DANE’S DARTS: THE GENESIS INVITATIONAL

It won’t be long until the PGA Tour heads to its Florida swing and we set our sights on The Players Championship and then The Masters in April. However, this week we stay in California, just outside of Los Angeles with a really fun event, The Genesis Invitational. This tournament has always featured a strong field, but this week it will be extra strong since it is condensed to a smaller Invitational. I expect that we will see a well-known player win this week and that is something you will notice once I get into how I plan to build lineups.

As mentioned last week, my goal for this article is to break down each price range from a strategy/lineup construction standpoint. Once I do that, I will list a couple of my favorite plays in the range. I really want to help you by talking through how we can be different through construction and not necessarily just taking 3-4 < 5% owned players. That is one way I have really improved in DFS golf, understanding that you only must be different to a point. I usually focus on lower entry max GPPs (single entry, 3 maxes, and 5 maxes) but will speak to certain plays that are better in larger fields and cash games.  

 I build my models and do a lot of my early week research over at Gup’s Corner. If you haven’t heard of them, I would highly recommend checking out their products. New this year Gup and the crew released golf tools that include a research center. The research center is where I build my models and where I will reference stat info in each of my articles. Check them out! www.gupscorner.com

COURSE & KEY STATS

Finally! We only have to deal with one course going forward this year and I for one am very excited for that. Riviera Country Club is a course that isn’t as easy as the ones we have seen over the last month or so. The cut line has traditionally been over par and it will be interesting to see if that is changed at all by our new top 65 and ties cut rule. The winning score usually approaches -15 but doesn’t go over that very often. Players will be faced with smaller than average greens and narrow fairways lined with Kikuyu rough.

I am really focusing on great iron players this week and favoring longer hitters over shorter ones. That doesn’t mean I will rule out a shorter hitter as long as they have been good with their long irons and have been hitting fairways. I just don’t want short hitters who aren’t super accurate off the tee and have to deal with long irons from this difficult rough. Below is a list of stats I am targeting this week:

  • SG: Approach
  • Proximity Blend (150-200+ yards)
  • Driving Distance
  • Scrambling
  • Par 5 Scoring
  • SG: Ball Striking
WEATHER

Last year, this was a really rain soaked event. It rained in the days leading up to the tournament and then Thursday featured a long delay. This week it looks like perfect weather. Temperatures in the 60s and not much wind to deal with. I expect that the course will play a lot firmer than last year and we will see a good test provided to the players. I don’t see any kind of wave advantage so I won’t be stacking based on that. I see very light winds forecasted for the mornings and a bit warmer temperatures than last week so those should be prime scoring conditions. Maybe that is something we can target for showdowns. This section is short and sweet this week, the way we like it.

OVERALL STRATEGY

I mentioned on the pod that I am leaning toward a balanced build this week. The main reason for this is because you can build a lineup you feel much better about if you don’t have to dip very much into the $6K range. This is a similar strategy to what you see work in majors. The reason for that is these players that are in the $8K and $9K range can still very well win in this strong of a field. Being able to load up on them makes the bottom part of your lineup a lot stronger. You still have a lot of good players that are getting a price decrease this week due to the field and I plan to take advantage of that instead of going all the way to the top.

$10K + RANGE

This range has some of the top few players in the world. I don’t expect that I will start many of my lineups up here just due to the fact that I like what I can do with a balanced build. Obviously, I like these guys as some of them have good course history and recent form. If I can build a team with one of them that then goes a little more balanced and peppers the $7K range, that is how I will build teams with the “stars”. 

  • Justin Thomas ($11,000) – He has dropped to the 3rd highest priced player in the field just below Rory and Jon Rahm. Out of these top guys he is definitely my favorite due to his course history and how he sets up for this place. He is long of the tee and one of the best in the world with his irons. He ranks 1st for me in my stat model when I look at the last 24, 50 and 100 rounds. He was 2nd last year to J.B. Holmes and 9th in 2018.
  • Tiger Woods ($10,400) – This has been a place that Tiger has failed to win at in his PGA Tour career. The site of his first PGA Tour event at age 16 in 1992, Tiger would desperately like to check this course off his list. Tiger was 15th here a year ago in his run up to his Masters win and the course should fit his game. He is a great iron player, maybe the best of all time, and loves a strategic layout where fairways are important. Look for the GOAT to have a strong week.
$9K RANGE

I absolutely love this range which is another reason why I am leaning towards a balanced build. I have a couple favorites but I also want to see how ownership shakes out come Wednesday night since they are all really close for me. If there is a big disparity between 1 or 2 of them I will play the guy who is lower owned. This will be a big point I plan to update my thoughts on in Slack Wednesday. 5 of the 7 in this range come in the top 10 of my last 24 stat model. Bubba comes in 16th and in recent rounds he is much higher than that. 

