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BlogFarmers Insurance Preview and Picks

Farmers Insurance Open

January 25th – 28th, 2018

Torrey Pines South Course

San Diego, CA

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,698

Purse: $6.9 million

with $1,206,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jon Rahm

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 40 of the top 100 in the latest Official World rankings with 19 of the top 50 players.  There are four players from the top-ten, #2 Jon Rahm, #5 Hideki Matsuyama, #6 Justin Rose and #7 Rickie Fowler. The other top 50 players are #13 Marc Leishman, #14 Jason Day, #19 Alex Noren, #20 Brian Harman, #22 Francesco Molinari, #23 Charley Hoffman, #24 Patrick Reed, #26 Xander Schauffele, #36 Patrick Cantlay, #37 Jhonattan Vegas, #40 Siwoo Kim, #44 Tony Finau, #45 Kyle Stanley, #46 Phil Mickelson and #48 Brendan Steele.

Last year 20 top-50 players were in the field.

The field includes 18 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2018.  Those players are #2 Jon Rahm, #5 Austin Cook, #7 Brian Harman, #8 Brendan Steele, #9 Patrick Cantlay, #10 Justin Rose, #11 Andrew Landry, #12 Tony Finau, #13 Chesson Hadley, #14 J.J. Spaun, #15 Rickie Fowler, #17 Marc Leishman, #18 Whee Kim, #19 Cameron Smith, #20 James Hahn, #21 Tom Hoge, #22 Keegan Bradley and #23 Alex Cejka

The field includes 13 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings from last year.  Those players are #3 Xander Schauffele, #5 Jon Rahm, #6 Marc Leishman, #7 Rickie Fowler, #8 Hideki Matsuyama, #9 Justin Rose, #18 Jason Day, #19 Tony Finau, #20 Charley Hoffman, #22 Patrick Reed, #23 Jhonattan Vegas, #24 Kyle Stanley, #25 Brian Harman.

The field includes 8 past champions in the field (winning 15 Farmers titles) this week: Jon Rahm 2017, Brandt Snedeker – 2016 & ’12, Jason Day – 2015, Scott Stallings – 2014,  Tiger Woods – 2013, ’08, ’07, ’06, ’05, ’03 & 1999, Ben Crane – 2010, Nick Watney – 2009 and Phil Mickelson 2001, ’00 & 1993.

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Farmers Insurance Open field is our performance chart listed by an average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a unique formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Farmers Insurance Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Farmers Insurance Open.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Farmers Insurance Open

Player Career Builder Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C Hong Kong Australian PGA DP World Dubai RSM Classic Mayakoba Shriners Hospitals WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms Nine Bridges
Jon Rahm
(302.67 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP Win
(66)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP DNP
Brian Harman
(266.67 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T4
(80)
3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP 8
(16.67)
DNP T5
(23.33)
Cameron Smith
(139 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
T17
(33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(30)
Marc Leishman
(122 pts)
DNP DNP T47
(3)
T7
(55)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T38
(4)
DNP 2
(33.33)
James Hahn
(117.33 pts)
T36
(14)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T77
(0)
DNP DNP T40
(3.33)
Rickie Fowler
(113.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tom Hoge
(113.33 pts)
T57
(0)
DNP 3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
T61
(0)
T7
(18.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Justin Rose
(112 pts)
DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(40)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Andrew Landry
(111.67 pts)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
WD
(-1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP
Adam Hadwin
(109 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP 32
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP T47
(1)
Jhonattan Vegas
(104 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP T54
(0)
Martin Piller
(102.33 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T4
(26.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP
Kyle Stanley
(93.67 pts)
DNP DNP T10
(40)
30
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T19
(10.33)
Charles Howell III
(93.33 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T32
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T4
(26.67)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP T19
(10.33)
Patrick Cantlay
(90.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP
Brandon Harkins
(90.33 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
T25
(8.33)
T20
(10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
John Huh
(89.33 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
T25
(8.33)
T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(80.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP
Russell Knox
(80.33 pts)
T29
(21)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
T9
(15)
T72
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(74.33 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP T40
(3.33)
Chesson Hadley
(70.67 pts)
T42
(8)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
WD
(-1.67)
T4
(26.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Si Woo Kim
(68.67 pts)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
3
(30)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP T44
(2)
Peter Uihlein
(66.33 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP
Grayson Murray
(64 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP T22
(28)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 76
(0)
Ollie Schniederjans
(62 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Farmers Insurance Open

