Fantasy Golf Picks: 2017 Genesis Open Sleepers, Starts & Preview
Defending Champ: Bubba Watson
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Genesis Open Field
144 Players | Top 70 & Ties Make the Cut After 36 Holes
Despite some maddening television coverage, the West Coast swing has actually been highly enjoyable. Alas, it comes to an end this week at Riviera. Fortunately, for us golf enthusiasts, the newly renamed Genesis Open has drawn the best field of the year to date. And that’s with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods pulling the shoot on the event due to injuries. Tiger will still be there in a hosting role, but I assume he’ll be spending most his time trolling about Los Angeles in search of a medicinal card in case the doctors reveal he needs a.
Eight of the world’s top 10 players will be making cameos in LA: Jason Day (1), Dustin Johnson (3), Hideki Matsuyama (5), Jordan Spieth (6), Adam Scott (7), Justin Thomas (8), Sergio Garcia (9), and Patrick Reed (10). Dustin and Hideki can take over the World No. 1 spot if things break right for them this week. This also marks the first PGA stop for Scott and Sergio in 2017. Scott last played a month ago in Singapore (T9), while Sergio was last spotted outlasting Henrik Stenson in Dubai for his 30th worldwide win. It’s crazy to think Sergio has so many wins, and that it really could be more. Between the PGA and EURO TOURs, the Spaniard has 21 victories, and he’s lost in a playoff 10 times too. Kinda nuts. No. 27 Charl Schwartzel is getting his first action on American soil since September, and No. 47 Thomas Pieters will have his passport stamped for the first time since wowing the crowds at Hazeltine at the Ryder Cup.
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With the top tier resembling a Major, the next level of player has a distinct elite feel to it as well. Overall, 10 of the top 15 are in attendance, 17 of the Top 25, and 25 of the Top 50. That includes former champions Bubba Watson (2014, 2016), Bill Haas (2012), Phil Mickelson (2008, 2009) along with Scott (2005). Other former winners in the field include James HAHHHNNNNNN (2015), John Merrick (2013), Aaron Baddeley (2011), Steve Stricker (2010), and Charles Howell III (2007). Yes, CH3 has actually won on TOUR before. Twice, actually. Oh, another fun Howell fact: He hasn’t birdied the 10th hole at Riviera since the second round in 2009, a stretch of 22 tournament rounds. Likely why he hasn’t finished better than T58 in his last eight starts.
Genesis Open Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Approach
Greens in Regulation
Par 4 Scoring: 450-500 Yards
Genesis Open Course
| 7,322 Yards | Par 71
Skimming through the past winners and scores of the Genesis Open, you’ll get a smorgasbord of names, results, and skill sets. Drop a little deeper down the leaderboard, and it becomes pretty evident distance drivers and ball strikers are the mold of player you want to target. Especially this year with wet conditions expected over the weekend. Bubba has won this tournament two of the last three seasons with an identical -15 score. Sandwiched in between was a -6 triumph by James Hahn in a playoff over DJ and Paul Casey. Six under: How’d the happen?!!!!!
Despite playing 7,322 Yards, Riviera is sneaky long. There’s a Par 5 just over 500 yards and a Par 4 measuring 315; this helps cloud the overall distance per hole. Six of the 11 Par 4s on the layout are over 450 yards. Toss in the soggy fairways, and those holes are going play a tad longer and keep scoring down. It’s not to say shorter, accurate players won’t be able to thrive, some always do (KJ Choi has made the cut every year since 2005), but stacking players who would definitely be something in a long drive competition is the proper strategy. Length will always be able to get you out of trouble. Bubba shot a 68 last year in the second round despite hitting 2-of-14 fairways. While that was in ideal scoring conditions, it makes the margin of error larger for that type of player.
People love looking at course history to try and predict results. I’m not completely against that, but researching similar-type tracks and seeing if a player’s results overlap is a better method. This week, if you’re looking for a comparable course, take a gander at the leaderboards Quail Hollow the past few seasons – that should guide you in the right direction.
I’d love to opine on the strategy of the 10th hole and the role of analytics in golf.though. I don’t want to beat it into the ground. However, even in the past year, the amount of players hiring data teams to assist their games has increased. Not every player has a group of nerds digging up info for them, yet, but we’re slowly getting there. For the amount of money that’s at stake week-to-week and the narrowing gap between the elite players and the next tier of golfers, a half stroke advantage here-and-there could very well be the difference between a first and ninth place payday. I’d wager the is not the only instance where an analytical scan of results can assist in developing the proper game plan for a hole.
