The Genesis Invitational 2024 Tips: JT one of five for Riviera

 | February 12 | 

21 mins read

jamie worsley pga tour

Our star golf tipster Jamie Worsley is running hot right now and is back with another one of his famed previews for the PGA Tour this week. The Genesis Invitational is the tournament and Jamie has five more each-way selections for you to get stuck into.

The Genesis Invitational Betting Tips

  • 2.25 pts Justin Thomas each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 20/1 
  • 1.5 pts Sahith Theegala each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 35/1 
  • 1.25 pts Jason Day each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 40/1
  • 1 pt Byeong Hun An each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 55/1 
  • 0.75 pts Taylor Moore each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 150/1

The totally bonkers start to the 2024 PGA Tour season showed no sign of letting up in Phoenix, as Canada’s Nick Taylor won a playoff in a hugely entertaining final round.

Taylor was well in the mix entering the weather-impacted final day but with players such as world #1 and defending champion, Scottie Scheffler and superstar-in-waiting, Sahith Theegala in the mix, you could’ve been forgiven for expecting this early-season run of big-priced winners to come to an end.

Though, little has been predictable so far this season and as Theegala failed to fire on Sunday, and Scottie started to miss some of those short putts again, it was left to Taylor and an inspired Charley Hoffman – who was without a PGA Tour top 5 since 2021 – to battle it out in the playoff.

The Canadian had made an excellent string of late birdies in regulation, including at 18, to tie Hoffman’s clubhouse lead of -21. Both players then birdied the 18th in the first playoff hole but as Charley narrowly missed his 25ft+ birdie try on the second playoff hole; Taylor made his third straight birdie on 18 to claim a fourth PGA Tour win.

The tour now moves back to California for the final leg of the West Coast Swing and our third Signature Event of the year, as the stars turn out in L.A at Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Invitational. An event that will be hosted by Tiger Woods, who is making his first PGA Tour-sanctioned start since this tournament last year.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

The Genesis Invitational is the latest version of the Los Angeles Open, which has been played on tour in all but one year (1943) since 1926. The world-renowned Riviera Country Club has hosted the event fifty-nine times in its near one-hundred-year history; exclusively doing so since 1999.

A bevy of big names have lifted this trophy but there are two players locked at the top on four wins apiece: Macdonald Smith (1928, 1929, 1932, 1934) and Lloyd Mangrum (1949, 1951, 1953, 1956).

Ben Hogan (1942, 1947, 1948), Arnold Palmer (1963, 1966, 1967) and Bubba Watson (2014, 2016, 2018) have each won the tournament on three occasions; Sam Snead (1945, 1950), Tom Watson (1980, 1982), Fred Couples (1990, 1992) and Phil Mickelson (2008, 2009) are among a longer list of players with two wins.

Other winners of the Genesis Invitational include Byron Nelson (1946), Charlie Sifford (1969), Hale Irwin (1976), Sir Nick Faldo (1997) and Ernie Els (1999).

Last five winners:

  • 2023 – Winner: Jon Rahm (-17); runner-up: Max Homa (-15)
  • 2022 – Winner: Joaquin Niemann (-19); runners-up: Collin Morikawa, Cameron Young (-17)
  • 2021 – Winner: Max Homa (-12, playoff); runner-up: Tony Finau (-12)
  • 2020 – Winner: Adam Scott (-11); runners-up: Scott Brown, Sung Kang, Matt Kuchar (-9)
  • 2019 – Winner: JB Holmes (-14); runner-up: Justin Thomas (-13)

Jon Rahm converted a three-shot lead in last year’s thrilling final round to run out a two-shot winner, but he was made to work for it by Max Homa et al, with the Spaniard birdying his final two par 3s to reinforce the advantage. Unfortunately, he doesn’t return to defend this week.

THE COURSE

Riviera Country Club was designed by George Thomas in 1927, though has undergone several renovations since; with Tom Fazio and the Crenshaw/Coore design team overseeing most of the work. It has again seen slight changes ahead of this year, with green contours on the 10th and 15th holes restored to enable alternative pin positions.

