2024 Genesis Invitational Preview: Everything You Need To Know About Riviera CC, Tiger Woods’ Return

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Written By John Haslbauer | Last Updated
PGA Tour

It’s another week of golf action on the PGA TOUR. The next stop is the 2024 Genesis Invitational at Riviera CC. Compare Genesis Invitational odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential PGA TOUR golf betting payouts. Participating in his own event, Tiger Woods returns to the PGA TOUR this weekend. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Justin Thomas project as the top favorites for this upcoming tournament.

The party only just started in Phoenix as we return to Los Angeles for the final leg of the California Swing. An even more loaded field is in store for the 2024 Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. As always, here at TheLines, we’ll go over an early look at the tournament – including the return of the tournament’s host, Tiger Woods – giving you what you need to know before the Genesis Invitational odds hit the board.

With its Signature Event status, the Genesis Invitational features virtually every eligible player on the PGA TOUR. Woods has hosted the event since 2020, and this year marks the second in a row where he’ll make his calendar debut at his own event. We may even be blessed to see his beautiful new logo unveiled:

Riviera CC is one of the most iconic venues on the schedule. It will also host the Olympic Men’s Golf competition in 2028. It features tight doglegs, narrow fairways, unpredictable Kikuyu rough, and tricky Poa greens. Riviera CC is always known to keep scoring in check and reward shot-makers with well-rounded skillsets from tee to green. With the strongest field we’ve seen in recent memory on tap, the stakes will be higher than ever before.

Here’s a look at everything you can expect to help navigate 2024 Genesis Invitational odds.

2024 OPENING GENESIS INVITATIONAL ODDS: THE FAVORITES

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THE FIELD AT A GLANCE

With football season officially coming to a close, the Genesis sets a perfect stage for golf to continue its momentum from the electric WM Phoenix Open. The third Signature Event of 2024, it should serve as the perfect filler for the casual sports fan’s now-vacant Sundays (especially those with a little extra Super Bowl winnings in their accounts to spare).

The field is set at about 70 players. The qualifying criteria for Signature Events includes:

  • Top-60 finishers from the prior season’s FedEx Cup Standings
  • Top-five FedExCup point earners over the last five PGA TOUR events (The Aon Swing 5)
  • Top-30 in OWGR, not otherwise qualified

The final four are held aside for Sponsors Exemptions. Those were given to Will Zalatoris, Gary Woodland, Adam Scott, and another noteworthy golfer (I’m blanking on the last one – It’ll come to me!).

Matthieu Pavon and Justin Rose are the only two qualified players who won’t make the trip to L.A.

There’s plenty of star-power and household names in the field. Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, and Collin Morikawa headline. Each of these players have a great and established history at Riviera CC. It tends to reward players with the best overall skillsets, so we should expect a competitive leaderboard here. Given the concentrated field, the decorated course history throughout, and number of elite names playing, this sets up to be the most compelling non-Major of the year.

Tiger Woods Returns for the Genesis Invitational

Tiger became the host and face of this event since transitioning to a more prestigious Invitational designation in 2020. This year, the world will be watching as he prepares to make his 2024 debut thanks to a Sponsor’s Exemption invite (ah, there it is!). Tiger was last seen in December, playing both the Hero World Challenge and the PNC Championship alongside his son Charlie.

Can Tiger actually win this event? A year ago, I would have answered emphatically no. This week, it’s a more apprehensive no.

In 2023, Tiger made first start in seven months, so we had very little information to go off of regarding his health and expectations. Despite those uncertainties, he managed to make the cut en route to a T45 finish. He ranked top-25 in SG: APP for the week and finished the tournament ahead of notables like Sungjae Im, Jordan Spieth, and Matt Fitzpatrick.

At the Hero, Tiger finished 18th in a field of 20, beating Will Zalatoris and Wyndham Clark. He finished the week No. 4 in SG: OTT, but looked understandably rusty in all other facets of his game.

