This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.
Pacific Palisades, California
Riviera CC - Par 71 - 7,322 yards
Field - 144 Entrants
Purse - $7.4M
We were treated to free, yet anticlimactic, Monday morning golf as Phil Mickelson already had the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in the bag before darkness crept in Sunday night. The 48-year-old amassed his 44th career PGA Tour victory and fifth at Pebble Beach, lending the lefty a chunk of confidence in advance of the U.S. Open, which will be held at the same course in June, and is the only major championship to elude his resume. This week, however, we'll get to enjoy the season's strongest field to date as Riviera Country Club hosts the West Coast Swing's finale. For starters, the Genesis Open is hosted by Tiger Woods, who was joined by the likes of NFL stars Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald at Monday's Celebrity Cup earlier in the week. On Thursday, Woods will play in a featured group alongside Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas while Cameron Champ, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson also make up an authoritative featured group of their own. Additional storylines include Sergio Garcia's return from a temper tantrum in Saudi Arabia along with California's rainy winter weather that has thickened Riviera's tough Kikuyu rough. More precipitation appears inevitable for at least Thursday morning, so players with a late first-round tee time may have a slight advantage.
2018 - Bubba Watson
2017 - Dustin Johnson
2016 - Bubba Watson
2015 - James Hahn
2014 - Bubba Watson
2013 - John Merrick
2012 - Bill Haas
2011 - Aaron Baddeley
2010 - Steve Stricker
2009 - Phil Mickelson
2008 - Phil Mickelson
Key Stats to Victory
Driving distance - Riviera features six par-4s over 450 yards in length and eagle opportunities will be no abnormality for the longer hitters on scorable par-5s
SG: Approach - Patrick Cantlay was the only entrant to hit more than 50 greens in regulation at Riviera in 2018, must be locked in with the irons
SG: Putting - Given the below-average rates of GIR percentage, capitalizing on putts inside 10 feet becomes essential on what will be bumpy poa annua greens
Bogey avoidance - Riviera CC was the ninth-toughest course on Tour last season with a scoring average at 0.76 strokes over par
Yahoo Value Picks - based on $200 salary cap
Cream of the Crop
Dustin Johnson - $49
Johnson couldn't find his A-game en route to a T45 at the AT&T Pro-Am following his win overseas at the Saudi International, but he nonetheless led the field in SG: Off-the-Tee during his two weekend rounds at Pebble Beach and enters the Genesis Open as the betting favorite. Prior to a T16 at Riviera CC last year, Johnson was a no-brainer at the top of any board with results of 2-T2-4-Win from 2014 to 2017. His power off the tee is a glaring focus, but he also led the PGA Tour in rough proximity last season.
Justin Thomas - $47
Thomas improved in his last two trips to Riviera, culminating with a T9 in 2018 when he led the entire field in driving distance with an average of 318.9 yards off the tee. The Crimson Tide product has finished top-5 in half of his starts this season, leading the Tour in both SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green. He's also eighth in par-4 scoring and third in par-5 scoring among his peers. Riviera CC is known to correlate with a venue like Quail Hollow, the site of Thomas' 2017 PGA Championship victory.
Rory McIlroy - $43
Speaking of Quail Hollow, McIlroy has won multiple events on the aforementioned grounds, and his game fits the mold for Riviera as well. He finished T20 in each of his first two appearances at the Genesis Open, and is one decent flat-stick performance away from putting it all together after placing top-5 in his last two starts at the Farmers Insurance Open and Sentry Tournament of Champions. The PGA Tour's current leader in SG: Off-the-Tee, McIlroy should be in the running for numerous eagle bonuses as he looks to take advantage of the scorable par-5s.
Bubba Watson - $40
Watson is a blatant chalk play in one-and-done formats, but there's enough talent in his general price range to still be intrigued by this horse for the course in DFS. Left-handed golfers have shined at the Genesis Open with Watson, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir each logging multiple wins since 2003, as the course sets up nicely for a long-hitting lefty like Bubba. He's certainly walked the walk with a trio of victories at the event in his last five Riviera showing,s and tied for the tournament lead in par breakers here last year.
