Starts: 18th February 2021
Course: Riviera CC, California
Length: 7,322 yards
2020 Champion: Adam Scott
Overall Profit/Loss: -3 pts
Pre-Event Bets: -11.5pts
2pts EW Bryson DeChambeau (1/5 1-8) - 16/1 @ Betfair
1ptEW Adam Scott (1/5 1-10) - 28/1 @ Boylesports
0.75ptsEW Sergio Garcia (1/5 1-8) - 66/1 @ Bet365
0.5ptsEW Chez Reavie (1/5 1-8) - 160/1 @ Bet365
0.25ptsEW Doug Ghim (1/5 1-8) - 200/1 @ Bet365
0.25ptsEW Dylan Frittelli (1/5 1-8) - 200/1 @ Bet365
1pt Kyoung-Hoon Lee Top 20 finish - 6/1 @ Unibet
1pt Vaughn Taylor Top 20 finish - 15/2 @ Ladbrokes
In-Play Bets: +8.5pts
19 February 2021 (+13.5pts)
1ptEW Francesco Molinari (1/4 1-5) - 50/1 @ Bet365
1pt EW Cameron Smith (1/4 1-5) - 66/1 @ Bet365
20 February 2021 (-3pts)
2ptsJoaquin Niemann WIN ONLY - 10/1 @ Skybet
0.5pts Andrew Landry Top 5 finish - 25/1 @ Ladbrokes
0.5pts Sung Kang Top 5 finish - 40/1 @ Ladbrokes
21 February 2021 (-2pts)
1pt EW Alex Noren (1/5 1-3) - 50/1 @ Boylesports
Course Notes 2021
Each of the last six course winners have posted a top five in eh event before. Side with Course experience.
Five of the top 7 had posted a top 20 in their last start.
All six of the last six winners have ranked 27th or better for SG: Off The Tee in their last two starts. With fast greens, strong driving was crucial this year (Homa ranked 2nd SG: Off The Tee).
Course Designer: Neville and Thomas 1926 with Fazio re-design 2008.
Tournament played here since: 1973.
Type of Course: Classical, Tree Lined, Undulating.
Fairways: Narrow to average width, Kikuyugrass
Rough: Kikuyugrass, relatively low.
Greens: Poa Annua, 12 on the Stimp, surrounding run off areas.
Water Hazards: None.
Par 5's: 1st, 11th and 17th.
Premium on: Strong approach play.
Significant Info To Be Aware Of
This is the strongest field of the year so far with eight of the world's top 10 teeing it up.
The course has not had much rain recently so should play firm. It is particularly hard to hit greens in regulation here so we should expect lots of scrambling needed. Players often struggle with short putting on the greens here.
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
Has ranged from -11 to -17 over the past five years. The last three editions have been -11 to -14.
Price of Winner
4 of the last 5 winners have started at 50/1 or less. JB Holmes won at 150/1 in 2019 and James Hahn won at 200/1 in 2015 but the fields have got stronger here in recent years meaning one of the world's best usually prevails.
Torrey Pines which hosts the Farmers Insurance Open also uses Kikuya grass with Poa Annua greens. There is a clear correlation to success at the Masters and success here with past winners at both including Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson.
This is a course where you need plenty of experience to succeed. Every winner in the last 5 years has had at least two top 15's prior to winning. Side with strong course experience.
2020 winner Adam Scott had won his previous start at the Australian PGA but both runners up, Sung Kang and Scott Brown, missed their previous cut at Pebble Beach. Past winners JB Holmes (2019) and Bubba Watson (2015) had both missed the cut at Pebble prior to winning but had shown glimpses before that. We don't need someone in red hot form though.
Since 2010, we have had 9 American winners and 2 Australian winners. The Kikuyagrass rough used is similar to the rough used in Australia and South Africa.
We are looking for a player with high SG: Approach.
SG: Off The Tee
4 of the last 5 winners ranked inside the top 20. Strong driving is preferred.
3 of the past 5 winners have been in the top 6 and all 5 were in the top 20. Approach play is key.