Player Career Builder Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C Hong Kong Australian PGA DP World Dubai RSM Classic Mayakoba Shriners Hospitals WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms Nine Bridges
Kyle Thompson
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Andrew Yun
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Steve Wheatcroft
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T74
(0)
DNP
Matt Atkins
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP
Marty Dou Zecheng
(-28.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
WD
(-1.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T69
(0)
DNP DNP
Sangmoon Bae
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
Mac Hughes
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Troy Merritt
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Chad Campbell
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T72
(0)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
Jimmy Walker
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The year of the comeback

Last week we saw the return of Rory McIlroy to the golfing scene.  For McIlroy, Jason Day and Tiger Woods they were all marred by a combination of injuries and personal problems.  For McIlroy, it was injury and the fact that he just couldn’t shake it.  For McIlroy, his first event back in Abu Dhabi after a four-month leave was a big success as he finished T-3rd, but looked very good.  McIlroy’s comeback continues in Dubai.  For Jason Day and Tiger Woods, they tee it up in San Diego at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Jason Day

The big news is Tiger Woods, and it may drown out the fact that Jason Day is making his first start since the Australian Open where he finished 5th, but for Day who started the year 1st in the world rankings, 2017 is a year he wants to put in his rearview mirror.  It began during the FedExCup playoffs in 2016 when he back was sore, and for the rest of the year, it just wasn’t right.  He ended the year with it a bit better, but for most of 2017, the back wasn’t 100%.  Adding to the problems at the start of 2017 he encountered ear infections and the flu.  Then in March during the Match Play Day got news on a diagnosis that his mother was in serious shape with cancer and would probably not live much longer.  Day brought his Mom to the United States from Australia, and with the help of some doctors they operated the first of April and stabilized her.  Day returned to play in the Masters and finished T-22nd, but his heart just wasn’t into playing.  He found himself in a playoff at the Byron Nelson, only to miss a very short putt on the first playoff hole to lose to Billy Horschel.  That would be his last top-ten till the PGA Championship as his game suffered because he was more worried about his mother.  Things started getting better but just after the Australian Open Day’s wife Ellie, who was pregnant and suppose t have the couple’s third child lost that child.

Of course, time heals just about anything, but I have to wonder how 2018 shapes up for Day.  The miscarriage is still fresh in his mind, but the combination of him being susceptible to back injuries and the health of his mom could linger into the year.  He has shown us how good he can be, but between mental anguish and physical problems, a top-notch player just can’t be number one or even compete on the PGA Tour.  We saw it with Tiger for over seven years that between the physical and mental problems, the best player in the world just couldn’t compete on the PGA Tour.  So for Day, 2018 could continue his slow decline, and we may not see him contend until things do get better.

Now for Tiger Woods, he is in an entirely different place.  He seems to have gotten a grasp on his family problems and appears to be in a good position right now.  He seems happy and enjoys spending time with his two children and has a good handle on things.  Who knows maybe him getting arrested over the summer for being incapacitated while driving maybe woke him up.  But that along with him for the first time in years looking healthy and with no back pain have us wondering if Tiger could return in some way to the old Tiger.  I don’t ever think that we will see the degree of play that Tiger showed us between 1996 and 2008 in which each time he played there was a threat that he would win.  I think there are too many players in golf that are so good that it’s an impossibility for any one person to be on top of the game all the time.  We have seen it with Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, two of the best players now that content any time they play.  Look at Johnson last week in Abu Dhabi; he didn’t look as good as he did in Hawaii.  The same for Spieth, he finds a way to winning, but we don’t see him or even Justin Thomas contending every week they play.

