DFS Golf: UpNorth’s PGA Preview – Genesis Open Advice for Fanduel and Draftkings

Stacked Field? Check! Classic Course? Check! Tiger? Check! The Genesis Open is looking like one of the best tournaments of the year! 

My name is Josh Thomas, and I am a PGA and NFL Coach here at DFS Army! Welcome to the 2019 PGA Season! We here at DFS Army have got you covered this year with my weekly preview out on Sunday Nights, Chalk Donkey article breaking down the ownership projections, where to pivot, and GPP strategy out Tuesday Nights, and our Research Station that is full of more information than you could ever need!

What a week…and not in a good way! Phil Mickelson had a fantastic finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and took down Paul Casey who can never close. Paul Casey collapsing with the lead on Sunday is a thing. He’s now 0-4 with 3 stroke leads heading into round four. It’s essentially free money to bet against him. Outside of Phil being my One and Done pick for me, it was arguably my worst week of the year by a landslide. I should have known. This tournament is always a gong show. With the amateurs, slow rounds, and randoms littering the leaderboard year after year, it’s never a very profitable week for me. I had a chance to salvage something with a few of the bets on my card, but Rafa Cabrera Bello fell apart on Sunday, falling out of the top 5, and top 10, all the way to 28th. Trey Mullinax made a run to get me a T20 but just bubbled it. And our boy Ernie Els couldn’t close on Sunday for the T20.

Weeks, where you struggle in DFS and betting, make it easy to completely change your process and the way you play. While I think it’s important to revisit your process and see if there are tweaks you can make, don’t completely change what you are doing. The same thing goes for when you have good weeks. Small tweaks, but don’t get crazy. Golf is a long season, and DFS, in general, is a grind, you will have bad weeks. Don’t compound a bad week with another by going nuts and completely changing your process. For example, I had a tough week, and I’m not an MME guy. Completely changing my process would be going from the 3-4 core lineups I build to building 150 lineups and entering them everything. That’s likely a losing strategy. Don’t overreact. Small tweaks and continue to do what you were successful doing in the past. 3-4 weeks of a struggle? Then it’s likely time to look at a change.

One thing that helps me when I have a tough week is spending some time on another DFS sport. With the first NASCAR race of the year taking place on Sunday it was a great time to jump in and utilize the fantastic resources we have at DFS Army. NASCAR is one of our most profitable sports and is led by our very own PGA guy, Taco.

I watched/listened to Taco’s Podcast  (Check it out! He goes over all the new additions to the Research Station this year!) and read Brady’s Sway Bar and boom! $60 into $333! Softened the blow from a tough week in golf.

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Course Breakdown:

The Genesis Open takes place at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.  (Check the link for the Weather there this week!). Riviera is a 7,341-yard par 71 with Poa Annua Greens. The greens are on the small side and run fairly fast. The average Greens in Regulation for the tournament is 56% and the fairways hit % is even worse at 54%. This is a tough golf course that requires players to not only hit driver, but hit driver fairly accurately. You also need to be able to shape the ball both ways to access some of these pins. Fairways are key as the pins are almost inaccessible from the rough, given how hard the greens are. Anything coming from the rough is likely to roll off.

You aren’t necessarily dead in the rough, you can still make par, but you are definitely grinding. The key to this course is to think one or two shots ahead. Where do you need to put it off the tee to be able to attack the pin? Where do you need to leave it on the green to give you a shot at birdie, do you leave it short and let it run up or fly it all the way there? Can you do that from the rough if you miss a bit right? Riviera is definitely a thinkers course and one that patience is clearly a virtue.

The field this week is absolutely stacked. Six of the Top Ten in the Official World Golf Rankings are teeing it up and thirteen of the top 20. Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood, and of course the man himself, Tiger Woods. It should be a fantastic week of golf at a great venue.

If we look at the holes, we have a par 35 on the front and par 36 on the back. As a whole, the course played .76 strokes over par last year. It was actually much worse over the first two days and played under par on the weekend. In fact, the cut last year was +3 and has been over par every year going back to 2009 when it was even.

