Farmers Insurance Open
Torrey Pines Golf Course – South Course (host)
La Quinta, CA
|South Course: Yards (per official scorecard):||7,765|
|Greens:||Poa annua; 5,000 square feet on average.|
|Rough:||Kikuyugrass and rye at three inches.|
|Bunkers/Water Hazards||Pond fronts No. 18.|
|North Course: Yards (per official scorecard):||7,258|
|Greens:||007 Bentgrass; 6,000 square feet on average.|
|Rough:||Kikuyugrass and rye at three inches.|
|Architects:||William P Bell (1957); Tom Weiskopf (2016).|
|Purse:||$7.5 million; $1.35 million and 500 FedExCup points (winner).|
|Defending Champion:||Justin Rose (-21), 267.|
|Fact of the Week:||All 156 players will be each course once before the field is cut to the top 65 and ties.|
|Fact of the Week II:||The North historically plays much easier than the South.|
- 156 professionals spread over two courses the first two days
- Any Strokes-Gained or “lasered” numbers in this column are from the South Course only. Playing three of four rounds each year on the South, I still find value in those numbers. You do you.
2019-2020 Season Winners
*- First-time winner
**- First-time winner AND rookie winner
|A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier||*- Joaquin Niemann|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||*- Sebastian Munoz|
|Safeway Open||Cameron Champ|
|Shriners Hospitals for Children Open||Kevin Na|
|Houston Open||*-Lanto Griffin|
|CJ CUP AT NINE BRIDGES||Justin Thomas|
|ZOZO Championship||Tiger Woods|
|WGC-HSBC Champions||Rory McIlroy|
|Bermuda Championship||Brendon Todd|
|Mayakoba Golf Classic||Brendon Todd (2)|
|The RSM Classic||Tyler Duncan|
|Hero World Challenge||Henrik Stenson|
|Sentry Tournament of Champions||Justin Thomas (2)|
|Sony Open||Cameron Smith|
|The American Express||Andrew Landry|
Recent Event Winners:
|2019||Justin Rose, -21||Tied 36 and 54-hole scoring record but missed tying the tournament record (Woods, 1999; Burns 1987) by a shot.|
|2018||Jason Day, -10||Picked up his second FIO crown and his second in a playoff.|
|2017||Jon Rahm, -13||First TOUR win came in his first attempt at this event as he closed with 65 to win by three.|
|2016||Brandt Snedeker, -6||Incredible wind and rain forced a Monday finish for a third of the field. Snedeker completed his round on Sunday and watched them all get blown away.|
|2015||Jason Day, -9||Won his first FIO in a four-man playoff as he saw off J.B. Holmes, Harris English and defending champ Scott Stallings.|
|2014||Scott Stallings, -9||Held off Jason Day, K.J. Choi and Graeme DeLaet by a shot.|
|2013||Tiger Woods, -14||Won his seventh FIO and eighth tournament on this track; Brandt Snedeker shared second.|
|2012||Brandt Snedeker, -16||Kyle Stanley threw away a five-shot lead on the back nine and lost the playoff.|
|2011||Bubba Watson, -16||Out-slugged Phil Mickelson by a shot.|
|2010||Ben Crane, -13||Held off Snedeker and Marc Leishman by a shot.|
Facts and Figures:
|Tournament Record:||266 (-22); Woods (1999) and Burns (1987).|
|Course Records (last time):||62; Woods (South Course, 1999).
61; Snedeker (Old North, 2007).
62; Rahm (New North, 2019).
|Recent Defending Champion(s):||Woods (2006-008); Mickelson (2000-01).|
|Multiple Winners Entered (event or course):||Woods (7), Mickelson (3), Snedeker (2) and Day (2).|
|Youngest (this century):||Rahm, 23.|
|First-time – TOUR:||Jay Don Blake (1991), Jon Rahm (2017).|
|First-time – Event||Arnold Palmer (1957) and Jon Rahm (2017).|
|Low Rounds 2019:||62; Jon Rahm (North)
63; Doug Ghim (North)
63; Justin Rose (North)
|Best First-timers 2019:||Adam Scott, 2nd.
