FIO: Horses for Courses

They’ve played every edition since 1968 on these tracks so we dig deep this week.

Marc Leishman returns to defend his title in a full field of 156.

Every winter since 1968 the TOUR has been hosted by the famed Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, California, and this year, thankfully, isn’t any different. The famed South Course will serve as annual host and will also be the venue for this season’s US Open in June.

Before we put the cart in front of that horse, for the second week in a row a field of 156 will navigate two courses in Rounds 1 and 2 before moving to the South Course for the final two rounds. This familiar piece of real estate has produced elite leader boards and that shouldn’t change this week with a deep field.

The South Course and its undulating Poa annua greens add even more bite than the distance tee to green. It’s hardly a surprise why the USGA will return here to host its national championship again. Both courses have three inches of over-seeded (Rye) Kikuyugrass, as normal, this time of year. Tom Weiskopf’s North Course redesign made its debut in 2017. With friendly bentgrass greens and four Par-5 holes it plays the easier of the two annually. At just 7,258 yards it will play 507 yards less than the South and with less tallying on the score card.

The 69th edition of the Farmers Insurance Open will pay out a handsome $7.5 million purse with the winner pocketing $1.35 million and 500 FedExCup points for posting the low four rounds. It never rains in Southern California but there is Marine Layer, blustery winds and cool temperatures that will have a say before a winner is crowned, hopefully on schedule Sunday. Hold all tickets to the end as just two winners in the last decade held the 54-hole lead and only three this century not named Tiger Woods.

Year202020192018
 Marc LeishmanJustin RoseJason Day
Score15-under21-under10-under
MOV12Playoff
Cut 1-under3-under1-under
Age363830
    
 SouthCourseOnly
    
All DrivesT36131
AccuracyT58T8T26
GIRT14T2T11
Ball-Striking3414
Proximity152T22
Putting: Birdie or Better %11T3
SG: Off-the-TeeT48138
SG: Approach-the-Green5559
SG: Around-the-Green561626
SG: Putting12822
SG: Tee-to-Green16228
ScramblingT4 58T17
Bogey AvoidanceT1T7T9
Par-3 ScoringT1 1T40
Par-4 Scoring2T12T1
Par-5 ScoringT37T4T10

Recent Winners and Notables

2020: Marc Leishman (-15, 273)

Shot 65 on Australia Day to make up four shots and win by one over 2017 champ Jon Rahm. … 65 was the co-low of the week on the South Course. … Posted 11-under on the weekend. … Becomes the fourth consecutive international winner but just fifth overall in 68 events. … At 35 he joins the club of 30 and older winners in four of the last five events. … Second straight winner to open on the North Course but just the third since 2010. … Hit only 3 of 14 fairways in the final round but found 14 of 18 GIR. … One of only 19 rounds in the 60s on Sunday. … Won in his 12th start (10 made cuts). … Entered the week on a personal streak of five straight paydays including a pair of top 10s.

Notables:

54-hole leader Jon Rahm (2nd) posted 65, co-low of the week on the South, on Saturday but 70 on Sunday left him one short. … Rory McIlroy (T3) was just one of four players to post both weekend rounds in the 60s (67-69). … 2016 and 2012 winner Brandt Snedeker (T3) picks up another podium, his sixth and sits No. 2 on the all time money list. … Tom Hoge (5th) closed with 67-68 for his best finish at FIO. … Tony Finau (T6) and Patrick Reed (T6) were the only two post all four rounds 70 or better. … 2011 winner Bubba Watson (T6) played for the first time since 2014. … San Diegan Charley Hoffman (T9) also posted 65 on Sunday. … Ryan Palmer (T21) posted 62 at the North Course and led after 36 holes. … Cameron Davis (T38) posted 65, the second lowest on the North. … Sebastian Cappelen (T21) opened with 66 on the South Course and shared the first round lead. … Only 20 bogey free rounds for the week. … Cut was 1-under. … Rough was a bushy four inches. … The North Course played almost two shots easier, 70.57 to 72.53.

