The West Coast Swing concludes this week in beautiful Pacific Palisades, Calif., at historic Riviera Country Club. In three out of the last four weeks, we’ve seen the Tour stop at some of the most revered West Coast courses, all major championship venues: Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and now Riviera. What for years was known as the L.A. Open is now called the Genesis Open, and it assembles the best field we’ve seen in golf in 2019.
Bubba Watson is your defending champion, and he’s now won here at Riviera three times in the last five renewals. The way Bubba likes to spin the ball and work his shots in all directions speaks to what is required for success at the Genesis. It is a ball striker’s course, meaning crisp, full swing shots both off of the tee and into the greens, done so with accuracy, creativity, and direction control, is needed in all spots around this layout. It is a Par 71 measuring over 7300-yards but of course, a solid short game is required as well.
One additional note to consider in one’s handicap is the correlation of successes in Los Angeles and that at the Masters. We have seen many players win both events multiple times and many have top notch finishes at both venues. Another part of this is that first timers don’t often perform well in either event. It takes experience and multiple rounds played to win at Riviera and at Augusta National. So adding a player that has experience and good course form at the Masters can tie into a player with the same resume at the Genesis Open.
Jordan Spieth (25-1): Spieth is a Masters specialist, having never finished worse than 11th in five tries. He has played the Genesis six times and has finished top 10 twice, including 9th last year. His stats don’t measure up currently, but it feels like he is close to getting back to the form we are most familiar with as he began at both Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach with hot starts, and was in contention last week at Pebble before a poor final 20 holes killed his chances. Spieth, in any tournament at 25-1, is a good price.
Charles Howell III (50-1): Chucky Three Sticks is off to a great start this season with a win already under his belt. He is well rested, having not played in two weeks, and he won this event back in 2007. He finished 37th here last year and 15th in 2017. He ranks 2nd on Tour in Ball Striking and in Greens in Regulation and has racked up five top-30 finishes at the Masters.
Ernie Els (250-1): It has been a long time since we’ve seen this name on any list to possibly win a golf tournament, but “The Big Easy” has quietly been playing excellent golf early this season. He has contended at Augusta many times and took 22nd just four years ago. He was 26th here in L.A. three years ago and has three top-10 finishes including a win here in 1999. He hasn’t missed a cut this season and took 28th last week at Pebble Beach. He ranks 13th on Tour in Greens in Regulation and 3rd in Putting Inside of 10 feet. We have seen many players win both events multiple times and many have top notch finishes at both venues.
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