Hideki Matsuyama - $39
The buzz surrounding Matsuyama's prowess and popularity at the Waste Management Phoenix Open has worn off, but he makes a great play at Riviera given his impeccable iron play and sneaky length off the tee. He ranks seventh on Tour in driving distance and third in SG: Approach, but he's also top-6 in both scrambling and scrambling from the rough this season. In terms of course history, Matsuyama went T23-T4-T11 in his first three starts at the Genesis Open before missing the cut in 2017.
Cameron Smith - $36
Last year at Riviera, Smith finished just four strokes behind Watson as the former ranked T11 in putting average and led the field in bogey avoidance. The 27th-ranked player in the OWGR has finished no worse than tied for 22nd in his last five starts, collecting a win on home turf at the Australian PGA Championship during this stretch. Smith is fifth in SG: Approach, 16th in SG: Putting and 19th in birdie average.
Adam Hadwin - $34
Hadwin's lack of potency off the tee hasn't kept him from a consistent run of respectable results at Riviera. He's 4-for-4 in cuts made at the Genesis Open and finished T6 here last year, posting the event's best final-round score and notching a pair of eagles throughout the week. Hadwin tied for eighth in driving accuracy and hit 56 of 72 greens in regulation at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Jason Kokrak - $27
Kokrak is a combined 23-under-par in his last three voyages to Pacific Palisades, highlighted by a tie for runner-up honors at Riviera in 2016. His recent form includes three consecutive top-20s from the Desert Classic through the Waste Management Phoenix Open, ascending to 24th in both driving distance and SG: Approach. Kokrak also tied for eighth among the field in par-5 scoring at the 2018 Genesis.
Bud Cauley - $21
Cauley managed to bounce back from back-to-back missed cuts at the turn of the calendar with finishes of T26-T13 in his last two starts at the Phoenix Open and Farmers Insurance Open. He struggled on the par-4s at Riviera CC in 2018, but still managed to finish top-20 as he played the par-5s in eight-under and racked up 18 birdies throughout the tourney. Despite failing to impress off the tee, Cauley still ranks eighth on Tour in par-5 scoring this season.
Sung Kang - $20
Kang should foster attention at the minimum price after playing all four of his rounds at the AT&T Pro-Am in under-par fashion, while averaging just 1.5 bogeys per round and leading the field in GIR percentage. His ball striking was phenomenal in two rounds at Pebble Beach where he gained over four strokes on approach shots and ranked seventh in SG: Off-the-Tee, but finished dead last in SG: Putting. If any flashes of improvement come with the putter at Riviera, Kang could be looking at his fourth straight Genesis Open top-25 performance.
Scott Stallings - $20
Stallings jumped 80 spots in the OWGR to No. 150 with his solo-third at Pebble Beach, leading the field in SG: Tee-to-Green and finishing with a six-under 66 on Sunday. He also assembled a top-4 showing at Riviera in 2018, when he led the tournament in birdies with 21 total tweeters.
J.T. Poston - $20
Poston has quietly notched four top-26 results in his last six starts dating back to the Mayakoba Golf Classic, including a T7 at the Desert Classic. He ranks 16th on Tour in scrambling, eighth in putting from 15-20 feet, 25th in par-5 scoring and 26th in proximity from over 200 yards. Poston notched a T17 during his Genesis Open debut in 2017, tying for 12th in putting average despite being a first-timer on Riviera's difficult greens.
Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week
Yahoo's pricing at the top appears fairly tight with 13 options at the $40 mark or above, but there are enough legitimate values in the bargain-bin range to pair various elite weapons if a studs-and-duds approach is your cup of tea in GPPs. Although driving distance is a major draw given Riviera's collection of lengthy par-4s, don't feel the need to deploy a bomber in all six of your lineups spots as SG: Approach and scrambling are sure to play a significant role. Despite rainy weather resulting in softer conditions, hitting a high rate of GIR is no easy task at Riviera.