Rory McIlroy, T5.
Sepp Straka, T13.
Doug Ghim, T20.
Hank Lebioda, T29.
|Odd Fact:||Only four internationals have won this event. Three players have won four of the last five as well (Rose, Day twice, and Rahm).|
|Odd Fact II:||Jose-Maria Olazabal (2002) was the other international winner.|
Time for some big boy golf!
The South Course has expanded like my waist line over the holidays and is now approaching 7,800 yards.
The challenges on the South Course don’t begin and end with length. Annually the fairways are some of the most difficult on TOUR to hit and missing them will bring three inches of over-seeded Kikuyugrass into play.
With average-sized greens awaiting approach shots, the Poa annua surface will be the exact opposite of the manicured Bermuda at the previous three stops. Yep, there’s a big reason why you won’t see some familiar names and faces in California and Poa annua is the main reason.
A cold and wet winter isn’t going to make the course firm or fast either so it’s obvious (read: length) what is going to break ties this week. Par-5 scoring is almost a must and taking advantage of those birdie chances when GIR are found is 1A. There will be bogeys so scrambling for par from the kikuyu rough won’t hurt either.
Last year the weather was perfect and so was Justin Rose. He’s back to defend and will have some serious heat on his heels as nine of the top 15 OWGR are teeing it this week.
Please read Horses for Courses (linked above) for extra data on the statistical categories I believe matter most this week.
Cliff’s Notes – Thoughts on big-name players
Rory McIlroy: Didn’t have any trouble adapting last year in his first visit; defeated Xander Schauffele in a playoff his last TOUR event and was T4 in Dubai at the DP World Tour finals. Notoriously fast starter as well and favorite for me this week.
Justin Rose: Cracked the code here three years ago and hasn’t looked back (WIN-T4-T8). Knocked the rust off in Singapore last week with solo second and should be primed for a spirited defense.
Jon Rahm: Married life is KILLING the Spaniard! After a run of WIN, WIN and solo second, he returned to Kapalua and was only 10th! Haha, is right. Bombs away and with a win and T5 in three trips, he should be looking forward to another visit to La Jolla.
Tony Finau: Has more than the required power plus he’s never finished outside the top 24 in his five visits. Kicked off 2020 with solo fifth in Hong Kong and T14 last week in the Coachella Valley. Of his 20 rounds here, 14 are in the red and the Utahan has had plenty of practice on Poa.
Tiger Woods: The magical mystery tour is going to take you away! Here we go again on a track where he’s won eight times but a forecast that doesn’t scream PERFECT. He claims his game is in great shape and he’s touched a club once since the Presidents Cup because he didn’t need any tuning-up. Fade him and burn him at your own risk but I can’t see him having a “bad” week here.
Hideki Matsuyama: T12 or better in his last five worldwide suggest he’s ready to pop. If it’s not this week than surely it will be at his beloved TPC Scottsdale next week. He’s trending (T33-T12 and T3 last year) here and I’ve noticed his best result last year came in similar forecast conditions.
Collin Morikawa: He’s never MC in 16 tries on TOUR and it’s not because of his lights-out putting! Another who pounds tee-to-green, and growing in California, nothing (rough, greens, grass) is going to bother him this week. I prefer him on Poa anyhow.
Gary Woodland: Went close here when Stallings won as he blew a four-shot lead on the back nine. The old Woodland is gone and major champion Woodland has replaced him and he loves this place. T9 last year was his best in a streak of 10 straight as he closed 69-66. T12 in 2018 also came with a weekend 66 on the South.
Cameron Smith: Ground out a come-from-behind playoff win at Sony to continue his hot Aussie summer (Win-T10-T27). This will be his sixth trip to Torrey and his last three have all improved (T33 to T20 to T9) including 71-65 weekend last year. Aussie Snedeker.
Xander Schauffele: It’s strange to see he’s only made one cut from four chances as he grew up in the area. We’re all familiar with his results on familiar tracks where he’s done the business but this week hardly qualifies. I’m going to lean on his form, he’s lost in a playoff in two of his last three starts, over his course form (T25 last year).
