From Phoenix to just outside Los Angeles the players head as they encounter on the final leg of the west coast tour. What won’t change though is the strength of field. “Tigers” event hosted at Riviera Country Club is another elevated tournament with a loaded field of name power. Riviera CC is a classic course with narrow fairways, tight doglegs, penal rough and smaller than average poa greens. This is one of the toughest tracks when it comes to finding the fairways. This combined with smaller greens and greens surrounded by plenty of bunkers brings the short game element into play quite often. The par 71 course playing around 7325 yards really only provides 4 great scoring opportunities. Those being the three par 5’s and the drivable par 4 10th hole. After that the remaining 14 holes present a tough challenge. The winning score is typically in the low to mid teens with the majority of players ending around -2 to -5. In the past winners have been great ball strikers and on the longer side of hitting the ball. A cut will be made after round 2 which usually falls in the +1 to +4 range. So let’s get started with who are some solid options to target.
10k and Up Price Range
Once again we have four players to choose from although the names are slightly different. Let’s start with last weeks winner Scottie Scheffler. He finished 7th last year after winner at Phoenix while as a pro he has a 20th and 30th here. My biggest concern with Scottie and why I am passing is the driver. It’s still an inconsistent part of his game and Riviera offers more trouble than Phoenix off the tee when missing. Jon Rahm maintains the #1 price tag while his game continues to be strong. 5th is his best finish here while like Scheffler his driver was also inconsistent but in general he is one of the two best off the tee. At this point I am not out but need to be talked onto him, sounds crazy with his results.
If not for the price I wouldn’t be surprised if Rory McIlroy ended as the lowest owned of the four players in this range. Unfortunately, I expect many, like myself to forget last weeks results and jump back on. He is the best driver of the ball, slightly better than Rahm. In the end I feel he really wants to win this tournament with it being Tiger’s and how close the two have become. Rory is my only player of the four I am definitely in on. Finally, Justin Thomas enters this range after a nice back door finish in Phoenix. Of the four players JT is the best ball striker while off the tee he is most erratic. He has solid history here, but he has been boom or bust. Currently I do like him over Rahm and my other choice in this range comes down between he and Rahm. I will also have plenty of lineups with no Rory and or Rahm or JT depending who I end on.
9K Range of Prices
Once again a loaded range of players where choices need to be made and tough ones at that. One difference though is the lack of the total number of options to choose from as its lower than last week. I really want to focus on elite ball strikers at this course. I have no issue going back to Collin Morikawa and what should be lower ownership. His game sets up perfectly for this course and mirrors the past three winners. The other player I am highest on is Max Homa. He is playing great golf and heads back to Cali we’re he plays his best. I don’t have a great gauge on the ownership of the two but regardless I want plenty of both. Perhaps people are still scared of the price on Homa and last weeks results brings Morikawa down.
The three players who erode and pull away ownership on the aforementioned two would be Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Sungjae Im. All three played solid golf last week while having solid history here but not phenomenal like Max. Of the three Xander is my favorite. If not for some silly mistakes he could have easily competed with Scheffler last week. Finau’s off the tee game being erratic is a concern. While I could probably be talked onto Im. As for Patrick Cantlay I expect him to gain some traction due to that price. His results are similar to Xander and I would rather play Schauffele. Sammy Burns is the one I am undecided on. He is surrounded by players who will be clicked before him thus reducing his ownership. If he does come in low I will have some although like others I have mentioned his somewhat erratic off the tee game concerns me. In the end part of me just wants to go with Rory, Max and Morikawa as my only plays above 9k in a 20 max contest.
8k Price Range
Last week it was the 9k range that had plenty of players and several I ended on. Nobody cared for the 8k for the most part. Well, I am pretty sure this range will be hit fairly hard. Vik Hovland, Cam Young and Will Zalatoris will all be on my play list. Hovland and Zalatoris fit the elite ball striking type of player I am targeting. With Young having a weak performance last week and surrounded by several key other players I expect him to garner some of the lower ownership in this range. After Zalatoris and Hovland I expect Hideki Matsuyama to garner significant ownership, perhaps the highest in this range. The price on him is criminal. I don’t care if his neck is hurting or not I am not passing on his ball striking upside.
After the above tough decisions need to be made as all can’t be played. I expect Jason Day, Justin Rose and Adam Scott to garner some ownership and quite possibly Rickie Fowler. Can’t blame anyone for playing them but at this point I am passing. Scott hasn’t played much and when he has it hasn’t been good. Day, Rose and Fowler are all playing well but can they maintain this at a very tough course we’re they haven’t played their best. I am inclined to pivot off them and take chances with Tyrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick who should be some of the lower owned in this range.
At this point I am off Jordan Spieth and if Tom Kim comes in on the lower side of ownership I will go back in. The game is to erratic for Spieth on a tough course. Kim continues to play solid golf and his price is more than fair while his game fits the course and he is an elite ball striker.
7K Price Range
This range killed me last week as several of my choices missed the cut. So many great options. I don’t see any one player who command ownership within the range. Expect the ownership to be spread out with several sub 10% options. Early in the week I am keying in on five players. I will add more but my first look brings me to the below.
Si Woo Kim continues to play solid golf every week. He has played some of his best out west. Kim makes for a nice pivot within his peer group of players. I also like his short game. Corey Connors is another great pivot. He should find fairways and hopefully the irons get dialed in. He won’t be played due to his history here and recent form. JT Poston caught the wrong side of tee times Thursday and it caused him a missed cut. He has solid history here and has played one bad round. I will gladly jump back on. KH Lee was a disappointment last week. Look for a nice bounce back at lower ownership. He has played well here and his game is in solid form. Lastly, Patrick Rodgers enjoys the west coast and plays some of his best golf here. I am sure he will get some traction and talk this week but I want some of him. Rodgers played some of his best golf of his career at the end of 2022, perhaps Phoenix was the start of another good run for him.
That’s a wrap for the west coast swing as next week we head to Florida for more great tournaments as we head closer to The Masters. Let’s have a great week and enjoy the green screens while Running Pure!