  • Hideki Matsuyama ($9,300) – I really like how Hideki has been playing lately. He gained 6, 1.5 and 5.8 strokes with his irons in his 3 events to start 2020. That is exactly what we want here. He ranks top 5 in my entire rolling stat model which ranks players over the last 4, 8, 12, 24, 50 and 100 rounds. I like his course history as well. He was 9th a year ago and also had a 23rd, 4th and 11th from 2014-2016. He is my favorite of the week in this range and if he can figure things out off the tee watch out. 
  • Bubba Watson ($9,600) – This is another “Bubba track”. He was the winner here in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Can he keep that trend going with a win in 2020? I think he has a decent shot. He has been trending very well with a 3rd and a 6th in his 2 starts this calendar year. He has gained 3.8 and 4.3 strokes on approach during those events and I like that to continue. In my rolling stat model he ranks 1st in the last 8 rounds, which is easy to see why. He may get popular this week and he isn’t a great value compared to some of these other guys, but I think he will contend for a win.
$8K RANGE

I am not as enthused to play guys in the $8K range, one guy is above the rest for me but there are some strong players here that could be used in either a balanced or stars and scrubs build. I like the upper $7K players a bit more but don’t mind some of these guys to pivot if they are lining up for you. Seeing some of the names here you will notice more and more how strong of a field we have. 

  • Collin Morikawa ($8,100) – Definitely my favorite in this range. He is a guy that has gotten a price decrease and I still think he can contend in this field. He has been playing some magnificent golf, really since he turned pro last year. He ranks 1st on approach in the last 24 rounds and near the top of my proximity blend. He does have a bit of tournament experience here as he was in the 2017 U.S. Amateur at Riviera. Take advantage of the price this week and fire up Morikawa in all formats. 

Notables: Abraham Ancer, Sungjae Im

$7K RANGE

This is a very large range this week and we see some names down here that we usually see up in the $8K and $9K range. Again, this is due to the strong field but it really reminds me of major championship pricing and in those events I take advantage of these lower priced guys. I am going to talk about a couple more guys here than I usually do since I plan to exploit this range at the top and bottom.

  • Matt Kuchar ($7,800) – Something I am really targeting this week is underpriced players. Kuchar is one of those at $7,800. He has 4 straight top 28 or better finishes here, including an 8th in 2016. His last 2 weeks have been decent and he did gain 3.7 strokes on approach in Phoenix. Before that he won against a weak field on the Asian Tour. I like Kuchar to outperform his price and we don’t need a win out of him. 
  • Paul Casey ($7,900) – A price play for me this week. Doesn’t have great recent form but at the price he is now we don’t need him to win. When you take a longer view and look at the last 50 rounds, Casey ranks 10th for me. He has a decent history here with a 2nd in 2015 and 12th in 2011. He has played the event 5 straight times counting 2015 and his worst finish was 49th in 2018.
  • Joaquin Niemann ($7,300) – He is my favorite play in this range this week and I love the price of $7,300. He is another guy, like Morikawa who has some experience at Riviera from the 2017 U.S. Amateur. His game should really fit this place as he ranks 8th in my last 24 stat model. I don’t care if he gets popular this week, I’ll be heavy on Niemann. 
  • Erik Van Rooyen ($7,000) – This will be GPP only for me as we haven’t seen him over here on the PGA Tour in quite a while. Digging into his Euro Tour stats he has been playing decently well, averaging positive SG:APP over his rounds in the last few events. His recent form overseas reads 22, 12, 37 and MC. EVR really pops in my long term stat model ranking 23rd over the last 50 rounds.  I like him as a sneaky play at a course that should fit his type of game. 

Notables: Alex Noren, Corey Conners

$6K RANGE

Not very thrilled to drop down here because of how big of a drop off it is from the $7K in talent. I’ll list a couple of my favorites as one of them could help a stars and scrubs build pay off. 

  • Emiliano Grillo ($6,900) – He has traditionally been a good iron player and he ranks in the top 15 in my long term model. He is also 7th on approach in the last 24 rounds and is also up there in proximity. His last time out in Phoenix he gained strokes on approach but lost 6 strokes putting to miss the cut. If that normalizes a bit he could make the cut and pay off the price tag this week.
  • Joseph Bramlett ($6,100) – This is a super deep sleeper this week. He has been trending a bit as of late, ranking 15th in my model in the last 12 rounds. He hasn’t lost strokes on approach except for 1 event in the 2019-20 season. He gained 3 strokes on approach during the 2 measured rounds at Pebble Beach and I may have a lineup or 2 with him to squeeze in some of the top priced players. 

Notables: Joel Dahmen, Bronson Burgoon

If you guys have any questions please let me know in the Slack! Be sure to listen to this week’s RotoPros PGA Podcast where Chris and I break down the course, weather and some of our favorite plays. Also, please join us tomorrow night in the chat for a live “pre lock” type chat. We will talk about the current weather forecast (if changed) and any updated plays we like! See you then!

Thanks for checking out the article and if you have any questions you can hit me up in the RotoPros Slack Chat or on Twitter(@rotopros). If you are not a RotoPros member yet be sure to get over to the site and get your FREE one-week trial! You won’t be disappointed.