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2023 Genesis Invitational: Betting Odds, Picks and a Prop for Riviera Country Club

Our expert went looking for someone who can attack off the tee and deadly accurate into greens, and found Viktor Hovland.

I approach events as if I was coaching a player preparing to contend and win come Sunday. My analysis of the tournament starts with the venue. The Genesis Invitational has been contested at Riviera Country Club since 1999 and 59 times overall.

  • The par 71 scorecard has three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s, covering 7,322 yards.
  • An elite field of 130 players are set to compete. The top 65 and ties will go into the weekend in pursuit of that $3.6 million first-place check and $20 million in the purse overall.
  • 23 of the top 25 players are playing alongside the tournament host, Tiger Woods.

That’s correct, Tiger is in the field and according to his Tuesday press conference, “here for the W!” Much of what I have learned as a PGA Professional and coach comes from my tenure working at Isleworth Country Club, where Tiger lived, practiced, and played while he was winning everything.

In those formative years, I saw Tiger prepare to win tournament after tournament. This week as I walk the property at Riviera, I’ll take that educated eye and look for similar traits amongst the contenders on the practice range and course. Riviera is a major championship venue and one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour. What makes “Hogan’s Alley” so challenging are the demanding phases every player must go through on their way to a great score.

The first comes off the tee. The course winds through the valley below the famous clubhouse following a predominantly northeast-to-southwest routing. This is key, because when the wind blows, it follows a similar path to and from the Pacific Ocean just two miles away. Caddies and coaches will tell you each nine goes out in the southwest direction and returns northeast. Most of the holes will play either into the wind or downwind as a result.

Keeping the ball in play off the tee is hard when the fairway bends and the wind is with or against. Great drivers can attack these winding holes and differentiate themselves from the field. This week’s wind forecast is expected in the mid-to-low teens. Temperatures will be below seasonal averages in this coastal climate. The ball won’t be flying like it was in the desert.

Enter phase two of my course assessment. Riviera’s greens average 7,500 square feet. These smaller-sized targets are historically hard to hit. Players manage just a 58% success rate, well below the tour average. Heavy air, tight fairways and excellent green positioning by course architect George Thomas puts plenty of pressure on your approach game.

To prepare for this accuracy test, we must focus on the mid-irons. Fifty percent of the approach shots at Riviera come between 150-200 yards. Nearly 75% of those approaches are from 150 yards or more. With that kind of pressure on the mid-to-long-iron game, we know around the green skill and creativity will be important. There are 58 bunkers on the course and 32 of them are positioned around the green sites. One of them is even placed in the middle of the green on the 6th hole!

Short game skill and specifically sand play will also be on our preparation list. Getting the ball close will take tremendous imagination around these magnificent green sites. Once we get close, putting is the last phase to conquer. The “Riv” is one of the most challenging courses to make putts inside 10 feet. Due to the Poa grass and subtle breaks, players are consistently three-putting more than the Tour average.

The average winning score of the last 10 winners is 14 under par. Although only one of those winners had odds lower than 25-1, it takes a very well-rounded game to win at the Genesis. Look at these strokes-gained averages from those 10 champions.

  • Gained Off the Tee: 2.9
  • On Approach: 4.8
  • Around the Green: 2.8
  • Putting: 4.0

Preparing for 72 holes at Riviera is a comprehensive task. Not one we can take on in a week or two. There must be a baseline of talent and work in place for this week. The field reflects the evolution of the tour, but this course rewards fantastic all-around play. Based upon the my course assessment summary and what my eyes have already seen this week in Los Angeles, here’s my Genesis Invitational Win, Place, and Show.

Win: Viktor Hovland

Past champions at Riviera have attacked the course from the tee. Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Adam Scott immediately come to mind. Viktor Hovland’s success in two starts at Riviera is impressive. He has finished in the top 5 both times and much of that strong performance can be traced back to his length and accuracy off the tee. He’s ranked first in the field strokes-gained tee-to-green and in birdie-or-better percentage. He’s ranked second on approach, an excellent putter on Poa and from inside 10 feet. At +2500 on SI Sportsbook board he’s my pick to win.

A close second was Xander Schauffele (+1500 SI).

Last week's picks: Collin Morikawa missed the cut and Tom Kim finished T50.

Place: Adam Scott

Adam Scott has played in 14 Genesis Invitationals. He has two wins, seven top 10s and a stroke average of 69.5 on the par-71 course. Place wins come from taking a complete look at the betting market, and SI Sportsbook is offering +210 on Scott to be the low Australian. There’s four of them in the field and Jason Day is the only considerable threat based upon recent performance. Take Adam’s ability to go down under at Riviera and collect come Sunday.

Last week's pick: Patrick Cantlay missed the cut on the number.

Showdown: Hadwin over Montgomery

We’re starting another head-to-head winning streak. Last week, we won on Friday when Aaron Wise missed the cut at TPC Scottsdale. For the Genesis, I have Adam Hadwin over Taylor Montgomery (+100 DraftKings). Hadwin has the history at Riviera and finished T10 at WMPO. Montgomery missed the cut a week ago and hasn't been a great approach player, losing over a stroke in his last five starts. Combine those two factors and we’ll most likely be collecting again before the weekend.

Last week's pick: Si Woo Kim finished T23 while Aaron Wise missed the cut, boosting Keith's matchups record to 5-1.

Select Odds to Win at SI Sportsbook

Jon Rahm +700

Rory McIlroy +850

Scottie Scheffler +1000

Justin Thomas +1400

Xander Schauffele +1500

Tony Finau +1600

Max Homa +1800

Collin Morikawa +2000

Patrick Cantlay +2200

Sungjae Im +2500

Viktor Hovland +2500

Jordan Spieth +2800

Sam Burns +2800

Cameron Young +3000

Hideki Matsuyama +3500

Jason Day +3500

Matt Fitzpatrick +3500

Tom Kim +3500

Will Zalatoris +3500

Keith Stewart is an award-winning PGA Professional and founder of Read The Line, a leading golf betting insights service covering the PGA Tour which will raise your betting acumen (and hopefully your bankroll). Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter and follow on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.