Last week in Pebble, the field lacked some firepower – this week, that couldn’t be further from the truth. ALL the boys are back.
Los Angeles has brought out the stars, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who was a late WD from the AT&T Pro-Am last week (which is understandable due to his win over seas the week before). He was the 2017 champ here. We had another winning week at Pebble, up another 1.65 units. But before we get into the betting picks for this weekend, let’s cover everything else.
Joining DJ is World No. 2 Jon Rahm, looking to get another win after a bunch of high finishes in a row. Rory McIlroy is in the field after taking a week off (he held the lead on Sunday last year before falling down the leaderboard, eventually finishing 5th). The Hulk is here, as well as Justin Thomas, who is making his first start since losing his grandfather.
Other names in the field include; Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, and last year’s winner, Adam Scott.
(Can you tell yet that this field is loaded)
Riviera Country Club
Neville and Thomas design, 1926. Tom Fazio re-design in 2008.
Greens in Regulation
This week at Riv, just like Pebble, the greens are small. Finding them in regulation and maximizing birdie bids will be crucial. Since 2016, the winner of this tournament has been inside the Top 10 in GIR % for that week.
Bombers win at this golf course. Sure there are a few outliers, but for the most part, distance plays here. Winners include Bubba (3 times), DJ, Adam Scott (sneaky long), and J.B Holmes. Putting winners aside, when you look at these leaderboards, big-hitters fill it up.
Course Fit: 1. Monterey Peninsula CC, 2. Nine Bridges, 3. TPC San Antonio
Trending (of the players in the field): 1. Dustin Johnson (Last 3 Starts, 1, T11, 1), 2. Patrick Cantlay (T13, 2, T3), 3. Jon Rahm (T7, T7, T13)
% Chance to Win (Baseline, Course History and Fit): 1. Dustin Johnson (13.9%), 2. Jon Rahm (8.1%), 3. Justin Thomas (6.9%)
Twilight 9 Card
Top 30 – Max Homa (+125)
Starting with the same guy I have been for a month. Max Homa. He is being disrespected in this spot at +7000 to win. Averaged 295 off the tee last week, but have to remember that half the course played into the wind. On the year, he’s averaging 303, inside the Top 50 on TOUR. Putter was back last week, and he’s back on Poa this week. Hit 70% of greens at Pebble, again, in the wind. Grew up in LA, placed T5 here last year, Top 40 the year before. 4 Top 25s in his last 5 starts. Our guy.
Top 20 – Collin Morikawa (+138)
When you talk about iron play, he comes to mind as one of the best. This season, 7th in SG Approach, 10th in GIR, 30th around the greens. His last appearance on TOUR was a T7 at the Sony, and finished T26 last year at this event. Feels like one he would win, especially being a Cali kid.
Top 10 – Rory McIlroy (+138)
T5 here last year. T4 in 2019. T20 in 2018. 2nd in driving distance this season. GIR % has been better his last 2 starts (79% at the Farmers, 70% in Phoenix). Might have found something with the putter at the Waste Management, started using the line on the ball for alignment. Betting with your brain is overrated.
Top 10 – Justin Thomas (+138)
JT gave this tournament away in 2019, and missed the cut last season. I don’t expect that to be the case this year. He hasn’t finished outside the Top 15 on TOUR this season, and his cut off the tee is the desired shot shape around Riviera. He makes the most birdies on average on TOUR, and that helps no matter the course. His SG: Approach, Around the Greens, and Putting are all inside the Top 20 on TOUR.
Top 30 – Carlos Ortiz (+150)
Carlos is coming off a great performance in the desert, finishing inside the Top 5. He grabbed a T9 at Riv in 2019, and a T26 last season. He’s in the Top 40 on TOUR this season when it comes to GIR, and hits it long enough to keep up.
Top 30 – Joaquin Niemann (+115)
Last 2 starts are runner ups, but hasn’t played since the Sony. 13th in driving distance, 12th in GIR %. Has yet to put together a good showing here, has a missed cut and a T44. But his stats this season are lining him up for a big week.
Cover via PGA Tour