Picks and tips: Cantlay poised for Genesis win

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Will Gray
·4 min read
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The PGA Tour wraps up the West Coast Swing this week with a star-studded affair outside Hollywood.

The Genesis Invitational won't have tournament host Tiger Woods in the field, but it does have pretty much everybody else. Eight of the top 10 in the world will tee it up this week at Riviera Country Club, headlined by world No. 1 and betting favorite Dustin Johnson.

Johnson (+550) deserves the top spot, given his recent win in Saudi Arabia and impressive record at this event which includes a 2017 victory. But there's value to be found elsewhere, starting with a player who nearly took the title last week in Monterey:

To Win (odds via PointsBet Sportsbook)

Patrick Cantlay (+1600): Based on the ball-striking numbers, he probably should have won last week. Cantlay led the field in SG: Tee-to-Green and proximity to the hole, only to be undone by a terrible day on the greens Saturday and a few untimely misses during the final round. Still, he left with a T-3 result to go along with his AmEx runner-up as further proof that the former UCLA standout and reigning Zozo champ feels right at home in California. Cantlay has finished T-17 or better each of the last three years at this event and is by and large a strong putter despite his issues over the weekend. Improvement on the greens seems much more likely than regression tee-to-green, and if the putter heats up he'll almost certainly factor over the weekend.

Joaquin Niemann (+5000): Niemann is making his first start since bursting out of the gates in 2021 with a pair of runner-up finishes in Hawaii. The Chilean nearly chased down Harris English at Kapalua, then followed with another stellar showing at Waialae. He's available at a tempting price given the fact that he has shown some recent signs of contending against similarly strong fields: T-3 at the BMW Championship, sixth at the CJ Cup and T-13 at Zozo. The fact that he has broken 70 just once in six prior rounds at Riviera is certainly a red flag worth considering, but I'm more than intrigued given his hot start to the new year and the fact that he's currently sixth on Tour this season in total strokes gained.

Top Finishes (odds via PointsBet)

Adam Scott (+320 top-10 finish): This feels like quite a price on the defending champ, who last time I checked had finished T-11 or better in five out of his last six trips to Riviera and finished T-10 at Torrey Pines in his most recent start. Scott doesn't grab headlines like some of his counterparts, but that shouldn't detract from his penchant for success on one of the Tour's more cerebral layouts. The Aussie has put together mostly middle of the road finishes since returning from the pandemic break, but it should be noted that he hasn't missed a cut in almost a year. Don't expect that trend to change this week as he defends (again) on one of his favorite layouts.

Carlos Ortiz (+270 top-20 finish): It's clear at this point that the win last fall in Houston pushed Ortiz to another level. The 29-year-old has continued to rack up promising results since that breakthrough, playing his way into the final group at Torrey Pines and bouncing back from a rough final round to finish T-4 at TPC Scottsdale in his most recent start. Ortiz has finished T-26 or better in each of his four trips to Riviera, highlighted by a T-9 finish two years ago, and no one has putted better on the Riviera greens than Ortiz since he first teed it up in this event in 2015. He's a tempting option for outright (+8000) or top-10 (+560), but given the field strength and his wayward finale at Torrey this feels like the appropriate investment level.

Vaughn Taylor (+400 top-30 finish): Riviera has typically been a place where bombers thrive: Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes and the like. But Taylor has found a way to break that mold, as he has finished T-20 or better here each of the last three years including a T-9 result two years ago. Taylor comes in off a respectable T-21 finish at Pebble Beach, where he was fourth for the week in proximity, and he also cracked the top 30 in recent starts at Sea Island and RSM. It might be a tall task to ask for a win as a +30000 longshot, but Taylor surely has the game to hang around inside the top quarter of the field on a course where he has broken 70 in six of his last eight competitive rounds.

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