Golf Pick 'Em: Genesis matchup breakdowns

Will Gray
·4 min read

Golf Pick 'Em is back for another season of picks and prizes in the NBC Sports Predictor app.

The free-to-play game has returned in 2021 and continues this week with the Genesis Invitational. Each week participants will choose between a series of head-to-head matchups, plus select an overall tournament champion and winning score.

Participants can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $50,000 jackpot available for any participants who earn a perfect score (increasing up to $100,000 during the biggest events of the year). There will also be at least $1,000 awarded each week in cash and prizes, even if there is no player with a perfect score.

Here's a look at some of the keys to this week's set of eight matchups at Riviera Country Club, as the Tour wraps up the West Coast Swing:

Bryson DeChambeau vs. Brooks Koepka

Keys: These two have combined to win three out of the last four U.S. Opens and have spent a little time jabbing at each other on social media in recent months. Koepka may have a little more to say now that he's gotten back into the winner's circle two weeks ago in Phoenix after missing three straight cuts, while DeChambeau has gotten progressively better with each trip to Riviera, highlighted by a T-5 finish a year ago.

Edge: DeChambeau

Dustin Johnson vs. Jon Rahm

Keys: Johnson is listed as the betting favorite this week and understandably so, given that he has nine top-10 finishes in his last 12 trips to this event including a win and a playoff loss. Rahm has finished T-9 and T-17 in his two prior Riviera appearances and hasn't finished outside the top 20 since the U.S. Open in September.

Edge: Johnson

Rory McIlroy vs. Xander Schauffele

Keys: These two have had a number of close calls in recent weeks, with Schauffele probably producing the lion's share. The "X Man" has finished T-2 in each of his last two starts and has top-25 results in each of his three prior Genesis starts, while McIlroy has finished inside the top 5 at Riviera each of the last two years and enters off a T-13 finish at TPC Scottsdale.

Edge: Schauffele

Justin Thomas vs. Jordan Spieth

Keys: This might be the first time in months that Spieth has more momentum on his side than his longtime friend and competitor. Each of the last two weeks he has carried at least a share of the lead into the final round, finishing T-4 in Phoenix and T-3 at Pebble Beach. He has finished outside the top 50 here each of the last two years, while Thomas missed the cut last year after letting the 54-hole lead slip away and, like McIlroy, finished T-13 two weeks ago in Phoenix.

Edge: Thomas

Patrick Cantlay vs. Collin Morikawa

Keys: Cantlay played well enough to win last week at Pebble but was undone by a balky putter, and now he stays in the Golden State where he is quickly racking up a solid run of results that includes a runner-up at the American Express and three straight finishes of T-17 or better at Riviera. Morikawa won the PGA up the coast at Harding Park last summer and is returning to PGA Tour action for the first time since a pair of T-7 finishes last month in Hawaii.

Edge: Cantlay (Note: This matchup originally featured Daniel Berger, who withdrew Tuesday.)

Viktor Hovland vs. Will Zalatoris

Keys: Two of the Tour's rising talents square off here, as Hovland looks for his third PGA Tour win in less than a year while making his first Riviera appearance as a pro. Zalatoris has racked up more top-10 finishes over the last year than any other worldwide player, but he has cooled somewhat in recent weeks with a T-17 finish in Phoenix and a T-55 result last week at Pebble Beach.

Edge: Hovland

Adam Scott vs. Tony Finau

Keys: Scott shot a final-round 70 last year to win this event by two shots, his second career victory at Riviera to go along with a pair of runner-up results. He finished T-10 at Torrey Pines in his most recent start, while Finau continues to rack up the near-misses in search of win No. 2, including T-2 finishes in each of his last two worldwide starts and the same T-2 result at this event back in 2018.

Edge: Scott

Scottie Scheffler vs. Francesco Molinari

Keys: Scheffler continues his quest for a maiden Tour victory and bounced back from a pair of missed cuts to finish T-7 at TPC Scottsdale in his most recent start. He finished T-30 at Riviera last year, while Molinari has missed the cut here in four of his last five appearances. The Italian showed some promising flashes of form recently, with top-10 finishes in both Palm Springs and San Diego, but a 59th-place finish at Pebble included a viral moment of him topping his opening tee shot to begin the third round.

Edge: Scheffler