Golf picks: Genesis Invitational predictions & best bets from Diane Knox Balas

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Diane Knox Balas


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Diane Knox Balas loves golf (she’s Scottish, so of course she does) but let’s just say she’s much better at analyzing golf than playing! The same cannot be said for her brother, Russell Knox, who’s a 2-time winner on the PGA Tour and fueled Diane’s initial passion for the sport. A seasoned TV and radio host, Diane has given out 8 outright winners since joining the Pickswise team in April 2022. Her general rule is she has to have three stand-out reasons for each pick and spends her time studying stats, playing form and little nuggets of information from golfers’ lives on Tour. Diane lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Garrett, son Greyson and two English Bulldogs Bowser & Barkley. You can follow her antics on Twitter @KnoxyDiane and Instagram @dianeknoxbalas.

We have a new World No. 1 after Scottie Scheffler took home the WM Phoenix Open trophy in back-to-back years. It must have felt pretty special for him to win again at the home of his first PGA Tour victory, thinking of how much he’s achieved since then.

Plus, I’m sure the $3.6 million paycheck feels just wonderful.

What a week of fabulous mayhem at TPC Scottsdale. We didn’t see another ace on the famous 16th hole, but the atmosphere oozed through the TV to create such a buzz around the tournament, as always. These elevated events are fun. Fear not, we are rolling straight into another one this week, and there’s a Tiger in the field.

The Genesis Invitational is Tiger’s event, yet it’s the elusive one that he’s missing from his resume. Back in 2004, when it was known as the Nissan Open, Woods finished in a tie for 7th, and that’s been his best finish around Riviera Country Club. When he last teed it up in this tournament, back in 2020, he finished 68th. For the King of California, Riv has proved to be a tough test. It’s a tough test for everyone.

We last saw Tiger play in The Open at St Andrews last July, and we really didn’t expect to see his name appear on the tee sheet this week. So when he announced that he’d decided to play, the excitement surrounding the event went fever pitch. Expectations are low, but the hope is always high when Tiger’s playing.

Last year, Joaquin Niemann took home the trophy, beating Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young by two strokes. With Neimann being part of the LIV crew, he obviously won’t be back to defend his title. The year prior, Max Homa was victorious. With this being another elevated event, the purse is $20 million, with $3.6 million and 550 FedExCup points going to the winner.

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Riviera CC: What you need to know

Think classic Hollywood at Riviera Country Club. Set in Pacific Palisades, Riv has long been known as one of the best courses in the world. It’s a par 71 measuring 7,322 yards and is a compact course that tests all parts of the game. The guys will face lots of narrow doglegs and tight corners into relatively small Poa greens, and only the best ball-striking will merit results.

Last year when Neimann won, he putt well enough, but the stats that stood out were his excellent approach, around-the-green and tee-to-green; those three stats were the big differentials between him and the rest of the field. Morikawa had an excellent putting week and raced to the finish line with a Sunday round of -6 to finish just short.

You’ll hear all about the “Kikuyu” grass this week; it’s a sticky, spongey grass used in primary rough and has the ability to stop balls (and golfers) in their tracks.

Average driving accuracy will be down this week – it’s typically one of the lowest on Tour – along with one of the lowest greens in regulation percentages. Therefore, I’m looking at excellent approach and around-the-green stats. We won’t see the runaway low scoring that we’ve seen in some of the other Cali events, and in the last 10 years, the cut line has always been over par.

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Knox’s Knockout Genesis Invitational Picks

Justin Thomas (+1600)

Available at BetMGM Sportsbook

Justin Thomas is an elite ball striker. Fair to say we don’t see it in action all the time, but it was on full display over the weekend at the WM Phoenix Open. JT shot 67-65 to climb into the solo 4th position, ranking 3rd off-the-tee and 2nd tee-to-green. Thomas has three top-10s at the Genesis Invitational, including runner-up in 2019 and 6th last year, and the “old school” of Riv seems to align with his game and his persona. In addition, it’s well-known that Justin and Tiger are close, and I’m sure winning his tournament would rank as a special career highlight for JT. I like him to continue his form from the weekend and show off his shot-making abilities.

Adam Scott (+5500)

Available at FanDuel Sportsbook

This is a tournament where course history and past performance seem to count for a lot, so look no further than Adam Scott. He’s won twice, had as many runner-up finishes, and an additional three top-10s, including a T4 last year. He skipped the rest of the West Coast Swing to head back to Australia and is making the trip back Stateside as he loves Riviera CC. His game has been in a good spot and I like him at these odds.

Adam Hadwin (+11000)

Available at DraftKings Sportsbook

I’ve been watching Hadwin and picked him a few weeks ago for The AMEX; his game has been trending in the right direction for some time now. This will be his 9th time playing in the tournament, with his best finish being 6th. He’s had three top-10s this season, including at T10 in Phoenix last week. He’s 16th in approach and 17th in putting for the season, as well as 17th in strokes gained: total. Approach is going to be big this week, and Hadwin has also shown he can convert the putts.

Sepp Straka (+25000)

Available at DraftKings Sportsbook

I’m taking Straka as my long shot this week, even though we haven’t seen him much this year – he’s been playing on the DP World Tour (and not doing all that well…!) However, he’s a fantastic iron player and his approach stat is one of the best – 20th for the season and 4th from the key 125-yard distance. This will be his 4th appearance at Riv, and he’s coming off a T15 finish last year (right before he went on to win the Honda Classic the following week). I’m also taking him for a top-10 at +1600.

Genesis Invitational Prop Bets

Patrick Cantlay top-10 (+320)

Available at Bet365 Sportsbook

Cantlay’s top-10 odds are no doubt a little higher after his MC last week in Phoenix, but this Californian has finished within the top-17 four of the last five years in this tournament. He leads GIR percentage and scrambling from the fringe, and we’ve all seen what Cantlay is capable of.

Tiger Woods top-20 (+475)

Available at Bet365 Sportsbook

If Tiger makes the cut, could he finish within the top-20? Sure! I’m positive this is the eternal optimist in me, but I’ll take him at +475. He’s got the feel-good vibes of being tournament host, no pressure or expectation on him combined with a bit of unfinished business around Riviera CC. Stranger things have happened…

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The Pickswise golf handicappers are on hand with expert Golf Picks and Golf Predictions as well as tournament previews and analysis throughout the PGA Tour, including all of the majors.

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