So what do we think of Tiger?  This is the start of a new chapter, we all know that he will be at the Masters in April and who knows, he could win, let alone contend.  It will still be interesting to see were Tiger plays from now till the Masters.  You know that his schedule would probably look like this, after San Diego and Los Angeles, Tiger would probably like to play the Honda, the WGC-Mexico, Bay Hill and the WGC-Match Play.  Now to do that he needs to be in the top-50 of the World Rankings after L.A. and to get into the Match Play he needs to get into the top-64.  Right now he is 647 in the rankings so to move up he would probably have to finish with a win and a 2nd in those two events.  I think Mexico is perhaps out of reach, but I can see him possibly getting into the Match Play.  So it’s imperative for him to play well this week and in Los Angeles, because I don’t think he will add any more on the west coast swing.

Can Tiger win this week? Probably not.  But I think that a top-ten is within his grasp and who knows, maybe even a top-five.  Again for all of this to happen, it’s important for Tiger to stay healthy, any kind of back problems spells an end to the comeback, like it has the other times he tried to come back.  One fact is inevitable, if Tiger does contend this week it will give Golf a very big boost at a time it needs it.

A different experience on the North Course

Last year we saw the effects of the north course getting a Tom Weiskopf redo.  He added almost 200 yards to the original yardage.  At the same time, the greens and fairways became broader and more prominent, and Weiskopf reduced the number of bunkers from 60 to 42.  He has given some of the holes a different feel like the old 16th hole which is now the 7th. He has shortened the par 4 to 322 yards and made it a potential drivable par 4.  He also took the old par 4 8th hole (is the 17th) and added 150 yards making it into a par 5 while shortening up a bit the old 9th hole (the 18th) and made it a tough par 4.

The players loved the change and said that Weiskopf did a fantastic job.  Scoring wise the course was 71.28 which is about a stroke a round tougher than in past years.  The important thing is that the course isn’t a lay-up and tournament officials won’t have to worry about players shooting sub-60 rounds on it.  So the change accomplished what it was supposed to do.

Course information:

  • Played at the two courses at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California
  • South Course (Home Course) – Par:  72 / Yardage: 7,698
  • North Course – Par: 72 / Yardage 7,258

In 2016 the South course was the 14th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 72.77 average.  The North Course was the 32nd hardest course, playing to an average of 71.28

Both courses were designed by Billy Bell Jr. and opened in 1957.  In the 80s both courses were revamped with all new greens with the work done by the city.

The south course opened first on June 19th, 1957 with Paul Runyan, Ralph Duldahl, Olin Dutra and a local pro, Don Gollett the first to play it.  Five months later the North Course opened.  Hard to believe that since the courses opened over 58 years ago, over 14 million rounds have been played on both courses.

The two courses were the brainchild of Leo Calland, then director of San Diego’s park and recreation department. He pushed hard to change an old World War II camp into a golf course.  When he got permission, Bell came in and covered over the blacktop and could use the excess concrete to achieve rolling fairways on what was a flat site.  The lure of both courses after they opened was the views of the ocean on every hole.  Both courses sit atop of bluffs overlooking the Pacific, and these views were seen a couple of years later nationally when Challenge Golf filmed one of there matches with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Sam Snead and Doug Sanders.

A decade later, the San Diego Open was looking around for a home.  Since the tournament was first played in 1952 it never really found a home.  It was played on several different courses, but in 1968 it would embark on a significant change.  It decided to copy several west coast tournaments by getting a headline celebrity to host the event getting Andy Williams who at the time was one of the biggest stars on television with a weekly show.  They also needed financial support and asked for the city for the use of Torrey Pines free of charge.  It was a match made in heaven.  The course proved very popular not only with the pros but the TV audience that watched it.

Since then Torrey Pines has been the home of the tournament, although every year rumblings were heard that it could be replaced with a TPC course. Those rumblings ended with the economic downturn in 2008.

