golf

A First Look at the Genesis Open: Who are the Favourites?

February 15, 2017

- Grant Whittington

With the new golf year well underway, fans across the globe are beginning to pencil in numerous events that are scheduled to take place over the course of the next few weeks. Next up is the hugely anticipated Genesis Open, which will take place on the famous Riviera Country Club course in California and recently hit the headlines after Tiger Woods confirmed that he would play there.

The 14-time major winner announced this week that he was withdrawing from the event, however, citing prolonged fitness issues and back spasms as his reasons. While this is a blow for the Genesis Open organisers and fans alike, they can at least content themselves with a stellar playing field and a tournament that is likely to be extremely well-contested.

The Back Story: Last Year’s Event and This Years’ Field

Some of the excitement surrounding this event comes from last years’ instalment, which saw Bubba Watson prevail against all the odds by winning in-spite of suffering with a kidney stone at the beginning of the week. This was despite the fact that Watson started the final round two shots behind then-leader Jason Kokrak, and was forced to draw upon all of his experience and resilience to record a ninth career PGA Tour title.

This was also Watson’s second title in three years at the event, and he penchant for the course means that he will assume his place in the field once again. He will be joined there by some of the world’s leading players, including current number one Jason Day (who is set to return to Riviera for the first  time since 2012. In total, the confirmed line-up features eight of the world’s top 10, with last year’s contender Adam  Scott, Sergio Garcia and stellar names such as Jordan Spieth and last years’ emerging star Dustin Johnson.

Who Are This Years’ Favourites?

While this equates to the single best field seen anywhere in 2017 so far, it also makes it exceptionally difficult to determine a clear group of favourites. American starlet Spieth leads the current list of Genesis Open favourites, with an average price of 15/2 distinguishing him as the main contender ahead of his rivals. Last years’ U.S. Open winner Johnson is next in line at a competitive 9/1, but seasoned gamblers may want to consider one or two dark horses in such a competent field.

First up is Hideki Matsuyama, who is the current, FedExCup points leader and is priced at 10/1. He has enjoyed a superb start to the season, however, and after showcasing exceptional value in the second half of 2016 he represents tremendous value here. World number on Jason Day is also available at an extremely tempting 14/1, just ahead of the seasoned Adam Scott and Englishman Justin Rose. As for the defending champion Bubba Watson, he is priced at a generous 33/1, but as a competitor who has won two out of the last three titles at the Riviera Country Club he cannot be discounted.

If anything, the fact that Watson is price at 33/1 highlights the depth and the quality of the available field, while also underlining the challenge of selecting a likely winner from a stellar group of participants.

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