Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Farmers Insurance Open Tips 2020

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We came close last week at the lottery which is now entitled The American Express at PGA West. Scottie Scheffler was the co-leader at 36 and 54 holes, but it all got a little too much on Sunday, although the 23 year-old showed fight on the back nine to still be a shot back with 2 holes to play. Knowing the volatility of the tournament, I’ll settle quite sweetly for a full 35/1 each-way payout on Scheffler in combination with a slightly reduced (for ties) each-way payout on Tom Hoge at 200/1.

This week is the ‘real’ start of the PGA Tour in many fans’ eyes as we return to La Jolla, just North of San Diego, for the Farmers Insurance Open at the iconic Torrey Pines. A high-class field including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau and defending champion Justin Rose have been attracted to the classical Torrey Pines course on the Pacific coastline. But naturally the full focus on the golfing media and betting public will be on the 2020 return of 8-time Torrey Pines victor Tiger Woods.

Before we go into the detail surrounding this year’s renewal and my final Farmers Insurance Open tips, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as the golfing year kicks off. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) and our hugely popular private Facebook Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

2020 Majors Competition Sponsored By bet365: bet365

Following on from the success of the last 8 annual GBS Majors competitions, bet365 have kindly offered to sponsor the 2020 edition with a massive £250 CASH prize fund! Our 2020 winner will receive £150 (or currency equivalent) in cash with additional £75 and £25 prizes for 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

Basically we want you to pick a single player for each of the 4 Majors any time before the start of the 2020 Masters and get those 4 names entered into the competition by one of the methods detailed on our rules page here. Best of luck all!

Farmers Insurance Open Tips – Featured Bookmaker: betfair

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Course Guide: The Farmers Insurance Open is played on the South and North courses at Torrey Pines. The freshly lengthened 7,700 yard+ (at sea-level) South Course, which was renovated last year by Rees Jones prior to the 2021 U.S. Open, hosts 3 rounds in total with each entrant also playing 18 holes on the North Course on either Thursday or Friday.

The world-famous South Course, which runs above the Pacific Ocean, is a classical design that plays as the longest course on the PGA Tour. Penal rough, specialised Kikuyugrass fairways and green complex designs that repel approach shots makes scoring particularly difficult. The North Course, which received a Tom Weiskopf-inspired renovation prior to the 2017 renewal, is a relatively short Par-72 that continues to set up for low scoring which can prove pivotal in tournament play. To add to the complexity, the South Course features Poa Annua greens whereas the North features freshly installed pure Bentgrass greens.

Torrey Pines South Course, San Diego, South California: Designer: Bell 1957, Rees Jones re-design 2001 and 2019; Course Type: Coastal, Classical; Par: 72; Length: 7,765 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 1; Fairways: Kikuyugrass; Rough: Kikuyugrass 3.5″; Greens: 5,800 sq.ft average featuring Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: 11.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 72.36 (+0.36), Difficulty Rank 21 of 49 courses. 2013: 72.66 (+0.66), Difficulty Rank 16 of 43 courses. 2014: 73.80 (+1.80), Rank 6 of 52 courses. 2015: 73.52 (+1.52), Rank 6 of 52 courses, 2016: 74.50 (+2.50), Rank 2 of 50 courses. 2017: 72.77 (+0.77), Rank 14 of 50 courses. 2018: 72.81 (+0.81), Rank 8 of 51 courses. 2019: 71.73 (-0.27), Rank 18 of 49 courses.

Torrey Pines North Course: Designer: 1957, Tom Weiskopf re-design 2016; Course Type: Coastal, Resort; Par: 72; Length: 7,258 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 0; Fairways Bermudagrass, Perennial Rye, Kikuyugrass mix; Rough: Perennial Rye with Kikuyugrass 3.5″; Greens:6,400 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Tournament Stimp: 10.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 69.55 (-2.45), Difficulty Rank 47 of 49 courses. 2013: 70.67 (-1.33), Difficulty Rank 35 of 43 courses. 2014: 70.24 (-1.76), Rank 44 of 48 courses. 2015: 70.23 (-1.77), Rank 46 of 52 courses. 2016: 70.93 (-1.07), Rank 38 of 50 courses. Re-Design 2017: 71.28 (-0.72), Rank 32 of 50 courses. 2018: 71.41 (-0.59), Rank 28 of 51 courses. 2019: 69.84 (-2.16), Rank 45 of 49 courses.

Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Torrey Pines South Course and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.
  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 42 yards wide; 275:40; 300:34; 325:31; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Old White TPC: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:35; 350:32.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Rees Jones and Tom Weiskopf designs (including re-designs/renovations) include:

Rees Jones

  • GC of Houston – Houston Open
  • Aronimink GC – 2010,2011 A&T National
  • Blue Course, Congressional CC – 2011 S. Open + 2012-2014 & 2016 National
  • Blue Course, Royal Montreal GC – 2014 RBC Canadian Open
  • Hazeltine – 2009 PGA Championship
  • Highlands Course, Atlanta Athletic Club – 2011 PGA Championship
  • Baltusrol – 2016 PGA Championship
  • Bethpage Black – 2009 U.S Open, 2019 PGA Championship + 2012/2016 The Barclays
  • Dubsdread, Cog Hill GCC – 2009,2010,2011 BMW Championship
  • Medinah Number 3 – 2019 BMW Championship
  • East Lake GC – Tour Championship
  • Bellerive CC – 2018 PGA Championship

Tom Weiskopf

  • Stadium Course, TPC Scottsdale – Waste Management Phoenix Open

Course Overview: I’ll talk about the classical and sometimes brutal Torrey Pines South Course which hosts 54 holes of action this weekend in a short while, but it’s worth recognising that the North Course received a Tom Weiskopf re-design which was played for the first time in 2017. The course was effectively lengthened, re-routed and now features pure Bentgrass green complexes. Those putting surfaces have undoubtedly settled down and rounds of -10/62 (Rahm), -9/63 (Ghim/Rose) and -8/64 (Pan) were seen in ideal conditions 12 months ago. If you want to contend, you need to make a score on the North Course.

Rees Jones’ South Course is naturally the star of this tournament and for 2020 we’ll see a changed course as the “Open Doctor” oversaw a $14 million 2019 renovation with the 2021 U.S. Open in mind. Jones and assistant Greg Muirhead have added some tees and shifted around bunkers to help the course defend itself even more. The most noticeable changes are at the par-5 9th, and the par-4 10th, 15th and 17th holes. A new cross-hole bunker 50 yards short of the 9th green will make players have to think more when going for the green in 2 shots.

The 10th was always a relatively easy drive and wedge start to the back-9, but with a new back tee box and the visual of the hole has changed dramatically, with the left side of the fairway split with a bunker, while a right fairway bunker pinches the landing zone. The 15th has again been lengthened to now play at 480 yards. The 17th also features a new back tee box, a pinched fairway landing area. So the longest course on the PGA Tour schedule will now play even longer.

It features seven 450+ yard par-4s whilst all 4 of the par-5s are over 560 yards. The course features Poa Annua greens, the likes of which are only found on the West coast and North East of the United States plus Canada. Both courses also feature Kikuyugrass rough, the likes of which are only seen here and at Riviera each year on the PGA Tour. Re-seeding of the rough prior to the 2014 renewal has seen recent winning totals slump and has added significantly to the difficulty of the task. Longer and thicker Kikuyugrass rough means that the South Course is now extremely difficult in terms of proximity to the hole from the rough.

However the true differences between the South and North courses are quite stark. Birdie or Better Conversion on the South Course last year, in what were tranquil conditions, ranked 19th toughest on the PGA Tour as a whole, compared to 44th toughest for the North Course. It’s also imperative to note that the South Course’s Poa Annua greens are notoriously difficult to putt on, so look for those who have done well here previously, or at Pebble, Bethpage Black plus the recent U.S. Open hosted at Oakmont (2016) and Shinnecock Hills (2018).

