The Genesis Open preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
The Genesis Open or Riviera as most of you know it boasts one of the strongest fields of the year missing only Rory and Henrik from the top 10. So given Jordan’s return to winning ways, Hideki’s amazing form, and Justin, Dustbin and Jason all winning or posting top fives…you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a top 10 lay down maisarre.
The betting suggests this as well and yet…and yet…. this event throws up its fair share of shocks. Tiger was planning to come to town but he’s crook and never won here. Charlie Howell 111 has won here – one of his two PGA Tour victories. Recent winners include Bubba twice in the last three runnings, Milky back to back in 2008, 2009, Scott in 2005…all big names but now throw in the likes of Badds, James Hahn and John Merrick at big prices and it looks more of a lottery. Bubba’s fall from the top echelon is reflected in his 33/1 quote this week and while he missed the cut last time out at the Waste Management that might have been more to the fallout from some slightly disparaging comments he made in 2016. You can’t say boo to a goose in the US. He did post a top six three starts back albeit that was 11 weeks ago. Jordan is flying but has two missed cuts from four starts combined with a 4th and 12th in four starts. Dustbin loves it around here with five top tens from 9 starts including three consecutive top fives and he’s now a better player than ever.
Riviera is famous for its drivable Par 4 tenth and is gettable when wet (it is) but the greens are notoriously tricky and some hot putter will prevail this week given the soft conditions will see a high percentage of GIR.
Bill Haas: 1pt e/w at $67 with
Luke Donald: 1pt e/w at $201 with
Bill Haas hasn’t played a lot this year and comes back here after a month off having posted consecutive top 20’s. He likes it at Riviera – sometimes – with a win and a third thrown in when he was last in peak form. Yes he has a succession of missed cuts here but he now appears to be in some form. Eighth in greens in regulation, 2nd in scrambling and 4th in scoring with 69.149 underline just how sneaky well he’s playing. Form straight out of his Fed Ex Cup winning year is good enough to seriously challenge here.
Luke Donald is a former World number one, which seems hard to believe and yet when you look back it was his stellar putting that drove him to the summit. Donald just scraped into the weekend at Pebble yet came home hard on the weekend. Since reaching the top ranking of the game he’s struggled for sure with swing changes, coach changes etc but when he was on he loved it around here with a 3rd, 6th, 2nd run. Donald actually finished 2nd on tour twice last year in amongst some dross but it was his 65 on Saturday that made me sit up and take notice – Sunday was a more modest 72 but conditions were tougher. What really sparks interest is his strokes gained putting position of 4th – and he was ranked number one prior to Pebble. You have to feel a former world number one, even with as modest a tee to green game as Donald, is a solid prospect when his putting is the best on tour. He’ll need to be better tee to green but Pebble illustrated that this side of his game may be coming together. Oh and he’s 200/1!