The West Coast Swing is well underway as the PGA TOUR heads to Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open. Jason Day returns to defend his first of five titles from a season ago in a field that features some of the top players in golf.
Somewhat similar to the CareerBuilder Challenge last week, there is a pre-cut course rotation in play at the Farmers Insurance Open. The players will face both the South and North courses at Torrey Pines for their first 36 holes, with all action focused on the beast that is the South course over the weekend.
Torrey Pines South is best known for hosting the 2008 U.S. Open, which also happens to be the most recent major championship victory for one Tiger Woods. We all remember the one-legged triumph over Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole Monday playoff. It plays to a par of 72 and stretches out to 7,698 yards. It features the full allotment of four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par4s.
Torrey Pines North offers the players a chance to score. Also playing to a par of 72, it tips out at a mere 7,052 yards.
For Yahoo! gamers, it is a must to split your lineup so you have eight rounds on the North course if at all possible.
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The formula for winning this tournament will be very simple. A player must take advantage of the North course with something in mid 60s. That player must then hold on for dear life for the 54 holes at the South course. It would not be a surprise to see a winning scorecard of 65-71-73-70=279 (9-under-par) when it’s all said and done. There is a reason the South course hosted a U.S. Open eight years ago.
Because of the length of the South course, distance is a big deal. It brings par 5 scoring opportunities into play. From a statistical standpoint, a solid total driving rank with an emphasis on distance over accuracy would be tasty.
With poa annua putting surfaces, expect to see some misses. That particular strand of grass is known for getting bumpy in the afternoons and it requires a firm hit to stay on line. Don’t tune in expecting to see a bunch of 20-foot birdies. In a way, that brings the average putter into play more than the elite putters with the notable exception of poa annua specialists like Brandt Snedeker and Jimmy Walker.
While chalk is important most weeks, expect that to be the case even more than usual this week.
Here we go!
1 Jason Day – Can anybody even remember the last time the defending champ didn’t finish a tournament inside of the top 10? His last three starts at Torrey Pines went T9-T2-Win. He has value in any and every format.
2 Brandt Snedeker – En feugo with a T3 and a P2 in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open. Throw in a playoff win at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open over Kyle Stanley, and three other top-three finishes, and we have a perfect match.
3 Rickie Fowler – Hopped on a plane and flew half way across the globe to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship after a top-five finish in Kapalua. He has four top 20s, with two top 10s, at the Farmers. Invest with confidence.
4 Phil Mickelson – Once upon a time, Lefty could always be counted on to pick up at least one win on the West Coast Swing. His T3 last week immediately raises his value entering a tournament he’s won on three occasions. He’s also tinkering with his swing, which generally keeps him interested and on point.
5 Bill Haas – Trendy. After a boring T18 in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, he followed that up with a T9 in his title defense at the CareerBuilder Challenge. He’s made 10 of 11 cuts with seven top 25s and three top 10s at the Farmers Insurance Open.
6 Charles Howell III – Continuing his familiar top-15 march across the West Coast Swing, CH3 went T13-T11 in his last two starts. He’s a perfect 13-for-13 in the Farmers Insurance Open, including a pair of runner-up finishes, six top 10s and nine top 25s. Tons of value here.
7 Jimmy Walker – Playing well, but not to the level he has the past few years at this time of the season. He’s made four of his eight cuts in the Farmers, which is a bit scary, but three of those four have gone for top 20s.
8 Dustin Johnson – Has the game required to be successful at the monster called Torrey Pines South, but it hasn’t necessarily translated to the leaderboard. His T3 in 2011 remains his only top 15 in seven starts. A share of 10th in the HTOC is nothing to get overly excited about.
9 Jamie Lovemark – Once a major prospect, he has finally started to cash in on his promise as a top amateur. He owns top 10s in his last three PGA TOUR starts, including a T7-T6 run in back-to-back starts leading into this event. That form can lead us to overlook his inability to produce a top-25 finish at Torrey Pines in his previous five tries.
10 Justin Rose – Here because of his permanent class and statistical fit, this is our first glimpse of Rose in 2016. He’s also surprisingly bad at Torrey Pines, with two top 25s, but no top 10s, in six trips to the Farmers.
11 J.B. Holmes – One of the playoff losers to Day a year ago, the bomber has the game to hang tough at Torrey Pines. A T24 at Kapalua is nothing to get excited about, so there is some risk with a nod in the direction of Holmes.
12 Si Woo Kim – Four consecutive top 20s and back-to-back top 10s earn a player a spot on most radars. This will easily be the toughest track he’s faced in that span. His formula for success has been driving it well and scoring on the par 5s, which is a great match for Torrey Pines.
13 Lucas Glover – All he needed was a final-round 71 to join the playoff last year. Instead, he fell apart. Still, he has two top-four finishes at Torrey Pines, and a third top 10. He’s also fresh off a steady T17 at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Driving it long and strait is a trademark of his game. Remember the 2009 U.S. Open?
14 Graham DeLaet – Premium ball-striker is back on track after a few injuries in 2015, as evident by a T7 at the Sony Open. Top 10s in his last two trips to Torrey Pines, with a T2 in 2014 the obvious highlight.
15 Shane Lowry – Tied for seventh in his Farmers debut last year long before his win at Firestone CC in August, but there are some similarities between the two venues. Only 2015-16 PGA TOUR start came at the WGC-HSBC Champions where he posted a measly tie for 68.
Worth a Mention
Marc Leishman – Good stats, great course history, but off to a slow start in 2016.
Harris English – Must reconcile a P2 at Torrey Pines last year with a T56 at the Sony Open, where he has also enjoyed past success.
Zac Blair – Nearly won at Sony, but that track is vastly different from Torrey Pines South in every way. It’s pleasantly confusing that he was T11 at the Farmers last year.
Scott Piercy – Also trendy, he’s gone T24-T13 in his last two starts leading up to this week and has a pair of top 20s at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Andrew Loupe – He has three top 10s in 2015-16, including a T3 last week. He’s one of the longest players on the PGA TOUR, but missed the cut at Torrey Pines in his only start. Could be that this course is a bit to classy for his game.
Nick Watney – Great course history, poor recent form. Familiar situation in professional golf, but results can vary!
Scott Stallings – One of the most erratic golfers on TOUR, it can’t be ignored that he went Win-P2 in his last two Farmers Insurance Open.
Check back with us later today for Playing the Tips, as the Rotoworld staff releases the Yahoo! and Golf Channel picks for the Farmers Insurance Open.
Best of luck to all!