SG: Around The Green
Only 1 winner has ranked inside the top 10 which is surprising given the amount of missed greens.
JB Holmes was 1st for this category in 2019 but the 2018 and 2020 winners only ranked 27th and 21st. Tee to green is preferred this week as everyone tends to struggle on the greens.
The par 3 4th, par 4's 12th and 15th play over 0.2 shots over par.
The 511 yard par 5 1st is the easiest hole on the course averaging only 4.32. The driveable par 4 10th and the other two par 5's (11th and 17th) are all very scoreable. The back nine needs to be taken advantage of.
The 16th is a relatively simple par 3. The 17th is a 589 yard par 5, and the par 4 18th is a tough finishing hole requiring a good drive and long iron shot.
Fast or Slow Start
The last 6 winners have all been within 3 shots after round 1 one. 4 of the last 5 winners have been leading heading into the final round. You want to be up with the pace here.
2pts Each Way (1/5 1-8) Bryson DeChambeau 16/1 Betfair & William Hill
Bryson has been trending nicely in this event over the past three years with finishes of 41-15-5. What particularly interests us is the fact weather conditions this week will be almost the same as last year where he finished 5th, unlike the previous two years when the weather was wet and cold. That 5th place finish would have been even better had he not putted horribly (ranked 74th SG: Putting). We can't see him putting that badly again and it's encouraging that since the break for Coronavirus he's won twice in 15 starts with both wins coming on Poa greens.
1pt Each Way (1/5 1-10) Adam Scott 28/1 @ Boylesports
Adam has enjoyed a steady start to the season with finishes of 21-41-10. Now he returns to one of his favourite courses on tour as defending champion. He has had six top 20’s in his last seven starts here. He is on record saying he feels very comfortable on the tee at Riviera and it reminds him of golf in Australia. Putting usually hampers Adam from winning more but he loves the Poa Annua greens here and a weakness is usually turned into a strength. Given the importance we place on course experience, he is a solid play. Note - Boylesports offering 10 places this week which we prefer, but plenty offering 8 places on him at 30/1.
0.75pts Each Way (1/5 1-8) Sergio Garcia 66/1 @ Bet365 and Skybet
Sergio has been priced up this week in the same range as the likes of Max Homa, Cameron Tringale and Russell Henley. Whilst we’re not discounting any of their chances, it seems quite disrespectful to the former Masters champion. We mentioned in the preview the correlation of this course to Augusta so Setgio ticks the boxes quite nicely here. Garcia already has two 4th place finishes at Riviera and comes in on promising form of 11-47-6-12. A winner on the PGA Tour at the back end of 2020, he is great value to challenge again.
0.5pts Each Way (1/5 1-8) Chez Reavie 160/1 @ Bet365
Chez caught our attention last week with a final round 67 to finish in 16th place at Pebble Beach. He ranked highly in the approach and greens in regulation stats which we regard as the most vital stats at Riviera. Finished 10th here last year after 26th the week before hand, we fancy him to make a similar improvement this year too. Unlike many of the other runners in this price range, Chez can compete in this company if the course is right, as he showed at the 2019 US Open when he finished 3rd. A winner on tour as recent as 2019 is always a nice bonus.
0.25pts Each Way (1/5 1-8) Dylan Frittelli 200/1 @ Bet365
Dylan is only making his 3rd start of the season after a missed cut last week, which has led the bookmakers to write him off. Admittedly he is a risky “all or nothing” play so small stakes advised but there is reason to believe he could go well. Firstly, he missed the cut on the number in Phoenix, so he isn’t that far off. Secondly, he also missed the cut on the number here last year and finished 28th in 2019 following some bad form. It was only three months ago he was finishing 5th at The Masters (indecently he missed the cut on his previous start to that) so we know he can compete in top company. Finally, being South African, he will be very familiar with the kikuyagrass used this week. Let’s take a small punt on him.
