We are Farmers… welcome to the Farmers Insurance Open.
Jason Dufner’s return to the winner’s circle at the 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge last week, along with Phil’s run, helped create a minor buzz in golf. But the week was overshadowed by the AFC & NFC Championships. Cam was dabbin’.
But on we move to the Farmers Insurance Open and the homes of both Pat Perez and Phil Mickelson (Torrey Pines–South).
Last Year’s Farmers Top-10
Last year gave us an exciting four-man playoff, where Day emerged champion. It was the stepping stone for Day’s massive 2015 to come.
Full 2016 Field of the Farmers
Last Week’s 2016 CareerBuilder Challenge
Zach Johnson: 73-71-67 CUT
Jason Bohn: 71-68-70 CUT
Matt Kuchar: 67-67-72-71 T49
Harold Varner III (sleeper): 69-69-71 CUT
William McGirt (winner): 75-68-69 CUT
This is the worst round of picks I’ve ever made. Completely swing in a miss on four of the five picks for an 80% miss cut rate.
I thought McGirt’s form from late in 2015 would pay dividends. ZJ started to play really nice in Hawaii. Bohn was playing great golf lately. Even HVIII finished strong in Hawaii and was poised for some great play.
Past 5 Winners at the Farmers
- 2015: Jason Day (Recap here)
- 2014: Scott Stallings (Recap here)
- 2013: Tiger Woods
- 2012: Brandt Snedeker
- 2011: Bubba Watson
Course Overview: Torrey Pines (South)
The Pebble Beach of San Diego, Torrey Pines is a spectacle for golf lovers.
Aside from the fact that this course edges the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, cutting in and out of massive, well, torrey pines, the South course packs quite a punch. Built by the city in the late 1950s, the course was designed by William P. Bell and has been a fixture as a “must-play” for golfers.
Measuring a massive 7,600+ yards, Torrey Pines is a home for the stout and the strong. It’s measured among the longest courses in all of golf. This isn’t a course where short hitters can find immense success easily. Seven of last year’s top-10 finishers are known for being “longer” players on the PGA Tour standard.
One of the first two rounds (pre-cut), are always played on the Torrey Pines North Course. Historically, the North Course offers players a much easier test, scoring a few strokes lower than the South.
When looking at players this week, find players teeing off on the North Course for both Thursday and Friday.
This Week’s Picks
Come take a ride to Pickstown (not Pickstown, South Dakota, but Picks-town the place where we make picks for the week…)
Before making picks though, consider their venue.
Also, this tweet from Timothy Frank will help golfers:
8 of the last 11 winners of the Farmers Insurance Open ended that season ranked 15th or better in Par 5 Scoring Average.
— Timothy Frank (@FantasyGolfMan) January 25, 2016
Three from the Fairway (Contenders)
1. Carlos Ortiz
He’s the kid that kept jumping off my screen when I was doing research for this event. Last year, Ortiz was a T11 finish after scoring a 68 on Saturday at Torrey Pines South. MCs in both of his last two starts make him an unpopular pick this week, but he’s a pick that could pay off after Sunday.
Here’s your key: At last week’s CareerBuilder Challenge, Ortiz made 8 birdies on Saturday through his first 12 holes, before two double bogey 6s and a par-5 bogey 6 in his last 6 holes derailed his pursuit at a big round. That’s why he went home. No doubt he’ll be motivated to improve upon that finish this week.
In 2014-2015, Ortiz was top-10 on the PGA Tour in par-5 scoring at 4.56 strokes in over 100 recorded rounds, a key metric this week in La Jolla.
He’s just outside the top-50 in driving distance right now (51st), but has proven he can hit it far enough to compete here.
Motivation. Past success. Good statistics. Current form.
I’m going with Ortiz to play really well this week.
2. Brandt Snedeker
For course record, no one is better than Sneds at Torrey Pines. There’s something to that ‘popping’ stroke on these sometimes bumpy poa annua greens.
