This week, the PGA TOUR winds up its West Coast swing with the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. Although the tournament sports a limited field of 120 players, it is one of the strongest of the season.
Tiger Woods is the host this week but won’t be playing as he continues to recover from knee surgery.
The top four players in the Official World Golf Rankings, six of the top 10, 11 of the top 15 and 13 of the top 20 are playing at Riviera. Defending champion Adam Scott, a 14-time PGA TOUR winner and major champion, is just outside the top 20 at 22nd.
Between the course and the stellar field, the Genesis Invitational has a major championship feel.
After withdrawing from last week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am to rest from a win in Saudi Arabia, world number one Dustin Johnson returns to a place where he has a win and three other top 10 finishes in the last five years. He’s an overwhelming betting favorite, with futures odds of +550 to win the tournament.
The next six players on the odds list are closely bunched, with second-ranked Jon Rahm at +1200. Rory McIlroy is next at +1300, Justin Thomas at +1400, Xander Schauffele getting +1600, the mad scientist Bryson DeChambeau at +1700, and Patrick Cantlay rounding out the top seven with odds of +1800.
Defending champion Adam Scott is at +4000, and Daniel Berger, last week’s winner at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am by virtue of 72nd-hole eagle, is at +3000.
World number one Dustin Johnson returns to a place where he has a win and three other top 10 finishes in the last five years. He’s an overwhelming betting favorite, with futures odds of +550 to win the tournament.
So Many Favorites, So Few Picks for The Genesis
Johnson hasn’t played a PGA TOUR event since an 11th-place finish, his worst of the season, in the first tournament of the calendar year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He picked up a victory against a tough European Tour field two weeks ago at the Saudi International by two shots over Tony Finau and Justin Rose.
The 24-time PGA TOUR winner made it look easy at Riviera in 2017, shooting a 17-under 267 in defeating Scott Brown and Thomas Pieters by five strokes. He also had a fourth-place finish in 2016 and tied for ninth and 10th place the last two years. It’s hard to bet against the two-time major champion.
The fourth-ranked player in the world who is also second in FedEx Cup points has finished in a second-place tie in his last two starts. Schauffele also had a tie for fifth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he also picked up the last of his four Tour wins in 2019.
He’s been knocking on the door ever since, with eight runner-up finishes, even coming in second in the 2019 FedEx Cup standings. He’s just playing too well not to break through, and he has a top 10 in the 2018 Genesis to fall back on. With his record in the 2021 season, he is definitely worth the +1600 odds.
Cantlay has gone low in his last two events, with a final-round 61 at the American Express and an opening-round 62 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He finished a shot behind Si Woo Kim and tied for third with Jordan Spieth last week.
The current FedEx Cup leader and former UCLA player won earlier in the season at the ZOZO Championship at Sherwood, less than 40 miles away from Riviera. Cantlay is 24th in strokes gained off the tee, an important statistic with the tight Riviera layout.