Rickie Fowler: Speaking of course form, woooooooooof, said the dog. I don’t know if it is the Farmers connection that causes the distraction. I don’t know if it’s the “home game”. But I can’t tell you the last time he’s broken 72 on the South Course. His form (T10-T5) in 2002 suggests playing him. Maybe the marriage angle helps as well.
Scottie Scheffler: Has no problem getting it off the tee and finding GIR and that will help this week. After picking up top five finishes his last two times out, confidence shouldn’t be an issue either.
Sungjae Im: Every week he’s in here. T21 and T10 to start the season shouldn’t put anyone off either. All four rounds of par or better here last year in his first trip.
Patrick Reed: It’s not surprising that Reed is figuring it out here. Rees Jones also re-did Bethpage Black and Reed has had some fun on that track as well. No weather to worry about this week like MC at Sony. All four rounds of 70 or better last year.
Charles Howell III: 17 starts. 17 paychecks. Nothing outside T20 the last five visits. I don’t care he MC last week; he was still six-under. I’m still shocked I missed his WD hahaha.
Ryan Palmer: Backed up his playoff with T13 last year. He’ll have no problem tee-to-green and has cashed T17 or better, including just missing a playoff LTO at Sony, in his last four on TOUR.
Matthew Wolff: Rattle off 10 straight on TOUR and will have a chance to red-line it this week. Plenty of class to sneak in.
Marc Leishman: I’d prefer lousier weather but he’s missed a playoff twice here by a shot.
Brandt Snedeker/Jason Day: Sneds busted the rust at Sony for T12 but has struggled here the last two years. Day withdrew from the Presidents Cup and hasn’t played since MC at Mayakoba. Doesn’t he usually play his best golf when struck with a malady?
Cameron Champ: Let it rip and eat up those Par-5s. T21 Sony after T14 Sentry suggests he’s not too far off.
Lanto Griffin: Jumped right back on it after the holiday as he opened T7-T13 in the Hawaii swing. DNS last week and was T12 on debut here in 2018.
Ben An: Nobody loves this roller coaster ride more than I do. Led the TOUR in SG: Around-the Green last year.
Sepp Straka: When last week (T4) meets last year (T13 debut).
Brendan Steele: California roots has cashed five straight on TOUR in the top 30.
Cameron Davis: Surely I’m not giving up after T29-T9-T3!
Other Course Horses (not mentioned in Horses for Courses)
Keegan Bradley: T35 or better in seven of nine and cashed back-to-back top fives in 2017-18.
Billy Horschel: Plays annually and has cashed six of seven with a pair of top-10 paydays in his last four.
Bubba Watson: Had a fantastic run from 2006-2014 (7 of 8; WIN, 5 top 25s) and disappeared. First time back since 2014.
John Huh: Could also fit in the long shot category as well as he’s making cuts here (7 of 8; 5 straight) and three in a row on TOUR.
Bud Cauley: It’s probably a trap, like usual, but he played great last week after knocking the rust off at Waialae. He’s rattled off consecutive top 10s before so I’m not scared.
Talor Gooch: Loves the Palm Springs-Torrey Double. T18 last week and seven straight on TOUR.
Patrick Rodgers: Quail Hollow is another massive track that reminds me of Torrey South. Rodgers has played well there over the years as well.
Joel Dahmen: Speaking of Quail, he was second to Max Homa last spring and T9 here.
Michael Thompson: Picked up three checks in the top 15 the last five years including T13 last year.
Nick Watney: Plenty of reps and top 10s here but nothing since 2015. Last two on TOUR = top 30 and Cali roots help.
Hank Lebioda: Showed up last year for the first time and was 11-under after three rounds.
Tom Hoge: T12 at Sony followed by T6 at AMEX. Heat check.
Jordan Spieth: Too much pressure on the short game for three rounds.
Francesco Molinari: I’ll wait.
Phil Mickelson: I have no idea anymore. This hasn’t been the place in recent years so I’ll gladly pass.
Pat Perez: Pre-tournament WD last week doesn’t fill me with confidence.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.