This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Riviera Country Club (7,322 yards, par-71)
$1,332,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
The final leg of the West Coast Swing is quite a popular destination this season, as 21 of the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking will peg it at the Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades, California. Formerly known as the Los Angeles Open, this event has been around for nearly a century, with World Golf Hall of Famer Harry Cooper winning the inaugural edition back in 1926. The private Riviera Country Club has hosted the tournament since 1999, featuring a lengthy and challenging par-71 layout, although a couple accessible par-5s provide enough scoring opportunities to maintain an alluring leaderboard. Rain should become a factor immediately Thursday morning before potentially tapering off later in the day, so those with afternoon tee times for Round 1 may have a slightly better chance at lower scoring averages before a 36-hole cut reduces the field from 144 to low-70 and ties.
Recent Past Champions
2018 - Bubba Watson
2017 - Dustin Johnson
2016 - Bubba Watson
2015 - James Hahn
2014 - Bubba Watson
2013 - John Merrick
2012 - Bill Haas
2011 - Aaron Baddeley
2010 - Steve Stricker
2009 - Phil Mickelson
2008 - Phil Mickelson
Key Stats to Victory
Strokes Gained: Approach
Putting inside 10 feet
Riviera Country Club played as the ninth-toughest course on Tour last season with a stroke average of 71.76, or 0.76 shots over par. Patrick Cantlay and Harold Varner were the only two entrants to hit 50 or more greens in regulation, as the course features a handful of long par-4s that measure over 450 yards. Quality iron play becomes essential as SG: Approach foreshadows ball-striking success here, especially when hitting out of Riviera's thick Kikuyu rough. Out of the 76 players who made the cut at the 2018 Genesis Open, 30 managed to average more than 300 yards off the tee as the field's bombers certainly carry an advantage, especially with multiple par-5 eagle opportunities on tap. Despite rain softening the course, Riviera's tough poa annua greens should become bumpy as putts inside 10 feet require additional precision. In terms of past champions at the Genesis, left-handed players have fared extremely well, as Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir have all won at least twice since 2003.
FanDuel Value Picks
Dustin Johnson, $12,000 - Johnson's five-shot victory at Riviera in 2017 marked his sixth top-4 finish since 2010 at the country club. During this nine-year span he's a combined 62-under in 32 rounds at the Genesis, which is better than anyone else by nearly 30 strokes. He dealt with jet lag at the AT&T Pro-Am following his win at the Saudi International, but still managed to pace the field in SG: Off-the-Tee in two rounds with ShotLink at Pebble Beach.
Xander Schauffele, $11,200 - Dating back to the final two legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, Schauffele has collected six top-10s in 10 starts, including a pair of wins at the WGC-HSBC Champions and Tournament of Champions, when he rose to a career-best sixth in the OWGR. He's gaining strokes in each subcategory this season, residing in the No. 2 spot in terms of SG: Total through 11 measured rounds. Furthermore, he finished T9 in his Riviera debut last season and tied for third in birdies with 19 throughout the tourney.
Patrick Cantlay, $10,800 - The Long Beach native and former UCLA standout tied for fourth at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championship hosted by Riviera, and he also posted a T4 here at the Genesis just last year. Cantlay had a share of the 36-hole lead and hit the most greens in regulation among his peers, but a final-round 71 kept him three strokes shy of champion Bubba Watson.
Bubba Watson, $10,700 - Watson's uncanny ability to shape shots and get creative off the tee has been on full display in recent years at Riviera, which has resulted in him reaching the podium on three occasions at the Genesis Open since 2014. During his two-stroke victory in 2018, Watson tied for the tournament lead in par breakers with 20 birdies and an eagle while also tying for seventh in GIR percentage.
Tony Finau, $10,600 - Finau led the field in par-4 scoring and carded just six bogeys all week en route to his tie for runner-up honors at the Genesis last season. He also ranked top-3 in both driving distance and GIR percentage, despite hitting only 25 fairways in regulation. Finau is currently 11th on Tour in proximity from 175-200 yards and 10th in driving distance.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Tommy Fleetwood, $10,100 - Fleetwood was in danger of missing the cut at last week's Pro-Am following a first-round 73, but he rebounded with a four-under 68 in Round 2 at Spyglass and went on to finish sixth in SG: Approach at Pebble throughout the weekend. He also was top-10 in driving distance and scrambling, providing solid value at this moderate price as the 14th-ranked golfer in the world.
Martin Laird, $9,400 - Laird has strung together results of T9-T8-T11 in his past three trips to Riviera CC, proving you can still compete without averaging more than 300 yards off the tee here. He was felled by the modified cut at the AT&T Pro-Am last week, but hit just over 70 percent of the greens in regulation through three rounds.
Keegan Bradley, $9,300 - Bradley has cooled off a bit since four straight top-20s prior to the turn of the calendar dating to the CIMB Classic, but he's 22nd on Tour in SG: Approach, 33rd in SG: Tee-to-Green and 18th in proximity. His putting has been nothing short of horrendous and he'll need to make major strides with the flat stick in order to contend, but the ball striking is there. Bradley finished T2-T16-T20-T4 at the Genesis Open from 2012 to 2015.
Sung Kang, $8,900 - Kang is shedding the 'sleeper' tag due to growing popularity as a value play this week, but for good reason; as he owns three straight finishes of T22 or better at Riviera and is coming off a top-15 at the Pro-Am where he led the field in GIR percentage. The South Korean has been quite solid with his long irons and also ranks top-25 in proximity from over 200 yards and par-5 scoring.
Michael Thompson, $8,500 - Thompson hasn't fared well in limited action at Riviera since his debut in 2012, when he placed T17, but his recent form includes three straight top-13s from the Desert Classic through the AT&T Pro-Am while joining the top-200 in the OWGR. He fired a six-under 66 during Sunday's final round in similar weather conditions to what we could see this week. Additionally, Thompson ranked fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green and eighth in SG: Approach at Pebble Beach.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Experience matters at Riviera CC and only three of the last eight champions have reached 15-under or better, so it could be wise to pair the field's more powerful players with a couple short-game studs who are capable of getting it up and down at a high rate as the tournament won't become a birdie fest. Nonetheless, iron play is paramount at the Genesis and there are enough legitimate bargains to deploy multiple elite options above the $11,000 mark.