Fantasy Golf: Farmers Insurance Open (FIO) Preview

01-24-17

It’s time for big boy golf on a big boy track. Well, at least for three rounds. The weather has been goofy and Tiger Woods is back in case you’ve been on Mars for the last few weeks…

 

Farmers Insurance Open

 

Torrey Pines Golf Club

 

South Course (host)

North Course

 

La Jolla, California

 

South Course

 

Yards: 7,698 per the official scorecard

Par: 72 (36-36)

Greens: Poa annua running at 12′; average size of 5,850 square feet.

Rough: Perennial rye grass, Kikuyu grass and fescue at almost four inches.

Bunkers: 78

Water Hazard: 1

Course Architect(s): William P. Bell (1957); Rees Jones (2001).

 

North Course

 

Yards: 7,258 per the official scorecard

Par: 72 (36-36)

Greens: Tyee 007 blend of bent grass (no Poa annua) running at 11′; average size 6,000 square feet;

Rough: Perennial rye grass, Kikuyu and fescue at almost four inches.

Bunkers: 41

Water Hazards: 2

Course Architect(s): William P. Bell (1957); Henry and David Rainville (1975); Tom Weiskopf (2016).

 

Purse: $6.7 million

Winner’s Share: $1.206 million

FedExCup Points: 500 to the winner

Defending Champion:  Brandt Snedeker didn’t hit a shot on Monday and yet defeated K.J. Choi by one shot to win for the second time in five years at Torrey Pines.

 

Notes:

  • Full field event with 156 players.
  • Stroke play, 72 holes with each course used once to determine the cut line.
  • South Course will host the final two rounds.

 

 

History Lessons

 

2016-17 Winners

 

Frys.com: Brendan Steele

CIMB: Justin Thomas

WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama

Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**

Shriners: Rod Pampling

OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez

RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**

SBS TOC: Justin Thomas

Sony Open: Justin Thomas

CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*

 

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

 

Previous FIO Champions

 

2016: Brandt Snedeker, 282

2015: Jason Day, 279*

2014: Scott Stallings, 279

2013: Tiger Woods, 274

2012: Brandt Snedeker, 272*

2011: Bubba Watson, 272

2010: Ben Crane, 275

2009: Nick Watney, 277

2008: Tiger Woods, -19

2007: Tiger Woods, -15

2006: Tiger Woods, -10*

2005: Tiger Woods, -16

 

*playoff

 

Facts and Figures:

  • This is the 50th FIO at Torrey Pines and 65th Tour event in San Diego.
  • Tournament Record: George Burns (1987) and Tiger Woods (1999), 266.
  • The last three winning scores have been single-digits under par.
  • The last time anyone posted double figures in this tournament was the 2013 edition.
  • South Course record is held by Woods with 62 in 1999.
  • North Course record, 61, is shared by Mark Brooks (1990) and Brandt Snedeker (2007).
  • Jay Don Blake (1991) is the only first-timer Tour winner at this event. #Experience
  • No rookie has ever won this event.
  • Only three internationals have won this event. Ever. Gary Player, Jose Maria Olazabal and Jason Day. #Pedigree.
  • Tiger Woods (eight times) and Phil Mickelson (three) are the only players to win this event three times or more. #SoCalNatives.
  • Last year the weather was so bad a Monday finish was necessary for over half of the field. The winds blew so violently that multiple trees were uprooted and the damage so intense that spectators were NOT allowed on the course for the final round on Monday.
  • Woods last win in 2013 also happened on Monday after dense fog.

 

South Course

 

Sure it’s a municipal and opens to all but so is Bethpage Black! Playing almost 7,700 yards it’s hardly a surprise that the big hitters usually fare well here. The site of the 2008 U.S. Open, the South Course has below-average sized Poa annua greens that will favor the players that hit the most of them. Premium short gamers (See: Snedeker, Brandt) who can save par and navigate the Poa annua can also make noise. After three weeks of big, wide fairways and birdies galore, the three rounds on the South Course will be stern wake-up call. Tight fairways will be bordered by bushy rough as San Diego has taken multiple inches of rain in the last few weeks and are expecting more until Wednesday. The courses already plays long but now throw in a ton of rain and it will get even longer. The good news is that there are four par fives to provide a bit of relief and the players who can take advantage will be in the mix.

 

South Course Ratings

(Since Poa annua replaced Bermudagrass):

 

2016: 2nd-most difficult of 50 courses used on Tour; +2.498 above par.

2015: 6th-most difficult of 52; +1.518.

2014: 4th-most difficult of 48; +1.797.

2013: 16th-most difficult of 43; +0.655.

 

North Course

Tom Weiskopf redesigned the North Course after last year’s event with the objective to make it better for everyone, not just the pros that play it one week a year.

