Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: The Genesis Invitational
Riviera Country Club hosts an outstanding field this week for the Genesis Invitational. While the sponsor and event name has changed a few times over the past two decades, Riviera remains an iconic venue that caps off the West Coast swing each year with a great test for the world's best golfers.
The 7,233-yard par 71 routinely sees some of the biggest names in the sport at the top of the leaderboard. Last year's winner J.B. Holmes slogged his way to a win that ignited the conversation about pace of play on the PGA Tour. Holmes does his best work on poa annua greens, and he needed every one of his 8.2 strokes gained: putting to win by one over Justin Thomas.
The course is plenty long, and a brief run through recent winners (Holmes, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Bubba again) would give a distinct impression that bombers have a major advantage here. Johnson led the field in strokes gained: off the tee in his winning bid, and even though Holmes was barely above average driving the ball last year the top four gainers off the tee all finished in the top 25, according to statistics on Fantasy National Golf Club.
Accuracy will also be important, as Riviera consistently ranks within the top 10 hardest fairways and greens to hit. Ballstriking will be absolutely essential this week, and if you aren't going to hit the green you'd better be able to scramble.
After Pebble Beach bared its fangs in windy conditions this weekend, golfers can expect relatively calm conditions in the Pacific Palisades. The early forecast looks quite calm and the predictable sunny California skies.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: Riviera Country Club
Distance: 7,233 yards
Fairways/Rough: Kikuyu grass
Greens: Poa annua
|Season||Par||Yardage||Average Score||Avg O/U Par||Rank|
For all the difficulty apparent in the above rankings, Riviera's first hole lays claim to one of the easiest par 5s on Tour. It had the lowest scoring average of any hole in three of the past six years and one of the five easiest in the other three. Taking advantage of the free square is essential, because the rest of this course is a beast.
The winning score each of the past four years has been 17-under par or less, but in 2015 it was all the way down at just 6-under par. Conditions this week look fairly calm, so the driving gods will appear once again to have an advantage.
When we think distance, the Plantation Course at Kapalua and Augusta National immediately come to mind. Riviera is not quite to that level, but you can't ignore who has won here. There is the occasional oddball, like James Hahn in 2015 or John Merrick in 2013, but as the Tour has moved toward favoring the powerful, Riviera has been bested by the bombers. As for poa courses, Pebble Beach should compare well even if it was a different kind of animal on Sunday. Hard to hit greens and fast poa should match up.
These stats will be the keys to success in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.
|Key Stats for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera CC|
|Strokes Gained: Ballstriking|
|Strokes Gained: Par 4s|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa)|
Strokes gained: ballstriking combines both off the tee and approach. The names of the past five winners listed above all point to distance, but gaining on approach is just as significant at Riviera. Last year, 14 golfers finished T9 or better and 9 of them actually gained more strokes on approach than off the tee. In 2018, 13 golfers finished T9 or better and every single one gained more strokes on their second shot than their first.
Birdies will be in high demand this week with the field routinely averaging over par each round. Streaks of birdies are the lifeblood of DFS lineups, and prior winners like Watson and Johnson are capable of massive runs. Holmes set the tone last year early with a fire-breathing 63 on Thursday that included seven birdies and a hole in one.
With a gimme par 5 on the first hole, golfers really only have two opportunities to stand out on the par 5s. More important for difficult scoring conditions is performance on the par 4s. Even as a baseline metric, par 4 performance is as much about saving par as it is about going low. Combining par 4 scoring with birdies or better gets us a nice blend of a high floor and high upside.
With some of the most difficult greens to hit on Tour, golfers will need to scramble all week to stay in contention. That includes, of course, sinking those knee-rattling seven-footers for par on these poa greens. There is an element of putting inherent in birdie making, scrambling, and par 4 scoring, but specifically carving out poa performance will be key this week.
Course History Studs
Johnson has 8 top 10 finishes at Riviera in the past 11 years, including a win in 2017. His preference for poa is well documented and his performance at Riviera is a big reason why.
Watson has played Riviera every season dating back to 2007, with three wins, five other top 20's, three missed cuts, and two withdrawals. If he finishes the tournament he usually ends up at or near the top the leaderboard.
Adam Scott won here in 2005 and has four other top 10 finishes since then. Most recently, he's finished T7, T53, T11, T2, and T10.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.