Sunday at Pebble Beach was drama filled as expected before Daniel Berger pulled away down the stretch and slammed the door with an emphatic eagle on the 72nd hole. He and Nate Lashley battled it out up top with a few other chasers, before Lashley’s four-putt triple bogey on the 16th gave Berger a lead he would never relinquish.
Jordan Spieth again had a great week that ended in disappointment as he struggled to get anything going in the final round and would ultimately end in a tie for third with Patrick Cantlay. They would get passed by possibly the surprise of the final round in Maverick McNealy who would tie for the second best Sunday round behind the champion, with a 6-under 66. He would come home in 5-under 31, showing some great poise for the young player.
All of the players mentioned above will be traveling south down the California coast to Los Angeles for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. It will be a step up in field class as each of the top four players in the world will tee it up at Tiger’s event this week.
We know some of those up top that finished strong so I’ll try to pinpoint my favorite of that group and focus further down the board for a couple of other buys heading to Los Angeles using Strokes Gained data.
3 Buys for the Genesis Invitational
It was a great win on Sunday for Daniel Berger, and he will have a chance to put his name further up the ranks of today’s top players with a good performance in a strong field this week at Riviera. I generally don’t like to go right back to players off of a win, so he won’t be my first buy, but he finished third after his last victory so I wouldn’t write him off immediately.
My first buy is with Patrick Cantlay, who has to feel like he gave away chance after chance down the stretch. He simply couldn’t get putts to fall on the back nine, but his ball striking was solid all week long.
Cantlay led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green this week averaging over three strokes per round. He did it by being solid in both ball striking categories, gaining more than a stroke on the field on average off the tee and nearly two strokes on approach. The rest of his game shaped up pretty well throughout the week too, though as mentioned, it was a roller coaster ride for him on the greens. He went from fourth in the field putting in Round 1, to sixth worst in round two, and while the numbers show a good putting round on Sunday, he burned the edges time and again for much-needed birdies.
I have already made Cantlay my first bet on Monday morning at +1800 on DraftKings. He has three-straight top-20 finishes in LA. His best result was a fourth in 2018, but he is in a different class now and should be ready to contend for the win this weekend at Riviera Country Club.
Looking down the leaderboard for some names that quietly had good finishes on Sunday, the one that jumps out first is Matthew NeSmith. He seemed destined for a short week at Pebble Beach when he bogeyed his first three holes on Thursday at Spyglass Hill. He got one shot back over the next 15 to finish at +2 on his starting round, which ended up three shots from the cutline.
The fact he had to make up that many shots in just one round speaks to how well he played just to see the weekend, let alone finish in a tie for 16th. NeSmith would end up finishing the week as the third-best player on approach, gaining an average of 1.88 shots per round with his irons. He would also finish fourth tee to green, showing a well-rounded performance in a second consecutive top 20.
The former South Carolina Gamecock will make his first appearance this week at Riviera, but he will come in with some confidence off his recent play. He’s listed at 175-1 at DraftKings.
I took Chez Reavie as my longshot at Pebble Beach and to some it was a shot in the dark on a guy who had really struggled leading up to the event. Similar to NeSmith, Reavie started slow on Thursday with a 2-over round and needed to go low on Friday to make the cut. He did just that, firing his first of two 5-under rounds at Pebble Beach, to ultimately finish in a tie for 16th.
Reavie led cutmakers in Strokes Gained: Approach on the week with a strong 2.35 strokes gained on average per round.
Reavie now heads to another track he has seen success before, as he comes in off of a 10th place finish at Riviera in 2020. That was his second of two top 10s in the last four years, and you have to like his chances to keep the momentum going off of a strong performance over the weekend. You could do worse than Reavie for finishing position bets, as his outright odds are a lofty 250-1.