He’s widened the fairways, increased the square footage on the greens to add new hole placements, added SubAir systems and re-grassed all 18 greens with 100% Bentgrass so no more Poa annua. The greens have been firmed and Stimped to become more similar to the South Course.

The redesign also removed 50 to 60 trees were that were diseased and wiped out around 20 bunkers. The bunkers he kept were flattened and are now easier to play out of. He softened landing areas in front of greens and moved the hazards and penalty to the sides of the holes to penalize the crooked rather than short or long. He added five sets of tees and increased the yardage by just over 200 yards from the championship tees. The nines have also been flipped to add better aesthetics coming home.

Gamers, I’ll lean on experienced ball-strikers, redesign or not. The yardage books will not be as useful with the new pin positions but remember, only one round is played here. The North Course was always the easier course but the new hole locations could temper scoring but I’ll take my chances here over the South Course.

 

I’ll be looking for guys who prefer a grind, can handle the big boy yardage and don’t mind squaring a few bogeys. Par five dominance and Poa annua players won’t be a bad angle either!

Remember, the field gets much deeper this week. There’s a reason class is permanent and form is temporary. There’s also a reason why some of the big boys don’t jump into birdie fests as they prefer a proper challenge where their all-around games and talent rise to the top.

 

 

The Field

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament

 

Dustin Johnson: New gamers will be interested at the course history of some of the world’s best at this event. DJ only has one top 10 in eight tries but he’s elevated his game to another level over the last year. He’ll chew up the yardage and feast on the par fives plus he’ll be near his new home base of LA after T-2 last week in Abu Dhabi. He’s posted six of his last seven starts in his last 10 worldwide events.

 

Hideki Matsuyama: His only finish outside of the top 5 in his last eight starts was T-27 at Sony, a course where he never played on Sunday in four previous trips. Torrey Pines requires premium power and ball-striking and he checks both of those boxes. If you’re not aware of how he finished calendar 2016, it might be time to get ready for fantasy baseball.

 

Jason Day: His streak of T-9, T-2 and WIN was broken last year as he entered the week under the weather. He’s healthy and injury free entering this week and that’s great news for fantasy land. He knocked the rust off with T-12 in Maui and should be ready to fire.

 

Brandt Snedeker: The two-time champion in the last six years and defending champion has proven his worth on this track dating back to the 2008 U.S. Open. I’d point out he also has two runner-up finishes, a solo third and a total of six top 10’s in 10 starts but you get my point. Here’s the evidence that non-bombers with premium short game can survive here.

 

Patrick Reed: 2017 is off to a very solid start with T-6 on Maui and a closing 65, the low round of Sunday, at the Stadium Course last week (T-12). He has the short game that is comparable to Snedeker but even more firepower off the tee. Get in. Patrick Reed was a late WD and is not in the field–Glass.

 

Charles Howell, III: For those of you new to the column or fantasy golf, welcome aboard. I don’t claim to be prophet on the burning shore but it is his time of the season. It has been for about 10 years. Don’ fight it, embrace it. He’s played 14 times at Torrey and never MC. He’s hit the top 10 six times and the top 25 nine times. Just press play.

 

Gary Woodland: He was the 54-hole leader in 2014 before finishing T-10. He was the co-36-hole leader last year and sat just one off the 54-hole lead before 82 on Monday knocked him to T-18. It’s clear something fits his eye here and will feel there’s unfinished business. He overpowers courses tee-to-green and finished second at Mayakoba and T-6 at Sony in his last two starts.

 

Brendan Steele: It’s a deep field when a SoCal native who’s won and finished T-6 twice (including his last two), in his last five events can’t crack the top five. His strength is tee-to-green and he’s conquered Poa in his win this year at Silverado. His other career win is at Valero, another monster layout.

 

Justin Rose: With his back issues clearly in the rear view, the talented Englishman reminded gamers at Sony (2nd) that course form is just part of the total picture that needs to be seen. He’s opened his season here the last two years and has MC each time but I’m encouraged by what I saw at Waialae. Rose has won on multiple difficult tracks so it’s form for me this week.

 

Jimmy Walker: I’ll make the complete opposite argument here as Walker is fecking icicles entering one of his favorite events. He’s hit the top 10 in four of the last five years and the only year he didn’t, he was paired with Tiger Woods and had the flu. Not many are going to hit fairways here this week so I’ll lean on a guy who rarely does. Now, about warming up that putter…

 

Francesco Molinari: First, T-6, T-4, T-4 and T-12 in his last five worldwide starts suggest the Italian is dialed in. His MC here last year will give him a point of reference and I don’t think he’ll have any problem with his confidence.

 

Rickie Fowler: All-or-nothing for the Murrieta native as his first four starts resulted in two top 10’s and nothing worse than T-20. His last three seasons have been MC, T-61 and MC all with a “warm-up” under his belt. I’m leaning on the all-around package that had an excellent 2016 calendar year.