As Tiger has always contested, his hands are the key to his greatness. With more reps and practice time around the greens, it’s fair to feel optimistic about his changes to gain strokes with his short game this week. Having out-drove a similarly-elite field at the Hero and SG on approach in his last trip to Riviera CC in lesser health, there’s a path for success.

Can I Bet On Tiger Woods?

When it comes to betting Tiger Woods, that’s a bit of a different story. You’ll never truly get fair odds on the most popular golfer on the planet. Riviera CC is the site of his first PGA TOUR start back in the 1992 Los Angeles Open. Despite that history, it remains on a short list of courses he has yet to conquer. I’m sure in Tiger’s mind he believes he can take care of that unfinished business at age 48.

For bettors’ sake, you’ll find better value looking anywhere else on the outright board. Judging by PGA Championship futures, which tend to set a fair line with course history bias removed, I project Tiger to open around 100-1.

Woods handed the trophy to Jon Rahm this time last year. However, the defending champion won’t return to defend his title after leaving the TOUR for LIV. Instead, the list of past champions back includes just Max Homa and Adam Scott.

INTRODUCTION TO RIVIERA COUNTRY CLUB

The iconic Riviera Country Club was once my favorite course to play on EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA TOUR ’07. Now, it has matured into one of my favorite landscapes to watch golf.

It’s a beautiful oasis and architectural marvel, built into the cityscape of Los Angeles. George Thomas is the course architect behind both Riviera CC and LACC, with a common design philosophy displayed on both courses.

There are so many memorable holes at Riviera CC:

  • 1st hole: The easiest Par-5 on TOUR, playing 500 yards downhill
  • 6th hole: 200-yard Par-3 with a two-tiered green featuring a bunker right in the center
  • 10th hole: One of the shortest, yet most challenging, risk-reward Par-4s on TOUR
  • 15th hole: A narrow dogleg right, which recently inspired a trend of players playing down the neighboring 17th hole fairway instead

About The Course

This event shifted from an “Open” to an “Invitational” in 2020 when Woods took over as host. That distinction (and his presence) added more prestige to the tournament. As a Signature Event, the purse will be among the highest of any non-Major event this season. The pot sits at $20M, with $3.5M and a three-year PGA TOUR exemption awarded to the winner.

On a calm day, Riviera presents one of the toughest challenges we see across golf. That attracts the best players each year to compete and test their all-around skillsets ahead of Major season. The cut line has been over par at the Genesis Invitational every year over the last decade.

Narrow fairways and tight doglegs make the course extremely challenging. This event ranked in the bottom two in average Driving Accuracy every year since 2015. That high Missed-Fairway percentage also correlates with one of the lowest Greens-In-Regulation percentages on TOUR. The fairways get narrower as you get closer to the green, encouraging even the longest hitters to take less-than-driver off the tee, and effectively removes wedge shots that would be more common on easier layouts. About 75% of approach shots come from beyond 150 yards.

These firm and fast Poa greens give players fits every year. The course ranks in the top five for most missed putts both inside and outside 15 feet.

Riviera also features a number of elevation changes and is heavily bunkered both around the fairways and greenside complexes. Sand Saves will be an important stat to track this week. Between Scrambling, SG: Around The Green, and Sand Saves, I’m looking to build around players who possess an imaginative, pressure-tested short game to find success on this course.

Monitor Genesis Invitational Weather

All of those factors come under the assumption that play occurs on a calm day, which we’re not always promised. In 2021, we saw play suspended due to severe winds. With a high volume of approaches expected from the rough onto these greens, any semblance of wind will divert the emphasis to Scrambling and Bogey Avoidance, so it’s a crucial week to monitor the weather before locking in your bets.

For Riviera CC course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past Genesis Invitational winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our Genesis Invitational odds page.

COURSE HISTORY & COMP COURSES

The Genesis Invitational slightly favors longer hitters with great short game, particularly on Poa greens. A look down the list of past champions illustrates a trend of above-average driving distance with total driving as a strength of their games. Shorter hitters like Kevin Na, Matt Kuchar, and Chez Reavie also found success here. They may again if they can play from the fairway and make up for it with elite Short Game.