After the 2001 Buick, the South course went through an extensive revamping process.  With the chance of getting the 2008 U.S. Open, $3.3 million was spent with Rees Jones adding a lot of length to the course.  Now, the course can stretch to 7,700 yards although the PGA Tour plays it below that figure.  Though Jones didn’t change the routing of the course he did redo all the bunkers and changed four holes moving greens on the third, fourth, fourteen, and fifteen holes.  With all the changes, it brought some bite back to a course which 30 years ago was considered very difficult by the touring professionals.  Average scores were up almost two shots compared to past years, and the winning score of 275 was along with two other years the highest winning score in 20 years.  The revamp proved such a big success with the players, media, and fans that the USGA gave the 2008 U.S. Open to Torrey Pines and that was such a big success that in 2021 the USGA would return the Open to Torrey.

The North Course was redone in 2016 and proved to be about a shot and a half easier than the South.  Still, in many people’s minds, the North is more scenic and more fun to play.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing on the South Course at Torrey Pines:

This is based on the most important stats for Torrey Pines South Course, based on data from last years Farmers Insurance Open, and using data from all the players in the field for with stats from 2017 and 2018. What we do is take their rank for each stat and average that number between players rank in ’17 & ’18.
Event is played on two courses, so the data is only for the rounds played on the South Course, not the one round data from the North Course
The scoring average of the field on Torrey South Course in 2017 was 72.77 making it the 14th hardest course on the PGA Tour. It was almost 2 shots easier than in 2016 when it was the 2nd hardest course on tour with a 74.50. In that year they had high winds so severe that they had to finish the round on Monday, so that is the reason for the change. 72.77 is about the norm, while over on the South course the changes to the course did make it harder at 71.28. One of the reasons that 2017 was easier was the wind. Since the courses are on a cliff over the Pacific, the conditions have a lot to do how the scoring goes. In looking at the long-range weather forecast for the week, wind won’t play a factor, but it won’t be a great weather week in San Diego as it will be cloudy each day with showers on Friday and Sunday so that the course will play a lot easier.

In looking at the stats for Torry South last year, driving is essential. In windy, dry conditions in 2016, the course ranked 30th in driving distance and 14th in driving accuracy. Last year it ranked 11th in driving distance and 8th in driving accuracy. More important than that, rough proximity is vital. That is because the greens were the 2nd hardest to hit in 2016 and 6th last year so those out of the rough had a tough time getting it close to the hole. Last year the average shot from off the fairway was 33 feet and 3 inches compared to 50 feet, 2 inches from the rough. So you can see that driving the ball is very important in this tournament and with possible rain this week the rough will be even harder, so our first category is Strokes Gained off the tee. This makes sense, last year’s winner Jon Rahm was 1st in this stat along with being 1st in Strokes Gained tee-to-green.
Our second category is Proximity to Hole because hitting greens is important, last year the course ranked 33rd in that stat and was T-8th in Proximity to the hole as the average was 38 feet, 9 inches. In looking at these stats, winner Rahm was T-12th in greens in regulations but was 3rd in Proximity to Hole.
Our third category is putting inside 10 feet. Several factors have made Torrey Pines the hardest greens to make putts inside 10 feet for the second year in a row. The main reason that this stat is so extreme is the fact that the greens are Poa Annua and since it’s close to the ocean, the greens are hard to judge and tend to get bumpy, especially late in the afternoon. Last year Rahm ranked 8th in this stat as he made 49 of 54 tries for the week, so it’s important for players to make those putts.
Our last category is scrambling manly because of its history lot’s of greens are missed, and Torrey is very tough to get it up and down. Last year it was the 5th hardest, the year before it was 2nd and over the course of the previous six years, the course has been in the top-ten in this stat every year. As for winner Rahm, he was 14th in this stat as of the 19 greens he missed he got up and down 13 times which was very important in his victory.

So here are our four choices for the most critical stats from players to do well at Torrey Pines South:

*Strokes gained off-the-tee: It’s a combination of hitting it straight and hitting it far. Since Torrey is so long, you have to hit driver off of most tees. But the fairways are narrow, and the rough is hard if you get into it.