2019: Justin Rose (-21, 267; not entered)

Picked up his 10th TOUR win in the easiest conditions at the event since 2001. … Set the 36-hole (-15) and 54-hole (-18) tournament records. … Missed tying the tournament record by a shot. … Became the first winner to play the North Course in Round 1 (63) since 2010. … Played the South Course 12-under. … Third consecutive top 10 at event. … Won in his ninth try. … Closed 2018 on fire and knocked the rust off at The American Express (T34) the week prior.

Notables:

Adam Scott (2nd) picked the right season for a debut. … Talor Gooch (T3) was the only American in the top seven. … Hideki Matsuyama (T3) posted the only round above par in the top 12 with 73 on Saturday. … Defending champion Jason Day (T5) was seven back. … Rory McIlroy (T5) posted the lowest round on the North Course (65) in Round 2 in his debut. … 2017 winner Jon Rahm (T5) opened with 62 on the North Course to lead after 18, but also posted two rounds of 72 on the South. … Billy Horschel (8th) picked up his second top 10 in four years. … Only Scott played the weekend better than Gary Woodland (T9). … Only one bogey free round on the weekend. … Cut was 3-under. … Scoring average on the South was under par at 71.73. … Weather was perfect.

2018: Jason Day (-10, 278)

Defeated Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer (first to be eliminated) in a six hole playoff for his second victory at Torrey Pines. … Won a four-man playoff in 2015. … As is usual for the winner here, he trailed by three heading into the final round. … Posted one of the 11 rounds (70) in the red on Sunday. … Posted 64 in Round 2 on the North. … Joined the group of recent winners who made hay (T1) on Par-4 holes. … Two wins in nine visits to this point. … T16 in 2020 is his worst payday in his last nine trips.

Notables:

Noren led by one after 54 holes. … Palmer was paired in the final group and led thru 36 holes. … JB Holmes (4th) posted the round of the week with 65 on Saturday. … Keegan Bradley (5th) backed up his T4 from 2017. … Tony Finau (T6) opened with 65 on the North to lead after 18 and was 9-under after 36. … Charles Howell III (T6) has never missed the cut here and posted 69 on Sunday, the co-low round of the day. … Harris English (T8) picked up his second top 10 in four starts. … Marc Leishman (T8) raked his fourth top 10 in 10 starts. … The light for Justin Rose (T8) finally turned on. … Defending champ Jon Rahm (T29) was one back after 36 holes. … Gary Woodland (T12) 66 on Saturday was only bested by Holmes. … Hideki Matsuyama (T12) closed with 69, tying Howell for the low round Sunday. … Third highest Sunday scoring (74.78) since 2000.

Strokes-Gained: Tee to GreenGolfer
Ranking*- Top 10 since 2016 
 **- Previous Champion
  
2*Hideki Matsuayama
3*Jon Rahm
6*Rory McIlroy
7Xander Schauffele
8Harold Varner III
10Scottie Scheffler
11*Tony Finau
16Corey Conners
18*Harris English
20Viktor Hovland
22Luke List
24Emiliano Grillo
25Cameron Tringale
26*Patrick Reed
29*Ryan Palmer
  
Par-4 ScoringGolfer
Ranking*- Top 10 since 2016 
 **- Previous Champion
  
4Xander Schauffele
6*Jon Rahm
6*Patrick Reed
6Scottie Scheffler
10*Harris English
10*Rory McIlroy
10*Brandt Snedeker
14Doc Redman
14Cameron Tringale
14*Hideki Matsuyama
14*Tony Finau
14Ryan Moore
21Cameron Percy
21*Harry Higgs
21**Scott Stallings
21*Joel Dahmen
21**Kyle Stanley
21Sungjae Im
21Henrik Norlander
21*Adam Scott
21*Bubba Watson
  
