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Only the one tournament this week but what a humdinger it is with all top ten in the world rankings teeing it up for the richest tournament of the year so far, the $12m Genesis Invitational at fabulous Riviera.
Yes, we’re in Hollywood just a block away from Sunset Boulevard for the final, star-laden leg of the West Coast Swing and a prized tournament which amazingly Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods never won, but first let’s look back at the weekend thriller in Arizona where, for 70 holes, a mega-upset was very much on the cards. Sahith Theegala, it’s not an easy name to remember but don’t forget it as this 24-year-old Californian of Indian parentage will be winning us all much gold in the next few years.
Nobody looked a more likely winner until the barely-known invitee drove into the water behind the temptingly drivable 17th, turning the birdie that would have won it into the bogey that consigned him to a tearful third place, just a shot out of the playoff. Not in the least daunted by playing in the final threeball as 54-hole leader, he displayed dazzling short-game skills that won him thousands of new admirers and one thing is certain: he won’t be starting at 225/1 again any time soon.
Without in any way diminishing 25/1 shot Scottie Scheffler’s overdue PGA Tour breakthrough, achieved at the expense of FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay with a dramatic 30ft birdie on the third extra hole, it was Theegala who stole the show on only his 24th pro start, a free loose-as-a-goose spirit who makes golf exciting. Theegala gets a late spot in the Genesis field of 120 and it is good news for Europeans Thomas Pieters and Robert MacIntyre that this is an invitation event as otherwise they wouldn’t be there.
Belgian bomber Pieters, an impressive winner in Abu Dhabi last month, might be a live outsider at 80/1 as be showed a liking for Riviera when runner-up there to Dustin Johnson five years ago but against such an array of superstars, it will take a mighty effort to carry off the monster $2.16m winner’s prize.
Why would anyone want to join a breakaway tour in an alien land when such riches are on the table at home? The $12m pot, a huge hike from last year’s $9.3m, is there for the winning, just for hitting a little white ball round a field … what’s not to like about that?
Last year’s winner, the underrated Max Homa, will attempt to be the first to go back to back since Phil Mickelson in 2008-9, but, well though he has played since, including a second victory at the Fortinet, it is hard to home in on Homa this time.
World No. 1 Jon Rahm, who somehow crept into the top ten at Scottsdale without ever getting into contention, heads the market at 10/1 but although he was a fair fifth last year, he has never threatened to take apart the 7322-yard par 71 which will host the golf when the Olympics go to LA in 2028.
If you are looking for horses for courses, players who drive it so straight they stay out of the club-grabbing Kikuyu rough, then forty-somethings Bubba Watson and Adam Scott are your men. And both are enjoying a bit of a renaissance. Watson, the only triple Riviera champion in the field, bounced back to his best when runner-up in Saudi and was hard on the heels of the leaders for most of the way last week. Scott’s last victory came at Riviera two years ago when taming a line-up featuring Rahm and Rory McIlroy and he loves the place, and not only because he got full pay for his “unofficial” victory there in 2005 when torrential rain turned Riviera into a swamp.
That reduced the tournament to 36 holes, or 37 in Scott’s case as he had to go to a Monday playoff before seeing off Chad Campbell, but the Aussie has shone there regularly, finishing runner-up to Bubba in 2016 before finally nailing an “official” win. And he’s started his new revised schedule with a brace of top-tens in the Middle East and a solid-enough warm-up for this on his first US start of the year at Scottsdale.
Hideki Matsuyama also holds strong course credentials on top of compelling recent form, having followed victory in Hawaii with a solid tenth in Arizona. Top-ten Riviera finishes in 2015-19-20 mark the Masters champion down as a threat to the best. Having got a monkey off his back, Scheffler will be playing with greater freedom and cannot be ignored while Cantlay’s last four starts read 4-9-4-2 for a total of 75 under par. His best at Riviera was fourth to Watson in 2018 but letting another one get away - he missed the ten-footer that would have done the job in real time on Sunday - he may feel the gods are against him.
In his home state Collin Morikawa would love to win but that applies to many in the line-up, DJ hasn’t had a top-ten since September (but has barely played), Brooks Koepka looked well short of his mighty best under the gun at Scottsdale and McIlroy has gone well in the past without winning. With Viktor Hovkand and Jordan Spieth misfiring last week and last year’s playoff victim Tony Finau out of form, finding the solution isn’t easy.
Xander Schauffele, only a shot out of Sunday’s playoff, was posting his first high finish of 2022 but while the Olympic gold medalist is totally respected, out of the top ten in the market, I like Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, the 2019 runner-up who finished well for eighth after the horse had bolted last week, and Cantlay best.
I shall put them with relative outsiders Watson, Scott and Pieters in this week’s staking plan, putting up six to make up for the lack of DP World Tour action owing to Covid restrictions ruling out the Indian Open.
Genesis Invitational Golf Betting Tips 2022
- 1.5pts each-way Adam Scott at 50/1 with Bet365
- 1.5pts each-way Hideki Matsuyama at 25/1 with William Hill
- 1.5pts each-way Justin Thomas at 16/1 with Bet365
- 1pt each-way Patrick Cantlay at 12/1 with Betfair
- 1pt each-way Bubba Watson at 40/1 with Bet365
- 0.5pt each-way Thomas Pieters at 80/1 with Bet365
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Celebrating my 50th year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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