During a 7-year stretch from 2007-2013, Snedeker was top-10 in 6 of his 8 appearances in tournaments played at Torrey Pines (including a 9th place finish at the 2008 U.S. Open). Snedeker was a winner here in 2012.
When talking par-5 scoring, which we have this week, Snedeker was top-30 on the PGA Tour last year. Early start this season for Snedeker has been really good, with a T3 at the Hyundai and a playoff loss to Fabian Gomez at the Sony.
Snedeker is a player to watch this week, for sure. Ignore his misspelling of Gomez’ first name:
Tried like hell but couldn't make the putts I needed to. Congrats to Fabien on a great win! New Bridgestone driver and ball are awesome!!!!!
— Brandt Snedeker (@BrandtSnedeker) January 18, 2016
3. Gary Woodland
In his only start of the season at the Sony, Woodland was a top-15 finisher.
In three straight years, Woodland has made the cut at Torrey Pines and as the weekend progresses on the South Course, his length will be an absolute advantage for him. Woodland has been discussing his body transformation and how well he’s felt, specifically this season. It’s good.
So far in the 2015-2016 season, Woodland is number one in driving distance, averaging over 323 yards per drive. He finished the 2014-2015 season 12th in driving distance. It’s length he’ll use this week.
I like Woodland to keep the good play rolling this week and finishing top-15 again.
A Few Other Names
Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, K.J. Choi, Rickie Fowler
One from the Rough (Sleeper)
His quirky style of play is littered with dances and fidgets, but he’s been extremely effective so far in 2016.
He missed the cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, but in two of his three starts prior to that he was a top-10 finisher (dating back to 2015’s Mayakoba).
Despite being a shorter hitter, Blair is deathly accurate off the tee. The last two seasons, he’s ranked inside the top-25 in driving accuracy. In his start here last year, rounds of 72-70-71-69 were good enough for a T11, one stroke outside a top-10.
His contention last year came thanks to his putter, earning him 3.450 strokes for the week.
His season in 2015 was almost identical to the start of 2016. In 2015, he had a great finish at the Sony, a MC at the Humana (now CareerBuilder) and then played well at Torrey. This year, he almost won the Sony, MC at the CareerBuilder and comes into Torrey with confidence.
I like Blair for a top-25 finish this week.
When he was an amateur, he was among the best in the game. But his road to the PGA Tour hasn’t been a glistening golden path the way many would expect. He’s paid his dues.
Still among the longest players in the game, Lovemark has the length with his big dog to compete here. He’s been in the top-10 in his last 3 starts on Tour and has made four cuts in his last five starts.
If you’re looking for a sleeper, Lovemark might be your guy. He’s playing so well right now, he might have worked his way off of any sleeper lists and into a pure contender.
The Man with the Trophy
Patrick Rodgers ($7,600 for you Draft Kings players)
This is it. It’s breakthrough time. We’ve waited long enough (come on, this is America–we’re impatient). Patrick Rodgers is a winner this week in San Diego.
Rodgers is with the group of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and the other young players taking the Tour by storm. He turned pro in 2014 and we’re all ready for him to start winning– he hasn’t just yet.
The Stanford Cardinal product would love nothing more than to get it done in the state he played college golf in. The weather, style of course, and grasses will all be familiar for Rodgers this week at Torrey. He’s never been here for tournament play, but he’ll get accustomed fast.
Last year, Rodgers ranked 9th in driving distance (307.7), possessing plenty of power to compete in a big way on the massive TP (South). He was also 4.62 in scoring on the par-5s, another stat that bodes well for him heading into the week.
Right now, Rodgers is coming off four top-20 finishes in the fall of 2015 and is making his first start of the year– on a course that sets up just too well for him. A big week for Rodgers. A win for Rodgers.
And when he wins, getting those 10,000 followers should be no issue:
Closing in on 10k followers! As thanks 4 such great support I will announce my 1st ever giveaway contest tomorrow. Stay tuned! #10kGiveaway
— Patrick Rodgers (@PRodgersGolf) January 24, 2016