Time for the circuit to hit the Californian coast which the West Coast Swing will ultimately visit three times. We’ve got Pebble Beach and Riviera to come, but we kick things off with the annual venture to the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines on the dramatic cliff tops in San Diego. It’s an event popular with many and not so popular with others, who give it a swerve, often a little wary of the Poa Annua grass on the greens. Big note to all: This week’s first round is on Wednesday. We’re 24 hours ahead of normal this year.
Last time out
They might not have won, but the top two of Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay needed only their C games to finish top 15 and rack up plenty of points. Our value pick Brian Harman almost came out of left field on Sunday to grab the win, but T–3 was a great return on $7,900, Vince Whaley’s second round 64 racked up points for $7,100 and Seamus Power landed us yet another top 15. Dodging Cameron Tringale (MC) at $8,900 also proved wise.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||J. Rahm||$11,200|
Jon Rahm ($11,200): The World No. 1 raves about why the course suits him, but off-the-course vibes leave him in a happy place here, too. He proposed on the cliff tops, and he and his wife still consider it their favorite place in the world. Not is it just that he has won here twice. In his six starts he has another three top seven finishes and the exception? He was second at halfway before landing T–29. In other words, he’s had just two bad rounds here in 24. He’s a big salary, he needed discussing, he demands consideration. He’ll also be very happy he’s not in Palm Springs too (if you didn’t see it, he was caught describing last week as “a piece of sh*t, f*cking putting contest”.)
Brandt Snedeker ($7,400) Rare is the week when you can back a man who has twice won on the course, twice finished runner-up and has nine top 10 finishes (one in a major, the other two years ago). That most recent effort did come among three failures to break the top 30, but even then, when out of form, he made the cut here. That’s how much he loves putting on Poa when gazing out at the Pacific Ocean (he’s won twice at Pebble too). Needed a form tick and has provided it: he has top five at halfway in the Sony Open and T–14 last week.
Justin Thomas ($10,9000) If you’re going to include a massive salary surely you want plenty of upside? Picking Thomas might require him to have a great (and unusual) week at Torrey and Rahm not to. It could happen and you’d be way ahead of the game if it did. Fair play if you elect that strategy. But he went T–10, MC here in 2014 and 2015, then was only persuaded to return by last year’s US Open. It was far from disastrous (T–19), but something doesn’t feel quite right.
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Torrey Pines – North and South Courses
If you struggle to get a grip on the Torrey Pines test, the PGA Tour not only visits there once a year, the USGA has also twice made a June journey in the 21st century, for the US Open. Most famously, of course, when Tiger Woods won there on one leg in 2008, but also seven months ago when Jon Rahm broke his major championship duck.
The North Course is not used at the Open and is circuited just the once by the field ahead of the cut this week. It’s a par 72 at 7,258 yards and, assuming the weather is equal, it ought to yield more birdies than its big brother. It actually also has bent grass on the greens, which adds to the ability to shoot low.
The South Course is a monster. Another par 72, it stretches to 7,765 yards and it is a real test from the tee. The fairways are narrow and, most often, really quite straight. Golfers whose eyes prefer a shaped fairway won’t be getting that mental picture help this week. Toss in softish fairways and length, as well as accuracy, becomes a factor.
Originally created in the 1950s, this muni was given an overhaul by Rees Jones ahead of the 2008 US Open and he’s been back since to further meddle. The grass is a really wide collection: Not only Poa Annua on the greens, but Bermuda on the fairways and Kikuyu in the rough.
Jon Rahm chatted about this test last week ahead of The American Express, rather like a blinddate endlessly chatting about his ex. Having explained why he so loved the region, he then delved deep on the golfing angles. “It’s a ball-striker’s golf course,” he said. “You have to hit it in the fairway, you have small greens, you’re not necessarily having short irons in, so tee-to-green is at a premium, which luckily is one of my strengths. That’s why I have so much confidence there.”
The weather forecast for San Diego, California is good news for the field, because there should be very little difference in weather between Wednesday and Thursday, meaning no great bias in the North/South draw. In fact, the wind is likely to be nothing more than a stiff breeze all week, which is what a coastal track needs. It will be partially cloudy all week, brightest on Thursday. Temperatures will be chilly in the high 50s, lows 60s.
Past Winners of The Farmers Insurance Open
At the start of the 21st century local man Phil Mickelson was the star on favored turf, landing the title in 2000 and defending it a year later. Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal would win in 2002 and John Daly triumph in 2004, but already the dominant Tiger at Torrey era had begun.
He’d first claimed the tournament in 1999, and won it again in 2003, before he really slammed his foot to the floor. He ticked off four wins in a row from 2005 and made it five-in-five with that sensational US Open success in 2008. His return in 2011 was injury marred, then he mopped up another win in 2013. At that point his Torrey Pines career record read 14 starts, 13 top 10 finishes, 12 of them top fives, eight of those wins. Sensational.
