2021 Genesis Invitational Round 4 Buys & Fades: Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay Among Best Plays for Final Round
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Johnson.
It was a wild day, to say the least, at Riviera Country Club on Saturday. The third round started and had nearly all of the groups on the course, with the final threesome putting its tees in the ground and ready to send it, when the horn blew.
High wind gusts ran rampant throughout the course as balls were unable to stay in place on greens, and some communications equipment reportedly blew over onto the 14th tee box.
Tournament officials ultimately stopped play for nearly four hours. While the wind was manageable the rest of the afternoon, the conditions were still extremely difficult especially with the firm and fast conditions on the course, and it showed in the scoring.
Just 13 players posted under-par rounds, or had one going when play was ultimately suspended, and there were big numbers throughout the leaderboard.
Leader Sam Burns is not one of those 13, as he closed his Saturday evening once the daylight fully faded with back-to-back bogeys and a 1-over round through 13 holes.
The round of the day was being played by Matthew Fitzpatrick, who had cut Burns’ lead to just two shots as he prepared to play his final hole of the round tomorrow morning. Dustin Johnson, Max Homa and Wyndham Clark are also still on the course, making up the group at 7-under and three shots back of the lead.
The issues on Saturday will create a long day for all of the leaders on Sunday as they will tee it up at sunrise to finish the third round, then have to get themselves together for 18 more. Sam Burns will sleep on a smaller lead, with the bad taste of bogeys to finish his night, undoubtedly creating a lot of drama for the final round.
Our strokes gained data is incomplete for the round with the final group still having five full holes to play, but it still gives us an indication of their form in the difficult positions.
Let’s take a look at who was able to hold up well despite the winds and see if we can find ourselves a winner on Sunday.
Strokes Gained Explanation
Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.
Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.
Every situation in golf is different — Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.
In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics…
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
- Strokes Gained: Putting
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)
In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.
You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 4
I’m sticking with my guns and doubling back in a couple of spots for Sunday at Riviera. My assumption is that Fitzpatrick will get in with a par on the difficult 18th, and the target for everyone but Burns will be that 8-under number. Johnson comes out with a tough par putt to start his day on the 14th hole, which is much more make-able in the morning than it would’ve been Saturday night.
DJ is still my favorite to win this event, and he didn’t do anything on Saturday to change that thought. He has gained over three strokes on the field ball striking through his first 13 completed holes in Round 3, but he struggled a bit to get the ball in the hole.
If the World No. 1 can find his way into the final grouping, it will likely be with two guys seeking the first TOUR wins of their careers. Johnson will create an intimidation factor by simply being in that group, and we know he will be unfazed by the moment. I’ll double dip on the +430 available on FanDuel with my expectation that he is the most likely winner come Sunday night.
I haven’t hardly spoken about my pre-tournament favorite Patrick Cantlay through three rounds of posts, but now is the time. He had some painful short misses to close out his day on Saturday but is still in decent position, just four shots back of Burns.
Cantlay ranks fourth this week in strokes gained tee to green and is gaining strokes on the field in all categories. He has the opportunity to play the par-5 17th to start his morning on Sunday, and a birdie or better there would go a long way in positioning himself for a run at the win.
We know Cantlay can go low to chase down a wind after what he did at the American Express, and while that 11-under type of round isn’t available at Riviera, it gives us confidence he has it in him to make a run at it down the back stretch.
If you’re not in on Cantlay yet, shame on you, but you can still get in at a decent +700 on DraftKings. In my opinion, the 17th is a huge one for him tomorrow morning because a birdie will put him in a great spot, with an outside shot of getting into the final group. I was disappointed to see Cantlay had teed off and put it in the fairway bunker since anything worse than birdie will likely leave him in a crowd going into the final round. Regardless, I still like his chances better than anyone not named DJ.
Rather than rehash a couple of guys I have already covered through three rounds in Tony Finau and Talor Gooch, I will dig down for someone who played well under the radar a bit. Collin Morikawa is someone that I will have in DFS Showdown contests and I’ll be shopping for solid placement odds on him to backdoor a top-10 finish or maybe even a top-5.
Morikawa is posting one of the better rounds of the day through 16 holes on Saturday, finishing the day 2-under par, set to hit his approach into the eighth hole after starting his round on the back nine. He has climbed from a tie for 67th to a current tie for 19th with his Saturday round, and he has done it in typical fashion with elite ball striking and iron play.
Morikawa has gained 2.24 strokes on approach so far in his round, and has really put things together since his opening round 73. I don’t give him a chance to win, but he is showing the form we came to know last summer, and I’d expect he closes strong on Sunday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 4
My first fade on Sunday has to be pretty clear at this point, as I’ve talked about everyone but the leader in a positive light. I thought Burns needed to post an under par third round in order to have a fairly comfortable path to victory come Sunday, but the wheels started to wobble as he played his final few holes on Saturday evening.
Burns birdied the 10th to get back to even on the day and seemed in control, but then he went bogey-bogey on 12 and 13. He will wake up to what was a nearly impossible tee shot at 14 on Saturday and hope for better conditions to help him escape with par. If he doesn’t, it could be a struggle to the finish the third and that will carry over to the final round.
It is really difficult to win on TOUR, and we have seen struggles in this spot from Burns before, most recently from the final group at Torrey Pines in January. He would shoot a 3-over 75 that day to drop to 20th, and the concerns I had then, flashed back to me today. I think the LSU product will be a winner on TOUR in due time, but this course won’t allow for any mistakes over his last 23 holes and that’s a lot to ask for the kid with the World No. 1 on his heels.
I wrote off Matt Jones and Wyndham Clark following the first round, but they have both proved me wrong through nearly three rounds. They have both gotten it done with a reliance on the short game and are two of the weakest players tee to green at the top of the leaderboard.
Jones especially stands out amongst those around him as he’s only gained an average of a half stroke on the field per round, tee to green. Despite that, he is firmly in the Top 10 and just five shots off the lead. My fade on him is for him to get in contention to win, as I don’t think he can overcome those ahead of him without the ball striking in play. He may be able to make enough putts to linger around his current standing, but he’s a fade for me to move further up the board on Sunday.
Just like my buys, I’ll dip down and highlight someone from outside of the top 10 as my final fade for the fourth round. Patrick Rodgers is a player that on the surface looks to have played a great round on Saturday and may be in play for some with matchups or DFS.
When we look closer at Rodgers we see he has lost strokes on average per round this week both with his irons and tee to green. He did the same on Saturday, but made up for it by gaining four shots on the field putting. Rodgers was able to find his way into the group of 13 that were under par on the day, but that scoring isn’t sustainable with the shape of his game tee to green.