Sobel’s Genesis Invitational Round 2 Betting Notebook: Tiger Still in the Hunt, Bryson DeChambeau Could Be Worth a Punt
Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images. Pictured: Tiger Woods
LOS ANGELES – In my tournament preview for this week’s Genesis Invitational, I wrote about the idealistic scenario of lifelong Lakers fan Tiger Woods returning to Los Angeles and finally winning his original hometown event for a record-breaking 83rd career PGA Tour victory, paying homage to the late Kobe Bryant throughout the proceedings.
While I can’t yet confirm that Tiger will eschew his usual red shirt for a purple version in the final round, I can’t not confirm it, either. Let’s just say that I haven’t gotten Camp Woods to deny that it’s a possibility.
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As it turns out, not all tributes have to be planned.
Tiger started his tournament with an eagle on the par-5 opening hole – and as one observant tweeter pointed out, there were a few chilling numbers on his shot-tracker.
Seven holes later, on the par-4 eighth being called “Mamba” this week, Woods made birdie and tossed his ball from the green with a Kobe-like follow-through to the delight of the assembled gallery.
“We’re going to always remember Kobe and what he meant, and especially here in SoCal and the entire sports world,” Woods said afterward. “Very ironic that I happened to have those numbers on those holes and those exact measurements.”
Even if you’re not walking down Narrative Street and buying into this serendipitous connection, it was a solid start for the tournament host, who posted a 2-under 69 despite admittedly not having his best stuff.
Woods didn’t practice Monday, instead serving as captain during the Celebrity Cup. He curiously chose not to practice Tuesday, either, receiving treatment and getting some rest.
While his swing looked good during Wednesday’s pro-am, he punctuated Thursday’s round by stating that he held it together with some duct tape, especially on the back-nine.
“I was trying to piece it together on the range,” he said. “I did a good job of figuring out how to make solid contact and get the ball heading in the right direction.”
Trailing leader Matt Kuchar by five strokes (and nobody else by more than two), we can look at Tiger’s start in two ways: Either it’s a bad sign that his swing isn’t where he’d like it to be right now or it’s a good sign that he’s still easily in contention with something less than his A-game.
As someone who picked him to win this week, I’m desperately clutching to the latter idea, with the thought being that if he can dial in his driving (118th in the field off the tee in the opening round) to match his iron play (1st in approach shots) even just a little bit, he could ascend the leaderboard while others drop.
I’m not the only one with that idea. Tiger is now +1200 to win the tournament (FanDuel), his number dropping from +1600 to +2000 pre-tourney.
While I might not recommend gobbling up shares of him at this price, I certainly wouldn’t feel bad about having bet him already. It’s obviously very early here and while Kuchar leads, four of the five players in second place have never before won a PGA Tour event and several studs are already behind the 8-ball through 18 holes.
Even if you’re not buying that idealistic scenario – and I’ll readily admit, it’s all in good fun – one round into this week’s event and it’s still very possible that this could finally be the year Woods finally wins in Los Angeles.
Genesis Open Round 2 Betting Picks
Bryson DeChambeau (-135) over Sebastian Munoz (+210) and Tyler Duncan (+450)
Take this for what it’s worth: Following results of MC-8th-52nd in his first three starts of the year, DeChambeau appeared dialed in at Riv on Thursday morning. He led the field in both strokes gained off the tee (+190) and tee to green (+4.13) while posting a 3-under 68.
DeChambeau isn’t quite in the same category with Patrick Reed in fans’ collective I-wanna-see-that-guy-fail narrative, but there is a certain percentage who believe he’s too slow, too smarmy and too smart for his own good, often employing science to analyze his own performance. This same percentage will insist that DeChambeau’s recent decision to get yoked and hit the ball unseemly distances is doomed to backfire like it has for others before him.
Here’s the thing about Bryson, though: Much like Phil Mickelson, he loves proving people wrong.
You might not be rooting for him – and that’s alright – but DeChambeau’s ball-striking was so strong in the opening round that it’s tough to believe he won’t be a serious contender here on the weekend.
With that in mind, I love playing him in Friday’s second round, whether in DFS showdown slates or matchup bets. The only regret here is that he’s paired with a couple of solid players in Munoz (who shot 69) and Duncan (73), but hardly superstars, which would’ve led to a better price.
If you can find other H2H bets for Bryson, take ‘em. And at +3100 outright (FanDuel) and just four shots back, I like playing him live for a weekend run at the title.