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Fantasy Golf Picks — 2023 Genesis Invitational Picks, Predictions, Rankings and Sleepers

Pat Mayo breaks down the 2023 Genesis Invitational, making his picks and rankings for the event while previewing the course and key stats.

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 Genesis Invitational Picks.

Wednesday Update: Final Bets, DraftKings Notes, Stats

2023 Genesis — Picks & Preview | Info & Research | Stats/Tools

2023 Genesis — DraftKings Picks | Player/Course Notes | Own Projections

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2023 Genesis Invitational: Field

Field: 134 Players
Cut: Top 65 and Ties
Lineup Lock: Thursday, February 16
Defending Champ: Joaquin Niemann

Tiger’s playing. If Tiger’s playing, expect the rest of the best players in the world to be in competition too. They’re all playing Riviera this week.

2023 Genesis Invitational: Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Ball Striking
  • Driving Distance Gained
  • Par 4s Gained: 450-500 Yards
  • Strokes Gained: Around The Green

Mayo’s Key Stats powered by

2023 Genesis Invitational: Course

  • Course: Riviera CC
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7,322
  • Greens: Poa

Par 3s (4): Average length of 198.3 yards (three are over 190)

  • Cumulative played over par last season (two had a sub-12% birdie rate)

Par 4s (11): Average length of 441.2 yards (seven in the 430-480 bucket)

  • Back 9 had the three hardest Par 4s on the course (Holes 12, 15 and 18)

Par 5s (3): Average length of 558.7 yards (two are over 580)

  • The three easiest holes on the course (Hole No. 1 had a higher eagle rate last season than the Par 3 No. 4 had birdie rate)
  • Hole 1 can be a difference-maker (Niemann beat Morikawa by 2 strokes last season, for the event … he was 3 strokes better on No. 1)

2023 Genesis Invitational: Past Winners

  • 2022: Joaquin Niemann -19
  • 2021: Max Homa -12
  • 2020: Adam Scott -11
  • 2019: JB Holmes -14
  • 2018: Bubba Watson -12
  • 2017: Dustin Johnson -17
  • 2016: Bubba Watson -16
  • 2015: James Hahn -6
  • 2014: Bubba Watson -15

2022: Joaquin Niemann (-19, two clear of Collin Morikawa/Cam Young)

  • Highlight: Niemann was the first-round leader and opened with consecutive 63s. Four of the top five after Thursday finished top-10 for the week
  • Each of the top nine finishers gained putting in that 10-15 foot range

2021: Max Homa (-12, playoff win over Tony Finau)

  • Highlight: Bookend 66s for Homa (the top three after Thursday all cashed top five paychecks for the week)
  • Five of the top seven finishers lost distance but gained fairways

2020: Adam Scott (-11, two clear of Scott Brown/Sung Kang/Matt Kuchar)

  • Highlight: Scott was 8-back after Thursday but shot a 64 on Friday (after 72 on Thursday)
  • Pick one, not both. Just two of the top nine finishers for the week gained both distance AND fairways

2019: J.B. Holmes (-14, one clear of Justin Thomas)

  • Highlight: First round leader after firing a 63, didn’t have a round better than 68 the rest of the way
  • Five of the top seven players in approach for the week cashed top 10 paychecks
  • 36-hole Sunday finish

2018: Bubba Watson (-12, two clear of Kevin Na/Tony Finau)

  • Highlight: Made his move on moving day with a 65 (second-best round of the day, his best round of the tournament by three strokes)
  • 11 of the top 13 finishers gained on proximity in the 175-200 yard window

2017: Dustin Johnson (-17, five clear of Scott Brown/Thomas Pieters)

  • Highlight: DJ posted the second-best score of Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3 before taking his foot off the gas with a 71 on Sunday)
  • 13 of the top 14 finishers gained on approach, the three best putters for the week all cashed top five paychecks

2023 Genesis Invitational: Notes

In previous years, the Genesis field was smaller than regular PGA TOUR events. Now an elevated event with $20M in the prize pool the field has been expanded to 136 players in 2023.

Like at Augusta National, there is a clear bias toward left-handers at Riviera and players who hit a draw. There has also been a significant leaderboard crossover between Riviera and Quail Hollow historically. When Max Homa, JB Holmes and James HAHHHHHNNNNNN have won at both venues, there’s too much evidence to ignore.

On paper, 7,322 doesn’t seem like it would be too long of a task for the field as a Par 71. That’s before a closer examination of the scorecard, however. Turns out, Riviera CC is actually quite daunting. There are elevation swings all over the course but also a micro Par 4 (No. 10) at just 315 yards and all three of the par 5s measuring under 600 yards. That leaves a lot of yardage to go around. What remains are seven par 4s measuring over 450 yards, all of which play over par. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a course featuring more approach shots from 175 yards and beyond.

Hole No. 1 typically plays as the easiest Par 5 on TOUR, generating a 6.3% eagle rate and 59.6% birdie rate for the field. Since 2004, only No. 9 at Waialae CC has ceded more eagles to the field.