farmers insurance open tips

Winners: 2019: Justin Rose (-21); 2018: Jason Day (-9); 2017: Jon Rahm (-13); 2016: Brandt Snedeker (-6); 2015: Jason Day (-9); 2014: Scott Stallings (-9); 2013: Tiger Woods (-15); 2012: Brandt Snedeker (-16); 2011: Bubba Watson (-16); 2010: Ben Crane (-13).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Justin Rose, Cameron Smith and Jason Day.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the WGC HSBC Champions and Bermuda Championship, which includes PGA Tour, European Tour (where recorded) and the Dunlop Phoenix (Japan Golf Tour) events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Ryan Palmer; 2) Jon Rahm; 3) Bubba Watson; 4) Rickie Fowler; 5) Gary Woodland; 6) Emiliano Grillo; 7) Xander Schauffele / Kyle Stanley; 9) Rory McIlroy; 10) K.H. Lee / Chase Seiffert; 12) Bud Cauley / Doc Redman; 14) D.J. Trahan; 15) Patrick Reed; 16) Henrik Norlander / Justin Rose; 18) Scott Brown / Max Homa; 20) Joel Dahmen / Lucas Glover.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Jon Rahm; 2) Max Homa / Xander Schauffele; 4) Jason Kokrak / Gary Woodland; 6) Hideki Matsuyama; 7) Tony Finau / Sungjae Im / Sung Kang; 10) Rickie Fowler / Emiliano Grillo; 12) Cameron Champ / Rory McIlroy; 14) Collin Morikawa; 15) Keegan Bradley; 16) Justin Rose; 17) Cameron Smith; 18) Matthew NeSmith / Ryan Palmer / Bubba Watson.
  • Scrambling: 1) Rory McIlroy; 2) Bud Cauley; 3) Xander Schauffele; 4) C.T. Pan; 5) Hideki Matsuyama; 6) Rickie Fowler; 7) Sebastian Munoz; 8) Patrick Reed; 9) Maverick McNealy / Collin Morikawa / Scottie Scheffler; 12) Jon Rahm; 13) Ryan Palmer; 14) Jason Dufner / Tom Hoge; 16) Francesco Molinari / Tim Wilkinson; 18) Denny McCarthy / Gary Woodland; 20) Jhonattan Vegas.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Ryan Palmer; 2) Rory McIlroy / Xander Schauffele; 4) Jon Rahm; 5) Byeong Hun An / Sungjae Im; 7) Rickie Fowler; 8) Justin Rose; 9) Gary Woodland; 10) Cameron Smith; 11) Scottie Scheffler; 12) Bronson Burgoon; 13) Dominic Bozzelli; 14) Harry Higgs / Carlos Ortiz; 16) Chris Stroud; 17) Lanto Griffin; 18) Bubba Watson; 19) Dylan Frittelli; 20) Peter Uihlein.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the WGC HSBC Champions and Bermuda Championship, which includes both PGA and European Tour events where recorded. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Marc Leishman / Matthew Wolff; 3) Xander Schauffele; 4) Jhonattan Vegas; 5) Ryan Palmer; 6) Cameron Champ / Jon Rahm; 8) Rickie Fowler / Rory McIlroy / Gary Woodland; 11) Grayson Murray / Joaquin Niemann; 13) Scott Harrington; 14) Chase Seiffert; 15) Emiliano Grillo; 16) Graham DeLaet / Cameron Davis; 18) Scottie Scheffler; 19) Max Homa; 20) Justin Rose / D.J. Trahan.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Marc Leishman; 2) Hideki Matsuyama; 3) Xander Schauffele; 4) Jon Rahm; 5) Gary Woodland; 6) Emiliano Grillo; 7) Collin Morikawa; 8) Tom Hoge / Rory McIlroy; 10) Grayson Murray / Russell Knox; 12) Keegan Bradley / Chesson Hadley; 14) Matthew NeSmith / Joaquin Niemann; 16) Sung Kang; 17) Jimmy Walker; 18) Pat Perez; 19) Cameron Champ / Scottie Scheffler.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Grayson Murray; 2) C.T. Pan; 3) Jon Rahm / Rory McIlroy; 5) Peter Uihlein; 6) Jamie Lovemark / Rob Oppenheim; 8) Hideki Matsuyama / Xander Schauffele; 10) Byeong Hun An / Cameron Smith; 12) Collin Morikawa; 13) J.B. Holmes; 14) Steve Stricker; 15) Kramer Hickok / Gary Woodland; 17) Tim Wilkinson; 18) Patrick Reed; 19) Tony Finau / Joaquin Niemann.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Grayson Murray; 2) Hideki Matsuyama; 3) Marc Leishman / Jon Rahm / Xander Schauffele; 6) Rory McIlroy; 7) Collin Morikawa; 8) Joaquin Niemann / Gary Woodland; 10) Scottie Scheffler; 11) Ryan Palmer; 12) Keegan Bradley; 13) Pat Perez; 14) Emiliano Grillo; 15) Russell Knox; 16) Patrick Reed; 17) D.J. Trahan; 18) Rickie Fowler / C.T. Pan / Cameron Tringale / Harold Varner III.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Cameron Smith; 2) Rory McIlroy; 3) Gary Woodland; 4) Xander Schauffele; 5) Grayson Murray; 6) J.B. Holmes / Jon Rahm / Brandt Snedeker; 9) Justin Rose; 10) Sungjae Im; 11) Ryan Palmer; 12) Rhein Gibson; 13) Cameron Champ; 14) Mark Anderson; 15) K.J. Choi / Kevin Tway; 17) Austin Cook / Matthew Wolff; 19) Denny McCarthy; 20) Bo Hoag / Matthew NeSmith / Brendan Steele / Nick Watney.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Cameron Smith / Xander Schauffele; 3) Grayson Murray; 4) Rory McIlroy; 5) Jon Rahm; 6) Gary Woodland; 7) Ryan Palmer / Scottie Scheffler; 9) Keegan Bradley / Hideki Matsuyama / Brandt Snedeker; 12) Collin Morikawa; 13) Matthew NeSmith; 14) Justin Rose; 15) Emiliano Grillo; 16) Nick Watney; 17) Cameron Champ / Sungjae Im; 19) Patrick Reed; 20) Sebastian Munoz.