This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Farmers Insurance Open
Courses: Torrey Pines South (7,765 yards, par 72) [Host Course], Torrey Pines North (7,258 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,350,000 and 500 FedExCup points
Torrey Pines South is routinely one of the toughest challenges that players will face all season. For starters, it's REALLY long. Torrey Pines South can stretch to nearly 7,800 yards and the marine layers that are common for the area can make that number play much longer. The rough is also some of the deepest and most penal we see outside of a major. Speaking of majors, the best in the world will be returning to Torrey Pines in June for the U.S. Open, marking the first time the course has hosted our National Championship since Tiger Woods' dramatic playoff win over Rocco Mediate in 2008. Woods would typically start his year at this event, but back surgery back in December will keep him out for the next couple months. A recent theme at the Farmers Insurance Open has been international winners, with Marc Leishman, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, and Jason Day (twice) all winning in the last six years. Prior to 2015, Jose Maria Olazabal was the only international winner of this event since 1964. Rory McIlroy will be making the trip over from Abu Dhabi after finishing solo third there last week. All together 13 of the top 25 in the OWGR are expected to tee it up this week in San Diego. The field of 156 will get a crack at the easier Torrey Pines North in either the first or second round before a traditional 36-hole cut is made and the field transitions to the South course exclusively. The weather is looking dicey, with rains expected to hit on both Thursday and Friday. The winds are also expected to present a challenge and temperatures will struggle to crack 60 degrees throughout the week.
2020 – Marc Leishman
2019 – Justin Rose
2018 – Jason Day
2017 – Jon Rahm
2016 – Brandt Snedeker
2015 – Jason Day
2014 – Scott Stallings
2013 – Tiger Woods
2012 – Brandt Snedeker
2011 – Bubba Watson
2010 – Ben Crane
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Off-the-Tee
You can't really have a poor driving week and expect to contend at Torrey Pines. With how long the South course will play, the bombers will have a major advantage, especially considering the fact that the fairways are very hard to find in general. The next challenge is controlling shots into greens with different elevations. The GIR percentage may be slightly up this week with the expected rainfall that should soften the course up and allow certain shots to hold that might otherwise kick over the green. Scrambling will also be a big factor in deciding who wins. There are not a whole lot of scoring chances on the South course, so making key up-and-downs will be huge in preserving your place on the leaderboard. A lot of missed GIR's will end up in bunkers or long rough right off the edge of the green. On tricky poa annua greens like these, everyone is going to miss their fair share of short putts. I think that allows you to leave some of the putting stats on the back burner and focus a lot more on ball strikers that can get it out there.
FanDuel Value Picks
Rory McIlroy ($12,200)
Not many have been better early in the season in recent years than McIlroy. The Northern Irishman is coming off a solo third place finish in Abu Dhabi last week, where McIlroy admitted he didn't even play that well. Now that he has the rust knocked off, imagine if he actually plays well by his standards at Torrey Pines. McIlroy has gone T5-T3 the last two years in this event. His driving ability makes him a near perfect fit for this course.
Jon Rahm ($12,100)
Speaking about perfect fits for Torrey Pines, Rahm certainly fits that bill. This season he ranks sixth in SG: Off-the-Tee and fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green. Rahm just has a knack for playing well on difficult golf courses and you could make the case that no player has as few holes through the bag as the 26-year-old. He broke through for his first PGA Tour win here at Torrey Pines in 2017 and has added a T5 in 2019 and a runner-up last year.
Tony Finau ($11,300)
Another bomber that plays well at difficult courses, Finau will be looking for redemption once again this week after letting his long-awaited second PGA Tour victory slip away last Sunday. Finau has had a pretty pedestrian start to the season compared to recent years, but he has still gone 7-for-7 with four top-11 finishes. He also currently ranks top-30 in SG: Off-the-tee, SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, birdie average, and scoring average. Finau hasn't finished outside the top 25 in six career starts at Torrey Pines, and he owns a trio of top-6 results.
Marc Leishman ($10,400)
Leishman came from behind last year and put together a seven-under 65 in the final round to notch his fifth career PGA Tour win. It was one of the better Sunday performances of the 2019-20 season. Torrey Pines is a place where the Aussie has always played well, with five career top-10s, including a trio of top-two results. Leishman is coming off top-25s in three of his last four starts, including a T4 at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Longer Shots with Value
Cameron Davis ($9,800)
This Aussie does things a different way than Leishman. Davis is one of the longest hitters on Tour that most people don't know about. This season he ranks 10th in driving distance and 16th in SG: Off-the-Tee. Davis is also 10th in birdie average and 40th in putting average. The 25-year-old is coming off a strong performance at PGA West last week, finishing solo third.
Ryan Palmer ($9,600)
Palmer is another great driver of the ball who is off to a very solid start to the season. He has only missed one cut in six starts and has a pair of top-four finishes, including the solo fourth he posted in Kapalua a couple weeks ago. Palmer ranks 37th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 31st in SG: Total, 19th in GIR percentage, and second birdie average this season. The Texan has gone 2nd-T13-T21 the last three years at Torrey pines.
Charles Howell III ($9,100)
If you want a guy that knows how to play Torrey Pines on your roster, then Howell is your man. He's made 17 starts in this event and never missed a cut. The veteran also has eight top-10s and 12 top-25s in the Farmers Insurance Open. Howell is 11th in SG: Putting and 25th in scrambling percentage this season. He is also still in the top 25 percent on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee and is hitting nearly 71 percent of his GIR's.
Emiliano Grillo ($9,000)
After spending a couple weeks closer to the $10,000 mark, Grillo is now down to $9,000, and he presents good value at a real ball-striker's course. The 28-year-old currently ranks 30th in SG: Off-the-Tee, 30th in SG: Approach, seventh in GIR percentage, and 10th in proximity to the hole. He is also 37th in scrambling and 28th in scoring average. Grillo has only missed one cut in 10 starts this season and finished T12 at Torrey Pines back in 2018.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
This week there are two clear favorites that are reflected in the salaries with Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, who are $500 ahead of the next closest player. Taking one of them would be a good way to start, but if not I think players like Tony Finau, Harris English, and Hideki Matsuyama are other good options in that upper tier that are playing well and have had success at Torrey Pines. As I said earlier, I think this week you are going to want to take guys that can really get it out there. This is the longest course that we regularly visit on Tour, and the cooler temperatures combined with it's closeness to the ocean will make it play that much longer. The rough has also been brought in to prepare for the U.S. Open later this year, so everyone is going to miss fairways. There will be a lot of scrambling, but a good driving week will make your job so much easier. Other players not included above that I think could be in for a good showing at Torrey Pines are Matthew Wolff, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, and Corey Conners.