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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS (Course History) - Genesis Invitational

Hello again PGA family and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! Canadian Nick Taylor came out of the woodwork to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week for the biggest victory of his professional career. Taylor held off some superstars like Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in a wild and windy final round.

Speaking of Jason Day, he was one of this article's highlighted players last week! We had a solid tournament with four of our five players getting through the 54-hole cut. This week we head to one of the most iconic courses on the PGA Tour schedule in Riviera Country Club and we have a nice sample of course history to draw from. I'm really fired up for this event, let's break it down!

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history, for my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. Be sure to also read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS and betting articles to help you win big!

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Genesis Invitational Overview

After a frustrating format and less-than-stellar field in last week's AT&T Pro-Am, we get rewarded with an amazing event this week in the Genesis Invitational. This field is stacked and will battle it out on a legendary Riviera Country Club layout that's one of the most iconic stops on the PGA Tour schedule.

J.B. Holmes outlasted Justin Thomas in some suprisingly-nasty weather to take down last year's Genesis. J.B (and his molasses-like pace) will be back to defend this week, as will last year's runner-up, the aforementioned J.T. They'll be joined by some of the biggest stars in the game. Tiger Woods is set to make his second start of 2020. We'll also see Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and many others teeing it up in L.A. this week. All told, we have nine of the world's top-10 ranked golfers in this field for the strongest formation of talent that we've seen assembled this year. We likely won't see another field of this caliber until The Players Championship. This event changed from an "Open" to an "Invitational", so we're dealing with a very manageable 120 players in this week's field. This is gonna be a fun one, let's tee it up!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.


The Course: Riviera Country Club

Par 71 - 7,322 Yards, Greens: Poa

Riviera Country Club is a legendary track and one of the classiest courses on the PGA Tour schedule. It's Hollywood history only adds to the club's intrigue. Opened in 1927, Riviera was an instant classic and has long been a favorite of L.A.'s celebrities. It was famously dubbed 'Hogan's Alley' after Ben Hogan logged three wins on the course in 18 months. In addition to all the history, Riviera still stands out as a great golf course in the modern era. The 315 yard, Par-4 10th hole is one of the best on the PGA Tour. It is 'risk/reward' at its finest and offers players a chance to drive the small green for an eagle opportunity. However, a miss on 10 can quickly turn disastrous, as shots from around the green are extremely tricky. Riviera places an emphasis on ball striking and shot making. I will focus on ball strikers that have previous experience at Riviera this week.


The Horse

Bubba Watson (DraftKings - $9,600)

Notable Course History: Three-Time Winner

Chalk Bubba week...what could go wrong? It’s easy to joke about Watson’s volatility and mercurial temperament when taking a macro view, but when we dive in from a micro perspective, Watson is actually very consistent in the right conditions, with Riviera definitely being one of his “happy places” on the PGA Tour schedule. That’s right, the glitzy and glamorous “Hogan’s Alley” may very well have the General Lee parked out front this week because Bubba basically owns the joint.

The two-time Masters champion is perhaps the most “course-centric” golfer on the PGA Tour, repeatedly finding success on a few certain courses, while often struggling on other layouts. Riviera is a layout that fits his eye and works for his game (a confident Bubba, is a dangerous Bubba). The lefty has won three times on the legendary California track since 2014. In addition to his momentous track record in this event, Bubba heads to the Genesis with a full head of steam after very strong outings at the Farmers (T6) and the WMPO (T3), starts in which he gained MASSIVE totals both Tee To Green and on Approach. The trending form and Bubba’s course history in this event will make him one of the most popular plays on this week’s slate.


The Ponies

Dustin Johnson (DraftKings - $10,000)

Notable Course History: T9 ('19), T16 ('18), Win ('17), 4th ('16), T2 ('15)

I featured DJ in this article last week, but at the risk of being repetitive, there’s just no getting around discussing him on this Riviera layout. Johnson has been the king of L.A. in his previous Genesis starts with a win and two additional top-five finishes since 2015. His talent needs no explanation, but it is encouraging to see him recovering nicely from an offseason knee procedure.

Johnson heads to town off a sharp performance in Saudi Arabia and a somewhat disappointing one at Pebble Beach, which included a disastrous final-round 78 this past Sunday. That final round might scare some people away this week- and there are some legitimate concerns about fatigue - but DJ’s obvious fit at Riviera can’t be ignored here and he brings as much win equity to the table as any player on the slate.


Xander Schauffele (DraftKings - $9,200)

Notable Course History: T15 ('19), T9 ('18)

Xander has been around the block enough times now to start establishing some actionable course history at different PGA Tour stops. He has two starts at Riviera and has played well, going T15-T9 since 2018. The X-Man has routinely been near the top of leaderboards over the last six months, having logged three runner-up finishes in seven starts since the TOUR Championship.

Two of those finishes came in playoff losses, so if a couple of breaks had gone his way, we’re probably talking about Schauffele being the hottest player in the world this week. Instead, I think he could go relatively overlooked in this spot. He’s coming off a very un-Xander-like poor final-round performance in the WMPO (another tournament where he had a legitimate shot to win) and it’s likely that DFS players will gravitate towards bigger names than Schauffele this week. This is a prime bounceback spot for the 26-year-old California native.


Adam Scott (DraftKings - $9,000)

Notable Course History: T7 ('19), T53 ('18), T11 ('17), T2 ('16)

Adam Scott is another player to love in this low-$9k price range (Hideki, Finau, Xander) and he's played very well at Riviera over the last few years. Scott was in the mix to win last year's Genesis before a fairly ugly final-round collapse dropped him into a tie for was just the latest in the line of strong performances for him on this layout.

I wish the sweet-swingin' Aussie had some recent starts under his belt, but you can't argue too much with his form, as he won the Australian PGA Championship the last time he teed it up in December. We all know the popular labels for Scott...tremendous ball striker, horrible putter...but the numbers don't actually bare that out, as he's gained strokes putting in every measured start since July of last year. Poa is also his best surface, which makes me even more comfortable when considering him this week.


J.B. Holmes (DraftKings - $7,700)

Notable Course History: Win ('19), T60 ('18), T34 ('17), T11 ('16), T22 ('15)

Look, J.B. Holmes is not my favorite player to roster. It shouldn't bother me, but his epically-slow pace of play just turns me off, not to mention the fact that he can be wildly inconsistent. All that said, things are aligning pretty well for Holmes this week. He heads to a Riviera track on which he followed up four consecutive made cuts with a win last year.

On top of the strong course history, the Kentucky boy brings some trending form to the Genesis, having recorded three straight top-16 finishes over the past three weeks. He's gained strokes T2G and putting in all three of those starts and Poa is the only surface on which he actually has a positive putting average. Listen, the wheels can come flying off at any time for J.B., but there's a strong argument to be made that he's underpriced at $7,700 this week when considering his course history and recent form.


Carlos Ortiz (DraftKings - $6,800)

Notable Course History: T9 ('19), T26 ('16), T20 ('15)

There is so much quality available in this Genesis field that you probably don't need to go fishing this week, but one sub-$7k player that catches my eye is Carlos Ortiz. It's fair to call him a volatile player, though he's been very consistent in three starts at Riviera, and logged a T9 in last year's Genesis. Ortiz popped up a few times during the swing season, scoring three top-four finishes from September to November.

Unfortunately, he hasn't carried that form into 2020 (told you he's volatile), though he did quietly post a nice top-25 in his last start at the WMPO, gaining 6.1 strokes T2G in Phoenix. He's yet another Poa specialist and he is an explosive scorer. Ortiz is an interesting GPP play in this spot.

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