The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines is often the true start to golf season for many fans. Football is over (sans the SuperBowl), and a top-tier field is playing on the mainland at a popular golf course. Torrey Pines has given us plenty of heroics over the years, and I don’t expect anything less this year. The two courses used (North and South) both force players to be long and accurate off the tee. The greens on both courses tend to be some of the firmest the Tour plays on all year, so being able to control your ball into the green is paramount for success. Those who miss greens will be faced with difficult green surrounds that often lead to lengthy par putts. It is very easy to get stuck on the bogey train on these courses, especially the South. If you are looking for characteristics of a player who fits this course, you would want a player who hits the ball long off the tee, is a solid iron player with the ability to hit approach shots very high, and has a deft touch around the greens. Sound simple enough? Well that pretty much described Tiger Woods from 2000, which is why he won so many times here. There aren’t many players on Tour who have all the skills necessary to conquer the task at hand this week. Here are some players to consider:
Jason Day $10,100
Even though Day has won this event twice in the last 4 years, I think he goes a bit overlooked this week based solely on pricing. Day is priced directly in the middle of Rose, Woods, Finau, Leishman and Schauffele. Day bombs the ball off of the tee and has one of the highest ball flights on approach shots on Tour. Add that to his deft short game, and it is easy to see why he has had success here.
Hideki Matsuyama $8,000
Matsuyama will be one of the top value plays of the week. You are getting a player who has the ability to be one of the best in the world when his game is on. He is only a fraction of the price of the top-tier players. He is priced so low because of his recent form and “lack of success” in this event. I disagree with the notion of his lack of success here at Torrey. He has played here 5 times with a 12th, 16th and 33rd-place finish. The other two years, he missed the cut on the number. Scoring tends to be super compact here, and we have seen the difference between the 36-hole leader and the cut be less than 10 shots. Matsuyama is known as an elite iron player with a towering ball flight with his mid irons. That suits this course perfectly. At $8,000, it’s hard to pass up on the upside that he brings to the table.
This week is traditionally one of the more spread-out weeks in terms of ownership in One-and-Done leagues. It is early in the year, so people have a full plethora of options to choose from, and we have a full star-studded field. There is no clear-cut pick this week. This week is all about taking a player who has a realistic chance to win and a decent shot at making the top 10. We don’t want to burn a top stud this week. Here are two players I’m considering this week:
Woodland had a dominant performance at Kapalua, yet walked away as a runner-up to Schauffele. He now heads to Torrey Pines where he has finished inside the top 20 in four of the last five years. His game is perfectly suited for this week. I expect him to win multiple times in 2019.
Leishman has said on record that Torrey Pines is one of his favorite golf courses in the world. The Kikuyu grass reminds him of home in Australia, and he loves the left-to-right setup of many of the key tee shots. He has the ability to hit approach shots with some of the highest apexes on Tour, and that will come in handy this week on the firm greens. He has finished inside the top 30 in seven of his last ten starts here, including four top 10s and 2 runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2014. Leishman has been on fire since capturing the CIMB Classic in the fall. Since then, he finished 2nd at the Australian PGA, 4th at the Sentry TOC and 3rd at the Sony Open.