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Rose 14/1; 2018: Day 22/1; 2017: Jon Rahm 55/1; 2016: Snedeker 18/1; 2015: Day 14/1; 2014: Stallings 250/1; 2013: Woods 15/2; 2012: Snedeker 22/1; 2011: Watson 66/1; 2010: Crane 80/1. Past 6 Renewals Average: 77/1. Overall Average: 55/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Sunny. High of 70. Wind NW 7-14 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 71. Wind NW 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 75. Wind NW 7-14 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 71. Wind WNW 6-12 mph.
  • 2018: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 60. Wind W 10-15 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 62. Wind NW 10 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 68. Wind NW 10 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 80. Wind NNE 12-18 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph. Monday: Sunny and 70. Wind light and variable.
  • 2017: Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 58. Wind NW 8-15 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 61. Wind NW 8-15 mph, with gusts of 20 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 64. Wind NW 8-14 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 67. Wind NW 8-15 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 67. Wind WNW 7-12 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 66. Wind WNW 8-12 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 61 degrees. Wind WSW 12-15 mph. Sunday: Overcast, with heavy rains off and on throughout the day. Strong SW winds were sustained at 15-25 mph, with gusts to 45 mph. Play was again suspended at 1:57 p.m. A total of 49 players were left on the course. Monday: Partly cloudy, with a high of 60 degrees. NW wind sustained at 15-30 mph, with gusts to 35 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for La Jolla, California is here. Weather in the main looks great the Farmers Insurance Open this week. Calm and tranquil, there’s no real threat of rain. Temperatures will be down slightly on last year at 16-19 degrees Celsius. November and December were wet here in this part of Southern California, but the start of January has seen barely any rain, so I’d expect some roll on the fairways and potentially slightly firmer greens than 12 months ago.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the winners of the Farmers Insurance since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2019, Justin Rose (-21). 310 yards (11th), 62.5% fairways (8th), 77.8% greens in regulation (2nd), 32’11” proximity to hole (17th), 56.3 % scrambling (58th), 1.59 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2018, Jason Day (-9). 319 yards (2nd), 53.6% fairways (26th), 68.1% greens in regulation (11th), 36’6″ proximity to hole (22nd), 65.2 % scrambling (17th), 1.63 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2017, Jon Rahm (-13). 297 yards (16th), 60.7% fairways (19th), 73.6% greens in regulation (12th), 28’11” proximity to hole (3rd), 68.4 % scrambling (10th), 1.72 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2016, Brandt Snedeker (-6). 289 yards (45th), 41.1% fairways (57th), 66.7% greens in regulation (14th), 32’9″ proximity to hole (4th), 62.5 % scrambling (5th), 1.70 putts per GIR (16th).
  • 2015, Jason Day (-9). 309 yards (1st), 46.4% fairways (49th), 70.8% greens in regulation (10th), 42’5″ proximity to hole (61st), 71.4 % scrambling (8th), 1.76 putts per GIR (33rd).
  • 2014, Scott Stallings (-9). 292 yards (24th), 50.0% fairways (45th), 66.7% greens in regulation (23rd), 42’0″ proximity to hole (64th), 62.5 % scrambling (24th), 1.69 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2013, Tiger Woods (-15). 307 yards (2nd), 57.1% fairways (17th), 69.4% greens in regulation (34th), 38’0″ proximity to hole (45th), 59.1% scrambling (42nd), 1.66 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2012, Brandt Snedeker (-16). 285 yards (47th), 58.9% fairways (13th), 70.8% greens in regulation (33rd), 34’10” proximity to hole (27th), 71.4% scrambling (6th), 1.69 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2011, Bubba Watson (-16). 317 yards (1st), 50.0% fairways (29th), 81.9% greens in regulation (1st), 25’10” proximity to hole (1st), 46.2% scrambling (54th), 1.73 putts per GIR (26th).
  • 2010, Ben Crane (-13). 273 yards (51st), 67.9% fairways (10th), 87.5% greens in regulation (1st), 30’8″ proximity to hole (6th), 44.4% scrambling (46th), 1.79 putts per GIR (42nd).

