2018 Genesis Open Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

There are a select few non-major tourneys that every player on the PGA Tour covets to win in their careers.  The PLAYERS Championship of course immediately springs to mind, as does the Tour Championship.  Throw in Jack and Arnie’s events and no doubt there are some premiere non-majors, highlighted by their indelible tracks. 

This week’s Genesis Open belongs in that top-of-the-notch mix, as its host track Riviera CC is one of the most venerable on Tour, having hosted multiple major championships and being dubbed “Hogan’s Alley,” as the Hawk Ben Hogan himself won the LA Open here three times and also took home the trophy at the 1948 U.S. Open on this same track.  No doubt, history just oozes from the stunning Riviera clubhouse that sits atop the fantastically awesome natural amphitheater that surrounds the 18th green.

Riviera is a par 71 that stretches up to 7,322 yards from the tips.  Scoring averages typically range in the mid-71s per round, making it one of the toughest non-major tracks that these guys play annually.  Its small poa greens are headache-city and the thick, bunchy rough swallows up golf balls like nobody’s business.  It’s a course that truly equalizes the playing field, as bombers + bashers like Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson are leveled with plodders and game-managers like Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar.  It’s the epitome of great design and a wonderful host venue for an annual PGA Tour event.

My picks last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am got off to a dream-like start with Lockzilla Dustin Johnson and Semi-Flier Beau Hossler both t-1st through 36 holes, only to fizzle on the weekend with DJ ultimately finishing t-2nd (still not too shabby) and Hossler falling way back to t-43rd (shabby).  My BOLD play of the week Jason Kokrak also got off to a good start to the week, but also faltered on the weekend en route to a t-35th finish.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: DJ t-2nd)

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth
– After fighting an illness for the better part of the past month, along with a balky putter, Jordan has no doubt been a bit out of sorts.  Now, with that illness and his putting woes seemingly past him (he alluded to fixing an alignment issue last weekend at Pebble and putted much better, although still room for improvement), he’ll be raring to go for in his sixth start at Riviera this week (sixth already!).  Three top 25s here, including a t-22nd last year and a t-5th in ’15.  Expect him to be in the mix on Sunday.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Hossler t-43rd)

Matt Kuchar
Matt Kuchar
– A fairly large name to place into the Semi-Flier spot, but with such a stacked field it makes sense that he’ll be overlooked by many this week.  Kuch has a long history at Riviera, but prior to the past two years he only posted two top 20 finishes, with his best being a t-14th in ’08.  The past two years he’s gone t-8th, t-22nd here, with 7 of his last 8 rounds in the 60s.  Kuch rarely seems to ever really dip out of form and no surprise that he finished t-5th in Phoenix in his 2018 debut just two weeks ago.  He nearly missed the cut last week at Pebble, with a birdie on the 9th (his 18th) hole on Saturday getting him to Sunday on the number.  I don’t love his chances at winning or even seriously contending this week, but he’s a solid t-15th-ish finisher this week to be sure.

Also, keep an eye on Harris English this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Bubba t-35th)

Tommy Fleetwood
Tommy Fleetwood
– The OWGR #13 player is making his tourney debut this week and while he’s poised for another big season on the Euro Tour, I’m not buying in until I see some consistent red numbers on this side of the pond.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last week: Kokrak t-35th)

Charles Howell III
Charles Howell III
– After emerging victorious here in ’07, Chucky Three Sticks went through a rough patch from ’08 through ’16 either missing the cut or finishing North of t-50th each year.  But, he finally broke that streak last year en route to a t-15th finish.  After a solid season thus far dating back to the fall, CHIII has posted 5 top 20s in just 7 events, including a t-6th at Torrey Pines in his most recent start, and I fully expect that hot play to continue this week.  Charles Howell III is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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