Sometimes in betting you should not ignore the obvious and take on first glance what looks like a poor price. Dustin Johnson is 5/1 to win the Genesis Open on the PGA Tour and even that could be a steal. The world number one combines current form and course form and is in great shape to defend his title. Johnson at his best is unbeatable and he is now playing some of the best golf of his life.
The Genesis Open has had a number of titles since it was first played in 1926. It’s basically the Los Angeles Open and the host course for 54 renewals is the Riviera Country Club in southern California. The tournament has been played on its current site since 1999 so there is plenty of course form to assess. Johnson won the tournament by five shots last year and holds the record for tournament earnings. He was tied second in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week so his game is in good order.
Tiger Woods is playing this week on one of the few courses on which he has not won. He has played in the event 11 times and not prevailed which means it is the event he has contested most without winning. Woods made the cut in his first regular event for almost a year last month but winning against such a strong field may be beyond him. Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are next in the betting behind Johnson and they are all major champions. The 2017 Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood, is not far behind these players in the betting.
The host course at Pacific Palisades is seen as one of America’s traditional layouts and a classic of course design. It was nicknamed Hogan’s Alley after Ben Hogan won three times here in 17 months in the late 1940’s. However, it could also be called Tiger’s torment because he is 0 for 11 and usually if Woods plays a course four times he records a win. After such extensive injury problems he is unlikely to break his duck this week. However, the former world number one could contend at the Masters.
Riviera is a course which requires players to think and analyse the options. They must shape tee shots to avoid the bunkers. Nick Faldo won the tournament in 1997 and his game is the epitome of course management and putting the ball in the right areas of fairways and greens. His modern day equivalent is Spieth who has three top 25s in five appearances at Riviera. Average putting is being compensated for with course management which makes Spieth a contender this week.
The greens are bentgrass and below average in size which makes them similar to those at Pebble Beach last week. The course measures about 7,300 yards and is a par 71 with just three par 5s. The most difficult hole is often the par 4 closing hole which is both long and uphill. This will hold no fears for Johnson because he hits the ball straight and long off the tee and has a game suited to the course. The world number one has made 10 appearances and finished in the top 10 seven times and also made the top four in six years. Johnson has the best course form of the field.
McIlroy has some negative associations with the tournament. He made his debut on the course in 2016 and was in contention after 54 holes. However, his final round 75 took him from fifth place to 20th and he missed the cut last week. McIlroy is gearing his season to the US Masters but Johnson keeps winning these regular tournaments and he can add to his tally in the Genesis Open this week.