Editor's note: Congratulations to Greg Vara who was named the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Golf Writer of the Year.
Opening day. That phrase undoubtedly brings a picture to mind. Whether it's the first Monday of the baseball season, or the first Sunday of the NFL season, there is something about that first full slate of games that gets us all excited. As golf fans, opening day means something different to each of us and not because we have a certain affinity for a given event. It's because there are so many unofficial starting points to the PGA Tour season. The folks at PGA Tour headquarters would like us to treat October as the new "opening day," but that doesn't sit well with a lot of us. Others stick to the calendar and call the first event in Hawaii "opening day." There are even some old-school golf fans left who don't pay attention until the PGA Tour heads to Florida. For my money, though, the season really gets going at Torrey Pines. It's the first full-field event of the season that's held on a "real" course with a stellar field. Perhaps my opinion has been hijacked by Tiger's schedule, but you have to admit, there's something about getting back to California and seeing the really big names on the leaderboard. I'm not alone either. CBS steps into the picture this week and nothing says "this is the real deal" like hearing Jim Nance on a Sunday afternoon. So get ready as things are about to "get real" this week at Torrey Pines ... right after the President throws the ceremonial first pitch.
This week: Farmers Insurance Open - Torrey Pines, La Jolla, Calif.
Last Year: Tiger Woods shot a final-round 72 on his way to a four-stroke victory over Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater.
Players to Consider:
The annual dilemma - when to use Tiger Woods in a one-and-done format. While there are bound to be a dozen quality spots to use him this season, there might not be a better one than at Torrey Pines. Woods has won this event five of his last six tries. Let that sink in, five of the last six times here, he's walked away with the trophy.
If not for Woods' track record here, we'd probably be drooling over Snedeker's. Snedeker finished runner-up to Tiger last year, but won the year prior when Woods was absent. Before that he finished T9 and T2. In all, four consecutive top-10s.
Watney has a reputation for playing his best golf early in the season and one of the reasons for the rep is his performance at this event. Watney won this event in 2009 and has finished inside the Top 10 in three of four tries since that win.
I hate to take the easy way out, but Mickelson is playing pretty well and has some history at this event. Throw in the fact that he seems to get up for facing Tiger and he should be a factor this week.
Haas appears to be on top of his game early in the season as he posted a T6 last week at the Humana. He also has a nice track record here with three consecutive Top-10s heading into this year's event.
Players to Avoid:
Reed was a surprise winner last week at the Humana, and considering the way he finished he's probably not a good bet to do much damage this week. Granted, the pressure is now off, but it's always tough for a young guy to play well off a big win.
Watson won this event in 2011 and he generally has a pretty solid track record at this event, but I'm taking a wait-and-see approach on Watson this year. This is a big year for Watson in that a lot of people are wondering about his game. I, for one, am a little skeptical.
Fowler might be great, or he might just be good. Whatever the case, I'm going to wait on him as well. Yes, he does have a solid track record at this event, but until he shows he's ready to live up to his potential, I'm a bit skeptical.
Hearn had a nice 2013 season, and I think he's on the way up, but that journey to the upper-echelon of the PGA Tour will have to wait another week as his track record at Torrey Pines is awful. Four starts and four missed cuts.
Is this the year that Ogilvy finally finds his game again? That's been the question concerning Ogilvy leading into every one of the last five seasons. While this could be the year, a comeback will likely have to wait at least one more week as his track record at Torrey Pines is rough.
ONE AND DONE GOLFER
Last week: Bill Haas (T6) - $198,075; Season - $309,061
This week: Brandt Snedeker - Perfect spot for "Sneds" as he won't be used in a major and is probably not a good option for WGC events either, so you might as well burn him where he's got a track record, which is Torrey Pines.
Group A: Woods, Snedeker
Group B: Day, Haas, Spieth, Crane
Group C: Watney, Guthrie
Last week: Brian Gay - missed cut; streak - 0.
This week: Brandt Snedeker - Remember last week when I took Brian Gay? Well, I'm not taking any chances this week. Outside of Tiger, Snedeker is probably the safest pick in the field to make the cut this week.