Rivera Country Club is next up for the PGA Tour and its California Swing. Gone are the film producers and comedians playing along in last week’s National Pro-Am, this week is strictly business. That means that a number of players who shunned Pebble Beach have returned to the battle for their share of a $6,700,000 purse and FedEx points that may prove to be vital at the end of the season. The par 71, 7,349 yard course will host the likes of returning champion Bubba Watson, last week’s winner Brandt Snedeker and Sergio Garcia, who is returning to competitive golf in America.
As Bubba is defending his title from last year, it is no surprise that he is up at the top of the betting. At a general 12/1 the bookies rank him as joint favourite with Dustin Johnson. Both men rank among the biggest hitters on the tour, have plenty of tournament wins under their belt and are in decent form. Watson has finished 10th and second in his two PGA tournaments this year. Johnson missed the cut on his return at the Farmers Insurance Open but recorded a fourth place finish last week. With a reputation to rebuild and a new baby to look after, Johnson could well have a very good season, but out of the two Watson is the man to side with.
It is not just the main two in the betting who deserve closer inspection. There are two players who, at big odds, are worth an each-way play. First up, Jason Kokrak. He is 100/1 pretty much across the board but he is one of the longest drivers on tour and a very good putter. His approach play will need to be strong this week but if it is, he may well return in a big way. The second player is Scott Piercy. Piercy’s been up-and-down this season so far with a best finish of second place at the Sony Open. His game should suit the challenge of the Riviera and at 125/1 with Bet365 he should be included in your betting arsenal.
Bernd Wiesberger has never played a competition at the Riviera and is only in the field this week due to an invitation. However, his form on the European Tour this season is so good that he is difficult to ignore in the top 10 market. BetVictor are a best priced 6/1 that he will overcome his lack of experience and power his way to an impressive top 10 finish.
Another man who plays on both tours and could well have a good time at the Riviera is Francesco Molinari. Very few players are as accurate off the tee as the Italian who can place himself in the best areas around the course to make up for his average driving distance. Molinari is a consistent player who hits in greens in regulation over 70% of the time, if he can convert the chances he is sure to get, he can make Ladbrokes’ odds-compiler regret the 100/1 they are offering. They also go 80/1 that he will be first round leader which is definitely worth a small punt.