Welcome to Three Shots at the Green, where each week I’ll use my experience as a PGA Tour caddie and golf writer to identify the three best bets on the board.
The PGA Tour heads to the best course on the circuit, Riviera Country Club, this week for the Genesis Invitational, which includes a rare appearance by tournament host Tiger Woods, the return of Will Zalatoris and another $3.6 million first prize for the champion.
Riviera is a classic George Thomas design, measuring 7,322 yards and playing to a par-71. Nestled inside a canyon, the fairways and greens are among the most difficult to hit in regulation on the circuit and a deft short game is required to navigate the pesky Kikuyu rough.
The beauty of Riviera is how it tests every facet of a player’s game. Holing putts on the slick, undulating poa annua greens rank is a steep challenge year after year. Solving this layout requires a solid all-around game: power, skill, strategy and the patience to accept unlucky bounces on the greens.
Simply put, there’s no faking it around Riviera. Weaknesses will be exposed, so we’ve identified three golfers who have had success here in the past and whose ballstriking is trending upward.
Riv will test you, teach you and place you in history pic.twitter.com/LneVrnYg9S
— The Genesis Invitational (@thegenesisinv) February 13, 2023
Let’s take three shots at the green.
Justin Thomas – Top 10 +200
Thanks to the ESPN Plus expanded coverage last Sunday, we watched Thomas pick apart TPC Scottsdale with accurate driving and pinpoint irons in the final round. For the week, he gained 12.1 shots Tee-to-Green, which trailed only WM Phoenix Open champion Scottie Scheffler.
Thomas has three top-10s in his last five starts at Riviera and when he arrives with sharp ballstriking can be expected to hang around the leaderboard through the weekend. If he can hole a few mid-range putts, expect Thomas to have a great shot at his first title since the PGA Championship last May.
Adam Scott – Top 20 +225
We’ve already watched Tour veterans Justin Rose, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler enjoy a resurgence early in 2023 and we have Scott pegged to follow suit. Having veteran caddie Steve Williams on the bag this week (and likely during the majors) is another asset.
Nobody has earned more money at Riviera than Scott, who has landed inside the top 20 in seven of his last nine appearances with a win in 2020 and runner-up in 2016. He leads the field in SG: Putting on poa annua greens over the last 50 rounds and bettered the field average Tee-to-Green at both the Sentry TOC and Sony Open to start the year.
Jordan Spieth over Tom Kim -115
This is priced based on Kim’s form last summer and fall and doesn’t reflect the current condition of either player’s game. Spieth comes to Riviera – where he’s finished 26th or better five of the last nine trips – after an outstanding ballstriking week in Phoenix, gaining 8.4 shots on approach in a tie for 6th.
He also gained more than two shots with his short game. Kim is making his first appearance at Riviera, lost more than three shots Tee-to-Green last week and has no experience on poa annua greens while Spieth ranks 22nd in the field in SG: Putting on poa annua over the last 50 rounds.
YTD: -4.1 units