This pristine course regularly ranks among the best courses on the planet and aside from being a regular host of this event, it has also hosted several major championships: the 1948 US Open, famously won by Ben Hogan and the 1983/1995 PGA Championships, won by Hal Sutton and Steve Elkington respectively.

The big tournaments are set to keep on coming to Riviera, with the 2026 US Women’s Open, 2028 Olympics and 2031 US Open all penned in to be staged here over the next decade.

The course is a par 71 and measures 7322 yards. There are 11x par 4s (315-487 yards), 4x par 3s (166-236 yards) and 3x par 5s (503-590 yards).

This traditional, tree-lined course is a fair yet demanding test, with an average winning score of -13.8 across the last ten renewals. Every facet of the game is tested at this strategic venue, with most holes having something of a risk/reward element to them; constantly prompting players to decide how they themselves should take specific holes on.

Riviera CC is the toughest ball-striking test around, possessing the second-lowest driving accuracy and greens-in-regulation percentages on the PGA Tour.

The fairways are reasonably narrow throughout, especially on the back nine. However it is not simply just a case of finding them, you have to find the correct spots to give yourself the best angles to attack the greens.

Often, taking the easier driving line will leave a longer approach from a more awkward angle, whilst the tighter lines will set you up better for the approach. But this brings in more danger, with strategic fairway bunkers and snatchy kikuyu rough waiting; line-of-sight issues - due to the smartly positioned trees – also enter the equation.

You are now sat in the correct position in the fairway but that doesn’t mean it is plain sailing from there. These greens may be large at an average of 7,500 sq. ft but they are tough to find, especially in the correct spots.

The speedy poa annua surfaces are sloping rather than being excessively contoured. They can tuck pins away and possess some rather treacherous placements, where being just a little out in approach will leave you with a nervy downhill putt.

Further to that, deep greenside bunkers protect the greens and are true hazards here, sometimes making it seemingly impossible to get it close; whilst shaved edges can send the ball trundling off the green and leave a difficult chip back up the hill.

There are no two holes that feel the same at Riviera, with different and unique challenges awaiting on every one of them. Elevation changes – both uphill and downhill - are frequent from beginning to end, as we see with the 503-yard par 5 1st, where players will hit a downhill tee-shot from a significantly elevated position; which is in contrast to the blind uphill drive that is required on the challenging 475-yard closing par 4.

Memorable holes are littered throughout the property, from the 199-yard par 3 6th, which has a bunker dominating the centre of an otherwise large putter surface, to the chaos of the “drivable” 315-yard par 4 10th, where bunkers surround the elevated, narrow and sloping green, and cause some of the best players in the world to doubt their approach to the hole.

This is simply one of, if not the best regular stop on tour and always feels a perfect way to complete the tour’s early-season journey of the West Coast.

THE WEATHER

Weather has hampered the last two events on tour but it looks like being a relatively trouble-free week in L.A, providing the little rain forecast doesn’t turn into something more severe.

Temperatures are set to stay cool and largely dry, besides a few spots of rain on Saturday. With little more than a mild breeze, it will be up to the course itself to provide the defence.

THE STATS

Key stats:

  • SG: Approach
  • Proximity 150-200 yards
  • Greens-in-Regulation

Riviera demands quality across the board but there’s no denying that high-class approach play into these large, sloping greens is of primary importance.

Jon Rahm and Joaquin Niemann both ran out impressive winners in each of the last two renewals of the event and led the field in approach.

Max Homa was top 5 in greens-in-regulation when winning in 2021, whilst his two closest challengers, Tony Finau and Sam Burns, ranked top 5 in approach.

Adam Scott was 3rd in approach and 1st in GIR when he won in 2020; JB Holmes was 6th in approach and 3rd in GIR in 2019; and of the four winners from 2015-18, all ranked top 30 in approach and three were 13th-or-better in GIR.

Additionally, a strong mid-long iron game is of added value, with approaches from 150-200 yards typically accounting for close to half of the approach shots at the venue.

