Steven’s Weekly PGA Primer: Farmers Insurance Open
Weekly Primer: Farmers Insurance Open
The goal with my weekly primer is to provide you with a one-stop guide to equip you with all of the information that you need to make your picks and assemble your lineups. From course previews, to history, stats, and pick suggestions, this guide will provide a concrete base as you conduct your own research and submit your winning picks and lineups.
It took six playoff holes and a Monday finish but Jason Day prevailed at Torrey Pines a year ago over Ryan Palmer and Alex Noren. The Monday finish was slightly anticlimactic as it only took one hole for Day to down Noren by making birdie on the sixth and final playoff hole. It was an interesting finish as neither Day or Noren played outstandingly well on the final day and finished for a combined one under final score yet combined for six birdies in the six playoff holes—go figure.
The 2018 Farmers Insurance was Jason Day’s first win since the Players Championship in 2016. This year’s edition already looks like it will be another exciting tournament as golfers play a mix of the North and South course before finishing the weekend on the South Course. Day will face some of the world’s best including the 2017 winner Jon Rahm, as well as other familiar names like Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed, and other notable names.
Dates: January 24-27
Where: La Jolla, California
Course: Torrey Pines South Course & Torrey Pines North Course
Designer: William Bell, 1957
Par/Yards: (SC) Par—7,113 yards; (LQ) Par 72—7,060; (NT) Par 72—6,924 yards
Greens: Poa Annua
Field: 152 golfers, Top 70 and ties make the cut
Defending Champion: Jason Day
Purse: $7,100,000 ($1,278,000 to the winner)
FedEx Cup Points: 500 points to the winner
Located in La Jolla, California, we get our second consecutive multi-course tournament. However, this one is slightly more conventional as each golfer will get a round on the North and South course before the usual 36-hole cut is made. Since 2011, every winner has started on the South Course before moving to the North Course on Friday. This trend is also true of most of the Top 5 finishes in the past.
There will be three rounds played on the South Course so that will be the focus of this preview. The South Course has six Par 4s of at least 450 yards which makes approaches from around 175+ yards also crucial this week due to the length of the Par 4s. The average Par 3 also plays over 200 yards including two that play over 220 yards. It is a long and difficult course where driving distance and lengthy approaches will be beneficial this week.
The forecast looks like pristine golf conditions and should not play a factor this week. Outside of double-digit wind speeds on Saturday, winds should remain calm and precipitation should stay away this week.
Key Stats From Past Winners
The stats that stick out from the last three winners of this tournament and that I will be keying on this week are:
- Par 4s: 450-500 Yards
- Bogey Avoidance
- Proximity: 175+ Yards
- SG: Ball Striking
A few other important stats that I may factor in are also SG: Short Game, Driving Distance, Putting, and SG: Approach
Before I even begin making picks I will break down the field into six tiers A-F. When you have fields of 100+ golfers then it can be overwhelming to scroll back-and-forth and up-and-down when making picks. DraftKings has a useful tool where you can export the entire DK roster with salaries to a CSV and open in Excel which I would highly recommend and then break down the picks from there.
When I am assembling my lineups or placing my bets, I will look at just about every stat that I can while also looking at course history and recent performance. There are certain players that just perform well at certain courses. Webb Simpson at the Wyndham, Zach Johnson at the John Deere, Jordan Spieth at the Master’s, Bubba Watson at any course that he has won, etc. You also have to look at how players are performing leading up to the tournament.
Two other factors that I take into account are the OWGR and the betting odds. Vegas always knows something that you don’t, so when I see a golfer in the sub-8k range and see he has the same odds as golfers in the 9-10k range then he is someone that I have to consider.
