Phil Mickelson put on a final round clinic parleying strong approach play and putting into a score of 65 that was good enough to overcome a three-shot deficit as Paul Casey’s struggles holding on to a 54-hole lead continued. Although it was an exciting finish to a tournament that is always fun to watch, many DFSers are excited to be moving on from the Pro-Am formats and multiple course events of the early part of the season. From this point on all PGA Tour events will be held on a single course with Shotlink on all four days. For this week’s event we travel back down the California coast to Los Angeles for the Genesis Open. Here is our breakdown of historic Riviera Country Club:
Riviera Country Club: Par 71, 7,322 yards. The Riv is one of Southern California’s most storied clubs, designed by George Thomas in the 1920’s, the course has hosted three major championships as is set to host the Olympic golf competition in 2028. The course typically plays as one of the tougher tracks on the PGA Tour, ranking as the 9th most difficult course last year and typically falling between the high single digits and mid-twenties in difficulty each year, dependent on playing conditions. Generally, the course sets up to be a bombers track as although the fairways are difficult to hit, the rough has historically been left short and players do have a bit of room to miss before encountering the tree line, native areas, and OB that will only be in play for the most wayward drives. There are three par fives including the first hole which is a downhill 503 yarder that see’s birdies at a rate of around 60% while seeing nearly 7% of the field make eagle. The other two par fives measure nearly 600 yards and typically only see birdies or better around 30% of the time. Nearly all the par fours on the course are between 460 to 500 and will require a good drives and strong mid-long iron play to produce scoring opportunities. One exception to this will be the 310 yard, drivable, par four tenth that is one of the coolest holes in golf. Players will have to decide if they want to attempt to drive it onto a well bunkered, narrow green or lay back and try to knock their approach close with a half wedge into a green that presents problems even from that range. Although the hole is short, double bogeys are more common than eagles and bogeys are nearly as common as birdies. Average driving distance is slightly over the PGA Tour average at Riviera and the fairways are approximately 10% more difficult to hit than the PGA Tour average with the greens about 15% more difficult to hit than the PGA Tour average. Riviera’s greens are Poa and fairways and rough are Kikuyu. Poa is a staple on the West Coast and Kikuyu is typically seen in Southern California, South Africa, and Australia.
In terms of stats, because of the difficult to hit fairways and greens, strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approach will be weighted heavily this week. With nine holes measuring 450 yards or longer and three par threes that are 175 yards or longer, approach shot distribution this week will be heavily skewed towards 200 yards+ and 175-200 yards so a strong long-iron game will be a contributing factor to a successful week.
Here are our top stats to consider this week:
Strokes Gained Approach
Par 4 Efficiency (450-500 yards)
Proximity from 175-200 yards
Good Drives Gained
Tiger is back in again this week in what looks to be the strongest field of 2019 in a full cut event. Last week’s champion, Phil Mickelson along with Paul Casey will be making the trip down south after their Monday finish to join the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, and Jordan Spieth. Other notable names teeing it up this week include Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, and Adam Scott. It is beginning to feel like a broken record here on the West Coast Swing but Southern California has been saturated with rain not only over the past week but over the past few months as the Los Angeles area seen over 300% of its normal rainfall level this winter. What this means for us is that we will likely not see much roll on the fairways this week, further adding to the advantage bombers will see here. However, with the rain we are likely to see rough that is a bit thicker and more difficult to hit out of this week so I will also be looking at the good drives gained stat which provides a bump up to longer hitters who consistently hit fairways. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament lineups on DraftKings this week:
Upper Mid-Range – Hideki Matsuyama – $9,300
The strong field this week provides a great opportunity to load up on several solid players in the $8K-$9K range if we start our lineups with Hideki Matsuyama as opposed to taking the studs and duds approach. Hideki’s iron game continues to be on fire as he followed up a third-place finish at the Farmers with a 15th at the Waste Management that saw him gain 6.8 strokes against the field on approaches, where his finish would have been a lot higher if he did not lose 4.1 strokes on the green. Historically, he’s been a streaky player so we want to jump on here as he’s been in good form. If we can get a repeat of his iron play last time out combined with a better performance on the greens, we can get the safety with upside needed in this price range.
Upper Mid Range – Tony Finau – $9,100
After a missed cut at the Waste Management and underperforming Phil and Jason Day who were priced right next to him at the AT&T the Tony Finau hype train may be slowing down a bit, but several factors are lining up that make me want to jump back on board this week. TPC Scottsdale doesn’t seem to fit Tony’s eye off the tee and around the greens and it is likely that the only reason he keeps returning to the event is out of obligation as a Ping staff member with their headquarters in Scottsdale. We did see some improved play last week and just three weeks ago at Torrey Pines he finished T-13 while gaining 4 strokes on approach showing is still in good form. A damp Riviera that will play even longer than normally sets up to be a great fit for his game this week, and while he did miss the cut here is 2016 and 2017, he came away with a second-place finish last year. Tony is also one of the best at racking up birdies and we typically see his DraftKings points outperform his tournament finishing position relative to other golfers in the range so a top 25 finish this week will more than justify the $9,100 investment.
Value – Jason Kokrak – $7,600
Jason Kokrak was part of the mass WD group we saw at the AT&T last week but I feel most players that bowed out of last week’s event simply just wanted to avoid the six-hour rounds with amateurs in 40-degree rainy weather that was in the forecast. Kokrak has been riding some strong recent form gaining two or more stokes on approaches over his last two events and although he missed the cut at the Genesis last year, he recorded top 20 finishes every year from 2012-15. He’s long off the tee and has been hitting his irons well recently, a great combination for a damp week at Riviera where the course is expected to play longer than normal.
How we did last week:
Cash/Single Entry Article Plays:
Chez Reavie – T38
Jordan Spieth – T45
Rafa Cabrera Bello – T22
Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:
Paul Casey – 2
Kevin Streelman – T7
Graeme McDowell – T18
Chez Reavie – T38
Jordan Spieth – T45
Rafa Cabrera Bello – T22
Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result:
Win Great ROI week for our subscribers as our Optimal Lineup also finished in the top 1% of tournaments on Draftkings!
2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 10-4
Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 35-14