Just a thought.
Genesis Open Picks (Yahoo! Game)
Dustin Johnson & Adam Scott - DJ is 32-under par in his last 12 rounds at Riviera, has three consecutive finishes in the top four, and six Top 10 finishes in nine starts. He’s the No. 3 player in the world with a chance of assuming the top spot this week. He also has seven Top 10 finishes in his past nine starts, with three wins on the last seven months. Oh, DJ is one of a few totoo… If you want to go contrarian in the second spot I suggest Branden Grace or Brendan Steele, but I’ll be favoring Scott. Despite his lack of play recently, Scott possesses exactly the type of game you want for the Genesis Open. Looking at his 2016 stats, since he only has eight rounds of data for the 2017 season, Scott checks out pretty almost perfectly: SG: APP (1st), SG: T2G (1st), Driving Distance (13th), GIR (3rd), Ball Striking (24th), Approach from beyond 200 yards (1st), Scrambling from the rough (3rd), and Par 4 Birdies or Better (8th).
Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson & Webb Simpson/Paul Casey - Keep on riding Thomas and Hideki until the MILK GOES BAD!!!! Sure, JT missed the cut in Phoenix, but with three wins in his last six starts and an ideal skill set for this course, it seems irresponsible to avoid him… I’m beginning to get concerned with Phil’s final round performances. Mickelson’s played four straight weeks and seen his scores taper off each Sunday: 70 at Careerbuilder, 70 at Farmers, 71 at Waste Management, and 77 at Pebble. At 46, maybe lacing up the spikes every single week isn’t the optimal strategy, but he’s been very much in the mix every week, you know, until he’s not. 2017 marks his return to Riviera after a three-year absence, but it’s difficult to overlook his success at this track in the past. Hefty teed it up every year from 2007-2013, posting two wins, two runner ups, never missing a cut in those seven starts. Additionally, Phil tossed in a T4 at Quail Hollow last year for good measure… Rooting against people is pretty low brow, but it’s exactly what I was doing to Webb last week at Pebble. And, as one of the trendier picks, Webb did what Webb does and started missing 5-foot putts with regularity. However, that’s always the risk you take with him. He can burn you so badly on the greens, BUT if he can just manage putt around the field average, you’re going to see him at the top of the leaderboard. Like he was in Phoenix, or like he’s done at Quail Hollow in the past. Coming off a missed cut, fewer people are going to be all over him, so I’ll jump back on. Hopefully, the rain will help mitigate the putting advantage, and if it does, Webb is crushes it on approaches (18th), Tee-to-Green (34th), Scoring on Par 4s (36th), and scrambling from inside 10 yards (1st). And one bad performance doesn’t mean he’s now out of form. In the last month he has two T15 finishes in four events... If you prefer Casey to Webb, I completely understand. Casey rates out very well for this venue, and did lose in a playoff in the wet conditions in 2015.
Graham DeLaet & Sergio Garcia - Much like Webb, DeLaet’s performance often hinges on his flat stick. When it’s off, he generates enough birdie opportunities (74% GIR) to scape by; when he’s rolling it to the point where he’s not losing strokes to the field every round, he can pop up on the Sunday leaderboard. This year, his stroke has been a lot better (54th SG: PUTT), but the usual, consistent parts of his game have slipped slightly. He’s still crushing it of the tee (20th DD) and hitting it pure (42nd BS), so a return to form in SG: APP (75th), like we saw in Phoenix, could have him replicate this 2015 T8… Sergio is riding high off the win in Dubai, and despite an MC last year, has an impressive resume at Riviera: MC, T4, T13, T4, T46, T6. I’ll ride the form with one the world premiere ball strikers.
The Pat Mayo Hour covers the entire scope of the Fantasy sports landscape from Football to Reality TV, daily and yearly leagues and everything in between. You can watch the Pat Mayo Hour every weekday at 3:00pm EST, 8:00pm EST and Midnight on the FNTSY Sports Network Television channel or on your Apple TV, Xbox, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. If you have a Fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at PatMayoHour@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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