The Genesis Open returns to the iconic Riviera Country Club with Bubba Watson as the defending champion. Here is a preview and power ranking to get you off and running with your research.
Riviera CC plays to a par of 71 and stretches out to 7,322 yards. It features a trio of par 5s, as well as a drivable par 4. In fact, that drivable par-4 10th hole is often referred to as the best short par 4 in golf. More times than not, Riviera tends to reward players with plenty of length and strong ball-striking skills.
Given the conditions this weekend appear to call for plenty of rain, length may be at an even bigger premium. While all of the field can reach the par-5 first in two, the pair of par 5s on the back nine are not easy reaches. Soft fairways will limit that even more.
Certain courses have a certain level of class associated with them that recognizes classy players. Riviera qualifies as one of those layouts. Going back to 2003, seven of the tournaments have been won by Masters winners. Those were Mike Weir (2003, ’04), Adam Scott (2005 – unofficial), Phil Mickelson (2008, ’09) and Bubba Watson (2014, ’16). As a side note, 2002 was won by a Masters playoff loser, Len Mattiace.
The weather was mentioned earlier, but it should be reiterated that it could be a real story this weekend. Some reports are calling for several inches of rain. That should be factored into all fantasy lineups, but could especially matter in daily formats like Yahoo!, where tee time waves are worthy of scrutiny.
With that as the backdrop, here is this week’s power ranking!
1. Dustin Johnson – This lines up very well. We have a bomber with an incredible record at Riviera CC that includes five top-four finishes and two runner-ups. Rain? Never a problem for DJ, who has won Pebble Beach in horrible conditions. Class? He won the U.S. Open at Oakmont. He’s the safest play on the planet in any and every format.
2. Jordan Spieth – Has a bit of a speckled history at Riviera, but I’m latching onto his T4 in 2015. Why is that? Because he’s playing like it’s 2015 all over again right now. He cruised to victory at Pebble Beach last week.
3. Hideki Matsuyama – This needs very little explanation. Has gone T23-T4-T11 in his three trips to the Genesis Open. His form is spectacular, as is his class.
4. Adam Scott – Not counting his unofficial 36-hole win, ironically shortened by rain, he has produced a pair of runner-up finishes and four top 10s in eight tries. That includes just one missed cut. The putter is always a question mark, but his length and ball-striking prowess have never been a variable.
5. Phil Mickelson – Lefty has performed very similarly the last two weeks. That is, he’s made lots of bogeys, lots of birdies and faded on the back nine on Sunday. His ability to make birdies still renders him dangerous considering he’s a two-time winner here. Somewhat surprisingly, of his four top 10s, they are wins or runner-ups. It’s somewhat feast-or-famine in that regard.
6. Sergio Garcia – Really solid record here, with two top fours, three top 10s and seven top 25s in eight visits to Riviera CC. In great spirits after his recent engagement and playing well overseas including a win at Dubai.
7. Justin Rose – Great start to the year, but questionable record in this event with just one top 10 and 3 top 20s in 10 starts. Still, he’s got the skillset and pedigree to do well here.
8. Jason Day – Great week at Pebble Beach is exactly what we would have expected from the top-ranked player in the world. He hasn’t teed it up at Riviera since a T62 in 2012, which is his only payday in three trips. Perhaps the break is what he needed to reboot to the layout.
9. Bubba Watson – Despite being a two-time winner and defending champ, his recent form screams for a fade. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised by a win or a missed cut.
10. Justin Thomas – Hasn’t scored a top 40 here in two tries, but he’s still quite young in his career. He has the kind of game that should translate here over time. Considering how well he’s played this season, there’s no time like the present.
11. Keegan Bradley – Before a missed cut last year, he was a must-play at Riviera. Overall, he’s made four-of-six cuts, all for top 20s, with a runner-up and another top four. Since 2016 was a disaster across the board for Bradley, and 2017 seems better, he’s back on the radar.
12. Bill Haas – Peaked at Riviera with a win and a T3 a few years ago, but back-to-back missed cuts in 2015 and 2016 are reason for caution. Performance in 2017 includes a couple of top 20s.
13. Paul Casey – Tied for second here in 2015, which pairs nicely with three top 25s in five appearances. An optimist would say the Brit is trending into this event, going MC-T58-T28 in 2017.
14. Byeong Hun An – Should be motivated after a near miss in the Waste Management Phoenix Open two weeks ago. This is his first look at Rivera CC.
15. Jim Furyk – The veteran snares the last spot in the ranking after MDFing Pebble Beach in his first action of the new year. His record here is what you would expect. Steady, but not spectacular. That means 16/19 with eight top 20s and two top 10s.
Check back tomorrow for the Rotoworld staff picks in Playing the Tips.
Best of luck to all!