Genesis Invitational First-Round Leader Tips: Get with Garcia

Spain's Sergio Garcia
Spain's Sergio Garcia can get off to a flyer

The PGA Tour stays in California for the Genesis Invitational and Dave Tindall, who had a full 55/1 place last week, has three each-way picks to be First Round Leader at Riviera...

"Sergio was third after the opening lap of the Sentry Tournament of Champions when shooting 6-under and he repeated that feat on the European Tour two starts later, firing a 66 to lie third following Thursday's play at the Dubai Desert Classic."

Back Sergio Garcia E/W @ 66/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Thursday: The very early starters are greeted by chilly conditions but by 10am it's pleasant enough and the afternoon wave should play their whole rounds in temperatures in the early to mid 60s. Winds are fractionally lighter in the morning but they're fairly modest overall.

FRL history

2019 Matt Kuchar (64)
2019 J.B. Holmes (63)
2018 Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay (66)
2017 Sam Saunders (64)
2016 Camilo Villegas (63)

Strategy: Four of the six players mentioned above teed off in the afternoon which helps me lean that way. In addition, the second wave get warmer conditions so the ball should fly further. That gives them the edge so I'll make the afternoon starters my focus.

Side with Riviera fan Sergio

Sergio Garcia is a big fan of Riviera and has two fourths and a sixth at the famed Los Angeles track.

"It is a tournament that I really enjoy playing. I really love the golf course," he said a few years back.

In FRL terms he's done even better. Garcia was the first-round pacesetter on debut way back in 2001 and he's also finished second, fifth and seventh after 18 holes in subsequent visits.

Combine that with his current good early play and we have a bet.

Sergio was third after the opening lap of the Sentry Tournament of Champions when shooting 6-under and he repeated that feat on the European Tour two starts later, firing a 66 to lie third following Thursday's play at the Dubai Desert Classic.

His overall form in the calendar year is 11-47-6-12 and in that run he's shown he can go low with 64s at the Sony Open and the Saudi International.

In Dubai, he said: "I'm a lot happier with the equipment that I have now because I feel like I can shape shots and I can do a little bit more what I used to do.

"That obviously has been a process, a building process when it comes down to confidence and I'm very happy to see where I'm heading.

"So I think that it's a big year, and hopefully I can be in good shape because I want to be a part of a lot of things this year."

Garcia gets his round started at 12:38pm and looks good value at 66/1 to set the pace.

Kokrak can hit the ground running

I've put Jason Kokrak up in my outright preview but I can't ignore him in this market either.

As with Garcia, he's an industry-best price and in this case it's 85/1.

The big-hitting American has been a consistently good starter at Riviera. Between 2016 and 2017 his first-round scores were 67, 67, 68 and that led to day one positions of 12-8-6.

He also shot in the 60s in round one in 2014 and 2019 and, looking at how he's performed across the four days, his scoring average is lowest on Thursday.

A Riviera runner-up in 2016, Kokrak is in the top 20% for first-round scoring this season and just three starts ago he set the pace with a brilliant 62 on day one of the Sony Open.

Also the FRL at the BMW Championship in August 2019, Kokrak should still be carrying plenty of confidence from his breakthrough first PGA Tour win in October (the CJ Cup).

I'm hopeful he can make a big impact from his 12:27 tee-time.

Count on Carlos

Carlos ortiz wins Houston Open.jpg

Carlos Ortiz has an impressive bank of form at Riviera. In fact, he's never been outside the top 26 in four visits.

Those solid performances - 20-26-9-26 - have mostly been fuelled by fast starts.

The Mexican shot a 67 on his first ever circuit of the course to finish round one of the 2015 edition in seventh place.

He again sat seventh after 18 holes last year and he was ninth after an opening 67 in 2019. In short, he's been inside the top 10 after R1 in three of his four Genesis starts.

The 29-year-old won November's Houston Open after setting out with a 67 to sit second after day one. And he was also in the top five after the opening round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

We last saw him shooting 67 (12th after R1), 67, 69, 64 to finish fourth in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

There's lots to like here and he's a good option at 60/1. Ortiz gets his day underway at 12:27 from No.10.

Dave's First Round Leader P/L

Staked: £180
Returned: £60
P/L: -£120

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