Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Farmers Insurance Open Tips 2022

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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 Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama, Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, Sungjae Im, and defending champion Patrick Reed have been attracted to the classical Torrey Pines course on the Pacific coastline.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Farmers Insurance Open, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,000 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: The Farmers Insurance Open is played on the South and North courses at Torrey Pines. The freshly lengthened 7,765 yard (at sea-level) South Course, which was renovated in 2019 by Rees Jones prior to last year’s 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 which 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 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: Bermudagrass overseeded with Ryegrass; Rough: Kikuyugrass with Ryegrass 3″; Greens: 5,000 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. 2020: 72.53 (+0.53), Rank 7 of 41 courses. 2021: 73.34 (+1.34), Rank 4 of 51 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 overseeded with Ryegrass; Rough: Kikuyugrass with Ryegrass 3″; Greens:6,000 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. 2020: 70.58 (-1.42), Rank 33 of 41 courses. 2021: 70.13 (-1.87), Rank 44 of 51 courses.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes, other Rees Jones and Tom Weiskopf designs/renovations include:

Rees Jones

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

Tom Weiskopf

  • Stadium Course, TPC Scottsdale – Waste Management Phoenix Open

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Torrey Pines South (Host 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.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.

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/Palmer), -9/63 (Ghim/Rose) -8/64 (Noren/Pan/Reed/Shelton) have been seen over the past 3 renewals. If you want to win, you need to make a score on the North Course. Rose, Leishman and Reed shot 63, 68 and 64 respectively.

Rees Jones’ South Course is naturally the star of this tournament and in 2020 we saw a changed course as “Open Doctor” Rees Jones oversaw a $14 million 2019 renovation, with the 2021 U.S. Open in mind. Jones and assistant Greg Muirhead 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 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 and a pinched fairway landing area. So the longest course on the PGA Tour schedule now plays even longer.

Torrey Pines South 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, at Riviera plus Chapultepec each year on the PGA Tour. Long and thick Kikuyugrass rough means that the South Course is now extremely difficult in terms of proximity to the hole from the rough.

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, Riviera, Bethpage Black plus the recent U.S. Opens hosted at Oakmont (2016), Shinnecock Hills (2018), Winged Foot (2020) and of course here (2021).

farmers insurance open tips

Winners: 2021: Patrick Reed (-14); 2020: Marc Leishman (-15); 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).

Cut Line: 2021: -1; 2020: -1; 2019: -3; 2018: -1; 2017: E.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2021: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -10; Round 4 -14.
  • 2020: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -12; Round 4 -15.
  • 2019: Round 1 -10; Round 2 -15; Round 3 -18; Round 4 -21.
  • 2018: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -11; Round 4 -10.
  • 2017: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -8; Round 3 -9; Round 4 -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 Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, Ryan Palmer, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Brandt Snedeker, Justin Rose and Jason Day.

Tournament Winners & Prices: 2021: Reed 25/1; 2020: Leishman 55/1; 2019: Rose 14/1; 2018: Day 22/1; 2017: 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 8 Renewals Average: 56/1; Overall Average: 138/1.