*Proximity to Hole: Important because hitting greens on the South Course is hard, getting it close to the hole from the fairway is an important number.

*Putting inside 10 feet: This gauges how many putts a player makes inside ten feet. With Torrey having Poa Annua greens making all of these putts is essential and a challenge for players.

*Scrambling: The South Course is hard in this stat, only Quail Hollow for the PGA, Muirfield Village for the Memorial, Augusta National for the Masters and TPC Sawgrass for the Players had worst scrambling stats as only 51.65% of the time were players able to get it up and down in 2017.

143 of the 156 Players from this year’s field with stats from this year:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to the other 133 of 156 players with stats on the South Course of Torrey Pines

DraftKings tips

Of the 156 in the field, 124 have played at least once in the Farmers.  Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Farmers since 2010:

  • Brandt Snedeker is 60 under in 30 rounds playing 8 years
  • Charles Howell III is 47 under in 32 rounds playing 8 years
  • Marc Leishman is 40 under in 28 rounds playing 8 years
  • Bill Haas is 33 under par in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Nick Watney is 30 under in 28 rounds playing 8 years
  • Phil Mickelson is 28 under in 24 rounds playing 8 years
  • Jimmy Walker is 27 under in 26 rounds playing 8 years
  • K.J. Choi is 25 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Justin Rose is 25 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years
  • Hunter Mahan is 23 under in 28 rounds playing 7 years
  • Rickie Fowler is 23 under in 26 rounds playing 8 years
  • Keegan Bradley is 22 under in 24 rounds playing 7 years
  • Jhonattan Vegas is 21 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Jason Day is 20 under in 18 rounds playing 6 years

*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)

  • Brandt Snedeker is 60 under playing 8 years (-2.00)
  • Charles Howell is 47 under playing 8 years (-1.47)
  • Marc Leishman is 40 under playing 8 years (-1.43)
  • Bill Haas is 33 under playing 7 years (-1.27)
  • Justin Rose is 33 under playing 6 years (-1.25)
  • Phil Mickelson is 28 under playing 8 years (-1.17)
  • Jason Day is 20 under playing 6 years (-1.11)
  • Nick Watney is 30 under playing 8 years (-1.07)
  • Jimmy Walker is 27 under playing 8 years (-1.04)
  • Patrick Rodgers is 6 under playing 2 years (-1)

Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

*Here are the guys that are very costly:

  • John Rahm – $11,800
  • Rickie Fowler – $11,400
  • Hideki Matsuyama – $10,800
  • Justin Rose – $10,600
  • Tiger Woods – $9,700
  • Brian Harman – $9,600
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,500
  • Jason Day – $9,400
  • Marc Leishman – $9,200
  • Brandt Snedeker – $9,000
  • Phil Mickelson – $8,900

The folks at DraftKings has given us a lot of tough choices this week.  The biggest problem is Tiger Woods at $9,700.  I would love to take Tiger at about $8,000 but not at $9,700.  Of these folks at the top of the list, I see taking either John Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose or Brian Harman.  If you take one of these guys if you also take Tiger that leaves you with about $32,000 left or about $8,000 a pick.  I would also seriously advise a big no on Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson.  Think these three will have a tough enough time just making the cut let alone contending.  Patrick Cantlay is also a tough choice, just with Tiger I would like him at the $8,000 figure, but not the $9,500 figure.  Marc Leishman is also a tough choice at $9,200.  He has played ok, and in looking at his offensive numbers at the Farmers, he is under par in 3.82 holes over a round which is high numbers.  But again he can probably give you a top-ten, with lot’s of birdies but the figure is high.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

