Farmers Insurance Open (2023)
The PGA Tour continues its earlier season West Coast swing with a stop at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open.
As we continue this West Coast swing, we get another unique format. Not to the extent of last week’s three course shuffle and three-day cut line, but unique nonetheless.
Golfers will take turns playing both the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines before the cutline and playing the final two days of the event on the South Course.
The event begins on Wednesday and runs through Saturday as the Tour does not want to interfere with the NFL’s Championship Weekend on Sunday.
The South Course plays as the longest course annually on tour at around 7,700 yards since 2015. It offers a very major-like feel and turns the Tour away from the birdie-fests we’ve seen over the last two full field events of the calendar year.
The winning score at the Farmers Insurance Open has been -15 or lower in nine of the last ten years.
Driving distance will be important as big bombers will set themselves up nicely. Although important, it’s not a death sentence to those who don’t get off the tee with distance.
With narrow fairways and golfers taking to the driver off the tee due to the length, the South Course possesses one of the highest missed fairway percentages on tour.
Combined with the high missed fairway percentage, due to small and firm Pao greens, Torrey Pines too boasts one of the lowest greens in regulation percentages.
Missing greens regularly will have golfers looking for up-and-downs around the green. This too with the missed fairways will make Strokes Gained: Scrambling an importance this week.
With the distance of the course comes longer approach shots, with over a third of such shots coming from 200-plus yards. Being able to land the ball on the green and having it stick is not easy.
The Pao greens also are the most difficult putting greens on Tour. With very few courses using Pao grass on its greens, having played Torrey Pines before is really the only place to get a feel for them.
Golfers will have to take advantage of the four par fives on the South Course and will have to get comfortable grinding out pars on the par fours and par threes.
The North Course plays much easier than the South, too being a par 72 but plays about 500 yards shorter.
Golfers must capitalize on their round on the North course if they want a shot at the victory. Historically speaking, failing to shoot in the 60’s on the north course will essentially eliminate them from the tournament.
As for the field this week, it’ll be the best one we’ve seen over the last few weeks on this West Coast swing but it is not up to par with what we normally see at this event. It is highlighted by Jon Rahm as the lone World Top Five. World Top Ten golfers include Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa. Other notable attendees include Tony Finau, Sungjae Im, Max Homa and Jason Day. Luke List won the event a year ago and looks to defend his title. Other former winners in this year’s field include Justin Rose, Day, Rahm and Scott Stallings.
Weather is crucial here at Torrey Pines, more so on the South Course than the North. Being in San Diego, coastal winds will be a factor. The predominant winds and rains will almost certainly be a factor. Leading up the event, California has had some of its wettest weather in recent history.
As for the weather forecast this week, temperatures will range from the mid-to-high 60’s with Thursday being a high of 68. Winds are set to peak at 15 miles-per-hour and there is no precipitation in this week’s forecast.
Important statistics to consider this week include:
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Average Driving Distance
Proximity to the Hole from 200+ Yards
Hit Fairway Percentage
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Strokes Gained: Scrambling (SG: SCR)
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Average Par Four Scoring
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Average Par Five Scoring
It’s no surprise that Jon Rahm ($11,600) leads off this price range. He’s fresh off a victory at The American Express and also won the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month. Due to his recent run of form he’s moved from fourth to third in the Official World Golf Rankings. He’s currently tops on tour in GIR% and average par four scoring. He’s also second in average par five scoring, sixth in SG: SCR, eight in SG: ATG, 11th in average driving distance, 40th in SG: PUTT, 51st in hit fairway percentage and 56th in SG: APP. You’re definitely spending up for Rahm but you have to have him in your DFS lineups this week. You'll be looking for lineup flexibility down the road, but you must include Rahm. Also consider Tony Finau ($10,500.) Finau has played in two events since the turn of the year where he placed T7th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T16th at the American Express. He does have a victory on the season winning the Cadence Bank Houston Open back in November. Right now on tour he’s fifth in SG: PUTT, seventh in average par four scoring, 11th in both SG: APP and average par five scoring, 12th in GIR%, 25th in hit fairway percentage, 38th in SG: SCR, 93rd in SG: ATG, 99th in average driving distance and 117th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards. Finau offers a lot more lineup flexibility than Rahm does but again, Rahm is a must roster.
