Our tips for the 2013 edition of this event will be published on this page on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon! Other Jan 2013 events: Hyundai Tournament Of Champions, Sony Open In Hawaii, Humana Challenge & Waste Management Phoenix Open. In the meantime you can check out our stats pages for the Farmers Insurance Open in our stats section.
Many a golf punter believes that the true golfing season starts in the final week of January at Abu Dhabi and Torrey Pines. It's hard to disagree on the basis that 6 of the world's Top 10 are playing this week. The shift in golfing power though is evident when you look at the fact that 5 of those players will be playing in Abu Dhabi and the Top 10 doesn't contain Woods or Mickelson. There's no doubt that golf is enjoying it's most exciting times in the modern era so hang on to your hats!
The Famers Insurance Open is played at one of the world's most classical golf courses Torrey Pines, which hosted one on the most icon Major championships in living memory, when Tiger Woods won the 2008 US Open virtually on one leg. Perched on cliffs above the Pacific Open close to San Diego, Torrey Pines serves up a true test for the world's best golfers and unsurprisingly always attracts a high-class field. 2012 is no exception with Mickelson, Watney, Mahan, Snedeker, Watson, Fowler, Crane, DJ, Els, Ogilvy and PGA Champion Keegan Bradley heading up a strong 150-player field.
Torrey Pines is never set up as US Open tough for this tournament but still provides a truly classical test. It's also worth bearing in mind that the format of the tournament takes in both Torrey Pines North and South courses. The North course is a 6,800 yard Par 72 that features Bent/Poa mix greens, which ranked as the 43rd easiest course on the PGA Tour from the 51 played in 2011. As you'd expect though the South course ranked as the 11th toughest course in 2011 - a true Jeckyll & Hyde tournament format! To win the tournament players need to shoot a minimum of 65-68 on the North Course and then hang on to those red numbers on the strict +7,600 Par 72 South Course. The weather forecast is for tranquil conditions on this section of Pacific coast so expect relatively low scoring and also extremely worthy of note are the Poa Annua greens which aren't to every golfer's taste.
What's crystal clear this week is that this classical golf course rewards the best golfers. Cream rises to the top and the champions list is littered with quality players who have won PGA Tour events previous to crossing the finishing line here. The in-built difficulty of 54 holes around the South Course also requires that players have to be 'up to speed' as it's incredibly difficult to make a season debut here and play at 100%. Course experience is critical with big trouble off the short stuff and small greens leading to bogies a plenty for the wayward. We won't event talk about the challenges of the super grainy Poa Annua putting surface. I'm looking for players who can hit plenty of greens and who have a history of performing on tough classical tracks. As ever motivation is key...
I know that Kim let us down in Palm Springs last week but he's even a stronger pick this week in my mind and the 50/1 available at Bet 365 could be like manna from heaven come Sunday night. It's also worthy of note that Bubba, Ben and Nick were 66/1, 80/1 and 66/1 when they triumphed over the past 3 annuals of the Farmers Insurance Open. Since 2008 Kim has been the second-best player of classical courses across the PGA Tour, second only to Phil Mickelson and the Florida domiciled Californian thrives on tough Par 72 tracks. His 6th place here last year highlights a player who has started to get his head around Torrey Pines and motivation won't be a problem this week. His current World Ranking of 96 means that he WON'T be in the World Matchplay next month, the WGC Cadillac in March or Augusta in April. Another great stat is Kim's Open record where in 3 appearances he finished 7th on debut at Birkdale in 08 and 5th at Sandwich last year. RESULT: MC
Let's face it, 2011 was terrible for the amiable South African with his Achilles heel the putter flaring up badly. Coming out of Hawaii last year Els was ranked 10th in the World and he'd just won the South African Open 4 weeks prior. However after another inauspicious performance at St Andrews in October, the alarm bells were well and truly sounding as he'd slipped to 45th. However his last visit to California marked a watershed as he claimed 4th spot behind Bryce Molder. Since then his form-line reads 33-23-69-34-2. Things are improving! However Ernie still has a major problem as his Bay Hill and Doral wins from 2010 have dropped from his OWGR points haul. 71st prior to his 2nd place at Fancourt Links last week he now sits outside the World Top 50 at 57. Put simply if he wants to play the World Matchplay next month, the WGC Cadillac in March and Augusta in April he has to keep churning out contending golf. Els is a true seaside legend as his fantastic tee to green consistency pays real dividends on tough coastal tracks. A win this week puts all of his problems to bed and his only 3 appearances at Torrey Pines have delivered 5th (10), 6th (05) and 14th (08) when it was US Open tough. RESULT: T52
