Dustin Johnson is the favorite to win on the PGA Tour for the second consecutive week, and he’s hoping it goes better at Riviera than it did at Pebble Beach. The No. 1 golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), Johnson is a 5/1 selection to win this week’s Genesis Open, where he is the defending champion.

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson poses with his son and the trophy he won last year at the Genesis Open. He is a 5/1 pick to defend his title. (Image: LA Times)

It is nearly the same line as last week when he was an 11/2 pick to win on the Monterey Peninsula. Instead the two-time winner was upstaged by 300/1 long shot Ted Potter, Jr., who captured on his second victory in six years.

Despite shooting an even-par 72 in the final round, Johnson thought he had a good week and is confident he can repeat at Riviera Country Club.

“I felt like I played okay, just a few shots I felt like I hit good shots that might have gone just over the green in some bad spots,” he said on Sunday. “Yeah, no, got a golf course that I really like playing next week and the game’s in pretty good form.”

Strongest Field of Season

The 144-player field is loaded this week with players like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy entered. There are four of the top eight in the OWGR and 14 of the top 25. McIlroy and Spieth are second to win at 12/1 and Thomas follows at 18/1.

Several Europeans are using this week to make their US debut. Tommy Fleetwood, who won last month at Abu Dhabi, will play and is a 28/1 pick. China’s Haotong Li, who won at Dubai, is at 80/1 and last year’s Genesis Open runner up, Thomas Pieters, is 40/1.

Among Americans to watch are Phil Mickelson, Ollie Schniederjans and Chez Reavie. Mickelson is at 22/1 and has three top fives this year, including a tie for second at Pebble Beach. Schniederjans, who is 40/1, finished tied for eighth here last year. Revie is 33/1 and tied for second last week at Pebble Beach.

Tiger’s Return to Riviera

One golfer obviously garnering extra attention is Tiger Woods. After coming back from his fourth back surgery, the former No. 1 player is a 33/1 pick to win at a course where he has had little success and hasn’t played in 11 years.

In nine appearances at Riviera Woods has never won. He did finish second in 1999, but the course has mostly frustrated him. It is one of the few places from which he has not taken home a trophy.

I love the golf course, I love the layout, it fits my eye and I play awful,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s very simple. It’s just one of those weird things. It’s a fader’s golf course for a righty. A lot of the holes, you hit nice soft cuts and I used to love to hit nice soft cuts, and for some reason I just didn’t play well.”

Woods will have to tame his wild driver and improve his greens in regulation stat to have any chance here. He had a 30.36 percent driving accuracy percentage after the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines three weeks ago and that figure is alarmingly below the tour average of 59.84. Riviera is known as a tight driving layout tract and venturing into the rough is not a recipe for making the cut, much less winning.

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