The PGA Tour heads to Los Angeles for the Genesis Invitational where outsiders have a reasonable record so Steve Rawlings is back to try and snag a big-priced winner this time around...
"Given he’s won four of his last 46 events on the PGA Tour, the argument for taking 140.0139/1 about Kevin Na this week can end there but there are other reasons to back the 37-year-old Korean-born American."
The cream often rises to the top at Riviera and, as highlighted in the preview, US Masters form is usually the best angle in. That's something I've considered and so too is course experience, as only one of the last 15 winners had teed it up at Riviera fewer than five times previously.
My trio all have course form, at least five appearances, and form at Augusta National. I'll start with the most prolific of the three - Kevin Na.
Yay for prolific Na
Given he's won four of his last 46 events on the PGA Tour, the argument for taking 140.00139/1 about Kevin Na this week can end there but there are other reasons to back the 37-year-old Korean-born American.
Like most, it took him half-a-dozen starts to get to grips with Riviera but after three missed cuts in-a-row and a best finish of tied 25th, he finished 10th in 2010 and third 12 months later. It's been a mixed bag since but he was also fourth in 2017 and runner-up in 2018 so this is a venue that clearly suits his eye. That's not really surprising given his very decent record at Augusta where he's finished 13th or better three times.
Since winning the Sony Open in fine style in January, he missed the cut at The American Express the week after and he finished only 22nd in the Saudi International. But that was a strange performance. He played five holes in five-over on the back-nine on Saturday after hitting the front and he fell away again on Sunday after birdying holes two, three, four and five to throw his hat back in the ring in round four.
High hopes for Henley
As highlighted in the preview, three of the last six winners have ranked first for Par 4 Scoring at Riviera and Russell Henley currently tops the PGA Tour's Par 4 Performance stats.
He's only played here five times so far but he's shown plenty of promise. Henley missed the cut on his first two appearances but he shot 66 in round two after opening up with a 78 in 2014 on his second visit and, although that remains his best knock here, he began last year's renewal with a 67 to sit second, three off the lead. He was still in-contention with a round to go 12 months ago, sitting tied for fourth and just one of the lead, but a 75 on Sunday saw him fall to 17th.
Henley has been in fair form of late - shooting 67 and 65 in rounds two and three in Phoenix when finishing 30th and sitting second at halfway at the Sony three starts ago before going on to finish 11th. With Augusta form reading an impressive MC-31-21-11-16, it's understandable that Riviera suits his game and he too looks over-priced at 140.0139/1.
Charley worth chancing
My final pick, Charley Hoffman, is a little more speculative but he too has Augusta form, course form, and has shown promise of late.
The Hoff is a standing dish in the first round leader market at the US Masters given he's sat fourth, second and first in three of his six US Masters appearances. He's fallen away as the week has gone on but his form figures of 27-9-29-22-12-29 are very respectable so his fourth placed finish here in 2017 is understandable. He was also 12th in 2014 when he sat second after an opening 67 so if he's fit and firing the course suits him and there have been signs of late that he's getting there.
Hoffman hasn't done much since finishing sixth at the Safeway Open in October but last week's seventh was an encouraging effort at Pebble Beach from the wrong side of the draw given he trailed by nine in a tie for 37th at halfway after playing six holes in six-over-par on the back-nine at Pebble on Friday.
I'll be back on Friday with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
STEVE'S 2021 FIND ME A 100 WINNER P/L
Staked: 30 units
Returned: 12.5 units
P/L: -17.5 units