It took three extra holes in Phoenix, but Scottie Scheffler finally captured his first TOUR win over Patrick Cantlay. My DFS lineups would have preferred the win come from Cantlay as he was my favorite contrarian pay-up top and had a nice discount in ownership. I still managed a good week. However, it was a quick reminder of just how hard this game can be as even lineups I had with six guys in the top 15 only found middling profitability in large-field GPPs.
Now, we head to Tiger’s Tournament at Riviera as the Genesis Invitational will have a truly elite field with all 11 of the top 11 in the world (with Scheffler newly minted at No. 11) set to tee it up in Pacific Palisades. DraftKings pricing rolled out to reflect that field strength with all of the big names littering the top tier, with World No. 1 Jon Rahm leading the way at $11,300. I ultimately took the stand to fully fade Rahm last week and it mostly worked out with him finishing 10th. It’ll be interesting to see how his ownership plays out this week with some of the community starting to sour on his ability to pay off the lofty price tags.
As for the course, this is one of the classic designs that remains on the TOUR schedule each year as Riviera is a Country Club by name but plays much tougher. Each year it is one of the toughest courses to hit fairways, greens, and get the ball close to the hole on approach.
To make matters worse, it also has some of the toughest greens for holing short putts. Players won’t be able to fake it around Riviera as Tiger Woods has noted multiple times, it will require their whole bag and an elite week of ball striking to contend at this event. When in doubt, I’ll lean ball-striking with my buys this week as I think the greens may level the playing field a bit from a putting perspective.
Before I get into my plays of the week, be sure to check out Matt Vincenzi’s stats preview to start your week. Also, Landon Silinsky has been great with his cash game plays each week, and he sets up a great core for our lineups.
And for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.
Jon Rahm ($11,300 DraftKings)
When I started writing this, it appeared we may avoid Rahm as the top chalk, but a mid-write-up ownership update put him back in the 22% range. They know much better than me, but I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see Rahm slip down into the teens with so many of the elites teeing it up at Riviera at lower prices. The reality with multi-entering is not to fall too in love with one of these stars as spreading your ownership makes a lot more sense up top and making more conviction plays to separate your lineups with the lower tiers.
Rahm has been consistently good, the question and possible issue are that at this price he needs to be great. He has posted four straight top-15 finishes, with two of those inside the top three. The latter results can pay off this price each week, but when he slips outside of the top eight, he likely becomes outside of the optimal range to take down a large GPP.
We know that his best putting surface is POA and the flat stick is where most of his issues have been. I’ll jump back on board with the top player in the world on a course he loves and form that is just a few putts from being spectacular, hopefully with some discounted ownership.
Viktor Hovland ($9,400 DraftKings)
In writing up my best bet of the week, I was really torn between the top two young superstars. Both Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland make a ton of sense at the Genesis with their elite ball-striking abilities. DraftKings made it much easier on me for DFS as they are separated by $1,000 which allows me to pair Hovland with any of the names at the top.
Hovland’s first appearance at Riviera was last year where he finished in the top five. He was able to get a good feel for the course and as expected he stood out tee-to-green. Even more importantly with Vik was that he was sharp with his short game and that is what separates him between the good weeks and the great ones. We know he has been hard at work on his game around the green and he will have a lot of opportunities to show that this week. I like Hovland as my second man into lineups and really think he may have a look at winning this tournament outright.
Sam Burns ($8,700 DraftKings)
My first real pivot with lineups this week will be away from the popular Will Zalatoris and dipping down just a tad cheaper for half of the ownership on Sam Burns. I don’t love the missed cut last week, but he fell just one shot short and was really pretty solid on approach. He gained 2.4 shots on the field last week but couldn’t quite get things going off-the-tee or on the greens.
I’m looking for Burns to bounce back this week at the place he really put his name on the map after holding the lead following each of the first three rounds. He would eventually fall short on Sunday, but Burns showed then that he belonged, and this event seems to have been that springboard for him.
He’s a great leverage play in this spot with tremendous upside if he brings his full game with him as he did at the Genesis in 2021.
Max Homa ($8,300 DraftKings)
Here we are again with the narrative of fading a player due to a prior win. Alongside the TOUR winners in recent weeks, most DFS players will also fade the defending champion of the event outside of a few particular names. I get the theory with the added obligations, but Homa is coming in off of one of his best ball-striking weeks and it’s a course that clearly suits his game.
He actually is the best player in this field from a Strokes Gained Total perspective across the last three years at the Genesis. Certainly, his win helps but he also has another top-five finish. Outside the ropes, we are also talking about a player that chooses to do his own podcast and engage heavily in social media, so I have a hard time thinking that an added press conference will cause him much strain.
Put simply, Homa is a strong play for me this week especially with single-digit ownership in store.
Paul Casey ($7,600 DraftKings)
GPPs this week will be won or lost in this range in my opinion as there are so many viable options. I am not going out on a limb with my pick of Paul Casey as he will garner double-digit ownership, but he’s simply too cheap to overthink it. As I mentioned at the start I will lean ball-striking first and that is definitely the game of Casey.
He has always been one of the pure ball-strikers in the game and continues to be that in his best weeks. He has consistently made cuts in his four previous trips to Riviera, though the pivot argument may be that he doesn’t have any finishes during that time better than 25th.
I am in, but not looking to go overboard as both Kevin Na and Alex Noren make a ton of sense to me as lower-owned pivots in this range.
Francesco Molinari ($7,000 DraftKings)
If there was ever a week to see Molinari return to full form and show us signs of the player he was when he was Champion Golfer of the Year and staring down Tiger through 11 holes on Sunday at the Masters, it’s this week at Riviera. As I am sure you have heard by now, he moved his family to this area a couple of years ago and is now a member at Riviera.
He plays it as his home course and on a track where course knowledge matters more than most that is something I will fully buy into this week. When I see that he is only lingering around 5% ownership, he becomes a core type of play for me as wouldn’t be surprised to see his name in the mix over the weekend.
Sebastian Munoz ($6,700 DraftKings)
We have been quietly seeing Sebastian Munoz round into form over the past three events. He has improved on his results each time out, with the latest being a 23rd place finish at the WMPO. He now transitions to a course where he has started the final round inside of the top 20 each of the last two years but faded out on Sunday. Munoz’s price tag this week would have us ecstatic for that scenario again and he has certainly grown into a better player that could be ready to produce more consistently on the weekends.
I also love that he is a scorer that can put DraftKings points up in bunches, making him an easy play to pay off this price just by making the cut.
Patrick Rodgers ($6,500 DraftKings)
There are an interesting number of Patrick Rodgers truthers out in the golf DFS and betting community. I am certainly not one of them, but I do like their guy this week on a course he has historically loved playing. Rodgers has finished in the top 30 in each of his last five appearances at this course and two of those are top 15s.
I’d say you wouldn’t find that elsewhere at this price but Wyndham Clark and James Hahn have a similar track record at the same $6,500. I’ll be smattering around with all three this week and even pairing them up some to allow me to buy bigger at the top.