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The drivable No. 10 is a prime example of great, short par 4. It’s been the second-toughest par 4 under 350 yards on TOUR the last decade and presents a legitimate conundrum for players on the tee box. Most of which has to do with where the pin is located that day. If you’re long and the pin is at the back, it’s death. If the pin is at the back, and you lay up, you must contend with the fact that the GIR% from inside 75 yards on the 10th hole is no gimme. Since 2012, there have been 3,385 attempts from inside 75 yards on the par-4 10th hole. Of these attempts, just 62% of players hit the green in regulation. The field only manages to scramble for par 52% of the time when the flagstick is on the back-right side of the green. Essentially, if you’re going to miss while going for the green, miss left. Another advantage for lefties and hard draw players — one in three players who miss right of this green make bogey or worse.

Short hitters with excellent long irons can definitely contend at Riviera, but the degree of difficulty is just so much higher for them. Since the fairways are difficult to hit (55%) and the rough is generally very short in spots, bombers are the path of least resistance this week. Just glance at the past winners at this event and you’ll get the idea.

An examination of the strokes gained influence among the Top 5 finishers from the past decade showed SG: APP to be more than twice as impactful to that group as SG: OTT and SG: ATG.

Top 5 SG Stats Per Round

Riviera is one of the lowest driving accuracy courses (54%) and sports one of the smallest GIR rates (57%) on TOUR. PGA TOUR averages are 62% and 66%, respectively. Short game will play a factor in determining the winner, but much like at Pebble Beach, the green complexes at Riviera, both on and around the putting surfaces, are learned through experience. There’s a reason Bubba Watson can have a wonky short game at most places, yet know exactly the proper shot and speed at Riviera. Unlike Pebble, however, Riviera has large 6500 square foot putting surfaces, which puts an extra emphasis on lag putting. Beyond a similar strength of field, it’s another reason so many of the same players perform well at Riviera and Augusta National.

Riviera CC has ranked inside the top 10 toughest greens to hit in regulation in 11 of the last 12 seasons.

A week after a course that has some of the easiest putting inside 10 feet in Phoenix, Riviera historically ranks as the toughest course putting from under five feet, along with Pebble Beach GL and Torrey Pines South — all Poa Annua courses.

Obviously, not all poa greens are the same. The putting surfaces at Riviera tend to roll as some of the fastest of any course each year. These are the best putters at Riviera per round over the past 12 rounds played in the field this week.

SG: PUTT per round at Riviera

After Pebble Beach, Riviera sports the toughest greens to hit from inside 125 yards (76%). With the narrow fairways and broadcasters’ love of saying the word “Kikuyu,” expect the thick grass type of the rough to be mentioned over and over … and over.

DraftKings Notes

There always seems to be some cheap options that determine GPP’s, but there is almost always one of the top players in the field circling. When building a lineup this week, you’ll want to be very comfortable with your big gun before dumpster diving.

  • 2022: The top two scorers were sub-$8,000, but the next five were all over $8,000. JT and Morikawa were both top four in pricing and finished top six in scoring
  • 2021: Five guys had a five-digit price tag … just one (Jon Rahm) finished among the top 13 DraftKings scorers for the week.
  • 2020: No $8,000 player reached 80 DKFP (two of the top six scorers were in the $6,000s)
  • 2019: JT and Rory were second and third in pricing … finished second and fourth in DKFP. But Holmes ($7,200) led the way in DraftKings scoring while my guys Si WOO and Luke List were both priced $7,400 and finished top seven in DKFP.
  • 2018: Six players scored 90+ DKFP and they were all priced $7,100-$8,200.
  • 2017: DJ won at $11,400 (third-most expensive) and that’s great … the only other three players to reach triple-digit DKFP were all sub-$7,000. Just three of the players priced over $8,000 finished better than 20th in DKFP.


  • Streaks are tough to come by, but holes 9-11 give you some upside heading into the toughest hole on the course. So starting on the front will be the way to go … holes 18 and 2 were two of the five with a sub-10% birdie rate last season. So going back-to-front is a tough sell.

2023 Genesis Invitational Picks

Viktor Hovland

Per usual, Hovland was submarined by chipping woes in Phoenix. The ball striking and putting: Quite good. Keep that rolling into LA and VIK will have a chance to finally break through on the American mainland at a course where he’s finished T4 and T5 in two starts.

Wednesday Update: Final Bets, DraftKings Notes, Stats

Taylor Moore

Another week, another quality result for Taylor Moore. After ending 2022 in the dumps with a pair of missed cuts, and starting 2023 not making it to Sunday at The American Express, it seemed like that late summer hot streak make have just been a fluke. But since Torrey Pines he’s BACK, BABY!!! Top 15 finishes at both the Farmers and Pebble and a top finish in Phoenix has Moore primed to build off his T21 during his Riviera debut a year ago.

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.

Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.