Tournament Skill Averages:

Driving Distance: 20th, Driving Accuracy: 27th, Greens in Regulation: 14th, Proximity to Hole: 25th, Scrambling: 27th, Putting Average 15th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Justin Rose (-21). SG Off the Tee: 13th, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 16th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 28th.
  • 2018, Jason Day (-9). SG Off the Tee: 8th, SG Approach: 50th, SG Around the Green: 23rd, SG Tee to Green: 24th, SG Putting: 31st.
  • 2017, Jon Rahm (-13). SG Off the Tee: 1st, SG Approach: 4th, SG Around the Green: 38th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 37th.
  • 2016, Brandt Snedeker (-6). SG Off the Tee: 55th, SG Approach: 17th, SG Around the Green: 19th, SG Tee to Green: 26th, SG Putting: 30th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

SG Off the Tee: 19th, SG Approach: 19th, SG Around the Green: 24th, SG Tee to Green: 13th, SG Putting: 32nd.

Let’s take a view from players as to how the Farmers Insurance Open tournament sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Justin Rose (2019): North Course: “I put the driver in as well, drove it unbelievably well today, drove it long. I was able to take advantage of the par 5s out there and putted it good enough today to obviously shoot 9 under. The North greens are still so good. Obviously they’re a couple years old, but they’re still rolling pure. It’s the kind of golf course that you want to make the most of on a day like today. Obviously the greens are so good that if you’re in trouble, you can save pars, and obviously if you’re hitting a lot of greens like I did today, you feel like you should be making putts on those surfaces. Took advantage of the par 5s for the most part, probably played them in 4 under, I think. Eagled my first hole of the day, which got things up and running.”

South Course: “Yeah, I think it’s one of my favorite places, one of my favorite stops on Tour obviously. The South course is – I’m looking forward to getting some momentum on that one. We get to play it three days in a row, so it’s nice to get the North out of the way, shoot a good score, just what you have to do. Now I can focus on the South course. Obviously a different type of green, you go from the bent to the poa annua, but just the views out there, I think the design of the South course is one of my favorites. So yeah, anytime you enjoy playing a course, it tends to suit your eye. The South Course, I think second shot-wise this is a really key golf course. It’s well bunkered, you’ve got those little sort of tongues where they can stick the pins. You have to be smart with your iron play. The greens (inaudible) strategizing the second shot, trying to leave the ball – there are certain times you can use the slope and other times you want to be putting up the hill.”

Jason Day (2018): “I don’t know, it’s really bunched up there. It’s weird. Yeah, I remember looking up and I was tied for the lead at 10-under I think, and like you said, there were six guys. It’s one of those courses where it’s really hard to extend the lead. You can’t really run away with a lead here because it is so tough. I mean, driving, it’s so demanding on the driver, you have to get yourself in position. If you’re not and with how the greens are starting to bounce, it’s very difficult to get yourself back into position leaving yourself in the right spot to get up and down. Adds a little bit with how the greens – obviously with poa annua, it adds a little bit more, I guess, a nervous feeling when you hit certain putts. I think with a course like this it’s always tough. We’ve had a lot of history here with leads being really bunched up like we have had, and I think if you can get anywhere between 10 and 13 tomorrow, you’ve got a good chance at winning the tournament.

Brandt Snedeker: “I love, what I love most about poa annua is you have to be aggressive and you have got to hit a putt almost perfect. You got to give it a chance to go in, you got to get it rolling hard on the green. And I think that’s what my stroke does best, because I hit them aggressive, get the ball rolling really fast. When you do that, the ball holds its line. If you miss a putt a little bit, or hit a weak putt, it’s going to bump off. And I love it because it eliminates half the guys, like Kevin Kisner. Because they don’t like it and they don’t want to be on it. So, it makes my putting even better. Because they don’t want to be a part of it and if they get a bad bounce they think the greens are awful, I’m never coming back here, whatever, which helps me.

Dustin Johnson: “The golf course I think sets up well. It sets up good to my eye. Just got to go out and execute. But around here, too, it’s all about where you leave your ball, controlling your ball, leaving yourself uphill putts so you can be aggressive with it. If you’re putting downhill all day, it’s hard to make putts, it just is. I don’t care how good a putter you are, it’s just tough. So controlling the golf ball, controlling your distance, and leaving yourself in the right spot is a big key.

