Preview: Genesis Invitational
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This week, the PGA Tour is heading down California’s cost to the greater Los Angeles area for the Genesis Invitational. This tournament has been played at the historic Riviera Country Club for over 50 years, in addition to hosting a handful of past majors. The course is a long par 71, although it is perhaps most known for its drivable par four to start off the back nine. This tournament typically produces a top-tier champion, and with the depth of this year’s field, it will be a true talent-check to hoist the trophy.
The focus should probably be more near the top of the market, with a preference to distance off the tee and long-term iron play. Historically, missing fairways at Riviera is not overly penal, which leads to bombers having an advantage being able to full-send and not worry about finding the short grass. The greens are hard to hit for the field overall, but missing them won’t destroy a golfer. This tournament is not often a birdie fest, and we’ve seen a range of winning scores over the last decade; from as low as -17 to as high as -6. It must be noted that Dustin Johnson’s -17 was five strokes better than second place, showing mere mortals were still around the normal field average for Riviera.
Now that we have our profile of top-tier talent, length over accuracy, and long iron play, let’s get to the picks...
Fitting to the profile and searching Tipico Sportsbook's offerings, the first name that stands out is Xander Schauffele at +1300. Schauffele has not been able to cross the finish line in first lately, but he’s finished runner-up in four of his last eight events. The forum is superb, and he’s playing the best golf of his career across all facets of the game. His strong off-the-tee and approach play is backed by exceptional putting. It’s a rare combination of elite ball striking and putting, and it will pay off. I believe he should be closer to +1050, which makes the +1300 a solid offering. Long term, his form is as good as Dustin Johnson’s, minus the victories (although he was net low at the Tour Championship). This is a wonderful chance for Schauffele to add an illustrious title to his shelf.
Scrolling just a bit further down Tipico’s odds board, Viktor Hovland +3000 will make another appearance on the betting card. The young Norwegian’s game is absolutely built for Riviera. He is long enough off the tee, and one of the best at gaining strokes through driving. Long iron play will come in handy as well and Hovland has been better than tour average at hitting greens beyond 150 yards. His around the green game is his weak point, but as I stated earlier, missing greens in the past has not been a back breaker. When comparing scores relative to par for hitting and missing greens, Riviera had one of the smallest gaps over the last three years. Hopefully Hovland can take advantage of this situation and find himself back in the winner’s circle.
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