 

Martin Laird: Last week in the preview I suggested he wasn’t ranked highly enough and he bagged a top 10. The last four seasons at Torrey Pines he’s rattled of T-60, T-37, T-7 and T-8. His 2016-17 includes T-8 on Poa, T-27, T-13 and T-9 last week. I’m not making that mistake again.

 

Hudson Swafford: He’s rattled off 19 cuts in a row and his last one resulted in his first victory on Tour. He’s another who can smash it and roll in a few putts and the weight of the world is clearly off his shoulders. His T-13 finish last season included a closing round 78 but he ranked third in putts and sixth in PPGIR so he has that part figured out.

 

J.B. Holmes: Also a winner at Quail Hollow, a large, mean course annually used on Tour, Holmes has no problems with big boys courses. T-23, T-2 and T-6 finishes the last three years adds more angle to length over accuracy as Holmes prefers power to precision. Look up his record at Riviera and Pebble Beach and it’s evident that West Coast golf suits his game quite well.

 

 

Next Tier

Form plays, eye-catchers who make great support staff

 

Marc Leishman: He’s posted T-24 or better in his last four worldwide and loves Torrey. In eight starts he’s finished second twice, T-9 and two addition top 27’s.

 

Brooks Koepka: Ended 2016 with a solo second in Las Vegas and a victory at the Dunlop Phoenix before T-13 at the Hero. He’ll kick off his 2017 portion with his second start at this event (T-41) after three 74’s in his maiden voyage in 2015. Hitting farther than most isn’t the worst strategy this week…

 

Shane Lowry: His only win is on the 7,400 Firestone South Course in WGC event. He had Oakmont figured out for 64 holes as well and that’s not exactly a pitch and putt. He was T-7 in his first attempt and backed it up with T-13 last year. He hasn’t played since the DP World Tour Championship in December.

 

Harris English: If this was a two-day event, he might have a few titles as he’s made all four weekends he’s played. He was five-under in 2012, six-under in 2013, 10-under in 2015 and two-under last year. He has no scores below par on the weekend. Close.

 

Louis Oosthuizen: Sure it’s his first time but I’ll lean on THAT SWING. He shouldn’t have any problems tee-to-green and Kikuyu grass is native to South Africa. How quickly he figures out the Poa annua will determine his week.

 

Pat Perez: Pro gamers know the story that he grew up on Torrey Pines as his father worked there. Pro gamers also know the story that he beat Tiger Woods in the junior world amateur here in 1993. This will be his 16th consecutive start and not many will know the layout on the South Course any better.

 

Daniel Berger: Every week in this part or the favorites as he has too much talent, power and poise. He scores, he smashes it and like most his age, is fearless. He’s also made 27 of his last 30 cuts.

 

Paul Casey: He almost won at Silverado in October on Poa annua (T-3) and lost in a playoff to James Hahn at Riviera in 2015 on the same surface. He should be ignored by most after MC and T-58 in the last two birdie-fests on Tour.

 

Luke List: He’s in the form of his professional life and will get his third crack at Torrey as a pro. He grew up in Seattle so Poa annua shouldn’t bother him and neither should 7,600 as there aren’t many longer.

 

Bud Cauley: Gave it a sniff last week before finishing T-3. Gave it a sniff here last year before 79 on Monday blew away his chances (T-25). He finished T-13 here as a rookie in 2012 with 67 on Sunday. #Ding.

 

Jamie Lovemark: Along with List, he fell victim to “course form meets current form” last week in the desert (MC). He’s made five cuts from six tries at Torrey and didn’t forget how to play golf in a week. I’d expect a tidy bounce-back performance this week on one of the few courses where he’s logged plenty of rounds.

 

Jon Rahm: If you’re looking for “young” this might not be the week but Rahm is going to be the exception to a few rules in fantasy golf. He’s really good, powerful and he’s a quick learner. He finished T-23 at Oakmont and T-3 at Congressional last summer.

 

Jhonattan Vegas: Another from the school of “what if” last year, Vegas sat at six under before his final round of 80 on Monday dropped him to T-18. He was T-11 in 2015 and T-3 in 2011. He’s also made 15 of 16 cuts since Memorial and that includes his RBC Canadian win.

 

Adam Hadwin: T-10, T-11 and second in his last three starts is the headline grabber for the Canadian. He’s reminds me of William McGirt in his steadiness in all three phases except that he’s probably a hockey fan.

 

Keegan Bradley: He banged out his fifth top 25 or better in six events last week at La Quinta. I wouldn’t be surprised to see six in seven this week as his ball-striking is the anchor to his excellent play.

 

 

Course Horses

Yeah, bro, I know. It’s about the COURSE FORM!

 

Nick Watney: His best finish in the last six months was on another course he’s had plenty of success, TPC Summerlin (T-11). He won here in 2009 and has added four additional top 10’s since including T-7 in 2015.

