What We Learned at The Genesis Invitational and the Enigma that is Rory McIlroy
By Mark Morton on February 17, 2020
Riviera Country Club once again proved its mettle as a classic, championship level golf course during this past weekend's Genesis Invitational. Golf Digest wrote an article a few years ago pondering the future of Riviera as a major championship course. For all those still wondering about Riviera, the back 9 yesterday provided plenty of evidence that it should be in the future rotation for a U.S. Open and/or PGA Championship. The 1995 PGA Championship was not Riviera's finest hour, but the course is still one of the greatest in the world and should periodically host the biggest tournaments.
Adam Scott's first win in 4 years on the PGA Tour wasn't a huge surprise, coming off the heels of his win at the Australian PGA Championship. Granted that field wasn't nearly as strong as the field he beat at the Genesis, but a win is a win and it often leads to more short term success. Scott has now leaped into the number 7 slot of the latest world rankings and the long putter has him putting well again where he is now in the top 15 of Strokes Gained Putting. The one area that may hurt him in the 2020 majors is driving accuracy. If Riviera had been setup with major length rough, it's likely Adam Scott would not have hoisted the trophy after hitting just 35% of the fairways on Sunday and just 44% for the week. He will have to find more fairways, but if he does he's a solid bet in 2020.
The guy that continues to make me wonder is Rory McIlroy. Granted he's finished in the top 5 in each of his last 5 events with one win, and he's currently #1 in the world, but it seems like he should win more. It's hard to imagine anyone having more raw power and ability, but he seems to stumble down the stretch in a way that belies his talent. As a 4 time major winner with 27 worldwide victories, it's a bit outrageous to say that Rory has underachieved, but there seems to be some question that keeps him from propelling himself into the stratosphere of the all-time great players. And now at the age of 30 it's time for him to take advantage of his peak major championship years, and 2020 could be special if he finds the answers.
Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods looked rusty all weekend, but it's hard to read too much into that as they are both likely to be huge factors throughout 2020. Jordan Spieth however has fallen out of the top 50 and as I've written in past articles it's hard to imagine him being a factor at Augusta or Harding Park, but maybe by June he can round into form and make a run at the U.S. Open.
The player I'm really liking for 2020 is Patrick Cantlay. Before his first win at The Memorial last year, he had top 10 finishes at the 2019 Masters and the 2019 PGA Championship. His solid play in 2019 and his top 20 finishes at both Pebble Beach and Riviera so far in 2020, shows he can play the championship courses. I look for him to win his first major in 2020, you heard it here!
Check back with us for more of our analysis as we head into major season.