Max Homa

Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson historically held the course history reins at Riviera CC, but with both gone from the PGA TOUR, it’s Homa who emerged as the most consistent threat at this event. The L.A. native made it no secret that he circles Tiger’s event on the calendar each year. Since taking the next step as an elite talent on TOUR, Homa has done nothing but deliver at this event, finishing top-10 in each of the last four years. He sealed a victory in 2021. Always a threat on California Poa greens, Homa is sure to be a popular bet this week.

Others Excelling (And Sputtering) At Genesis Invitational

After Homa, the rest of the top 10 in Event History includes: Cameron Young, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark, Will Zalatoris, and Rory McIlroy. Some notables in this week’s field among the worst in terms of total strokes gained at Riviera include Sungjae Im, Corey Conners, and Jason Day.

Thirteen players avoided missing the cut at the Genesis Invitational over the last five years (min. three appearances): Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark, Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, and… Tiger Woods!

Another 13 players in this field delivered multiple top-15 finishes over the last five years. That’s nearly 20% of this limited field, which means there will be plenty of course history cases to be made. That list includes Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau, and Justin Thomas.

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Comp Courses

It would be cliché to say that no course compares to Riviera CC, but I do struggle to find an exact match.

From a leaderboard overlap standpoint, Quail Hollow and Augusta National qualify. Quail Hollow shares the motley crew of Homa, Holmes, and Hahn. Both are difficult tests that favor distance over precision off the tee with a classical tree-lined look. They also share the Tom Fazio influence after his renovations to Riviera in the 2000s.

Overlapping winners at Augusta National features eight golfers, namely Rahm, Mickelson, and Dustin Johnson. The courses are very different, but an emphasis on creative shot making is prevalent on both. There’s a particularly-notable overlap from the three lefties in Watson, Mickelson, and Weir.

Most of the recent difficult scoring venues like LACC, TPC Potomac, The Country Club, Oak Hill, Torrey Pines (South), Innisbrook (Copperhead), and Bay Hill should serve as strong comps to simulate the all-around tee-to-green game required. TPC Potomac stands out, with top-10 finishers at the 2022 Wells Fargo Championship featuring many perennial Riviera standouts. That group includes Max Homa, James Hahn, Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Cameron Young, and Ben Griffin. Francesco Molinari – a member at Riviera and top-10 finisher in this event in 2021 – was also dominant in his victory at the 2018 Quicken Loans National.

Agronomically, Torrey Pines (South), TPC Harding Park, and Golf Club de Chapultepec share similar Poa greens and penal Kikuyu rough.

Mash those comp courses together, and the top-10 players in SG: TOT are: Max Homa, Cameron Young, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, and Will Zalatoris. There are no surprises on this list, which further illustrates a theme of predominantly regular Major contenders.

KEY STATS TO CONSIDER FOR 2024 GENESIS INVITATIONAL ODDS

  • SG: APP / Prox: 150+
  • Good Drives Gained / SG: OTT
  • SG: ARG / Scrambling / Sand Saves Gained
  • SG: P (Poa) / SG: P 5-15 ft
  • Bogey Avoidance (Comp, Difficult Conditions)
  • P4: 450-500
  • P5: 550-600
  • SG: T2G (Difficult Scoring Conditions)
  • Course & Comp Course History

A true all-around test from tee to green is fairly rare outside Majors. While recent form is always important, this is one of the weeks I’ll be leaning more heavily on a mixed condition model to simulate performance in comparable conditions.

I’m placing the most importance on Bogey Avoidance in Difficult Scoring Conditions. Fighting for pars will be crucial on a firm and wind-exposed course. Just one hole outside of the three par-5s features a scoring average under par. The top 10 in this category are: Ludvig Åberg, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Andrew Putnam, Brendon Todd, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, TommyFleetwood, Sam Burns, and Matt Kuchar.