Secondary stats:

  • SG: Off-the-Tee/Driving Distance
  • SG: Putting (poa annua)

Though few of the recent winners have relied heavily on the driver, most have driven the ball at least solidly and it’s also noticeable how many of those would be considered big hitters. Seven of the last eight winners of the Genesis Invitational ranked inside the top 25 in driving distance on tour in the year they won, with the exception, Max Homa, who is far from short himself.

Lastly, as always a proven ability on frustratingly bumpy poa annua surfaces can prove to be a big advantage.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines)

Whilst not an identical match in terms of aesthetics, there are many aspects of playing at Torrey Pines that enables players to transfer form between these two events.

Both are major championship tests, that use the same grasses, with poa annua greens and kikuyu rough. They are particularly difficult driving courses, with each possessing some of the lowest driving accuracy percentages on the PGA Tour.

Notable correlating form:

Jon Rahm:

Genesis (1st) / Farmers (1st)

Max Homa:

Genesis (1st, 2nd) / Farmers (1st)

Bubba Watson:

Genesis (1st, 1st, 1st) / Farmers (1st)

JB Holmes:

Genesis (1st, 3rd) / Farmers (2nd, 4th)

Joaquin Niemann:

Genesis (1st) / Farmers (6th)

Bill Haas:

Genesis (1st, 3rd) / Farmers (4th, 9th, 9th)

Aaron Baddeley:

Genesis (1st) / Farmers (6th, 8th)

Marc Leishman:

Genesis (4th, 5th) / Farmers (1st, 2nd, 2nd)

Tony Finau:

Genesis (2nd, 2nd) / Farmers (2nd, 4th)

Keegan Bradley:

Genesis (2nd, 4th) / Farmers (2nd, 4th, 5th)

Memorial Tournament (Muirfield Village)

A real test of elite ball-striking, Muirfield Village has bunches of correlating form on offer with Riviera. Where a high-class long iron game is a necessity into the speedy putting surfaces, and strong bunkering proves penal.

Notable correlating form:

Jon Rahm:

Genesis (1st) / Memorial (1st)

Joaquin Niemann:

Genesis (1st) / Memorial (3rd, 6th)

Max Homa:

Genesis (1st, 2nd) / Memorial (5th)

JB Holmes:

Genesis (1st, 3rd) / Memorial (4th)

Bill Haas:

Genesis (1st, 3rd) / Memorial (4th)

James Hahn:

Genesis (1st) / Memorial (6th)

Will McGirt:

Genesis (6th) / Memorial (1st)

Matt Kuchar:

Genesis (2nd) / Memorial (1st, 2nd)

Hideki Matsuyama:

Genesis (4th, 5th) / Memorial (1st)

Patrick Cantlay:

Genesis (3rd, 4th) / Memorial (1st, 1st)

Viktor Hovland:

Genesis (4th, 5th) / Memorial (1st, 3rd)

Kevin Na:

Genesis (2nd, 3rd, 4th) / Memorial (2nd)

Ryan Moore:

Genesis (4th, 9th, 10th) / Memorial (2nd, 5th)

Wells Fargo Championship (Quail Hollow)

Quail Hollow is another major championship test that heavily favours big-hitting ball-striking types. It ranks closely to Riviera in average driving accuracy and greens-in-regulation percentages, whilst also possessing a similar level of penalty for missing the fairways.

Notable correlating form:

Max Homa:

Genesis (1st, 2nd) / Quail Hollow (1st)

JB Holmes:

Genesis (1st, 3rd) / Quail Hollow (1st)

James Hahn:

Genesis (1st) / Quail Hollow (1st)

Bill Haas:

Genesis (1st, 3rd) / Quail Hollow (4th, 4th)

Kevin Na:

Genesis (2nd, 3rd, 4th) / Quail Hollow (5th)

Viktor Hovland:

Genesis (4th, 5th) / Quail Hollow (3rd)

Ryan Moore:

Genesis (4th, 9th, 10th) / Quail Hollow (5th, 6th)

2020/2023 BMW Championship (Olympia Fields)

Olympia Fields has only hosted two recent PGA Tour events, but across those tournaments a large amount of correlating form has developed. With it’s tight fairways, frequent elevation changes, speedy greens and imposing bunkering, this shouldn’t come as a great surprise.

