The PGA Tour heads north from the Monterrey Peninsula towards tinsel town for the Genesis Open at Riviera County Club in Los Angeles. It’s the final stop of the Tour’s calendar year-opening swing through the United States West Coast and last chance to pick up a win in sunny California until late summer.
Last week, Ted Potter, Jr. stunned the crowd by cruising to a four-shot win over the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and numerous others with more wins and more panache than he.
This week, the field is even more stacked. Along with all of the aforementioned stars of the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and more will be teeing it up alongside them.
Oh, and Tiger is teeing it up, too. Almost forgot about him.
With such a star-studded field, it’s hard to know who to start and who to sit. Here’s a look at those who will provide some bang for your buck — and a few who will just suck:
Dustin Johnson — It seems like every week I mention how great Dustin Johnson is at such and such a golf course and how he’s must-start option. For those of you running out of starts on DJ, I’m sorry — but it’s not like he’s been terrible. This week at Riviera is yet another case of DJ’s past dominance being too much to ignore. Along with four straight top-4 finishes here, he’s also the defending champion.
Thomas Pieters — There’s no player on the European Tour who I’m higher on in 2018 than Thomas Pieters. To be fair, I was quite excited about his prospects last year, too. He made noise at the Masters but didn’t exactly “breakout.” This will be his year. Last year, Pieters finished T-2 in his tournament debut and enters play fresh off a top-5 in his last start in Abu Dhabi.
Tommy Fleetwood — The other European regular teeing it up this week that has my eye is Tommy Fleetwood. After capturing the money title across the pond last year, Fleetwood will be teeing it up in the states more this year than ever before. He may not be a household name for most fantasy players here, but he will be soon. He’s making his first start in the Genesis Open and enters play smoking hot with a win and a T-6 in his first two starts on the Euro Tour in 2018.
Paul Casey — Every time I hear that Paul Casey hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2009 Shell Houston Open I shake my head. It seems impossible, but it’s true. That’s not to say he hasn’t been close since then — he’s finished runner-up half a dozen times since then and third another four times — including a T-2 here last year. He’s playing well and comes to a place he likes this week in Riviera. He’s not an every week start yet, but he definitely deserves a spot in your lineup in all formats.
Chez Reavie — He’s been too good to ignore despite all my efforts to do so in the last three weeks or so, but I can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to be the guy who passes on Chez Reavie this week just in case he keeps his incredible hot streak going. Reavie won’t be my star, but he will definitely be on my bench and, considering he’s still not comanding top-dollar in DFS formats, be one of the last two in on my rosters there. Along with his back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Waste Management and AT&T, he also finished solo-7th here in 2016.
Bubba Watson — A lot of people are taking Bubba Watson, but I cannot be counted among them. As much as I love Bubba and his track record at Riviera, he’s already said he’ll withdraw if the tournament interferes with his ability to play in the NBA All-Star weekend celebrity game on Wednesday. Couple that with some bad form as of late and Bubba is going to ride the pine yet again this week.
Keegan Bradley — Another player getting a lot of fantasy love ahead of the Genesis Open is Keegan Bradley. He lost here in a playoff in 2012 (remember the guy rolling down the hill when Phil holed that putt in the playoff? That year) and has always been a popular name when Riviera rolls around. This year, however, he has lacked the consistent form required for me to take a serious look. You should pass, too.
Tiger Woods — While I have been thoroughly impressed with Tiger’s comeback thus far, I have not been impressed enough to burn one of his starts because of conjecture and hyperbole coming from Tiger lovers. The fact of the matter remains — his first two starts of the year have been solid, but not great. Don’t put Tiger on your roster just because his name is Tiger. Would I be shocked if he won this week? Not at all — but the percentages say he probably won’t. In fact, if you’re just playing the numbers, the odds of him collecting even a top-10 are pretty slim. Watch attentively, but don’t spend a pick now you might wish you’d have in September.