For the third week in a row, my #1 choice is Charles Howell III at $8,300.  In 15 starts he has never missed a cut and has seven top-ten finishes.  His offensive numbers are very high, at the Farmers, he has made 4 eagles and 128 birdies which is second best of those playing this week (Brandt Snedeker is the best).  As for Shane Lowry (8,800), Tony Finau ($8,700), Gary Woodland ($8,600) and Patrick Reed ($8,400) I have mixed emotions.  All of them can play well but just don’t think they are worth the money.  I also feel that Ollie Schniederjans is not worth the $8,500.  Then we get to Cameron Smith at $8,200.  He has made one eagle and 21 birdies in 8 rounds, missing two cuts in three tries.  Schniederjans is also a mystery, yes he finished T-9th last year, and I can see a possible yes because in two attempts he has made an eagle and 29 birdies, an excellent 3.75 production average.  He played well in his last start at the Sony so I would say he is a good pick.  Bud Cauley could also be a good pick at $7,900; he has good production numbers at Torrey making an eagle and 45 birdies over 12 rounds. Brendan Steele at $7,800 will get you a lot of production with a 3.73 average, but in seven starts he has never finished in the top-ten.  Jhonattan Vegas at $7,700 is an excellent pick, he has 3.77 production average and finished 3rd in this event in 2011.

What are the “Bargains” out there?

There are a couple of good ones. First I like Derek Fathauer at $7,100.  In two starts he has finished T-67th and T-31st but has a 4.38 average with 35 birdies.  After a slow start at the CareerBuilder, he finished with rounds of 68-70-69 to finish T-36th.  Also, like Kyle Stanley at $7,400.  He almost won this event in 2012 and his last start was T-10th at the Sony.  He has impressive production numbers at 4.04 with 2 eagles and 95 birdies so I would say he is a great pick.  Another who had a runner-up figure at the Farmers is Harris English.  He has made 3 eagles and 64 birdies in 20 rounds at the Farmers, but he seems to be on an upswing.  After missing five of five cuts in the fall swing, he was 64th at the Sony and T-11th at the CareerBuilder.  In both of those events, he had healthy production levels making 17 birdies at the Sony and an eagle and 21 birdies in the CareerBuilder.

Another great bargain is Francesco Molinari; he hasn’t played since finishing 8th at the Hero, he also has good production numbers at the Farmers with 24 birdies in just six rounds.  At $7,400 he is a very good bye.  Also at the same figure is Adam Hadwin, last week I said no to him at the CareerBuilder, and he proved me wrong with a T-3rd in the desert.  His finishes aren’t great at the Farmers, but he has made 52 birdies in 15 rounds, so he is someone to think about.  Now the biggest surprise to me is Charley Hoffman at $7,200.  Along with Molinari, Hoffman at $7,200 is a steal.  His last start he was runner-up at the Hero and in 20 starts at the Farmers, he has a couple of top-tens along with a 3.54 production average.  It’s funny maybe with steals like Molinari and Hoffman you can also pick Tiger.  I was also surprised to see Billy Horschel at $7,100.  He has good production numbers at the Farmers with 2 eagles and 78 birdies, he has missed three cuts in seven starts, but his last two starts was T-64th last year and T-8th in 2016.

In going through the bottom-feeders, we see what looks like bargains in Nick Watney, Stewart Cink, and Luke Donald all at 6,800 but trust me when I say it’s best to pass on them this week.  In looking below them, there isn’t anyone worth taking, they all have problems.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Farmers Insurance Open

Key stat for the winner:

  • The South course can be stretched to over 7,600 yards but don’t look for that length although some tees will be back.  Driving will play an important role this week, especially with the rain that has hit the San Diego area in the last month.  Look for those that do well in the total driving stat, the one that combines both distance and accuracy.  In the past couple of years, the course has prided itself with heavy U.S. Open rough which makes it tough to hit your shot into the green if you miss the fairway.  Last year it was 6th in rough proximity while in 2014 and ’15 the course was the hardest course on proximity to the hole and in 2016 it was 2nd.  Last year players in the rough averaged getting it 50 feet to the hole.  See the same happening this year, so it’s best to keep it in the fairway.

