bubba is now finishing amongst the likes of Rahm, Rory, and Thomas regularly, and they now effectively come to his backyard as substantial market favourites ahead of him, and i simply can't add those things up.
Watson has the exact long game which is required at Riviera, he shapes the ball well (particularly from right to left), and has one of the most underrated short games around. Regularly Watson has finished in the top 5 on Tour for scrambling, and that ability has never left him. With his long game now good enough to contend at the likes of TPC Scottsdale and Torey Pines, a trip to his back yard of Riviera should provide the perfect springboard for Bubba's return to success. He won't be this price for The Masters if he keeps up his current run of form, and to get him here at 22/1 is a steal. Watson is my headline tip (and first of two left handers) with 3 points e/w at 22/1.
Other Betting Tips
I have outlined some of my thoughts on Thomas above, and although i am loathed to have a single figure selection, particularly as a secondary, I cannot leave JT out of my staking plan. Last year's runner up finished behind J.B. Holmes would have been a huge setback for Justin who had completely controlled the event over the first three days and looked almost unbeatable coming into the Sunday. He had a significant wobble which is very uncharacteristic, and has a previous history of bouncing back from those types of lapses very successfully. At a similarly long venue of Kapalua, Thomas put away his first win of the season, and followed that with a 3rd placed finish in Phoenix two weeks ago. Justin is a streaky player, and had a bit of a drop off having failed to put away the Fedex Cup towards the end of last year. He is now back as strong as ever, and I expect him to continue a stellar career at Riviera by challenging for the title this weekend. For me he is the best value of the top market 6, and favourites often do very well here. I recommend 3 points e/w at 9/1.
Although now playing in his twilight years as he edges ever closer to the Champions Tour, 49 year old Phil Mickelson arrives off back to back 3rd place finishes, and has a great record at Riviera that he will be looking to improve upon this week. Phil, for all the life of him, looked as though he was going to take eventual winner Nick Taylor right to the wire at Pebble Beach last week, but his game deserted him in the tough conditions on the back nine on Sunday, and he had to settle for another near miss following on from his strong showing at the Saudi Invitational the week before. Mickelson shares many of the traits of Watson, he hits the ball right to left, and has the strategy to manage a challenge such as Riviera, alongside an exceptional short game to get him out of trouble.
Length and more importantly driving accuracy are two of the main things holding Phil back, but they should be more than counteracted by the fact that he will be hitting into the slopes of the doglegs and he will find it far easier to control his ball here than at other venues whilst other players will struggle against the same. It has been 15 years since Phil missed a cut here, and I expect him to be around and at the top of the leaderboard this weekend. He completes my trio of selections, and I feel that it could be another strong week in LA. I will be having 2 points e/w at 66/1.
Following a rolling profit of 463 points in 2019, I am looking for an even better 2020. Each week I will pick between 2 to 4 selections at each event on the European and PGA Tours, and suggest a suitable staking plan.
|European Tour||-53 points|
|PGA Tour||+76 points|
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