Greetings and welcome back to another edition of the Fantasy Golf Sommelier. This week we head south from the Monterrey Peninsula to the bright lights of Hollywood for the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. The field this week is star studded as well as we get a ton of great names and world class players, including Tiger who is back in the field after a pretty lackluster performance, by his standards, at the Farmers a few weeks ago. I’m a huge fan of the classic old courses we get on tour like we have with Riviera this week. Not only do they provide us with more trustworthy and extensive data because of ShotLink and a larger sample size of course history, but it’s like meeting up with that old acquaintance you see once or twice a year, the familiarity is comforting and you pick up where you left off like you just saw them yesterday at happy hour. Near the end of the pod this week in our “Chunk and Run” segment, we answered a question asking if we could sit and have a beer with any 3 sports figures from any time frame, who would it be? Well, you can listen for our answers, but if I were the one posing the question, I would have changed a beer to a glass of wine. A beer is fleeting to me, but a good glass of wine lingers longer and would give me just a few minutes more of my time to soak up any wisdom I could gain from a conversation. As a matter of fact, if that glass of wine was to be had with one of my answers I gave, Arnold Palmer, I bet he would eventually tell me just how much experience, familiarity, and comfort could matter on certain weeks, like maybe this week at Riviera, Harbor Town Golf Links, Colonial Country Club, or that little course in Georgia we’ll be on in just under two months.
When I think of classic old golf courses, it immediately turns my thoughts towards course history. Ahhh yes, that age old Twitter debate that will never end. It also got me thinking of two of my favorite things on earth. Wine and Cheese. On the totem poll of heavenly gifts we are given to consume on earth, cheese is a very close second to wine in my humble opinion. We can get into all the foods that cheese makes great, like Pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, and Cheeseburgers, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s the cheese itself that deserves all the credit here. On top of all of that it just happens to go fantastic with wine. I have no idea why though, it just does. Perhaps there’s some data behind it, science you might say, but the simple fact of the matter comes down to the uncomplicated fact that they just taste good together. Sort of like oh, I don’t know, course history. I’ll give the nerds and anti course history folks this, there’s not any real data, science, or fancy charts that definitively say whether or not course history is truly an indicator, or “stat”, if you will of how a player will perform in a tournament. Like wine and cheese, It kind of just goes together with certain courses, especially one with a long standing run on tour like we have this week at Riviera. That being said, let’s actually be practical about it. If you’ve ever played and been around different golf courses long enough, and played the game long enough, you don’t have to be a pro to know which ones suit your eye and what typically happens on those courses. You tend to play better. There’s no science behind that. It’s comfort, familiarity, and experience. Think of it this way, if I came into my office at my real job one day wearing DB’s tight pants and smedium shirts, I would be uncomfortable. I’d be distracted maybe, less focused, and probably less productive because all I can think about is how I want to be in something more comfortable! It’s the same with a golf course, in that these players definitely have courses that they are comfortable on for no other reason than its a mindset built over time with zero data other than they just like the damn course and how it feels to them and their game. So, back to the course history/cheese stat correlation, sometimes you just have to ignore the noise, and trust that no matter what, cheese is almost never gonna let you down, especially when you wash it down with a nice glass of perfectly aged Pinot Noir.
Now, on to the Genesis Open plays of the week. As always, we are going to use the classic Wine Spectator 100 point scale for the picks (think of it like a confidence factor):
95-100 Classic: a great wine
90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: a solid well-made wine
75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
50-74 Not recommended (or a very shitty wine)
So, here we go, let’s peregrinate our way into the sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf plays for the week…
Jon Rahm - $10,400 – 95 Points – As of this writing Rahm is projected as the lowest owned over 10k guy this week on DraftKings at less than 10% ownership which is lower than I expected and puts him at the top of the list for me in my GPP lineups. I think a big factor in the ownership on Rahm is his lack of experience having never played this tournament before. I get that, and this probably contradicts the entire premise of my article as far as experience is concerned, but Rahm has one of the most prepared and detailed caddies in the world in Adam Hayes and he will be ready for the course come Thursday. He’s got plenty of distance to overpower the course, but also checks the box in Ball Striking, Greens in Regulation, and scrambling which will be key this week on the small greens at Riviera. Lock in Jon as the FGS play of the week.
Patrick Cantlay - $9,000 – 92 Points – From Boone’s Farm to Opus One! Cantlay was last weeks FGS fade of the week coming off a missed cut at the Farmers which apparently scared him off as he was a last minute withdrawal. This week though is an entirely different story as we learned that the W/D was merely an illness and he is back to full health for the Genesis with a discount in price at $9,000 on DraftKings. Patrick is checking all the boxes for us this week in Driving Distance, Ball Striking, Greens in Regulation, and Opportunities Gained. Looking at course history he’s only played here once, but it was a 4th place finish last year which is stellar considering it was his first time around the track at Riviera. DB and I both love some Cantlay in cash and GPP’s this week.
Cam Smith - $8,400 – 94 Points – There was a lot of agreement on the pod this week and Cam is another guy that we both liked heading into this week’s tournament. Cam is a stud around the greens and has played extremely well lately with two top 15 finishes and a T22 in his last 3 events which points towards him being good value at his median price tag this week. He’s also improved every year on Riviera with a T63, T28, and T6th place finish last year. Cam is the embodiment of a wine getting better with age at Riviera and I look for the trend to continue to this week. As a side note, I’m putting a little cash on Cam at 35-1 in my MyBookie.ag account (use promo code TourJunkies if you haven’t signed up already #shamelessplug).
The $10 Wine Special - Priced like a Sutter Home, plays like a Caymus!
Brandon Harkins - $6,800 – 90 Points - Brandon was a PGA DFS machine last year on the west coast swing and while his game has fallen off a bit since then, he’s been trending in a positive direction lately to the point we love his value at $6,800 this week on DraftKings. Harkins is sneaky long off the tee ranking in the top 40 in the field in driving distance and has also been terrific in giving him self scoring opportunities ranking in the top 30 in the field in Opportunities Gained. It’s finally time to pop the cork on Harkins and let him take you to the promised land of all the monies this week!
Peter Uihlein - $6,800 – 89 Points - I was on Uihlein a few weeks ago for the Desert Classic and he let me down, but I’m not letting that stop me this week as sometimes like a good bottle of wine, maybe you just didn’t it breathe enough before tasting that sweet nectar of goodness. Uihlein is a bomber (25th in the field in driving distance) who played very well his first time here last year with a T26 finish and could very well improve on that this year. He’s also been tremendous scrambling lately ranking 5th in the field in Strokes Gained Around the Green which I’ve mentioned previously is a stat I’m weighing heavily for my lineup construction this week. All in all, I love the upside for Peter at Riviera and he is a great play if you need to round your GPP lineup out with an under 7k guy.
Boone’s Farm Vintage Fade of the Week - Boone’s Farm is basically convenience store wine we drank in college and possibly could kill you (not really, but it’s gross).
Bubba Watson - $9,700 – 72 Points - I’m gonna go out on a limb, and COMPLETELY contradict the entire premise of my article this week and fade Bubba in my lineups despite the unreal course history he has here. Here’s the bottom line, last year he was lights out with his putter and scrambling the week of and for the most part leading up to Riviera and won the tournament. This year he is no where near that as he ranks near the bottom of the field in both stat categories (116th SG: Putting, 132nd SG: ARG). The price also reflects a premium for his incredible history here which I think is just a little too high for my liking. I would also much rather play guys projected to be lower owned around him like Rahm or even Jordan Spieth. Sometimes you just got to take a risk by fading the course horse and with a high price tag I’m going to fade Bubba this week.