The PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing reaches its climax this week as it returns to the iconic Riviera Country Club in California for the Genesis Open.
The tournament started life as the Los Angeles Open back in 1926, when the course was much shorter than the 7,322 yards it plays today, but it remains a stiff examination of a professional golfer’s game.
Much of that test is attributed to the Kikuyu grass, a strain more associated with Africa. Its properties are perfect for those players who hit plenty of fairways as it promotes exceptionally good lies. However, those who find the rough with any frequency are sure to find their ball buried too deeply to be able to impart sufficient backspin on their approach shots to hit greens which run at around 12 on the Stimpmeter.
Forecast rain may soften conditions, making it easier to find the putting surfaces, but that also means the rough will be even more penal.
This year’s renewal is a star-studded line-up, with 9 of the world’s top-12 players in attendance, and last week’s winner Jordan Spieth, along with Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Jason Day are the only four players priced-up at less than 20/1.
If Spieth’s putter is as hot as last-week, he looks sure to go close gain if in the mood, though he only has a fourth-placed finish from his 3 previous attempts, and missed the cut last year. Meanwhile, Jason Day hasn’t even turned-up here for the last four seasons, and had posted figures of MC/MC/62 before that.
However, I think it’s impossible to leave either Johnson or Matsuyama out of this week’s staking plan. Johnson has landed the each-way money in 5 of his last 7 visits and, now he’s a major champion, he will surely add this tournament to his CV before long. He’s posted 4 top-6 finishes in his last 5 events, and he showed enough at Pebble Beach last week to suggest that a return to the winner’s enclosure is surely imminent.
Meanwhile, the winner’s enclosure is Matsuyama’s favourite place right now with 5 wins in his last 9 events, and you wouldn’t get 10/1 about anyone else in that sort of form. He has decent course form too with finishes of 23/4/11 here – and the Japanese player’s improved chipping and driving, added to his long straight driving and imperious iron-play, should make him a force to be reckoned with around Riviera.
It was tempting to just go with Johnson and Matsuyama, but Sergio Garcia looks over-priced at 25/1 considering he arives here on the back of a confidence-boosting win in Dubai. The Spaniard has every shot in the book and, if he putts as well as he did in Dubai, he can at least match his two fourth-placed finishes in his last four visits.
The Genesis Open Golf Predictions
Dustin Johnson 2 Points Each-Way @ 8/1 (Skybet) ¼ odds 6 places
Hideki Matsuyama 2 Points Each-Way @ 10/1 (Skybet) ¼ odds 6 places