Riviera’s sneaky length and persistent doglegs culminate into a funneling of about 75% of approach shots from beyond 150 yards. Nearly 50% of those approaches come from between 150-200 yards. The top 10 players in terms of weighted proximity from this range are: Sam Ryder, Tom Hoge, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Lucas Glover, Keegan Bradley, Eric Cole, Patrick Cantlay, Stephan Jaeger, and Sepp Straka.

Good Drives Gained

This is a huge week for Good Drives Gained. You can’t bomb-and-gouge Riviera given the elevation changes and forced layups from angular tree lines. Any wayward drive into the trees is essentially an automatic bogey.

On the other hand, I think there’s just too much length on par-4s to lean on your typical fairway finders here. Even they will struggle to hit a high percentage of fairways with the firm conditions, undulated runoffs, and intermittent pickups in wind.

Driving Accuracy specialists like Reavie, Kuchar, and Donald found their fair share of success here. But the ideal player for Riviera should have total driving be a strength of their game. The top 10 players in Good Drives Gained are: Wyndham Clark, Jake Knapp, Taylor Moore, Beau Hossler, Stephan Jaeger, Byeong Hun An, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Nicolai Hojgaard, and Taylor Montgomery.

Short Game, Scrambling Also Key At Genesis Invitational

For the par-4s, many approaches will come from the rough with players hitting less than 50% of fairways on average. That means a lot of Scrambling from the greenside rough and difficult bunkers. The top 10 players in SG: ARG are: JJ Spaun, Russell Henley, Beau Hossler, Justin Thomas, Si Woo Kim, Jake Knapp, Adam Scott, Sahith Theegala, Mackenzie Hughes, and Rory McIlroy.

Just five players rank in the top-25 in SG: ARG, Scrambling, Sand Saves, and SG: P (Poa): Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Brendon Todd, Tommy Fleetwood, and Ludvig Åberg.

This will be our last stop on the West Coast swing, so it’s worth revisiting the Poa-putting specialists: Taylor Montgomery, Max Homa, Denny McCarthy, Brendon Todd, Sahith Theegala, Ludvig Åberg, Tom Hoge, Sungjae Im, Wyndham Clark, and Mackenzie Hughes. Riviera’s greens are known to be among the trickiest on TOUR to hole putts on from short range, so I’ll be looking to dial in on those who are most comfortable on the crucial 5-10 footers. The top 10 from this range are: Emiliano Grillo, Taylor Montgomery, Adam Scott, Nick Hardy, Eric Cole, Matt Fitzpatrick, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Sahith Theegala, JT Poston, and Tommy Fleetwood.

The perfect golfer for Riviera should be solid in Comp Course History, SG: OTT, Proximity: 150-200, and SG: Around the Green. They should also have proven past experience putting on Poa greens. Just seven players rank above average in each of those categories: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, Ludvig Åberg, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, and Patrick Cantlay.

Correlation And Riviera CC

Like last week at TPC Scottsdale, correlation stats at Riviera are fairly on par with TOUR average. That tends to favor the best overall players. The biggest differences at this course compared to average come from P5: 550-600 and Opportunities Gained, which fall outside the top 10.

Instead, Bogey Avoidance, GIRs Gained, P4: 450-500, and SG: Short Game make the biggest jumps inside the top 10 at this event. We also see a substantial increase in the importance of Good Drives Gained and Sand Saves GainedScrambling Gained and SG: Short Game make the biggest jump compared to TOUR average, each falling inside the top 10.

In terms of stats to deprioritize when handicapping Genesis Invitational odds, all proximity stats from inside 150 yards don’t correlate with success at Riviera. Given the high percentage of approaches from the rough onto greens, even the best approach players needed to rely on a balanced short game to account for missed greens in regulation.