Notable correlating form:

Jon Rahm:

Genesis (1st) / Olympia Fields (1st)

Dustin Johnson:

Genesis (1st) / Olympia Fields (2nd)

Joaquin Niemann:

Genesis (1st) / Olympia Fields (3rd)

Viktor Hovland:

Genesis (4th, 5th) / Olympia Fields (1st)

Max Homa:

Genesis (1st, 2nd) / Olympia Fields (5th)

Tony Finau:

Genesis (2nd, 2nd) / Olympia Fields (5th)

Hideki Matsuyama:

Genesis (4th, 5th ) / Olympia Fields (3rd)

Jason Kokrak:

Genesis (2nd) / Olympia Fields (6th)

WGC – Mexico Championship (Club de Golf Chapultepec)

Club de Golf Chapultepec hosted this WGC event from 2017-2020. With its combination of poa annua greens and kikuyu fairways, we saw many Riviera performers go well there.

Notable correlating form:

Dustin Johnson:

Genesis (1st) / Mexico (1st, 1st)

Jon Rahm:

Genesis (1st) / Mexico (3rd, 3rd)

Justin Thomas:

Genesis (2nd, 6th) / Mexico (2nd, 5th)

Kevin Na:

Genesis (2nd, 3rd, 4th) / Mexico (9th)

Thomas Pieters:

Genesis (2nd) / Mexico (5th)

Brian Harman:

Genesis (3rd) / Mexico (5th)

Adam Hadwin:

Genesis (6th) / Mexico (9th)

 

Travelers Championship (TPC River Highlands)

Whilst a shorter and more generous ball-striking course, TPC River Highlands has often seen the same creative types who perform well at Riviera go well there. Strategic bunkering forms one of the primary defences at the course and it calls on players to perform well with their mid irons to contend.

Notable correlating form:

Bubba Watson:

Genesis (1st, 1st, 1st) / Travelers (1st, 1st, 1st)

Dustin Johnson:

Genesis (1st) / Travelers (1st)

JB Holmes:

Genesis (1st, 3rd) / Travelers (2nd)

Joaquin Niemann:

Genesis (1st) / Travelers (5th)

Aaron Baddeley:

Genesis (1st) / Travelers (4th)

John Merrick:

Genesis (1st) / Travelers (9th, 11th)

Keegan Bradley:

Genesis (2nd, 4th) / Travelers (1st, 2nd)

Marc Leishman:

Genesis (4th, 5th) / Travelers (1st, 3rd)

Chez Reavie:

Genesis (7th, 10th, 10th) / Travelers (1st, 4th)

Ryan Moore:

Genesis (4th, 9th, 10th) / Travelers (2nd, 2nd, 4th)

THE FIELD

Our third Signature Event of the year brings another elite field to Riviera, which is boosted by a first “official” start since last year’s Masters for tournament host, Tiger Woods.

Scottie Scheffler’s ridiculous level of consistency continued in Phoenix and he retains that top spot in the world rankings this week. He leads a nine-strong group of players from inside the world’s top 10, which includes the #2 ranked player in the world, Rory McIlroy; making just his second PGA Tour start of the season.

With no Jon Rahm, there is no defending champion this week and we have to go back to Max Homa in 2021 to find our most recent Genesis winner in this field, with 2022 champion, Joaquin Niemann also absent.

Homa is one of just two former winners in attendance, with 2005 and 2020 winner, Adam Scott also teeing it up.

Big-hitting Scandinavian youngsters, Ludvig Aberg and Nicolai Hojgaard will both make their debuts this week, as does amateur AmEx winner, Nick Dunlap. Whilst Chase Johnson is the recipient of the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption – a spot in this field awarded to a golfer from a minority background since 2009.