For a full summary of winner’s odds on the PGA Tour since 2010 click here.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 59. Wind SSW 6-12 mph. Due to anticipated rain on Friday and the tournament using a two course format in the first two rounds, preferred lies were in use during the first round. Friday: After an estimated 0.90 inches of rain fell Thursday night, it was sunny early with rain and hail later in the day. High of 59. Wind WSW 12-18 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Preferred lies were in use during the second round. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 59. Wind NW 5-10 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 62. Wind NW 5-10 mph.
  • 2020: Thursday: Sunny. High of 64. Wind NW 5-10 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny. High of 63. Wind W 5-10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 65. Wind W 5-10 mph. Due to fog, play was delayed two hours Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 60. Wind WSW 6-12 mph.
  • 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 just fine for the Farmers Insurance Open this week. Warmer temperatures than we usually see here will be in-play at 17-21 degrees Celsius. Winds look light with nothing higher than 10 mph forecast across all 4 days and rain has been light in the area for a number of weeks with none forecast. So I would expect running fairways and perfect soil conditions. Whether that means firm greens by the weekend, only time will tell.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the ZOZO Championship / Mallorca Golf Open which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Jon Rahm; 3) Keith Mitchell; 4) Cameron Champ; 5) Luke List / Ryan Palmer; 7) Daniel Berger / Sungjae Im; 9) Aaron Wise; 10) Maverick McNealy; 11) Hideki Matsuyama; 12) Joel Dahmen / Will Zalatoris / Jhonattan Vegas; 15) Tony Finau; 16) Xander Schauffele; 17) Billy Horschel / Mackenzie Hughes; 19) Marc Leishman / Jordan Spieth; 21) Paul Barjon; 22) Lanto Griffin; 23) Si Woo Kim; 24) Aaron Rai; 25) Kyle Stanley.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Bryson DeChambeau; 3) Will Zalatoris; 4) Aaron Wise; 5) Justin Thomas; 6) Corey Conners / Hideki Matsuyama; 8) Maverick McNealy; 9) K.H. Lee; 10) Scott Piercy; 11) Hudson Swafford; 12) Jon Rahm; 13) Marc Leishman; 14) Sam Burns / Xander Schauffele; 16) Tony Finau / Seung-yul Noh; 18) Ryan Palmer; 19) Mackenzie Hughes; 20) Keegan Bradley / Chez Reavie; 22) Talor Gooch / Luke List / Jordan Spieth; 25) Martin Laird.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Daniel Berger; 3) Mackenzie Hughes / Matt Jones / Matthew Wolff; 6) Xander Schauffele; 7) Kevin Streelman; 8) Luke List / Hideki Matsuyama / Jordan Spieth; 11) San Burns / Cameron Tringale; 13) Keegan Bradley; 14) Dough Ghim / Taylor Moore; 16) Billy Horschel / Nick Taylor; 18) Bryson DeChambeau / Cameron Davis; 20) Si Woo Kim / K.H. Lee / Scottie Scheffler; 23) Patrick Rodgers; 24) Phil Mickelson / Patrick Reed.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Justin Thomas; 3) Hideki Matsuyama; 4) Luke List / Will Zalatoris; 6) Mackenzie Hughes; 7) Ryan Palmer; 8) Keegan Bradley; 9) Sam Burns / Corey Conners / Xander Schauffele; 12) Jon Rahm; 13) Maverick McNealy; 14) Tony Finau; 15) Sungjae Im / Marc Leishman; 17) Bryson DeChambeau / Keith Mitchell; 19) Aaron Wise; 20) Tom Hoge / K.H. Lee / Jordan Spieth; 23) Nick Taylor; 24) Doug Ghim; 25) Cameron Tringale.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Mito Pereira’ 2) Jordan Spieth; 3) Xander Schauffele; 4) Hideki Matsuyama; 5) Sam Burns; 6) Bryson DeChambeau; 7) Seung-yul Noh; 8) Adam Hadwin / Justin Thomas; 10) Jason Dufner; 11) Billy Horschel / Jon Rahm; 13) Kevin Tway; 14) Sung Kang; 15) Wyndham Clark / Brooks Koepka / Keith Mitchell; 18) Patrick Reed; 19) Justin Rose / Martin Trainer; 21) Daniel Berger; 22) Marc Leishman; 23) Aaron Wise; 24) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Cameron Young.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Daniel Berger / Justin Thomas; 3) Hideki Matsuyama; 4) Xander Schauffele; 5) Sam Burns; 6) Jon Rahm; 7) Corey Conners / Mackenzie Hughes; 9) Keith Mitchell / Ryan Palmer; 11) Jordan Spieth; 12) Marc Leishman / Luke List; 14) Maverick McNealy; 15) Bryson DeChambeau; 16) Aaron Wise; 17) Tony Finau / Will Zalatoris; 19) Sungjae Im; 20) Billy Horschel; 21) Joel Dahmen; 22) Nick Taylor; 23) Andrew Novak / Scottie Scheffler; 25) Wyndham Clark / Tom Hoge.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at the host Torrey Pines South Course since 2016 click here.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends: Analysing the Strokes Gained final stats of Farmers winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2021, Patrick Reed (-14). SG Off the Tee: 31st, SG Approach: 39th, SG Around the Green: 1st, SG Tee to Green: 12th, SG Putting: 10th.
  • 2020, Marc Leishman (-15). SG Off the Tee: 48th, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 56th, SG Tee to Green: 16th, SG Putting: 1st.
  • 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: 26th, SG Approach: 20th, SG Around the Green: 26th, SG Tee to Green: 14th, SG Putting: 23rd.