If I haven’t gotten that point across yet, hopefully, that did. This is a difficult test, but, birdies are out there if you position yourself correctly.

Length off the tee is important, but not the end all be all. Shorter players who are used to hitting hybrids and long irons into greens can have success here. Kevin Na and Adam Hadwin are both in the bottom half of the tour in driving distance and have contended here in the past. Same with Ryan Moore. 

Where that distance comes into play is on the long par 4’s and par 3’s. The Par 5’s are mostly gettable by everyone, but the long par 4’s over 450 yards (There are 6) are going to be hard to reach for many of the shorter hitters, looking at longer irons into these greens that are small and difficult to hold as it is. The par 3 4th is a beast at 236 yards and was the third most difficult hole on the course last year and had the second most double bogeys. That’s a poke for some of the shorter hitters on tour, likely having to grab a hybrid or put a 4 wood in the bag this week whereas a guy like Dustin Johnson is hitting 4 or 5 iron.

If you look at the leaderboard and winners for the past few years, there is a direct correlation to the Masters. A similar test to Augusta National in that you need to think your way around and place the ball in the right spot, we can look to players who have done well at Augusta to do well here. There is a long list of players who have had success at both events, including winning both. Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson Nick Faldo, Fred Couples, Craig Stadler, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Jimmy Demaret have all accomplished the Genesis Open (Los Angeles Open) and Masters double. A whole slew of other golfers have had success at both courses as well. In the field this week we have Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els, Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Ryan Moore, and oh yeah, Tiger Woods.

It looks like a fantastic week of golf with a great leaderboard and after last week’s debacle, I’m looking forward to it!

One thing, that puts the DFS Army VIP’s at a huge advantage is the Domination Station. Check out how that works here!

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Key Stats: 

Key Stats to look for this week –  Driving Distance, SG – Approach, Birdies Gained, Short Par 5 Scoring, Long Par 4 Scoring, and Projected Course Score.

You can find all of these key stats in our DFS Army research station accessible ONLY for our VIPs.

–> PGA Research Station <–

The Field:

In this section, I’ll cover who is in the field this week, the odds, any pricing discrepancies, and a few of my favorite plays on first look!

Seriously….the top of this list is insane for a non-major. Bryson has two wins this year and is fourth in terms of odds! With the odds being so heavy up top with all the studs, what this creates is a ton of value down low. Guys with great course history like Sung Kang, Kevin Na, and Jason Kokrak are all 80-1 or worse. So while I don’t necessarily love them for outrights they should have some absolutely juicy T10/T20 Odds when they drop.

One of the biggest storylines heading into this event is the return of Sergio Garcia after his ‘incident’ in Saudia Arabia where he threw a fit in a bunker and then damaged five consecutive greens and got disqualified. I’m not touching Sergio with a ten-foot pole this week. (Ok…maybe if he’s low single digit ownership…he was playing pretty good before he lost his mind…)

I feel like guys like Branden Grace and Tyrell Hatton aren’t getting enough respect this week while course horses like Charles Howell III are being given too much respect. Grace is coming off two excellent performances and has made the cut in both his trips around Riviera while Hatton is just world class and continually disrespected in pricing on the books and in DFS. These are the two players (and Adam Hadwin) that stick out to me right away as potential values.

For whatever reason, Asian golfers have crushed here and I expect that to continue this week, especially with three coming off excellent performances recently. Sung Kang made a charge up the leaderboard on the weekend at Pebble Beach for a T14 finish and has three straight top 25 finishes here. Sang-Moon Bae is finally rounding back into form after his two-year absence from the tour for military service and has back to back cuts made and is 4/4 in cuts made at Riviera with three top 25’s and two top 10’s.

Finally, Si Woo Kim was fantastic last week at Pebble Beach, finishing 4th and the putter that has plagued him over his career is finally rounding into form. He was 9th in SG: Putting at Pebble Beach and is 35th on tour this year after finishing last year 151st. All three of these guys are interesting value plays this week.

Beat the Bookie Betting Card:

Something new I’m adding each week to this article is my personal betting card for the week for Outrights, First Round Leaders, Top 5’s and Top 10’s. The real bread and butter with golf betting is tournament and round matchups but I’m saving those for our Beat the Bookie VIPs!