SELECTIONS

Market leaders: Scottie Scheffler 15/2, Rory McIlroy 9/1, Viktor Hovland 12/1, Xander Schauffele 14/1, Max Homa 16/1, Patrick Cantlay 16/1

The very top of the market is predictably strong but with question marks over most, few appeal. Scheffler still remains a tough player to back at these prices, with the putter once again stopping him adding to his trophy haul and for all Rory should be more at home at Riviera than he was at Pebble, that performance was poor enough for him not to be considered from me here. He does, after all, usually do most of his best work stateside on the East Coast.

Despite an underwhelming start to the season, Hovland could easily come to life at a course in which he’s recorded two top 5s in three starts and a similar case can be made for Max Homa.

However there’s an equally classy player just behind this leading sextet in the betting and after another promising performance in Phoenix, I’m taking Justin Thomas to come out on top at Riviera.

2.25 pts Justin Thomas each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 20/1 

Though finishing 2023 strongly, with top 5 finishes in the Fortinet Championship and Nedbank Challenge, there was still a lingering doubt about whether JT had actually rediscovered his game or if it would prove to be a false dawn, but he’s put those doubts to bed in 2024.

He hit the ball excellently in both his 3rd-place finish in the AmEx on his first start of the year and when 6th in the weather-shortened Pebble Beach Pro Am; ranking as a top-12 ball-striker in each start.

Thomas put in a top-class tee-to-green performance last week, ranking 7th in his 12th-place finish at TPC Scottsdale and whilst he’d have been hoping for a little more of a charge over the final two rounds, I’m willing to forgive anyone hitting a flat spot with the constant delays that event brought.

Though still obviously very early in the season, he ranks 3rd on tour tee-to-green across his starts so far and whilst his prowess in approach is particularly due to his sublime wedge play, he is no mug from 150-200 yards, often ranking among the best players on tour in that range too. With the power he possesses, Riviera is a good fit.

He has missed just two cuts here in nine visits, recording three top 10s. He will feel he has some unfinished business from his 2nd-place finish in 2019, where he entered that final round with a four-shot lead but succumbed to the pressure with a final-round 75; eventually finishing one shot behind JB Holmes.

Part of the reason Thomas is able to enjoy a good record here is down to his ability to putt these surfaces, ranking inside the top 20 on the greens in four of his last six starts at Riviera. This, along with that current tee-to-green form should make him an especially dangerous contender this week and with top-3 finishes at Quail Hollow, Muirfield Village, the Travelers Championship and in Mexico, his profile appealed above all others.

JT 20-1

1.5 pts Sahith Theegala each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 35/1 

Sahith Theegala disappointed on the final day of competition last week when in pole position, eventually finishing 5th. Having said that, he did come from the unfavourable early/late side of the draw to lead at halfway and as I’ve stated with Thomas, I’m willing to forgive players struggling to keep momentum going with the stop/start nature of that event.

He now comes back to his home state, to a course at which he recorded a best-yet 6th last year and with his standout approach performance of the year coming last week, he looks in good shape for another week in contention.

Theegala produced quality in most areas last week, ranking 4th tee-to-green but it was the standard of his approach play that stood out most, ranking 6th in the field. It was a follow-on from his approach display when 20th at Pebble Beach on his previous start and more like what he’d shown on that first start of the season, ranking 10th in approach when 2nd in The Sentry. When added to his ability to putt poa, along with a currently in-form and lengthy driving game, he stood out as a potential winner this week.

He actually made his debut in this event in 2017 when still an amateur - the same year he finished 17th at Riviera in the US Amateur Championship – and finished a commendable 49th; even opening with a 67 to sit 8th after round one. He then made his pro debut in 2022, finishing 48th but stepped up significantly on that last year, where after a mediocre level-par start he progressed up the leaderboard after every remaining round, firing three rounds of 68 or better to eventually finish 6th.

