Rory McIlroy headlines an exceptional field this week at the Genesis Invitational with the new world number one competing in LA. Nine of the top ten in the world rankings are playing this week with Riviera Country Club providing a demanding test.
The 7,322-yard par 71 has produced a history of outstanding champions with Tiger Woods surprisingly failing to claim victory at the classic course.
Power off the tee is an advantage on some of the holes, although strong ball striking and course management are key requirements. Confidence putting on the challenging poa annua greens is also a significant asset around the parkland course.
McIlroy has been phenomenally consistent over the last year and is an obvious danger as 15/2 favourite but there are more preferable courses to back him on. Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm follow at 9/1 in the betting and are also respected, but look short enough in this world-class field.
Patrick Cantlay - Each Way
Patrick Cantlay has developed into one of the most consistent players in the world and the Californian looks worth backing to lift the title this weekend.
Cantlay demonstrated his affinity for Rivera two years ago after contending all week before finishing in a tie for fourth. He was also inside the top 15 last season and has admitted the course fits his eye, and he is extremely comfortable around the track.
Cantlay has no obvious weaknesses and his all-round game can help him challenge for a third PGA Tour victory this week. The 27-year-old broke through with his win in Las Vegas before a superb performance clinched the Memorial Tournament last summer.
Cantlay, who finished runner-up in Vegas and fourth at the Tournament of Champions this season, was 11th at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. His exceptional ball striking, which sees him ranked fourth for total driving and sixth for greens in regulation, can help him contend again in Hollywood at 20/1.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 11, 2020
Bubba Watson - Each Way
Bubba Watson has a rich history of success at Riviera and the mercurial left-hander is worth backing to be the star of the show again this year.
Watson has won three times at the course and there is no doubt he feels exceptionally confident every time he competes at the famed LA track.
His ability to work the ball both ways and imagination is ideally suited to Riviera as his results have proved. Watson’s first win here came in 2014, after shooting back-to-back weekend rounds of 64, before adding another victory in 2016. His most recent triumph came two years ago and Watson is in great shape to add a fourth title this weekend.
Watson has started this year superbly and appears to be in control of all aspects of his game. The 41-year-old opened up with sixth place at the Farmers Insurance Open, at another California course featuring poa annua greens, before finishing in a tie for third at the Phoenix Open. Watson is 24-under-par for those eight rounds and his motivation levels, in this Ryder Cup year, look to be in mint condition.
Putting is often his weakness but he ranks fifth for total putting this season and looks a huge runner at Riviera. There has understandably been a massive gamble on Watson but the 12-time PGA Tour champion still rates a strong bet at 22/1.
Adam Scott - Each Way
Adam Scott has an excellent track record at Riviera and the Australian is worth backing to produce another big performance in LA.
The former world number one won back in 2005, in a reduced weather-affected event, while he was second in both 2016 and 2006. Scott finished seventh 12 months ago but this could have been significantly better if he was not derailed by strong winds in the final round. The 39-year-old has described the course as his favourite on the PGA Tour and it is no surprise he has excelled at the venue.
Scott comes in off a long break but significantly the 13-time PGA Tour champion won on his last outing in December. His two-shot victory at the Australian PGA Championship was the perfect end to last year and sends him into 2020 with renewed belief and confidence.
The 2013 Masters champion is focused on peaking for the majors but will be intent on securing his first win in America in four years. Scott, who encouragingly is ranked tenth for strokes gained putting, has the long game class to handle Riviera again and is a strong each-way bet at 28/1.
— Golf Australia (@GolfAust) December 22, 2019
Sungjae Im - Each Way
Sungjae Im has been knocking on the door for a first PGA Tour win and the South Korean ace is a tempting bet at appealing odds this week.
Im was named rookie of the year in 2019 after an exceptionally consistent run of form. The 21-year-old finished inside the top ten on six occasions last season, one of which came in California on poa annua greens at the Safeway Open.
Im earned promotion to the PGA Tour after two victories in 2018 on the Web.com Tour and it is inevitable he will get off the mark at this level soon.
Im’s tremendous form secured a debut in the Presidents Cup and he excelled in Australia at the end of last year, finishing joint top scorer with 3.5 points. This performance was a huge boost for Im and he has made every cut this season.
Second place at the Sanderson Farms Championship was another near miss, while he was third in an elite field at the ZOZO Championship and tenth last month at the American Express.
With a victory at the Genesis Championship, held in Korea, in October, another Genesis success in LA could be heading his way. Im, ranked ninth for scoring average, looks an each-way threat at 50/1.
Kevin Na - Each Way
Kevin Na has won three times across the last two seasons and the South Korean could contend at a sporting price this weekend.
Na was viewed as a player that struggled to get over the line but this narrative has changed dramatically in recent years. The 36-year-old won at Colonial last season before producing one of the best putting performances ever to land victory in Vegas. Na has started this year solidly with a couple of top 20s including a tie for 14th last week at Pebble Beach.
Na has freely admitted certain courses prohibit him from winning, due to their length, but Riviera is not one of them and he has gone close here on several occasions. Na finished runner-up in LA two years ago and was fourth in 2017. He was also third nine years ago and there is no doubt this is one of the weeks Na believes he can compete.
His touch on the greens, which sees him ranked fourth for strokes gained putting, can help thrust him into the mix at 66/1 each way.