 

K.J. Choi: Co-leader after 36 and 54 holes last year, the Korean racked up his third top 10 in his last four years with solo second. His streak of six weekends in a row when he’s played carries over to this year as well.

 

Brad Fritsch: He’s played this event twice. He was T-9 in 2013 and T-10 in 2014. #Urwelcome.

 

Aaron Baddeley: He’s seen the weekend in 10 of 13 and has a pair of top 10’s in the last four starts.

 

John Huh: He’s played five of six weekends with bookend top 10’s.

 

Charley Hoffman: This will be event No. 20 for the San Diego native. He’s made 10 and missed nine and has just a pair of top 10’s but one is as recent as 2014.

 

 

Off the Beaten Path

Long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings

 

Michael Kim: San Diego born and raised with T-27 or better in his last three starts on Tour.

 

Graham DeLaet: T-9 and T-2 before 82-75 weekend last year. Canadians like Poa annua.

 

Tony Finau: It looks like I’ve accidentally hidden him down here like I did Martin Laird last week. He hits it a mile and was T-24 and T-18 in his only two appearances. He sprays it off the tee but recovered well enough for T-9 on Maui and T-20 at Waialae. Distance > accuracy this week.

 

Stewart Cink: Ran riot here for a decade before MC in three of his last four; only recent hiccup last week in the desert.

 

Robert Garrigus: Chainsaw Bob chopped plenty of wood last week in the desert to garner his best start of the new season. His worst finish in five events is T-35 and he’s MC once. If length off the tee and keeping the ball in play is the angle this week, the long, wet course isn’t going to bother him much. The Idaho native has made seven cuts at Torrey Pines and five of them are T-28 or better.

 

Zac Blair: If a tree falls at The Buck Club and nobody sees it, did it really happen? He ground out T-11 here on his maiden in 2015 and has played six of seven weekends in the new season including four in a row.

 

Jonas Blixt: If you need cheeky, he’s found 65 and 66 on the South Course in the last five years.

 

Kevin Streelman: His best finishes in the last year have included Muirfield Village, Oakmont and Congressional plus his T-3 here last season.

 

Spencer Levin: The Sacramento native has racked up only four cuts from seven tries but three of those finishes are T-22 or better. #HighRiskHighReward.

 

Aaron Wise: SoCal native has quietly gone about his business and knows he needs a big finish (or sponsor’s exemption) to get in the field next week at TPC Scottsdale. He’s made three cuts in row.

 

Seamus Power: After MC in his debut with a Tour card he’s rattle off six in a row. Lowry has shown that the first-timers from Ireland can get it around here. Power’s win last year on the Web.com was on its hardest venue, Victoria National, where he won 12-under.

 

Jonathan Randolph: Finished second the last two years at Victoria National.

 

Henrik Norlander: Hits it a mile and has made 18 of his last 22 weekends on Tour.

 

D.A. Points: Rattled off six events in a row here that included three consecutive top 10’s (2010-2012).

 

Tag Ridings: Hasn’t teed it since 2014 but the last five times he has he’s played the weekend. #RankOutsider.

 

Kyle Stanley: The 2012 playoff loser to Snedeker, Stanley made double at the last to get into said playoff. He enters on T-36 or better in four of his last five on Tour. #Stretttttttttttttttttttttch.

 

Robert Streb: T-19 in 2014. T-18 in 2016. Poked his head up with a top 10 at Baltusrol last August on a long, wet and difficult set up.

 

 

Fades

Injured, rusty or not the track this week

 

Phil Mickelson: Last year I believed in the strong start at CB Challenge (T-3). I loaded up on him on a course he annually torched and he MC. I don’t recommend gaming angry but this track doesn’t reward wayward ball-striking and that was his theme last week.

 

Alex Cejka: He’s played 25 rounds here. He has signed for one in the 60’s and his best finish is T-37.

 

Bryce Molder: Outside of T-13 his other eight events have resulted in five MC’s and nothing better than T-68. #Chilly.

 

Geoff Ogilvy: Only five of 20 rounds here in red figures makes his top 10 at the 2008 U.S. Open even more baffling.

 

Tiger Woods: Damn right I made you wait until the end! I make LOOK stoopid but I ain’t dum!

 

The eight-time winner had a hard time getting the ball in the hole on a resort course in the Bahamas. This is not a resort course in the Bahamas. Gamers who play with their hearts and not their wallets could learn a valuable lesson this week. Woods will have my attention in fantasy land when he puts three or four rounds together on a course he hasn’t won a million times. To be fair, he doesn’t play too many of those. If you’re taking the risk, yes, that’s what it is, this is one of those weeks where at least he’ll have big-time course knowledge. He’s never won at Riviera and that’s his next stop.

 

Next:

 

Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled @MikeGlasscott for more information.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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