Phil Mickelson: “I think the length is a challenge and the firmness of the greens is a challenge. I think that patience is going to be a big challenge, because when you tuck the pins here, every green repels from the outside to the centre. So, every ball’s working to the centre of the green and it’s very difficult to get it close to a lot of the tough pins. So, you have to be patient. You have to accept 30, 40 footers, that you just can’t knock it too close, and you have to make some putts. I think that patience will be the key.

Jimmy Walker: “Yeah, you said it, it’s tough. So any time you shoot under par out here is pretty good on the South Course. Even with light winds, it’s still really tough. They tuck the pins, greens have got a little firmness to them, so it’s tough to get it close. You want to throw the ball behind the hole and spin it, but it just won’t do it.

J.B. Holmes: “The rough probably plays worse than it did at the U.S. Open when they had it here in 2008. The Kikuyu rough was nasty, but you could also get it where it would set up on a tee. It would either drop down to the bottom and you couldn’t hit anything or it was up on the tee. So it was kind of 50/50. Where, this week, if you hit it in there, you just have a bad lie. So you’re not going to be able to hit it very far. Most of the ones I hit in the rough have been bad lies. I’ll get a decent one every now and then, but I wouldn’t say I really got a good lie in the rough this week yet.

Jason Day: “You know what, it’s just, it’s a lot of a patience game out there. Especially with how this course is, how tough it is around here now. It feels like a U.S. Open. If you’re not hitting fairways, the rough is so brutal that where the pins are tucked, you hit it to 30, 40 feet. If you miss a lot of fairways and you’re hitting it to 30, 40 feet, it’s very difficult to hole those putts. So, it’s just about just getting it on the green, maybe snagging a long putt here or there, and really trying to capitalize on the good drives off the tee which give you the shorter club in and an opportunity to get at the flags. Because the pins are very difficult today. The greens are very firm and fast. So with a wedge they’re still bouncing a good five to 10 yards. So, it’s very difficult. It’s a fun challenge.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 10 Farmers Insurance Open winners:

  • 2019 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2018 – Jason Day: Round 1: 113th, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 5th.
  • 2017 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 77th, Round 2: 21st, Round 3: 13th.
  • 2016 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: 90th, Round 2: 57th, Round 3: 27th.
  • 2015 – Jason Day: Round 1: 95th, Round 2: 6th, Round 3: 8th.
  • 2014 – Scott Stallings: Round 1: 63rd, Round 2: 11th, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2013 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 20th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2012 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: 17th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 6th.
  • 2011 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 54th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 3rd
  • 2010 – Ben Crane: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2 5th, Round 3: 2nd.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 10 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 ahead, Round 3: 3 ahead.
  • 2018 – Jason Day: Round 1: 8 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2017 – Jon Rahm: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2016 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 8 back, Round 3: 6 back.
  • 2015 – Jason Day: Round 1: 9 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2014 – Scott Stallings: Round 1: 8 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2013 – Tiger Woods: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2012 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 7 back.
  • 2011 – Bubba Watson: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2010 – Ben Crane: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 2 back.

Form of winners since 2010:

  • Justin Rose: 34th PGAW/17th Indonesia/3rd World Challenge/1st Turkey.
  • Jason Day: 5th Aus Open/11th HSBC/11th CJ Cup/17th Tour.
  • Jon Rahm: 34th PGAW/50th OHL Classic/15th Shriners/15th Silverado.
  • Brandt Snedeker: 2nd Sony/3rd Kapalua/1st Shark Shoot/MC Aus PGA.
  • Jason Day: 17th Sony/3rd Kapalua/1st Shark Shoot/5th World Challenge.
  • Scott Stallings: 58th PGAW/MC OHL Classic/MC McGladrey/47th CIMB.
  • Tiger Woods: MC Abu/4th World Challenge/4th CIMB/8th Tour.
  • Brandt Snedeker: 8th PGAW/13th CIMB/32nd McGladrey/16th Tour.
  • Bubba Watson: MC PGAW/25th ToC/10th Shark Shoot/14th World Challenge.
  • Ben Crane: 52nd PGAW/24th Disney/13th Fry’s.com Open/19th Shriners.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 6 – Bubba Watson.
  • 5 – Phil Mickelson.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker, Tiger Woods.
  • 3 – Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker.
  • 2 – Hunter Mahan, Jordan Spieth, Brendan Steele, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland.
  • 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Emiliano Grillo, Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel, Russell Knox, Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa, Ted Potter Jnr, Andrew Putnam, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Scott Stallings, Steve Stricker, Chris Stroud, Kevin Tway.

