PGA Tour Top 10 Power Rankings: Genesis Open
Bubba Watson was the big winner at last year’s Genesis Open. Which PGA Tour player will follow in his footsteps?
PGA Tour action moves this week from one classic golf gem to another. Next stop: Riviera Country Club and the Genesis Open.
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am is in the books, and while the views were certainly exciting, the final round action was anything but. Jordan Spieth did exactly what he needed to do to claim victory, but it didn’t make for much drama, as he led for the entirety of the day and claimed a four-stroke victory.
This week, the PGA Tour heads to Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Open. The venue will provide us with some striking vistas, but golf fans will hope to see a suspenseful tournament that can do justice to the breathtaking backdrop as well as a beautiful golf course.
The tournament’s new title sponsor, Genesis, is a luxury car subsidiary of Hyundai Motors. They stepped in after the departure of Northern Trust, which opted to instead sponsor the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs (formerly The Barclays). As such, there might be some cool automobiles on display at this week’s event, but Phil Collins and company won’t be in attendance, so don’t get your hopes up.
Without further ado, let’s get to my picks for the week. Here are ten of the best bets for success at the Genesis Open. Each player’s current FedEx Cup ranking is listed next to his name.
Dustin Johnson — 33rd
No. 3, Four top 10s in last five starts
Fortunately for Johnson, this week’s event has been extraordinarily kind to him in the past. Although he’s never won a tournament at Riviera, the Coastal Carolina product has solidified his status as a regular contender, posting four top five finishes in the last five years, including back-to-back runner-ups in 2014 and 2015.
While he missed the cut in his most recent start, he’s already picked up a pair of top 10 finishes in the new year, so his form is probably good enough. A return to such a hospitable host course should do wonders for his game — again, putting has been the issue, and Johnson knows these greens like the back of his hand. If he can recharge his short game, then he’ll almost certainly contend for the victory.
Hideki Matsuyama — 1st
No. 5, Five victories in last nine starts
Matsuyama’s win at TPC Scottsdale is only the tip of the iceberg — since last September’s Tour Championship, the young gun has played in nine official tournaments around the world and come out on top in five of them. He also boasts a strong track record at Riviera Country Club, with three top 25s in as many career appearances. It’s not often that we see trends converge this strongly — if not for Johnson’s spectacular fantasy profile, Matsuyama would likely claim the top spot on this list.
Along with all that, Matsuyama ranks first on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: around-the-green and sixth in greens in regulation, so there shouldn’t be much to trip him up this week. As usual, he can anchor just about any fantasy lineup, so invest with confidence.
Jordan Spieth — 3rd
No. 6, Six consecutive top 10 finishes
In his career at the Genesis Open, Spieth is just two-for-four, but keep in mind that one of those missed cuts came in 2012, before he turned professional. Since shedding his amateur status, he’s picked up a pair of top 15s at Riviera, including a tie for fourth in 2014, when he finished just one stroke out of a playoff. In terms of recent form, there’s nothing to be concerned about — Spieth has notched six consecutive worldwide top 10s in a row, including two wins, so he’s been enjoying an exceptionally hot stretch.
The only deficiency in Spieth’s game since the calendar turned to 2017 has been his iron play, but he struck it well at Pebble Beach last week, so there’s no reason for concern there. Look for him to continue his great run.
Sergio Garcia — 88th
No. 9, Five consecutive top 20 finishes
Garcia’s win at the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago was merely a continuation of what has been week after week of strong form — since being bounced from the FedEx Cup playoffs after last September’s BMW Championship, the 37-year-old has found the top 20 in every one of his five official starts. That consistency bodes well for his chances at Riviera, where he’s posted three top 15s, including a pair of fourth-place finishes, in the last five years alone. The difficult, classic track is always a good fit for Garcia’s game. With a current ranking of fourth on the PGA Tour in greens in regulation, he looks especially well-equipped to tame it this year.
Garcia is already a winner on the other side of the pond this year, but with young countryman Jon Rahm making bank on the PGA Tour, he should have plenty of motivation to keep performing. Look for him to make a run at the title.