Here are some more key stats to look for this week:

  • The course was revamped and toughened 16 years ago and now has a “U.S. Open feel” to it.  In past years this course had the reputation as the course that major winners are victorious on as between 1992 and 2008 all the champions also had major victories except for one, Peter Jacobsen in 1995.  Nick Watney broke things up in 2009, Ben Crane in 2010, and Bubba Watson wasn’t a major winner when he won in 2011.  Brandt Snedeker kept the streak alive in 2012, but it was broken in 2013 when Tiger returned to the winner’s circle.  In 2015 Jason Day won, but it would be seven months later before he won his first major at the PGA Championship.  Last year Jon Rahm won, and the jury is still out, but I bet during his career he will win at least one major.  So the course has a fair share of major winners, and I can see it grown in the future.
  • One record that got broken last year was Jon Rahm winning.  It was Rahm’s first start in the Farmers; the last rookie champion was in 1991 with Jay Don Blake.  Along with 1989 champion Greg Twiggs, Blake, Twiggs and now Rahm is the only Farmers champions to win just once on the PGA Tour.  Even more remarkable the only player to win the Farmers in his first start was Ted Kroll; the winner of the first Farmers in 1952 so Jon Rahm joins him, and we wonder if it will be over 60 years before this ever happens again.
  • Greens that will be classified as “bumpy” may play a role in determining the champion.  Now people who have played it in the last couple of days say they are perfect, but anything could happen.  Although the South greens were redone in 2001, Poa Annua has crept back into almost 95% of the greens.  With that, if it tends to get foggy in the morning, the greens will be inconsistent and drive players a bit crazy.  Again, patience will be the key here.
  • Look at the list of champions shows that scramblers have done very well in this event.  Look for the player who can get it up and down to win.  Last year it ranked 5th while in 2016 it ranked 2nd in scrambling.  In 2015 it ranked 10th, and in 2014 it ranked 8th toughest on tour and has been in the top-ten six of the last nine years.
  • One round is played on Torrey North, a course that this year will be 440 yards shorter than the South.  In 2016 it played three and a half shots easier than the home South course.  Last year it was a shot and a half easier.  To win, the player needs to play great in his round on the North.  Since 1983, no champion has ever been over par on the North course, and except for six years, they have shot in the 60s with 20 of the 33 shooting 67 or under.  Last year shot 69 on the North Course while in 2016 Brandt Snedeker shot 70. In 2015 Jason Day shot 65 on the North Course, so he was seven under on that course and 2 under on the South Course.  So look for the champion to go low on the North Course
  • Before Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Scott Stallings, Ben Crane, Bubba Watson, and Brandt Snedeker won, this was a great bit of Farmer’s trivia.  Before Crane’s 2009 victory 15 of the previous winners had “California ties”  going a step further, 25 of 62 winners had either been born, raised, gone to school or live in California,  You may wonder why this stat is important?  Poa annua is a grass found mostly in California that gives those that play and know the grass a special advantage, so that’s why it’s important.
  • The good news is that the weather will be perfect during the championship, but it will be very uncharacteristic that it will be cold, Thursday and Friday will barely climb above the 60s while over the weekend it won’t be higher than 70.

Who to watch for at the Farmers Insurance Open

Best Bets:

Jon Rahm

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win

Yes it’s a big order to not only defend your championship but to do it the week after you won another tournament. Rahm is on a role right now and he is close to unbeatable.

Rickie Fowler

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT CUT T61 CUT T6 T13 T20 T5

He has missed the cut in three of his last four starts at Torrey, but he also has T-5th and a T-6th so he knows how to play the course.

Tiger Woods

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT WD T80 Win T44 Win Win Win

Yes it seems hard to believe that he is in our best bets, but his game looked sharp at Hero, he is in a good place right now both physically and mentally and he knows how to win at Torrey. I think the worst he does is a top-ten.

Best of the rest:

Justin Rose

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T4 CUT CUT T33 T25 T22 T51

There is a reason that he would fly back over 8,400 miles from Abu Dhabi to San Diego and that is because he feels strongly on playing well in this event.

Brian Harman

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 71 T32 T44 CUT

Guy has played great in the last year and found Torrey to his liking last year. He has made a lot of birdies in this event and he is first in our look at four categories that shows how strong he is.