A runner-up finish in the Travelers and top 5s in the Farmers Insurance Open and Memorial Tournament won’t do Theegala’s chances any harm either. If he’s able to dismiss the frustrations of Sunday’s performance at TPC Scottsdale I see no reason why he can’t be in the mix again.

theegala 35-1

1.25 pts Jason Day each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 40/1

Jason Day looked primed for a final-round challenge at Pebble Beach, before the cancellation of the Monday finish there put an end to his chances. However, his game has been in all-round eye-catching form this year and as a proven poa performer, he can build on his 9th-place finish here last year.

Though Day recorded a first PGA Tour win in five years in 2023 at the AT&T Byron Nelson, he struggled for consistency after that, with a distant 2nd-place finish in the Open Championship his only other performance of note - albeit a classy one - before Lydia Ko helped drag him over the line in the Grant Thornton Invitational mixed team event on his final start of 2023.

He has come out of the blocks strongly in 2024, finishing 10th in The Sentry on his opening start and then recorded that second top 10 in four starts when 6th at Pebble Beach.

What has been extra encouraging is that the Aussie has gained strokes in all areas across those starts. He’s gained strokes with driver in all four; in three out of four in approach/around-the-greens and looked comfortable on poa greens at Pebble.

We know all about his suitability to such greens as a two-time winner of the Farmers Insurance Open, though he hadn’t previously been able to transfer it to Riviera, before last year.

Day has only played here six times previously and did little of note in the first five, regularly looking uneasy on the greens. He put that right last year, signing off the event with a 6-under 65 to finish 9th and found form on the greens, ranking 15th.

There is little reason why he wouldn’t be able to perform here, especially with his approach play now looking as good as it has in several years and with a win at Quail Hollow further stamping his suitability to the test, I’m expecting another strong showing.

Jason day 40-1

1 pt Byeong Hun An each way (1/5 - 8 places) - 55/1 

Byeong Hun An was very popular last week in Phoenix and disappointed his backers by finishing 66th. That shouldn’t dissuade people from being encouraged by his early season form though and now out to a much more attractive price, I’m happy to forgive him last week’s effort.

An returned to action at the start of 2024 and looked completely in the zone in Hawaii, finishing 4th in the season opener at The Sentry and following with a runner-up finish in the Sony Open; an event he had every chance of winning.

He was solid when finishing 31st at Pebble Beach but his positive start to the season hit a wall last week in Phoenix. Although, he did once again drive the ball well there and hit a fair amount of greens, with the short game doing most of the damage. After looking in great form in this area over those opening three starts, I’m more than happy to look past that here.

An finished 55th on his one-and-only try here in 2017, where his power-packed and at its best, elite ball-striking game did all of the heavy lifting. That rates as an encouraging debut effort for the former University of California attendee and with an excellent record at Muirfield Village – where he finished 2nd in 2018 and has recorded four other top 25s – to boot, he has the game and profile to handle Riviera.

Byeong hun an 55-1

0.75 pts Taylor Moore each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 150/1

If the trend of outsiders is going to continue this week, Taylor Moore may well be the guy. He’s looked solid at the start of the season and after finding something with his irons last week, he looks ready to put in a big performance in this elite company.

2023 was a breakthrough year for Moore, as he won a first PGA Tour title at the Valspar Championship; recorded two further top 5s and made it to the Tour Championship at East Lake for the first time.

The putter was the standout club in the bag last season, ranking 25th on tour. Though once he finds something with his ball-striking he’s able to maintain it for a significant stretch; something he is threatening to do in the early part of this season.

Moore drove the ball well when 25th in The Sentry and 70th in the Farmers Insurance Open, though found little in approach. He showed signs of improvement in this area when 47th at Pebble Beach two weeks ago and stepped it up again last week at the Phoenix Open, ranking 18th in approach in his 39th-place finish.

He just needs to put both of those aspects of his game together and this powerful type will be well placed to handle the trials that Riviera throws up.

Moore showed how this course may suit when finishing 21st on debut in 2022, shooting every round under par. He drove and putted it well that week, and though narrowly missing the cut on his return here last year, we can again take positives by how well he performed on these greens.

Taylor moore 150-1

You can find all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips over on our dedicated golf Insights hub.

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