Horses for Courses: 2020 Farmers Insurance Open

8:30 Post Horses for Courses

Happy Belated Jack!

The West Coast Swing continues this week as the PGA TOUR moves from the desert to the coast of California at Torrey Pines. The monstrous South Course (7,765 yards) will serve as host but all 156 pros in the field will get a breather with one round of the first two on the North Course (7,258).

The top 65 at ties return for all-you-can-eat weekend on the South Course to determine their piece of the $7.5 million prize pool. The winner takes home $1.35 million and 500 FedExCup points for their troubles.

Gamers will notice the field, like the host course this week, has bulked up as some of the big boys are making their 2020 debut this week. That’s hardly surprising as this is a proper test of golf and will also be the site of the 2021 U.S. Open.

RECENT WINNERS

2019: Justin Rose (-21, 267)

Became the third consecutive international winner and just fifth overall in 67 events as he won by two. … First winner since 2010 (Ben Crane) to open on the North Course (63). … Benign weather saw Rose equal the 36-hole (-15) and 54-hole (-18) scoring records. … Missed the tournament record by a shot (Woods, 1999). … Rose was second in Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green, Proximity, GIR plus led the field in Birdie-or-Better Percentage on the greens. … With similar weather conditions expected this year, this might be our best history lesson.

Notables in the field this week: Hideki Matsuyama was the only player with a round above par in the top 12 but still cashed T3 (career best event). … Rory McIlroy T5 on debut. … Jon Rahm opened with 62 on the North Course, lowest round of the week, and cashed T5. … Top 24 players, including Tiger Woods (T20), were double-digits under-par.

2018: Jason Day (-10, 278)

Won a three-man playoff on the sixth extra hole for his second title. … 64 on the North Course was lowest round of the week. … No players broke 70 on both days of the weekend and only two rounds in the 60s on Sunday. … Day joined the recent winners by finishing in the top 10 in Par-5 scoring.

Notables in the field this week: Ryan Palmer was eliminated on the first playoff hole but led after 36 and played in the final group Sunday. … Keegan Bradley (fifth) was the only player in the field to post all four rounds under-par. … Tony Finau opened with 65 on the North before cashing T6. …  Oh, look! Charles Howell III in the top 10!

2017: Jon Rahm (-13, 275)

Picked up his first win on TOUR in his first try at the event. … Closed with 65, which included two eagles and a birdie in his final six holes. … As with Rose last year, finished T34 at The American Express the week before. Spoiler Alert: nobody finished T34 this year. … Led the field in Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green and Off-the-Tee.

Notables in the field this week: Charles Howell III and CT Pan shared second three back. … Justin Rose (T4) led after Rounds 1 and 2. … Brandt Snedeker (T9) and Patrick Rodgers (T4) played in the final group. … First year of new Weiskopf design (North Course). … Rose’s 65 on the North Course was lowest of the week by two shots.

KEY STAT LEADERS 

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

 * –  previous top 10 finish here since 2015

Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green

1  *Rory McIlroy
3  *Hideki Matsuyama
7  Byeong-Hun An
10 *Jon Rahm
11 Xander Schauffele
14 Jason Kokrak
15 Emiliano Grillo
16 *Gary Woodland
19 *Kevin Streelman (3rd, 2016)
21 *Tony Finau
23 Joaquin Niemann
25 Lucas Glover

Birdie-or-Better Percentage

1  *Rory McIlroy
2  Jordan Spieth
5  *Gary Woodland
8  Wyndham Clark
9  *Justin Rose
12 *Jon Rahm
14 Dominic Bozzelli
18 *Hideki Matsuyama
21 Sepp Straka (T13 last year)
22 *Ryan Palmer
24 Bud Cauley
25 Xander Schauffele

Par-5 Scoring

2  Wyndham Clark
4  *Gary Woodland
4  *Bubba Watson (2011 winner)
6  Sungjae Im
6  Bill Haas
6  Xander Schauffele
10 Denny McCarthy
12 Matt Jones
12 *Rory McIlroy
17 *Tony Finau
23 *Hideki Matsuyama
23 *Jon Rahm
23 *Martin Laird
23 Cameron Davis
23 Luke List
23 Kevin Tway

Beachfront

Tiger Woods: Seven wins plus the U.S. Open.
Jason Day: Won two of the last five; T9, 2013; T2, 2014; T5, 2019.
Brandt Snedeker: Played every year since 2007; two wins; eight top-10 paychecks.
Justin Rose: Used to be his kryptonite but last three years are WIN-T8-T4. Cracked the code.
Jon Rahm: Only player this century to win on debut; sat one off the 36-hole lead in his defense; T5 last year.

Across the Street

Charles Howell III: Never won but hasn’t missed in 17 tries (8 top-10 finishes); top 20 in six of his last seven
J.B. Holmes: T6 or better in three of the last five years.
Tony Finau: Hasn’t missed in five tries and has never cashed outside of top 25.
Marc Leishman: Made nine of 11 with seven going for T27 or better.

New to the Neighborhood

Gary Woodland: A perfect 10 from 10 but his best payday was T9 last year.
Hideki Matsuyama: T33 followed by T12 followed by T3 last year, his only top-10 result.
Ryan Palmer: Played four times 2010 and earlier and his best finish was T35. Returned in 2018 and lost in a playoff and cashed T13 last year.

Fixer-Uppers

Phil Mickelson: Home game but his last win was 2001 and his last top-10 cash-out was 2011.
Nick Watney: 2009 champ has played every edition since 2005. His last top-10 payout was T7 in 2015, his sixth in 15 tries.
Jimmy Walker: Picked off big finishes here from 2012 thru 2016 before cooling off in his last three visits.
Pat Perez: Everyone knows he grew up on these courses. If he’s healthy, he’s on the radar.

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