BVP finished 2011 with the momentum of an oil tanker and grabbed his place at world golf's top table with both hands. Torrey Pines favours world class players and Van Pelt is certainly in that category now so his 54th at Palm Springs last week is the green light for me to get on board Oklahoma's finest this week at 15/1 for a Top 5. Bo was 4th here in 2004 and he's an infinitely better player now as one look at his resume which is littered with fantastic form. The last 3 seasons have produced 8th (11) at Augusta, 3rd (10) at Hilton Head, 5th (10) at Quail Hollow, 4th TPC Sawgrass (10), 3rd (10) at Colonial, 3rd (09) at Muirfield and 6th (10) at Seaside. His consistency at classical courses and big tournaments these days is high class. So why do I think that Bo can win this week? Well in my mind he found mental strength at the latter end of 2011 and that will make him dangerous this week. Cast your mind back to last July on the Canadian Pacific coast at the classical Poa Annua greened Par 70 course of Shaughnessy where BVP led through 56 holes but then capitulated on the Sunday. From that defeat Bo re-built and after his hugely impressive victory at The Mines in Malaysia last October he eluded to the fact that Shaughnessy was the turning point. 11th at Sheshan and 10th at the Chevron Challenge post his Malaysian triumph highlight a player who knows he belongs. It's also interesting to note that his 2009 win at Milwaukee and his 2011 win at The Mines shares the same career pattern as one Ben Crane who won this tournament in 2010. RESULT: MC
Palm Springs last week marked Snedeker out as the player to watch as the West Coast swing continues. Back from his winter hip operation with seemingly no issues and with fine conditions forecast I think Brandt Snedeker has a huge chance this week to grab his 3rd PGA Tour victory. Many of you will remember Snedeker for defeating our own Luke Donald in a play off at the coastal Hilton Head last year. Hilton Head was backed up with a further 4 Top 5s at Copperhead, TPC San Antonio, Plainfield, Boston and 2 more Top 10s at Torrey Pines and Scottsdale. Fact is Snedeker can play Bermuda, Bent and Poa Annua greens and that marks him out as a quality player who can transcend green type. I've always placed Tennessee's finest in the classical course category and, in my mind, given the right circumstances he can contend at Major Championships as his streaky play and great short game is second to none. 3rd at Augusta in 2008 brought him to the world's attention but the US Open will be his greatest chance of a Major championship and that's why I think Torrey Pines can yield victory for him this week. Taking the US Open angle a little deeper Brandt finished 9th here at Torrey Pines South in 2009 and then after a season in the wilderness finished 8th at Pebble Beach and 11th last year at Congressional. 5 visits to this tournament have yielded a 3rd (on debut 07), 2nd (10) and 9th (11) and only a single MC. The final piece of the jigsaw is motivation. He controversially missed out on President's Cup selection along with Keegan Bradley in favour of Bill Haas last season and I'm sure automatic selection for the RC this year is high on his targets for 2012. RESULT: Winner
Talking of Bill Haas he is my 5th player this week at a juicy 40/1 or 10/1 for a Top 5. Let's face it winning the Fed Ex Cup seems like the kiss of death for established golfers. Vijay Singh who won the PGA Tour season in 2008 hasn't won a tournament since. Come to think of it nor has Tiger Woods (2009) or Jim Furyk (2010) - truly the kiss of death! However I've thought through this rationally and where Singh and Furyk are veterans and Woods has had non golf-related issues, I place 7th season pro Haas in a totally different category. Here is a 29 year old Carolina guy who is establishing himself on the world scene and who importantly is extremely well grounded and motivated to use his Tour Championship win to catapult him onto greater things. That brings us onto Torrey Pines this week and after 20th at Kapalua and 64th at Palm Springs last week – note how he has already played twice in January (hardly dining out like Jim Furyk) - this classical course will truly suit Haas. Interestingly Haas sits atop the Greens in Regulation category so far this season and if his putter warms a little he can win. Why so confident? Well he finished 18th on debut here in 2005 and since then has played every season recording MC-20-29-11-37 and 9th last year and cream will rise to the top this week. RESULT: T4. Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:15GMT 24.1.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Our tips, picks and predictions for the 2013 edition of this event will be published here on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon!