Did we have an official changing of the guard in golf over the weekend? One could look at it that way as 23-year-old Jordan Spieth continued to set records, while 41-year-old Tiger Woods had to pull out of his next two PGA Tour events because his back still isn't right.
I'm not saying that Spieth is going to win 14 major titles or dominate golf for a decade or so like Woods did because that was the most impressive stretch of golf in history. But it's pretty clear now that Spieth is going to be the face of the sport for the next 10 years or so following his impressive win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday.
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The final round lacked any drama as Spieth teed off with a six-shot lead and barely broke a sweat in shooting a 2-undeer 70 for a four-shot victory over former U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, a close friend of Spieth's from Dallas. Spieth might have gotten a giant monkey off his back as it was his first 54-hole lead since the epic back-nine meltdown at last year's Masters. Spieth didn't have a single bogey Sunday at Pebble and his longest par putt was 5 feet. Frankly, he probably won the tournament with a 3-under 68 in horrible weather conditions at Monterey Peninsula on Thursday.
It was Spieth's ninth career PGA Tour victory - in his 100th PGA Tour start as a pro -- and first since last year's Dean & DeLuca Invitational. He is the second-youngest golfer (23 years, 6 months, 16 days as of Sunday) in the modern era to win nine times, with Woods doing it about a month earlier. Spieth is the youngest player in PGA Tour history to win five times by three or more shots and has now converted seven of his past eight 54-hole leads into victories. He also tied Jason Day for the most wins since the start of 2013 at nine.
Young golfers are dominating on Tour this year as Spieth was the seventh consecutive player under 30 to won on Tour. That ties longest such streak on PGA Tour dating to 1970. My pick to win at Pebble was two-time tournament champion Brandt Snedeker. He entered Sunday as Spieth's closest chaser, but after three birdies in his first six holes didn't have another. I wasn't high on Spieth last week but got Snedeker at +175 for a Top 10. Ditto Dustin Johnson at -125. Also hit a few head-to-head props.
This week the Tour heads to Los Angeles and historic Riviera Country Club for the Genesis Open - it used to be the Northern Trust Open, but Hyundai took over sponsorship and I guess that's a model of one of the company's cars although I can't ever recall seeing one. It's the final stop on the West Coast Swing. Sadly, injuries will keep two of the biggest names out in what usually draws the best field on the West Coast Swing - it's still pretty darn good with 16 of the world's Top 25. Tiger was going to play but withdrew a couple of weeks ago in Dubai with back spasms and still isn't right. I will now be surprised if he plays at the Masters. Tiger will be around the Genesis Open, though, as it benefits his foundation. Rory McIlroy is still dealing with a rib injury that has cost him a few weeks.
Riviera is referred to as "Hogan's Alley" for Ben Hogan's success at the course back in the day. It's a par 71 at just over 7,300 yards. The par-3 sixth is notable for a bunker in the middle of the green and the par-4 10 th is very drivable.
The defending champion is Bubba Watson, who also won in 2014. Last year, Watson was two behind Jason Kokrak with four to play but Kokrak faltered and Bubba birdied two of his last three to finish at 15-under 269, a shot ahead of Kokrak and Adam Scott. Only four golfers - Hogan being one - have won this event at least three times.
Golf Odds: Genesis Open Favorites
Spieth is the +750 favorite at Bovada and I can't argue with that. If you read this column weekly, though, you know my feelings on a guy who won the previous week - not good. Although Justin Thomas already has won back-to-back on Tour in the New Year. Spieth missed the cut here in 2016 but was fourth the year before.
Johnson is +800. He had that solid T3 at Pebble off a missed cut at Torrey Pines. He has four Top-4 finishes here (two runners-up) in the past five years but is yet to win. Overdue.
Hideki Matsuyama (+1000), Day (+1400), Adam Scott, Thomas and Sergio Garcia (all +2200) round out the favorites. Matsuyama took last week off after winning in Phoenix on Super Bowl Sunday. Sergio just won in Dubai a couple of weeks ago. Scott won here in 2005 and was twice a runner-up.
Golf Odds: Genesis Open Picks
For a Top-10 finish, I like Johnson (-150), Scott (+163) and Sergio (+200), who has a good track record at Riviera. Also like Garcia at +300 for top European. Go Scott at +188 as top Aussie.
Head-to-head, go Jimmy Walker (-115) over Matt Kuchar (-115), Brooks Koepka (-120) over Bill Haas (-110), Patrick Reed (-115) over Paul Casey (-115), Phil Mickelson (-115) over J.B. Holmes (-115), Watson (-115) over Snedeker (-115), Johnson (-115) over Spieth (-115), and Scott (-110) over Thomas (-120).
I was hoping for a Bovada prop that paired Johnson and Scott vs. the field but none posted yet. I do like one of those two guys to win. I'll go with Scott simply as he's better value.
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