Adam Scott — 96th
No. 7, Five consecutive top 15 finishes
Over the course of his illustrious career, Scott has compiled a seven-for-eight mark at the Genesis Open. Highlights of that track record include a victory in 2005 and four other top 20 finishes, including a share of second place a year ago. At last year’s event, he delivered his best putting performance of the season and torched the week’s par 5s to the tune of nine-under-par. He has what it takes to make some birdies this week.
In terms of recent form, Scott has found the top 20 in 12 of his last 14 starts dating back to last summer. While he’s made just one start since the calendar turned to 2017, he came away from it with a tie for ninth, so he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. He should contend for the win this week.
Justin Thomas — 2nd
No. 8, Three victories in last six starts
While Thomas doesn’t have the greatest track record at Riviera — he’s two-for-two, but has yet to finish inside the top 40 — he’s been playing well enough to contend anywhere. With seven top 25s in his last eight starts dating back to last fall, his good form goes much deeper than his two most recent wins. While he struggled at TPC Scottsdale, his missed cut was mostly due to a nightmarish putting performance in the second round. He still ranks ninth on the new PGA Tour season in strokes gained: putting, so I’m willing to write the mishap off as an anomaly as we head to the Genesis Open.
With a well-rounded game that’s built to win, Thomas is fast becoming a fixture in the PGA Tour winner’s circle. Don’t be surprised if he finds himself there again come Sunday afternoon.
Justin Rose — 17th
No. 12, Two top fives in last three starts
So far, Rose has made the cut in every one of his three starts in 2017, finishing solo second at the Sony Open in Hawaii and in a tie for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open. While he faded to a tie for 39th at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he still struck the ball well and was solid out of the sand, skills that will be particularly helpful at Riviera this week. With a total of three Genesis Open top 20s over the years, including a tie for 16th last year, he’s also looking good in terms of course history.
With last fall’s injury woes behind him, Rose has been playing as well as ever this year. Both his game and his confidence are on the upswing. He looks poised to post some good scores at Riviera.
Brendan Steele — 5th
No. 54, Four consecutive top 20 finishes
Steele hasn’t slowed down since that victory — he rolls into this week on a run of four consecutive top 20 finishes, including a tie for 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open most recently. He’s also got a solid track record at the Genesis Open — five-for-six with a pair of top 15s — so history is on his side this week. Like several others on this list, his ball striking skills have been a big factor in his success this season.
Even against a talented field, Steele stands out as one of the frontrunners. He’s been on the rise for so long now — it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him take home his second PGA Tour victory in just eight starts.
Jason Day — 75th
No. 1, Tied for fifth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
In addition to that, Day will carry some baggage into this week’s event — despite multiple attempts, he’s never finished inside the top 60 at the Genesis Open. Even so, I’m giving the Aussie a spot in this week’s power rankings. The last time Day teed it up at Riviera was in 2012, and we can all agree that he’s now a different and significantly better player than he was back then. What’s more, he tied for fifth at Pebble Beach last week, and a quick look at the stat sheet shows that he didn’t have his best game with him. If he can contend for a Pebble Beach win playing at 75 percent, then he can defy his personal history and come out on top at Riviera.
Charl Schwartzel — 173rd
No. 27, Two career top fives at Riviera
A recent fixture at Riviera Country Club, Schwartzel has made the cut in each of the last four years, finding the top five in both 2013 and 2014. He picked the course apart on a near daily basis back in those years, signing for a total of seven rounds in the 60s. Beyond that, his recent form is fairly encouraging — while he missed the cut in Malaysia last week, he was a first-timer at the event, so the poor result may well have had to do with inexperience. He closed out 2016 with back-to-back top five finishes and should still have some momentum from that stretch.
To go along with all that, Schwartzel is an outstanding ball striker, ranking seventh on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green last season. That skill will help him rise to the challenge on what should be a tough layout at Riviera.
Who’s your pick to win the Genesis Open? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter, and keep it here at Pro Golf Now for more PGA Tour updates.
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