  
Bogey Avoidance Golfer
 *- Top 10 since 2016 
Rank**- Previous Champion
  
2*Jon Rahm
3*Harris English
4Xander Schauffele
9Cameron Tringale
11Russell Knox
20Adam Schenk
21*Hideki Matsuyama
22*Pat Perez
24*Adam Scott
25Matthew NeSmith
26*Brandt Snedeker

Horses for Courses

     
PlayerTop TopMostBig Finishes
(Starts/cuts made)10s25Recent 
Top 10 last five years  (season) 
     
Marc Leishman (10/12)56WIN (2020)T2 twice; No. 6 all time money list
Jon Rahm (4/4)332nd (2020)Won on debut 2017; T5 2019
Brandt Snedeker (12/14)89T3 (2020)Two wins (2016, 2012), Two seconds, Two thirds
Rory McIlroy (2/2)22T3 (2020)68.75 scoring avg.
Tom Hoge (2/5)125 (2020)T12 2018; 10-under on SC last year
Bubba Watson (8/9)46T6 (2020)2011 winner; 11-under on SC last year
Tony Finau (6/6)36T6 (2020)T6 2018; T4 2017; worst finish is T24
Patrick Reed (5/5)13T6 (2020)T13 2019, T23 2018 
Charley Hoffman (13/23)34T9 (2020)T7 2014; 65 Sunday last year
Patrick Rodgers (2/5)22T9 (2020)T4 2017 
Beau Hossler (4/4)11T9 (2020)68 on Sunday on SC; 66 Rd NC
Max Homa (1/4)11T9 (2020)First two rounds in the 60s last year
Harry Higgs (1/1)11T9 (2020)All four rounds par or better
     
Adam Scott (1/1)112nd (2019)Debut
Talor Gooch (3/3)11T3 (2019)11 of 12 rounds are 72 or better
Hideki Matsuyama (5/7)13T3 (2019)4 straight but T45 2020
Jason Day (8/11)56T5 (2019)2015, 2018 winner; No. 3 money list
Billy Horschel (7/10)238 (2019)T8 2016; cashed 5 straight thru last year
Gary Woodland (10/11)25T9 (2019)Streak of 10 straight and 4 T20 or better busted 2020
Cameron Smith (4/6)12T9 (2019)65 Sunday; T20 is next best but 4 straight
Scott Brown (3/7)11T9 (2019)T41 and T49 other two
Joel Dahmen (2/3)11T9 (2019) T55 2020
     
Alex Noren (2/2)11P2 (2018)2018 #1 GIR; MC 2019
Ryan Palmer (5/7)13P2 (2018)T13 2019; T21 2020
JB Holmes (11/15)354 (2018)T6 2016; 2nd 2015
Keegan Bradley (8/10)265 (2018)T4 2017; cashed 4 straight
Charles Howell III (17/17)812T6 (2018)5 straight events of T20 or better
Harris English (7/8)23T8 (2018)T2 2015;  T71-MC last two
     
CT Pan (3/4)11T2 (2017)2017 debut; best T35 after
Pat Perez (11/18)36T4 (2017)T2 2014; MC, T55 last 2; grew up on property
Robert Streb (5/7)13T9 (2017)T29 or better in 4 of 5 paydays
JJ Spaun (3/4)12T9 (2017)T23, T30 other two
     
KJ Choi (10/17)362 (2016)T2 2014; T9 2013; Turned 50 last year
Kevin Streelman (5/10)113 (2016)T29 is next best; cashed 4 of last 5
Jimmy Walker (7/13)44T4 (2016)Last top 10 in a streak of 4
John Huh (8/9)23T8 (2016)T6 2012 debut; cashed in 6 straight
Martin Laird (9/12)22T8 (2016)T7 2015 ; cashed 7 of 8
     
Previous Champions    
     
Scott Stallings (5/9)23T2 (2015)2014 winner; T43 is the best in last four years
Nick Watney (11/16)66T7 (2015)2009 winner; nothing better T58 last five
Phil Mickelson (22/30)10132 (2011)3 wins (last 2001); no top 10 since 2011

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