My favorite this week is Max Homa ($9,100) and he can be found in this price range. Homa’s current worst placement in statistics we’re considering this week is 54th. He’s top 43rd in every other statistical category. He’s currently 12th in average par four scoring, 19th in SG: SCR, 28th in GIR%, 29th in hit fairway percentage, 31st in SG: APP, 34th in SG: PUTT, 38th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 42nd in SG: ATG, 43rd in average par five scoring and 54th in average driving distance. On the calendar year he played just one event, placing T3rd at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. On this season he played six events, not missing a cut and placing T23rd at the lowest at the CJ Cup in South Carolina. He won the Fortinet Championship in September to kick off the season as well. He’s a very well rounded golfer who goes everything well above average and is in very good form. Also consider Sungjae Im ($9,300.) Sungjae Im should be ranked higher in our module this week. However, the elite ball striker is hindered in our rankings with his currently 117th ranking in SG: APP. As the season progresses Im will creep his way towards the top of those rankings as he’s one of the best ball strikers on Tour. Outside of that, he’s currently ninth on tour in par five scoring, 19th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 23rd in SG: SCR, 28th in hit fairway percentage, 32nd in par four scoring, 76th in SG: PUTT, 87th in average driving distance and 88th in SG: ATG. Once Im catches form with his irons and combines these statistics, he’ll be back competing for wins. He did miss the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii a few weeks back but outside of that placed T13th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T18th at The American Express on the calendar year. On the season he also has a seventh place finish at the Shriners Children’s Open. It’s a matter of time before Im is back to his hold self with elite iron play.
Jason Day ($8,800) is a former winner of this event and leads off this middle price range in our module this week. Day has already played in eight tournaments on the season where he has two top tens, three top 15s and five top 20 finishes. This is all highlighted by a T8th at the Shriners Children’s Open. Last week he also went T18th at his first tournament in the calendar year. He’s currently tenth in SG: APP, 14th in SG: SCR, 23rd in GIR%, 25th in average par four scoring, 35th in hit fairway percentage, 59th in average par five scoring, 64th in average driving distance and SG: PUTT. With a proven track record at this course and playing good golf, the Australian is in line for a big week. Also consider Si Woo Kim ($8,900.) Kim is fresh off a victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii two weeks ago. He’s yet to miss a cut in six events on the season. He also placed T22nd last week at The American Express. He’s on some good form as of late. He’s currently ninth on tour in SG: APP, 13th in hit fairway percentage, 20th in GIR%, 21st in average par four scoring, 49th in SG: SCR, 71st in SG: ATG, 103rd in average driving distance and 114th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards.
I’m really liking how Kurt Kitayama ($7,600) lines up this week. He’s currently 17th on tour in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 22nd in average driving distance, 25th in SG: ATG, 32nd in SG: APP, 43rd in GIR%, 52nd in SG: SCR, 59th in average par five scoring and 88th in average par four scoring. Kitayama has played in four events on the season making three cuts. His season has been highlighted by a second place finish at the CJ Cup in South Carolina. At +9500, Kitayama will receive a few dollars on my behalf. Also consider Ben Taylor ($7,100.) Taylor has already played in nine events this season, highlighted by a third place finish at the Cadence Bank Houston Open and more recently placed T4th at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He’s missed just two cuts on the season and one of them was back in November. Since, he had a run of making five straight cuts. Included in that run was the third and fourth place finish before missing the cut last week. Statistically speaking, he’s currently 26th in SG: SCR, 28th in SG: PUTT, 29th in GIR%, 44th in SG: APP, 47th in average par four scoring, 77th in average driving distance, 79th in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, 99th in SG: ATG and 109th in average par five scoring. At +15000, Taylor will take a few of my dollars as well.
Andrew Novak ($6,700) burnt me last week but we’re going back to him this week. For someone in this price range, he’s currently sixth on Tour in SG: ATG, tenth in proximity to the hole from 200-plus, 32nd in GIR%, 47th in SG: APP, 57th in SG: SCR, 79th in average par four scoring and 80th in average par five scoring. Novak has had some good showings on the season with a T17th at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship and T12th at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He sandwiched those two events with alternating missed cuts. If that trend continues he’ll make the cut this week and that’s all we can expect out of someone in this price range. Also consider Keita Nakajima ($6,500.) We talked earlier about lineup flexibility and that’s what Nakajima offers. We’ve seen Nakajima twice this season as he went T12th at the Zozo Championship and T54th recently at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He’s currently second on tour in proximity to the hole from 200-plus yards, fifth in average par five scoring, 25th in SG: SCR, 34th in SG: APP, 67th in hit fairway percentage, 73rd in average driving distance and 81st in GIR%. He’ll need some luck on the greens as he’s near the bottom of the Tour in SG: PUTT. If he can get a few putts to fall in his favor, he could very well make the cut this week.