12 months ago I was highlighting to readers the South Course Thursday/North Course Friday draw bias of winners. Indeed from 2011 through 2018 all winners had played the South/North Course draw across the opening 36 holes. That trend was blown to smithereens by Justin Rose last year who shot -9/63 on the North Course on Thursday and never looked back.

Torrey Pines is one of the most iconic and classical golf courses in the world and naturally its association with Tiger Woods across both this tournament and the U.S. Open adds kudos. The winners’ list since 2000 was exclusively made up of Major winners and previous PGA Tour winners, until Jon Rahm’s dramatic victory here in 2017. American players dominate the champions list, but of late Jason Day twice, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose have added their names to an exclusive list of international winners which reads Gary Player (1963) and Jose Maria Olazabal (2002). So if an international player is going to triumph this week, they will likely be top-notch.

So what’s the right recipe for success this week? Well both the long bomber and the accurate type with a great short game can contend around Torrey. 2010, 2012 and 2016 saw Ben Crane and Brandt Snedeker triumph, But Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Scott Stallings, Jason Day (twice), Jon Rahm and defending champion Justin Rose are all longer hitters. So realistically we need a 290+ yard driver. Ideally they will have course experience, but Rahm became the first player since 1957 to win on course debut here 3 years ago. He’s a little bit special though, I think you would agree! I’m working on targeting players who played well on testing, old-style courses in 2019. As you can see, previous winners here have all recorded strong results on classical or technical tracks in the season prior to winning here:

  • Watson – 3rd Copperhead – 2nd Whistling Straits (PGA Championship).
  • Snedeker – 4th TPC San Antonio – 1st Harbour Town – 11th Congressional (US Open).
  • Woods – 2nd PGA National – 1st Muirfield Village – 1st Congressional.
  • Stallings – 4th Colonial – 4th Muirfield Village – 2nd TPC Southwind.
  • Day – 2nd Torrey Pines -4th Pinehurst -(S. Open) 2nd Ridgewood – 4th East Lake.
  • Snedeker – 1st Pebble Beach – 8th Chambers Bay (S. Open) – 2nd Colonial.
  • Rahm – 3rd Congressional – 2nd Glen Abbey.
  • Day – 5th Pebble Beach – 9th Quail Hollow (PGA Championship) – 6th Glen Oaks.
  • Rose – 8th Torrey Pines, 5th Copperhead, 3rd Bay Hill, 1st Colonial, 6th Muirfield Village, 2nd Carnoustie (Open Championship), 4th East Lake.

My Farmers Insurance Open tips are as follows:

Xander Schauffele 2pts EW 18/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair

San Diego resident Xander Schauffele must be looking forward to the Farmers Insurance Open with real enthusiasm. Winless now for over a year, the World Number 9 must be licking his lips to take on Woods, McIlroy, Rahm and Rose on his home course. And nothing would please “X-Man” more than taking the title this week at a Torrey Pines course where he has played so much golf across both Junior and University phases of his still developing career.

So what of his finishes here? Well 4 consecutive appearances here have garnered MC-MC-MC-24, hardly stellar, but let’s be frank here, we all know the Schauffele’s game is perfect for the test this week. Long and aggressive off the tee, Xander ranks 4th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 1st for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 2nd for Birdie Average, 5th for par-5 Birdie or Better Conversion and 9th for Putting Average so far across the 2019/20 PGA Tour season. With the power off the tee to compete on the longest course on the PGA Tour, I’m also a firm believer than the San Diego State University graduate now has the mental strength to be able to compete under the spotlight this week.

2019 saw Xander finish 2nd at The Masters, 3rd at the U.S. Open, 2nd at the Tour Championship and 2nd at the WGC-HSBC Champions. And in Augusta National, Pebble Beach and East Lake (where he also won in 2017), we have 3 golf courses which tie in very nicely with the likes of Justin Rose and Tiger Woods, who have won this title 8 times between them. Another runner-up position 3 weeks ago at Kapalua where he had an 8 footer to win the tournament on the final hole will only make Xander more motivated to win this I think.

To also aid his cause, last year saw Schauffele deliver rounds of 69-70-70 across the South Course which was by far his best showing here in his 4 appearances to date – he missed out on that all-important low round on the North Course when grouped with Tiger Woods on the Friday. Still resident in San Diego, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Xander has played the freshly renovated course in anticipation of this week and I’m expecting big things this week.

