Three straight weeks, three first-time PGA Tour winners.
However, the new WM Phoenix Open champion is someone we’re all familiar with and knew it was only a matter of time. Scottie Scheffler has been on the precipice of glory for a couple of years now and finally put a bow on his early career success. He had a chance to win on the 18th hole, but missed a putt to allow Patrick Cantlay, one of the steadiest players on Tour, into a playoff. Scheffler redeemed himself on the third playoff hole with a long birdie putt to clinch his first Tour title.
Just when we thought our picks last week could not get any worse, Webb Simpson dropped out of the field due to injury and both Viktor Hovland and Rickie Fowler missed the cut. We can only go up from here, so let’s get to it.
The final stop on the west coast swing is The Genesis Invitational hosted by the Tiger Woods Foundation at Riviera Country Club. This week will mark a year since Woods’ horrific car crash and he will make his first public appearance since the PNC Championship in December. The top 10 players in the world arrive along with many other stars to the fabled layout just outside Los Angeles. Riviera is one of the hardest courses on Tour, so look for a close battle among the game’s titans this week.
According to SI Sportsbook, world No. 1 Jon Rahm is the favorite at +850. Next is last week’s runner-up Patrick Cantlay at +1200. Justin Thomas is +1400, also coming off a solid week in Scottsdale. To round out the notables are 2017 champion Dustin Johnson at +1500 and world no. 2 Collin Morikawa at +1600.
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For our favorite, we’re going to step just outside those stars and take the value in Cam Smith at +2200. The Aussie began his year with a win at Sentry Tournament of Champions but has not played since leaving the island of Hawaii. However, Riviera favors those with a strong short game and Smith has one of the best on Tour. Since the fall swing, Smith ranks top-five in putting and top-15 in strokes gained: around-the-green. He’s finished in the top-15 in four of his last five events and finished T-4 in 2021 and T-6 in 2018 at The Genesis. Smith’s strengths should shine this week.
For a high midrange pick, we’ll take Brooks Koepka at +3300. Koepka burned us at Torrey Pines with a missed cut, but it looks like he found something this past week at TPC Scottsdale while finishing T-3. He is always looking for that extra piece of motivation and perhaps the imbibed crowd did it for him. This week, Koepka will stare down 12 of the 14 players that rank higher than him in the Official World Golf Rankings. It is not a major, but it will sure feel like one and this four-time major champion is poorly priced for how well he just played.
For a sleeper, Kevin Na at +6600 makes the most sense. Like Smith, his prowess around the green has been unrivaled for quite some time. Over the last calendar year, Na’s gained +0.74 strokes per round around the green, which is the best in the world. Since 2010, Na has accumulated four top-10 finishes at Riviera including a runner-up in 2018. In his two recent starts in Hawaii, he finished in the top-20 each time. Considering Na’s recent FedEx Cup playoff run, he plays well in small, elite fields and should be confident to do so again this week.
2021-22 picks scoreboard:
Winners: 1Top 5s: 4Top 10s: 1Top 20s: 1
Here are some notable odds, according to SI Sportsbook:
Jon Rahm +850 Patrick Cantlay +1200 Justin Thomas +1400 Dustin Johnson +1500 Collin Morikawa +1600 Rory McIlroy +2000 Xander Schauffele +2000Cameron Smith +2200Hideki Matsuyama +2200 Viktor Hovland +2500 Scottie Scheffler +2500 Will Zalatoris +2800 Matt Fitzpatrick +3300 Sam Burns +3300 Brooks Koepka +3300 Sungjae Im +3500 Jordan Spieth +3500 Adam Scott +4000 Max Homa +4000 Bubba Watson +4000 Marc Leishman +5000 Tony Finau +5000 Russell Henley +5000 Talor Gooch +5000 Sergio Garcia +6000 Joaquin Niemann +6000 Paul Casey +6000 Thomas Pieters +6600 Kevin Na +6600 Abraham Ancer +6600 Patrick Reed +6600 Jason Kokrak +6600 Alex Noren +7000 Tom Hoge +7000 Si-Woo Kim +7000 Cameron Tringale +7000 Seamus Power +7000 Maverick McNealy +8000 Corey Conners +8000 Erik Van Rooyen +8000 Luke List +8000 Lanto Griffin +8000 Christiaan Bezuidenhout +8000 Mackenzie Hughes +9000 Harold Varner +9000 Adam Hadwin +10000 Aaron Rai +10000 Sahith Theegala +10000 Francesco Molinari +10000 Robert MacIntyre +10000 Carlos Ortiz +12500 Matt Kuchar +12500 Martin Laird +12500 Ryan Palmer +12500 Jhonattan Vegas +12500 Keegan Bradley +12500 Matt Jones +15000 Pat Perez +15000 Sebastian Munoz +15000 Rickie Fowler +15000 Min Woo Lee +15000 Joel Dahmen +15000 Cameron Young +15000 Andrew Putnam +15000 Kyoung-Hoon Lee +15000 Patton Kizzire +15000 Troy Merritt +15000 Aaron Wise +15000 Russell Knox +15000 Cam Davis +15000 Taylor Moore +17500