As a rule, I typically don’t bet many outrights under +3500 unless its an extremely weak field (DJ at the FedEx St. Jude last year comes to mind) It’s just not a +EV most weeks when you think about 156 guys teeing it up. Hitting 3-4 outrights a year is a fantastic year for most golf bettors. The return on investment of hitting an outright at 50-1 can pay for a long dry spell (which is fairly typical in golf betting if you are only playing Outrights, FRLs and T5/T10).

I think this is a week to take a shot on one or two favorites and then some real deep shots. Cream usually rises to the top here if we look at past results, but some deep bombs have contended (Scott Brown, Kevin Na, Jason Kokrak).

For the most part for outrights this week I want to look at guys who bomb it off the tee. While yes, the random short hitter has competed here, but for the most part we want guys who hammer it out there.

I’m a sucker for Tiger Woods… I just have to bet him at 25-1. He’s clearly back. He returns to the course that he got his PGA Tour career started at (as an amateur) but has never won at but has had tons of success at. You know never winning here means something to him. 25-1 in this field seems low, I’d much rather snag him around 30-1 but he’s likely to drop and I wanted to jump on early.

Hideki Matsuyama is another player that I think is due for a win soon. His game is in great shape and comes to a course that he has three top 25’s and is 3/4 in made cuts (last year’s missed cut was likely due to playing with a wrist injury that he then sat out for an extended period of time after). Deki is a great iron player and ball striker and this is a great course fit for him. He has an excellent history at Augusta as well. He’s one of my favorite DFS plays this week as well.

While he disappointed a bit last week, Tommy Fleetwood at 40-1 is a no brainer. You just have to bet him at those odds regardless of the field. He’s a world-class talent and this is far too long.

Canadians have had quite a bit of success here over the years and Adam Hadwin has been playing some fantastic golf of late. 66-1 seems a fair price, in fact, a bit of value. He was 6th here last year and is 4 for 4 in made cuts. He’s coming off 7 straight cuts and a T18 finish at Pebble. Great value for a player coming in hot.

And finally, another auto bet for me in Tyrrell Hatton.  The concern here is that Hatton is a rookie at this event, having never played here and I believe that sort of experience is important, but 70-1 is insane for a player of Hatton’s class, regardless of field. He can run away with a tournament if he gets hot with his putter. That’s how good the rest of his game is. He also tends to play better in strong field events. He has an excellent major record at all four, and good WGC history as well. A strong field like this suits him well.

There are a ton of deep shots that you can take and I might find myself throwing a unit on a few guys past 150-1 (early tips are Trey Mullinax, Sam Saunders, and Brandon Harkins), but they may end up just being T10/T20 bets. We will finally get FRL odds this week again after another course rotation week. There is usually a pretty distinct advantage to going off early on the Poa Annua greens so there is an edge there. Once we get the tee times I’ll update the card, and as soon as T5/T10/T10/FRL odds get posted those will get added as well!

I’ll have Head to Head and full tournament matchups posted for our Beat the Bookie VIPs on Wednesday. These are truly where you can make your money in golf betting, while not as sexy or as big as an outright win, they are much more profitable.

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Final Thoughts: 

This is a fun week with the stacked field and a classic course. With all the studs in the field there will likely be pretty spread out ownership without any ‘real’ chalk at the top of the field. You will likely need to take some stands on players and fade others. The pricing will likely be similar to a major presenting a TON of value in the high 7K low 8K range and we will have our VIPs covered with what chalk there to eat and what chalk to fade!

We will have content for you all through the week at DFS Army. Our research station and domination station optimizer will be updated on Tuesday and I will have my full Chalk Donkey article breaking down all the ownership and GPP strategy for our VIP’s on Tuesday night! If you aren’t a VIP yet, use code UPNORTH for 20% your first month!

Also, give me a follow on twitter @dfsupnorth as I’ll be posting updates there as well as useful retweets leading up to this weeks event!

What are you waiting for?! 20% off with code UPNORTH this week only!

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