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

  • 2021, Patrick Reed (-14). 288 yards (52nd), 64.3% fairways (9th), 61.1% greens in regulation (63rd), 37’9″ proximity to hole (46th), 71.4 % scrambling (6th), 1.59 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2020, Marc Leishman (-15). 296 yards (34th), 48.2% fairways (58th), 72.2% greens in regulation (14th), 33’10” proximity to hole (17th), 75.0 % scrambling (4th), 1.67 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 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).

Traditional Skill Set Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 24th, Driving Accuracy: 28th, Greens in Regulation: 25th, Proximity to Hole: 26th, Scrambling: 23rd, Putting Average 13th.

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

Patrick Reed (2021): North Course: “You know, kind of put myself in position today where I had to go out knowing that we’re going to get pretty good conditions, go out and try to make as many birdies as possible to be able to kind of weather the storm tomorrow. I was able to kind of get off to a hot start and just kind of ride momentum going on through the rest of the round and continue attacking that golf course since that’s the one you’re able to attack.

South Course: “You know, the back, the back was tough I mean, just in general. I step up, I made that long putt on 10 for par and really get to 11, it’s a hybrid on a par-3, plug it, plug it in the bunker. And then on 12 I hit a soft 3-wood into 12 today from the fairway. So the golf course is playing tough.

“Seemed like on the front nine the balls were hanging in on the edges of fairways or turning into the fairway and on the back nine it seemed like the balls were starting where they wanted to, it just seemed to keep on falling in the wrong direction and end up just in the rough. When you’re playing out of the rough, especially on this back nine, it’s a grind. I got on the wrong side of that where I was in the rough seemed like the whole time, putting it in the wrong spots. And the greens got a little bumpy there towards the end, missed a shorty on the par 5, which was a bad putt, a three-putt and a short one on 17.”

“And then really it was the decision on 15. I’m setting up there and had an okay lie in the left rough where Kessler and I were actually considering hitting hybrid and try to squeeze it near the tree and try to get it up there. To sit there and go, you know what, no, I’m just going to hit 7-iron out there to about 50, 55 yards and allow my wedges to do the work. To be able to not only make a quality golf swing with the 7-iron and then to hit the wedge shot in there to basically a foot and a half, two feet was I felt like a big turning point that allowed me to feel comfortable with how the game is and really my thought process around this golf course.”

Marc Leishman (2020): “So it was funny because I drove it really well early in the week and then clearly I didn’t drive it well today. But my iron game was really good and then the putter. I holed some really good par saves there on the whole back nine really. Yeah, a bit of extra practice early in the week on the putting green get used to the Poa Annua. Kind of had a good feeling, but you never know what your week’s going to be like. So found something on the putting green early in the week and run with that. I said to Matty, when I had the putter in my hand, feels like it did in Malaysia a couple years ago when I won there, which it’s nice when it happens like that occasionally. I wish it could be like that every week.

I grew up on this grass, I grew up on kikuyu fairways, poa greens. It’s very, I mean, it’s hit and miss, you either putt great on it or you putt terribly, so I’m just glad it was a great. You saw some of the places I hit it, it wasn’t the most impressive stuff off the tee today, but if you miss it in the right spots and your putter’s hot, you can shoot anything. I proved that today. It’s nice to be able to do that and this feels pretty sweet.”

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.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 12 Farmers Insurance Open winners:

  • 2021 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2020 – Marc Leishman: Round 1: 11th, Round 2: 17th, Round 3: 7th.
  • 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 12 Farmers Insurance Open winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2021 – Patrick Reed: Round 1: level, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: level.
  • 2020 – Marc Leishman: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 4 back.
  • 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 Farmers winners since 2010:

  • Patrick Reed: MC Amex/21st ToC/3rd DPWTC/10th Masters.
  • Marc Leishman: 28th Sony/10th Aus Open/69th ZOZO/43rd CJ Cup.
  • Justin Rose: 34th Amex/17th Indonesia/3rd World Challenge/1st Turkey.
  • Jason Day: 5th Aus Open/11th HSBC/11th CJ Cup/17th Tour.
  • Jon Rahm: 34th Amex/50th OHL Classic/15th Shriners/15th Fortinet.
  • Brandt Snedeker: 2nd Sony/3rd ToC/1st Shark Shoot/MC Aus PGA.
  • Jason Day: 17th Sony/3rd ToC/1st Shark Shoot/5th World Challenge.
  • Scott Stallings: 58th Amex/MC OHL Classic/MC McGladrey/47th CIMB.
  • Tiger Woods: MC Abu/4th World Challenge/4th CIMB/8th Tour.
  • Brandt Snedeker: 8th Amex/13th CIMB/32nd McGladrey/16th Tour.
  • Bubba Watson: MC Amex/25th ToC/10th Shark Shoot/14th World Challenge.
  • Ben Crane: 52nd Amex/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:

  • 11 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 5 – Phil Mickelson.
  • 4 – Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Brandt Snedeker.
  • 3 – Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker.
  • 2 – Jason Day, Max Homa, Brooks Koepka, Scott Piercy, Brendan Steele, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland.
  • 1 – Jonas Blixt, Daniel Berger, Keegan Bradley, Cameron Champ, Cam Davis, Jason Dufner, Emiliano Grillo, Bill Haas, James Hahn, Billy  Horschel, Nate Lashley, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Chez Reavie, Justin Rose, Scott Stallings, Chris Stroud, Nick Taylor, Kevin Tway, Justin Thomas, Richy Werenski.

We used to have a 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 though over the past 3 years has been blasted to smithereens by Justin Rose, Marc Leishman and Patrick Reed who all started on the North Course on Thursday and never looked back (opening -9/63 from Rose; -4/68 from Leishman; -8/64 from Reed).

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. But the World Number 1 can hardly be classified as anything other than mega-elite. Of course he went on to win his first Major here last June, capturing the U.S. Open in dramatic scenes as the 10/1 favourite.

American players dominate the Farmers champions list, but of late Jason Day (x2), Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Marc Leishman have added their names to an exclusive list of international winners which previously totalled just Gary Player (1963) and Jose Maria Olazabal (2002). So if an international player is going to triumph again this week, they will likely be top notch.

So what’s the right recipe for success this week? Well both the long bomber and shorter types with a great short game can contend around Torrey. 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2021 saw Ben Crane, Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Reed triumph, But Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Scott Stallings, Jason Day (twice), Jon Rahm and Justin Rose are all longer hitters. Marc Leishman fits in between somewhere, but can get the ball out there when required. I have classified Patrick Reed as a short hitter, as over the past 2 seasons he has become a sub-290 yard average driver. Indeed he won this 12 months ago with the shortest Average Driving Distance number – 288 yards – going back to Brandt Snedeker in 2012. And you have to say that Snedeker and Reed match up nicely in terms of their short game magic and positive Poa Annua putting game shape.

I’m thinking that ideally we need players this week with course experience (Rahm became the first player since 1957 to win on course debut here 5 years ago). I’m working on targeting players who played well on testing, old-style courses in 2021. 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 -(U.S. Open) 2nd Ridgewood – 4th East Lake.
  • Snedeker – 1st Pebble Beach – 8th Chambers Bay (U.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.
  • Leishman – 4th Riviera, 5th Muirfield Village, 3rd TPC Southwind.
  • Reed – 6th Torrey Pines, 7th Colonial, 10th Muirfield Village, 8th East Lake, 10th Augusta National.

My Farmers Insurance Open tips are as follows:

Tony Finau 2pts EW 28/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

I will buy some Tony Finau ‘stock’ this week on a course he absolutely thrives upon.

Far more comfortable on Bentgrass or Poa Annua than Bermudagrass greens – that makes sense for a man who grew-up in Utah – Tony has both direct and correlating course form that you just cannot ignore. 18th (2016), 4th (2017), 6th (2018), 13th (2019), 6th (2020) and 2nd (2021) here at Torrey Pines, he’s also finished runner-up twice (2018 & 2021) at Riviera Country Club, a California course which also features Poa Annua / Bentgrass greens and Kikuyugrass rough.

Tony was also very much a feature at the 2020 PGA Championship played at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, where he finished 4th and more California runner-up finishes have come at Silverado (2017) and PGA West (2021). His Korn Ferry victory in 2014 also came here in the ‘Golden State’ at the Stonebrae Classic at TPC Stonebrae.

40th last week at PGA West featured a Saturday -5/67 around the Stadium Course to make the cut and across 36 holes on the Pete Dye host course, from a Strokes Gained perspective he ranked 19th for Tee to Green, 24th for Putting (his best flat-stick performance going back to August) and 13th in Total Strokes Gained. 16th – behind the likes of Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford – in the Team USA Presidents Cup standings, Tony likes to make hay on the west coast swing and this stretch of Torrey Pines, TPC Scottsdale and Riviera Country Club is an excellent spot to invest in the World Number 16. RESULT: MC

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Will Zalatoris 2pts EW 28/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Will Zalatoris popped last week at PGA West in a low scoring format, which to me is not really his bag. A Friday -11/61 on the Tournament Course definitely raised an eyebrow at a tournament where a hot putter is absolutely vital, which is undoubtedly Will’s worst club in his bag. A closing -5/67 in blustery conditions saw him finish in an eventual 5th spot, ranking 5th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green at the host Stadium Course.