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Gary Woodland 2pts EW 33/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

9 of the last 11 winners of the Farmers Insurance Open have had a top 10 at this event prior to their win. Whether that actually tells us a lot on the basis that this angle includes McIlroy, Rahm, Woods, Rose, Matsuyama, Fowler and Finau at the top of the market is open to debate as a player selecting variable. However it does point me in the direction of Gary Woodland who I have been sweet on for a few outings.

Gary has masses of history here at Torrey Pines. 2014 saw him almost take the title, co-leading right-up to the 71st hole, before a costly wayward drive (he took driver over a 3-wood) led to double bogey; he eventually finished 10th. Gary was 18th in 2016, where again he led after 36 holes and was 3rd after 54, before succumbing to the severe wind and rain of Sunday. In 2018 Woodland started with a 74 on the easier North Course before shooting a phenomenal 68-66 on the South Course to sit 5th after 54 holes – he finished 18th. And 2019 saw him finish a career best 9th here, shooting 69-66 over the weekend. 4th for Strokes Gained Putting here in 2018, last year he was 6th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. You just need to marry the two this week Gary!

Naturally we know that Woodland is Poa Annua-positive player. 4th (2016) and 8th (2019) at Bethpage Black, 5th at Pebble Beach in 2017 was the precursor to Gary’s U.S. Open victory at Pebble Beach last June. If more West Coast form is required then Gary has always played well at Kapalua (2nd 2019, 7th 2020), Waialae (3rd 2015, 6th 2017, 7th 2018) and has won at both Montreux (2013), TPC Scottsdale (2018) and was runner-up at PGA West (2011). 2015 also saw him lose to Rory McIlroy at the WGC-Cadillac Matchplay hosted at TPC Harding Park. Form-in reads 3-5-20-7 so confidence must be high. 8th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, Tee to Green and Putting was a well-rounded performance last time out at Kapalua where he was 3rd after 54 holes.

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Ryan Palmer 1pt EW 70 /1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair

The Farmers Insurance Open throws up plenty of repeat winner and each-way place finishers. Naturally for every Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day, there’s a Charles Howell III, J.B. Holmes and Keegan Bradley who place at decent prices. I’m drawn to 2018 play-off participant Ryan Palmer who we can get at a decent each-way price for this week. Ryan played nicely here in 2018 at 150/1 and almost pulled off the biggest win of his career, 8 years after his last solo PGA Tour triumph.

The Torrey Pines set-up clearly suits the big hitting Texan, who despite being 43 years-old undoubtedly hits the ball long and very high. He has always been the sort to ‘pop-up’ in high grade affairs: 3rd at the 2005 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, 2nd at the 2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, 5th at the 2013 Players Championship, 5th at the 2014 PGA Championship, 4th at the 2014 BMW Championship and 6th at the 2016 BMW Championship. Big tournaments and proper golf courses. 5th at Ridgewood in 2010, 6th at Plainfield in 2015, 13th at Bethpage Black in 2016 and 5th at Ridgewood also highlight a player more than comfortable on classical golf courses featuring Poa Annua.

Season 2019/20 on the PGA Tour has also started well for Palmer who finished 12th at Nine Bridges, 10th at Narashino Country Club and 4th last time out at Waialae. 23rd for Birdie Average, 25th for par-5 Birdie or Better and 33rd for SG Tee to Green so far this season are strong statistics and Palmer’s liking for Torrey Pines can be seen by the way he shot 67-67-68 across 3 rounds 12 months ago. It was a shame he threw it all away on Saturday with a +3/75 when he went off in the final group with Justin Rose and Hideki Matsuyama. Currently buoyant and playing great golf.

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Sepp Straka 1pt EW 125/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair

Sepp Straka is always a popular betting and DraftKings play and he’s also the sort to follow when confidence is high. I’ll take him with the 8 places each-way at Betfair Sportsbook.

11th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, 26th at the John Deere Classic, 3rd at the Barbasol Championship and 11th at the Barracuda Championship across a hot confidence spell last summer, Straka has already delivered 4th at the Houston Open and 4th last week at The American Express this season.

Yes this is a step up, but Sepp showed some real form here 12 months ago. With incoming form of MC-MC-MC-MC he finished 13th here as a Tour rookie, notably finishing 5th for Strokes Gained Putting across the week. That Poa Annua link also worked for him at the Pebble Beach hosted U.S. Open where he shot bookend rounds of 68-67 to finish 28th in his first ever Major Championship. Rounds of 65 and 66 last week came on the tougher TPC Stadium Course and the Athens, Georgia domiciled Austrian, ranked 9th for Driving Distance, 11th for SG Off the Tee, 2nd for SG Approach and 3rd for SG Tee to Green at the AMEX.

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:50GMT 20.1.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.