0.25pts Each Way (1/5 1-8) Doug Ghim 200/1 @ Bet365
At first glance, the youngster has no course experience here, however, he finished runner up at the 2017 US Amatuer at Riviera. He has shown real signs of improvement with a run of 5-37-21 to start the year. Last year at this event, we saw Sung Kang and Scott Brown finish 2nd at 200/1+ and if there is someone in this range that can do it, it could well be Doug.
1pt Kyoung-Hoon Lee Top 20 Finish 6/1 @ Unibet
The Korean was 2nd in his last start at Phoenix in a high quality field and should be coming in this week with great confidence at a course that suits. That runner up finish wasn’t out of nowhere either – he already finished 19th at Sony and 32nd at The American Express. Two appearances here have yielded 25th and 13th place finishes and there’s no reason why he can’t build on his success at Riviera.
1pt Vaughn Taylor Top 20 Finish 15/2 @ Sportingbet & Ladbrokes
Vaughn has three consecutive top 20 finishes at Riviera. He had a disappointing year last year as he only managed two top 20s from 20 starts (one of which was at this event). However, in 2019 he racked up a staggering 10 top 20 finishes from 27 starts. We're seeing evidence that his play in 2021 is returning to the levels of 2019 and at a course where he has a proven track record we think he's a bit of value. Take the bet at Sportingbet if you can as a tied 20th finish will be paid out in full.
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21 February 2021 09.15am
|Burns (through 13)||-10|
|Fitzpatrick (through 17)||-8|
|Clark (through 15)||-7|
|D Johnson (through 13)||-7|
|Homa (through 13)||-7|
Sam Burns remains in the lead but players were unable to finish the third round due to a significant earlier wind delay. With gusts of 30mph and balls blowing off greens, officials were forced to sound the hooter just as the final group were preparing to tee off. A four hour delay ensued and players came back out with conditions much calmer.
Burns will be thankful play was stopped for the day due to fading light. Dropped shots at 12 and 13 had him on the ropes a little and with the wind picking back up he would have been glad to get to his hotel and regroup. He'll no doubt be hoping to arrest the slide once play resumes today but his once five shot lead is now only three and odds of 3/1 don't hold much appeal. The weather forecast suggests the wind will not be insignificant (around 10mph) when he has to come back and finish his third round. The closing holes were also playing tough with only a few players being able to shoot under par for the final five. It is likely we'll see him finish his third round at 9 or 10 under.
There is some good news for the leader as world number one, Dustin Johnson (4/1), is likely to bogey when play restarts and drop back to 6 under. He has a 17ft par putt on the 14th once play resumes and whilst he may well knock it in, a bogey seems more likely. Max Homa (10/1) also faces an almost 6ft par putt to remain at -7. The other player at -7, Wyndham Clark (14/1), has significant back issues and it was telling that he stated in his post round interview that he was close to withdrawing before yesterday's round.
Matt Fitzpatrick (4/1) is probably best placed of the challengers. A par at the 18th would see him post a score of -8 and likely be within a shot or two of Burns going into the final round. He won in Dubai only three starts ago and will be a significant threat.
The wind will die down slightly later in the day and the final round will be played in sunny conditions with a max of 8mph forecast.
- 1PT EACH WAY ALEX NOREN 50/1 @ BOYLESPORTS (1/5 1,2,3)
Alex is playing some great golf this week, ranking 6th SG: Tee to Green. He is five shots behind Sam Burns and has three holes remaining of his third round. What particularly interests us is the way he has played holes 16-18 so far, scoring -3 on day one and -2 on day two. Even if he were to play these holes in one under, he'll be in a strong position going into the final round. He hasn't won an event anywhere since 2018 but his record when coming from behind is excellent. His last three wins have all come when clawing back significant deficits and there's every reason to think he can do so here.
20 February 2021 10.45am
Sam Burns continued his stellar play and has opened up a five shot lead with 36 holes to go. He is now 9/4 favourite and will never have a better chance of winning his first PGA Tour title. To do so, Burns will have to hold off World Number 1, Dustin Johnson, who has quietly maneuvered himself into 2nd place and is the obvious weekend danger. DJ is a best price 5/2.