Top-10 Correlated Stats with SG: TOT
Top-10 Correlated States with SG: TOT at Riviera CC

Seven players rank above-average in each of this week’s top-10 correlated stats with success at Riviera: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Russell Henley, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Luke List and Ludvig Åberg.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Ludvig Åberg

Am I a prisoner of the moment for cementing Ludvig Åberg into the pantheon of top-five golfers on TOUR just 16 starts into his career? Is it wrong to say I like his chances to win this weekend over Cantlay, Schauffele, or Hovland? Have we reached a point where the hype eclipses betting value, forcing us to buy high on a stretch of golf we cannot discern whether it’s unsustainable or simply a young phenom’s baseline?

These are questions we have to ask with a stretch we haven’t seen to begin a career since… the tournament’s host? Since graduating Texas Tech in the summer, he’s won on the DP World Tour, PGA TOUR, and a Ryder Cup. It’s hard to win on the TOUR – just ask Tommy Fleetwood – so this may only be the beginning for Åberg.

What makes him great – aside from averaging positive strokes gained in every category over his last 20 events – is his ability to hit the ball long and straight. It’s what separates players like McIlroy, Rahm, and Koepka on golf’s most difficult stages. It’s also a key component to why these players are mainstays on Major championship leaderboards.

What I love about Åberg’s fit here is his ability to thrive on bomber-heavy and positional courses. He’s already posted top-10s at the Farmers Insurance Open and Pebble Beach. Accuracy off the tee is an important skillset at Riviera, which concedes just 51% fairways in regulation. Young phenom drivers like Young and Hovland found immediate success here, each finishing top-10 in their debuts. It’s easy to see the case for Åberg to follow suit.

If I were making the odds this week, Åberg would be the fourth favorite behind Scheffler, McIlroy, and Thomas. We’ll see if oddsmakers agree, but he’ll be on my card anyway.

2024 Genesis Invitational Odds: DFS PLAYER POOL

With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early toward the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2024 Genesis Invitational odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by actualized pricing/odds tier for DraftKings and rankings projections for Underdog Fantasy, with odds and pricing released earlier this week.

UNDERDOG GOLF DRAFT RANKINGS TIERS

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Tier 1

Scottie Scheffler
Rory McIlroy
Viktor Hovland
Max Homa
Justin Thomas
Ludvig Åberg

Tier 2

Collin Morikawa
Jordan Spieth
Tony Finau

Tier 3

Cameron Young
Will Zalatoris
Sahith Theegala
Keegan Bradley
Nicolai Hojgaard

Tier 4

Byeong Hun An
Harris English
Sepp Straka

Tier 5

Luke List
JJ Spaun
Jake Knapp
Tiger Woods

MODEL RESULTS & BREAKDOWN

For my model this week, I’m prioritizing Comp Course History, Bogey Avoidance (Difficult Conditions), SG: APP, Prox 150-200, SG: T2G (Comp Conditions), and Good Drives Gained. After that, I’m looking at a balanced mix of SG: ARG, SG: P (Poa, 5-10 ft), Scrambling, Sand Saves, Par-4: 450-500, and Par-5 Scoring.

Model Favorites

California King Max Homa ascends to the No. 1 spot in my model this week. There’s no question his game suits this course as evidenced by a victory in 2021 and four consecutive top-10 finishes. Homa remains elite in terms of Poa Putting, SG: OTT, Scrambling, and Prox: 175-200 leading into this event, and he’s poised to contend yet again in 2024.

After Homa, my model’s top-10 rounds out with: Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Ludvig Åberg, Viktor Hovland, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Wyndham Clark, and Rory McIlroy.

In a limited field with so many elite talents suiting Riviera CC well and having the proven course history to show for it, I expect a big name to win this week. As such, I’ll be looking to build a tighter card with exposure to at least two top favorites. Depending where the value lies when odds release on Monday, I’m eying at least two of Ludvig Åberg, Viktor Hovland, Max Homa, Justin Thomas, and Collin Morikawa.

Thanks for reading, and good luck navigating 2024 Genesis Invitational odds!

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