A look at Zalatoris’ CV highlights a player who comes to life on the United States’ finest, long, classical golf courses. 6th at the 2020 U.S. Open hosted at Winged Foot marked our cards early, and last year 7th here at Torrey Pines, 10th at Bay Hill, 2nd at Augusta National (on course debut) and 8th at Kiawah Island simply rubber stamp the fact that this guy is a tough golf course specialist at 25 years of age. Indeed 3 top-8 Major Championship finishes, plus a further WGC top-8, tells you all you need to know about Will. He’s a massive talent.

Statistically we only have 1 full season of Zalatoris numbers and they are striking. 23rd for Driving Distance and 17th for Greens in Regulation; from a Strokes Gained perspective he ranked 31st for Off the Tee, 7th for Approach and 9th for Tee to Green. The nemesis, naturally, where he ranked 122nd was SG Putting, but a red hot putter at Torrey Pines isn’t a prerequisite for either contention or victory.

From a small sample size. granted, across 2017 through 2021 in this field, Will ranks 4th for Strokes Gained on Long Courses and on the basis he was 7th here 12 months ago, I expect the Californian to go well this week. RESULT: 2nd, Lost Play-Off

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Marc Leishman 1.5pts EW 40/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Marc Leishman is a Torrey Pines specialist who as we know is in decent enough form right now. Talk of coastal golf, Kikuyugrass fairways and tough, technical scoring conditions on the South Course shouts Leishman from the rooftops and he certainly has the tools at his disposal to make a serious challenge this week, with little attention on him whatsoever.

A tournament average score of 70.52 is only beaten by Jon Rahm, Tony Finau and Brandt Snedeker amongst tournament regulars. Leishman was 2nd here to Ben Crane in 2010, 2nd to Scott Stallings in 2014, and held off Jon Rahm by a single shot to win the 2020 Farmers. You can add a 9th (2011) and 8th (2018) to his list of achievements here which has earned him a smidge over $2.7m on this stretch of the Pacific coast. Safe to say he likes it here.

2 Wins in 2017 also interest me from a correlating course angle, namely Bay Hill and Conway Farms. Tiger Woods is an 8-time winner at Bay Hill, with Jason Day winning there in 2016. Jason also won at Conway Farms in 2015 and naturally the former World Number 1 has 2 wins (2015 and 2018) plus a 2nd (2014) to his name here at La Jolla.

And as it’s President’s Cup year, I’m expecting Leishman to add to his 6 wins on the PGA Tour very soon. Recent form includes 10th at the Sentry, 3rd at the QBE Shoot Out when partnering Jason Day, and across the autumn segment of this season he was 3rd at the Shriners Open and 4th at the Fortinet Championship. He’s in good nick. RESULT: T16

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Francesco Molinari 1pt EW 80/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

At a deeper each-way price I’m happy to take a punt on Francesco Molinari at Torrey Pines. 14th here in 2017 and 10th here in 2021, it’s noticeable that the Italian finished 12th and 8th the week before at PGA West on both occasions. He was also 13th at the Torrey Pines-osted U.S. Open here last June, so he undoubtedly gets on with this stretching, tough set-up.

That makes masses of sense as Francesco has a strong, American long-classical golf course record. 8th (2021) at Riviera Country Club; 5th (2014), 17th (2015), 9th (2016), 7th (2017) and 1st (2019) at Bay Hill; 2nd at Quail Hollow (2017 PGA Championship); 3rd (2015) at Muirfield Village; 8th (2016) at Congressional, 6th at Bellerive (2018); 8th at Aronimink (2018) and of course 5th (2019 at Augusta National); Molinari can mix it with the very best on United States Major Championship golf courses.

And Francesco’s 6th place last week was his best main Tour finish since the 2019 Masters Tournament, where he famously had the lead over Tiger Woods standing on the 12th tee. With very European conditions in play this week at La Jolla, I would not be surprised to see the OWGR Number 181 in the frame come Sunday. RESULT: T62

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