At the end of his dominance a slightly curious cast lifted the trophy including Nick Watney (2009), Ben Crane (2010), Bubba Watson (2011) and Scott Stallings (2014). Brandt Snedeker might deserve to be part of that “curious” party. He won in 2012 and 2016, when his frequently self-professed love of Poa shone through.
Jason Day’s double success in 2015 and 2018 was along lines similar to Tiger (long, high hitting, great short game). Jon Rahm’s win of this event in 2017 and the US Open last year also fits into that bracket. As with Snedeker, Marc Leishman (2020) is a neat, high quality performer well-fitted for the test. Justin Rose (2019) and Patrick Reed (2021) fit the major winner mould – lots of them succeed here.
This is a week to focus on golfers who play Poa Annua well. Looks at results from this tournament, plus Pebble Beach, Riviera and Silverado. Course form counts too. Stallings had none of it ahead of his win, and Rahm was a debutant in his first win, but the other modern winners have had excellent results here, most often having actually contended before lifting the trophy (and frequently having good putting numbers).
Here’s A Line-up of Core Picks For The Farmers Insurance Open
|A list||T. Finau||$9,100|
|B list||M. Leishman||$9,000|
|B list||M. Homa||$8,400|
Tony Finau ($9,100) Finau might be the lower end of the A list, and some might argue the top end of the B list, but the salary vs. potential is what matters. And Tony just digs Torrey in this event. He finished T–24 on debut in 2015, has returned every year since, and always finished higher on the leaderboard. His event record reads: seven starts, six top 20s, four top six finishes. True, he missed the cut in the US Open, but that’s not put him off a return. He says: “The South sets up nicely for me with my length, it’s a big advantage on the South. A lot of the holes you can hit a fade and I like hitting the fade off the tee.”
Marc Leishman ($9,000) A past champion and not a golfer who won here thanks to one decent week; he just adores it. Get this: “I love that golf course. It’s in my top five in the world. I guess when you enjoy playing a course, it’s easy to play well. Well, not easy, but you have more chance.” He’s 12-for-14 at making the cut, is a two-time runner-up in the event, and nine of his weeks ended with a top 30. In the 2021/22 season he’s finished top 40 in all six starts, four of them top 20s.
Max Homa ($8,400) The Burbank native had a slow start to reaping good golf in California on Poa, but he’s turned it around and says: “I’m used to putting on Poa Annua. Whenever I come here, it’s as easy as it gets.” His last 11 appearances on Poa in California confirm it with just one missed cut, has eight top 20s, six of them top 10s, and both of the last two efforts were wins (Riviera and Silverado). He did miss the weekend in the US Open here but has finished T–9 and T–19 in this event.
Lanto Griffin ($7,700) He’s quietly got off to a very good start to the 2021/22 season, landing three top seven finishes (most recently last week) and playing weekend golf in his last five starts. He’s also got some sneaky good golf in the event. He’s 3-for-4 at making the weekend, was T–12 on debut in 2018, T–7 in 2021 (in the top 10 all week) and T–35 last year (despite a terrible opening lap).
Dylan Frittelli ($6,900) A favorite little angle in this event down the years has been playing winners of the World Junior event the course hosts. Multiple champions of this tournament have won that (Woods, Mickelson, Day) and it helped some canny minds land a great each way punt on Andrew Buckle back in the day. Guess what? Frittelli is another former champion of the youngsters tourney. A two-time winner on the DP World Tour and one-time on the PGA, he’s a low salary, is 3-for-4 on the course, landed a pair of top 20s at home in South Africa before Christmas, and last week wasn’t really his thing. Forgive the missed cut.
Dustin Johnson ($10,300) For a fellow of his undoubted class, his course record is ordinary. True, there are four top 20s from 11 starts, but only one of them was top 15. Because he’s so classy he could produce any time, but do you want to take the chance at this salary? Not being seen since October only adds to the guesswork.
Other Player Options For The Farmers Insurance Open
• Talor Gooch missed the cut last week, but he still has six top 15 finishes in nine starts this season and he’s also finished third in this event in 2019 when leading the Putting Averages.
• Ryan Palmer has played his last four weekend of golf, ending that run with T–12 at the Sony Open. He has also finished top 25 in his last four visits to the tournament, including twice finishing second.
• Something to muse: Scottie Scheffler is yet to win on the PGA TOUR. He’s done everything but, of course, including thriving in the majors. Might a major course be where he breaks through, then? He led the SG Putting stats at the US Open in June when T–7, but has two missed cuts in the tournament.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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