Hideki Matsuyama

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T33 CUT CUT T16

Can’t ever forget about him, since he is so great from tee to green this should be an automatic venue for him to play well.

Charles Howell III

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T2 T16 T5 T37 T9 T43 T14 T9 T42 T13 2 T39

He never seems to win, but always is high up our list of guys that play well at Torrey.

Francesco Molinari

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T14 CUT

What him this week, he has a good game and should do well at Torrey.

Solid contenders

Jhonattan Vegas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T28 T18 T11 T59 CUT T60 T3

Was 3rd last year at Torrey, his game has improved drastically over the last year.

Charley Hoffman

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T54 T43 CUT T7 T34 T52 CUT CUT T7 T67 T31 T16

Guy was born and raised in San Diego, he has played a lot of times in this event and I think this is a good year for him.

Marc Leishman

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T20 CUT T27 T2 CUT T52 T9 T2 T26

Another with a good track record at Torrey, if he gets rolling he can win.

Harris English

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T14 T31 T2 T73 T43

Was runner-up in 2015, he has good production numbers at Torrey and if he can drive well which is his problem, he can do very well.

Patrick Cantlay

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
CUT

Has played a lot at Torrey as a junior and amateur, look for him to do very well this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Cameron Smith

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T33 CUT CUT

One of those players you least think of that can do well this week.

Kyle Stanley

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T14 T25 T67 CUT CUT 2 T51

Lot’s of production on this course including making 2 eagles and 95 birdies since 2010 at Torrey.

Derek Fathauer

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T67 T31

Good production in this event, he is a good putter that does well on poa annua greens

San Diego favorites best just forget about this week:

Phil Mickelson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T14 CUT CUT WD T51 CUT 2 19 T42 T6 T51 T8

Missed the cut last week in Palm Springs, he hasn’t played well at Torrey since 2011 and I don’t see that changing this week.

Brandt Snedeker

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T9 Win T19 CUT T2 Win T9 T2 T42 CUT 3

Has won this event twice and finishing runner-up twice, but it’s best to forget about him this week his game is out of sorts.

Comments

  1. Rick Nowosad says:

    Yes… it is hard to believe that you rank Woods to finish top 3 to 10. Wishful thinking?

  2. Not at all, I think Tiger is in a good place right now and will have a great week.

    I will tell you this, if all of you reading this wants to make a boatload of money, Las Vegas odds has Tiger missing the cut. Bet the farm against that, Tiger will make you a lot of money.

  3. mattlac3@yahoo.com says:

    Sal…I absolutely love and appreciate the site. However, I’m not as high on Tiger this week. I took Hideki at -200 to beat him, and have him in 0/10 DK lineups, and would do the same if he was $7,500. Last year right now Tiger was in Dubai falling out of bunkers, and a few weeks ago he was playing essentially mini-golf in Bermuda. I believe this week will be tough for him. What a great weekend for golf, right?

  4. It does amaze me that so many people think that Tiger is finished. I guess we will know in the next 48 hours but from the Tiger camp little hints have been dropped over the last 3 months that indicate that things are different for Tiger than it was last year and the year before and the year before. Of course, there are two people in this world that I just can’t trust anything that they say, one being Tiger and the other lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington so I can understand how people feel that a Tiger comeback is impossible.
    The difference I saw while he was playing “mini-golf” in Bermuda showed to me touches of the old Tiger and other than some rust, his game looked very good to me.
    But again I guess we all have to wait not only over the next 48 hours, but the next four days and even through his appearance next month in L.A. But the big test will come when he tees it up on April 5th at the Masters.

  5. Rick Nowosad says:

    Now what you’re saying makes sense! Frankly, I want to see what he does for several tournaments before concluding whether he’s “back” not just this week or in L.A. He’ll probably play about 5 events prior to the Masters then we’ll have an appreciation for the state of his health, mind and game. I still suggest that expecting him to come out of the blocks with an exceptional performance was overly optimistic.

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