2023 Genesis Invitational Final Round Picks: Target Aaron Rai in Head-to-Head Play

2023 Genesis Invitational Final Round Picks: Target Aaron Rai in Head-to-Head Play article feature image

Pictured: Aaron Rai. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Jon Rahm continued his early season dominance Saturday at the Genesis Invitational as he shot a six-under 65 to take a three-shot lead through three rounds. The Spaniard will be looking to capture his fifth victory over his past nine tournaments on Sunday.

We have seen Rahm go through similar stretches in the past, but the question that matters most to him is whether he can maintain this form into the Masters in two months. If you believe the answer to that is yes, the 28-year-old might be able to slip on a green jacket and take home the second major of his already storied career.

If you haven't already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There, I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.

Genesis Invitational

Aaron Rai -115 over Adam Svensson (DraftKings)

It has been a quiet and forgettable event for me in almost all sectors if Patrick Cantlay doesn't win. I am going to assume we are chasing an unbeatable freight train in Rahm and that we won't take down this event for the third year in a row. But, that doesn't mean we can't try to salvage what is left of the week with a head-to-head play.

There are a few things my model liked about Aaron Rai (-115) over Adam Svensson. I'll keep these items as straightforward as possible since the explanation can quickly become convoluted.

Scoring Over The First Three Days

In fairness, we can't discount that Svensson has beaten Rai over two of the opening three rounds, with the lone exception resulting in a push. That explains why the Canadian is holding a three-shot advantage through Saturday, but let me explain why I think that is providing false security.

Recalculated Scoring

When running a recalculated model, I like to allow golfers to keep their ball-striking returns for the week since quality off-the-tee and approach play is always more sustainable in finding long-term success.

Those factors can be accomplished with greater ease when push comes to shove. However, metrics like around-the-green and putting are often more volatile. That expected calculation can often render outlier results on the board, and we start to see the chaos take place when we look into what my model believes should be happening versus what has occurred.

You will notice in the image above that Svensson's three-shot advantage over three days should have been a shockingly diverse output of Rai leading by 6.59 strokes entering the final round. Even though that picture only tells half the story from an anticipated production perspective, when one golfer has overachieved on the leaderboard all three days and the other has underachieved twice after spawning two top-20 projected scoring rounds this week, something feels likely to change.

I typically have a good feel about when some of my wagers will go for or against us before tee-off time, and I assume this is one of those spots we might want to jump on as early as possible. My math had this closer to -135, and I wouldn't be shocked if we didn't see it eventually move closer to that number.

Remember, in-tournament contributions matter. Despite having this priced very close to this projection pre-event, Svensson's 61st-place rank with his ball striking has created a troubling outlook if his short game regresses to its mean level, something my data believes will occur in this battle.

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