The field has five golfers priced at $10k and above. My favorite play this week would be Justin Rose. After a pedestrian finish for Rose’s standard last week, you may see his ownership come slightly down due to a few factors: Tiger making his debut, defending champ Jason Day priced $700 cheaper, recent and tournament juggernaut Jon Rahm priced slightly above, and fantasy darling Tony Finau also making his debut at a “discount” under $10k. Rose doesn’t bogey and if he does, then he usually rattles off four or 5 straight birdies. He has enjoyed back-to-back Top 10s here and shook of the proverbial “rust” off of his brand new clubs. He does start on the North Course which goes against the theme of South Course starters winning this tournament (Tiger and Rory are the only players priced above $10k that are starting on the South Course), but I still like the way that he rates out this week. It doesn’t hurt that he is one of the most consistent golfers and also the #1 ranked golfer in the world.
Also Consider: Jason Day—$10,100 (OWGR: 55, 20/1) The defending champion and the best putter on tour. He does have a very interesting tournament history here. He has two consecutive missed cuts that are sandwiched by two wins and an additional T-2 finish. He likes this course and I like his stats. He is priced between arguably two of the most popular DFS plays in Finau and Tiger as well.
From the $9,000 range, I am looking at Gary Woodland. He is in great form, rates out nicely, and has great tournament history here. He has enjoyed four Top 20s in his last five starts and has also had back-to-back Top 10s before a bad finish in his last start at the Sony Open that could make him go lower owned than he deserves. This guy can also bomb it off the tee and ranks in the Top 10 for the last 24 rounds in SG: BS, SG: APP, Par 3: 200-225 Yards, and SG: Par 5.
Also Consider: Xander Schauffele—$9,400 (OWGR: 52, 35/1) The hottest golfer on the planet right now who has propelled himself to 6th in the world. He won the TOC with one of the most amazing rounds of golf you will see and had a Top 10 at the Hero World Challenge the week before that. Oh, and he won the WGC HSBC a couple of weeks before that. He has the length to compete here and if he keeps striking the ball at a high level then there is no doubt that he will be able to score and rack up birdies quickly here.
Last week I hardly played anyone in this range, but this week it is stacked with talent. A guy that I am going to be overweight on is Emiliano Grillo. I think you will see a lot of people going for last year’s runner-up in Alex Noren or overplaying the driving distance narrative and going all-in on Cameron Champ. Grillo loves the long irons, long Par 4s, and can avoid bogeys that may curse other golfers on these longer holes. Over the last 24 rounds he ranks 6th in proximity from 175+ yards, 10th in bogey avoidadnce, 16th in Par 4s from 450-500 yards, 2nd in GIR, and 7th in SG: Par5. He also ranks out third in my model this week.
Also Consider: Hideki Matsuyama—$8,000 (OWGR: 101, 50/1) Let’s be honest, he is severely mispriced. He also ranks 1st over the last 24 rounds in Proximity from 175+ yards, SG: BS, and SG: Approach. His putting is not and has never been spectacular but this will be neutralized if he is sticking approaches close to the hole. Fire up Hideki this week.
I am reluctant, but Harris English is playable this week if for no other reason that he loves this tournament. He has not finished worse than T-31 the last four years and also has two Top 10s and a T-14. He ranks 15th in SG: Par 4 so I would expect him to perform well on these difficult Par 4s. However, if you have a few extra dollars then I would go ahead and pay up for Kyle Stanley. Over the last 24 rounds he is 8th in bogey avoidance, 11th in SG: Approach, 15th in Proximity from 175+ yards, 8th in SG: T2G, and 21st in SG: ARG in case some of the greens are missed he will be able to recover.
Also Consider: Keith Mitchell—$7,000 (OWGR: 155, 55/1) I am back on Keith Mitchell again this week. He has the driving distance to compete and has the salary that makes him worth rostering. 9th in GIR, 13th in SG: BS, 27th in Par 4: 450-500 yards, and 28th in SG: Approach. We saw Mitchell post a T-16 his last time playing at the Sony Open and I think you can expect a similar return this week.
Another bomber here is Trey Mullinax. Known for his driver, he also played well last weekend before faltering over the weekend to a T-34 but if you are wanting to roster a low salary guy that can boom it off the tee then Mullinax is your guy.
Also Consider: Carlos Ortiz—$6,500, Bud Cauley—$6,900
That’s it until next time! Good luck this week and, as always, let me know what other tools or information would be helpful for your weekly picks!