Burns has given himself several good opportunities to break through in the last six months but has been unable to convert. He held a two shot lead at the Safeway Open in September but weekend rounds of 72-70 saw him fall back to 7th. Similarly, he led going into the final round of the Houston Open in November, but again disappointed with a 72 to finish 7th.
We highlighted Sam in our Five to Watch article at the start of the year and it wouldn't be a huge shock to see him win. However, with strong wind forecast today, 9/4 isn't a price we'd recommend taking. The lead is unlikely to be 5 shots once the third round is completed, and whilst he may retain the lead don't be surprised to see the gap close to a couple of shots with a good round from one or more of the closing pack.
The wind will pick up significantly today and should make for interesting viewing with the course playing firm. The first groups will tee off to 10mph winds and between 10am and 2pm local time the wind is expected to blow around 19/20 mph.
- 2pts JOAQUIN NEIMANN 10/1 @ Skybet (WIN ONLY)
Joaquin is tied 2nd and given the forecast we want to get this wind expert on our side. He has a 5⭐ Golf Betting Club Wind Performance Rating and will enjoy the tricky conditions which are likely to test the players today. He has started the season with two 2nd places and is very much knocking on the door of a 2nd PGA Tour title. He ranks 5th SG: Tee to Green this week and is 1st SG: Off The Tee so his game is very much in a good place at the moment.
- 0.5pts ANDREW LANDRY 25/1 @ Ladbrokes (Top 5 )
- 0.5pts SUNG KANG 40/1 @ Ladbrokes (Top 5 )
We'd like to back a couple of capable wind players to make progress up the leaderboard and give themselves a chance of a top 5 tomorrow. Both Andrew Landry and Sung Kang have won events where wind is a factor, and have several other good results at windy events. Both are probably too far back to win, but a good round today combined with a few others struggling should see them make progress from their current positions (14th Landry and 19th Kang).
19 February 2021 11am
|Eight Players Tied||-4|
Riviera once again showed why it's such an exceptional golf course with the likes of Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau shooting a combined 12 over par. However, Sam Burns didn't have the same troubles and leads by two following an afternoon 64.
There was a lot of talk pre-event about how firm the course was playing, similar to 2015 when James Hahn won on 6 under. Although seven under already leads, we shouldn't expect the winning score to be much lower than that as the course will firm up even more throughout the week in addition to an 18mph wind forecast for tomorrow.
Two of the favourites have got themselves into great positions - Dustin Johnson at 3 under and well backed Patrick Cantlay at 4 under, despite neither seemingly playing near their best. The bookies now rate them at 4/1 and 7/1 to go onto win - and DJ in particular is a worry when looking for alternatives. The forecasted wind tomorrow puts as off backing both as it stands, but it would be a surprise if neither are challenging on Sunday.
Given Adam Scott played his first round in one over last year, eight shots back, there are some massive prices around for players to make up the numbers. If you add in that Sam Burns has looked extremely questionable in contention so far on tour, it is possible someone will again come from way back on day one. The prices on the Exchange throw up multiple opportunities, but we have picked out the best each way value in our eyes.
- 1pt EW FRANCESCO MOLINARI 50/1 @ Bet365 (1/4 1,2,3,4.5)
The Italian has a poor course record, but we became aware of information on Wednesday that he has recently become a member and is starting to work the course out. There was plenty of evidence of that in his opening round of 3 under as his tee to green and scrambling stats were strong. He has the class to compete with the likes of DJ and Cantlay over the next three days and the firm course should be right up his street.
- 1pt EW CAMERON SMITH 66/1 @ Bet365 (1/4 1,2,3,4.5)
Cameron is one shot further back at 2 under and was very close to making our staking plan due to the course correlation with Augusta. Luckily for us, he is still available at a juicy price so we will take this opportunity to get him onside. Australians have a good record here, with Adam Scott quoted as saying it reminds him of the courses back home. Smith is a fine wind player so tomorrow's forecast shouldn't be a problem. Like Molinari, the firm course will suit him.