This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
Winner's Share: $1.278M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Course: Torrey Pines GC (South and North courses)
Yardage: 7,698 (South)
2018 champion: Jason Day
The fall season is what it is – the fall season. The Hawaiian Swing is a nice entree into the new year. The La Quinta event by whatever name has old-time charm. But now ... here ... we ... go. This is the first big event of the season, since the TOUR Championship four months ago, really. And now the varsity tournaments with loaded fields will start to come fast and furious. In short order, we'll see Riviera, the WGC-Mexico and before you know it, THE PLAYERS (in March!). But first, Torrey Pines. How does this field sound: Rory, Rose, Rahm, Xander, Fowler, Spieth, Finau, Cantlay, Reed and, oh, one more ... yes, Tiger Woods.
Five of the top 10 in the world are on hand, eight of the top 13, 12 of the top 20. It will be really fun to watch, and really hard to set a lineup. DraftKings always has a dozen guys at $9,000 or above. So that's nothing new this week. But last week, the guy at $9,000 was Luke List, outside the top 60 in the world; this week, it's Gary Woodland, who is in the top 25. Right behind Woodland on the DraftKings board is Jordan Spieth, who at $8,900 presents another tricky challenge. Spieth is fading fast, now down to No. 20 in the world, but he's still Jordan Spieth. Or is he? All of this is a roundabout way of saying lineup construction will be a real challenge. You'll be able to roster probably only two of the big names, unless you get greedy and want three, but then you'll need to go super-low to fill out your final three slots (spoiler: we do offer a super-low option below).
At the core of many gamers' thoughts is this: What should we do with Woods? At $10,500, he's the No. 4 guy on the board, behind Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. That seems right (unless you're Rose, and then you're wondering why the No. 1-ranked player in the world is third). This is Woods' first official action since he won at East Lake, though we also saw him at The Match against Phil Mickelson and in the Hero World Challenge, and he wasn't at his best in either place. By now, just about every golfer has played at least one tournament in 2019, and that's an important lineup consideration. But it's not the be-all and end-all, and of course Woods has followed this pattern many times. When Woods played here last year, coming off only a surprising showing at the Hero World Challenge after his fourth back surgery, he was the No. 5 golfer at $9,700. We thought that was an absurdly high price, avoided him, and watched him tie for 23rd.
There are 155 other golfers in the field, and they will all play the South and North (par-72, 7,258) over the first two days before the cut-makers spend the weekend on the South. The South is one of the beasts on the PGA Tour calendar at nearly 7,700 yards. It was the eighth-hardest track on Tour last season, far tougher than the North. But the North no longer is a pushover. After a 2016 Tom Weiskopf makeover, it has gradually toughened from the 46th hardest course on Tour four years ago, to 38th three years ago, to 32nd two years ago to 28th last year. Of the 36 holes on both courses, nearly one-third of them (11) are par-4s in excess of 450 yards. That imposing factoid plays a big part in our key stats and Champion's Profile below. This is first event of the season in which the big hitters will have a significant advantage.
Weather-wise, the rain has moved out of Southern California, and it will be completely dry all week, with high temperatures forecast to be around 70 all four days. Still, the early-morning tee times could be chilly. The wind is expected to be light throughout the tournament.
Key Stats to Winning at Torrey Pines South
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Driving distance/strokes gained: off the tee
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Par-4 efficiency 450-500 yards
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
2009 – Nick Watney
The following small sample size is starting to get a bit bigger: It is now eight years in a row that the winner played the South on Thursday and the North on Friday. (If you're betting on someone to win the tournament, that's one thing. But when filling out a DK lineup, don't limit yourself to six South/North players.) You don't absolutely need to be among the driving-distance leaders to win this week, but it sure helps. Big-hitters Day, Rahm, Stallings, Woods and Watson have all won the tournament this decade. Conversely, Snedeker has won twice, once on the strength of his sensational putting but especially thanks to his scrambling. With the South so long, GIR numbers are annually among the lowest on Tour, which brings deftness around the greens into play. Five of the past seven winners were top-20 in scrambling (Snedeker was fifth and sixth in his two wins). Long drives, even some wayward ones, help boost GIR numbers. Eight of the combined 11 hardest holes on the two courses last year were par-4s over 450 yards. Golfers who simply make par there will be well ahead of the field. As you see, putting is not a key stat for one of the few times all year. Day (in both his wins), Rahm, Woods and Watson were all outside the top-20 in strokes gained: putting.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
All picks were made in advance of seeing the tee-time breakdown, without knowing who will play the South course on Thursday.
Tier 1 Values
Jon Rahm - $11,400 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
Rahm won here in his maiden visit in 2017, then seemed primed for a repeat last year as he opened 68-66. But he uncharacteristically blew up on the weekend to tie for 29th. The No. 7 player in the world ranked 16th in driving distance last year. So far in 2018-19, he's outside the top 100, but we've noticed that's the case with a number of big hitters, as a bunch or shorter courses have been on the schedule. Overall, Rahm has an incredible top-5 success rate – about 40 percent of the time since turning pro. He just missed his last time out with a solo sixth at the Desert Classic.
Rory McIlroy - $11,100 (14-1)
The No. 2 guy on the DK board should devour Torrey Pines, even though this is his first visit to La Jolla. This continues McIlroy's commitment to playing more stateside, which he already did when playing the Tournament of Champions and finishing fourth. Last season, McIlroy led the Tour in driving distance and was 18th in strokes gained: around the green. If that doesn't scream success here, we don't know what does.
Tony Finau - $9,900 (18-1)
We are bypassing Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, and Jason Day to get to Finau at under 10K. Frankly, we'd like Finau even if he had cost more than those three. Rose was surprisingly out of sorts last week with his new equipment. Woods will struggle to contend if he continues to leave himself super long approach shots. And Day has had only one top-5 since THE PLAYERS last May. So that means, we are all-in as the Tony Finau Victory Watch begins with his first tournament of 2019. All he did during the fall season was tie for second twice, once in the WGC-HSBC and also at the Hero World Challenge. Finau finished sixth and fourth here the past two years, with top-25s the two prior years. He is first in driving distance and ninth in strokes gained: around the green.
Marc Leishman - $9,700 (18-1)
Leishman was eighth here a year ago, continuing a period of sustained excellence at Torrey Pines, highlighted by runners-up in 2010 and 2014. That makes sense, because the Australian says this is one of his favorite courses in the world and reminds him of tracks he played growing up Down Under. Leishman won the CIMB Classic in the fall and added two more top-5s during both legs of the Hawaiian Swing. He doesn't hit it far for a big man, but he's an elite scrambler and an excellent putter. And he's ranked T5 on Tour in par-4 450-500.
Tier 2 Values
Patrick Cantlay - $9,200 (25-1)
Cantlay really should excel here, even though he didn't last year, when he tied for 51st. He is ranked fourth in driving distance, 20th in strokes gained: off the tee, 13th in approach and 23rd around the greens. Cantlay played terribly on Sunday last week but still tied for ninth, his fourth top-10 in five starts this season.
Gary Woodland - $9,000 (25-1)
Woodland has finished top-20 here four of the past five years, and some of those came with his game way off. Right now, Woodland is playing the best golf of his career. He has finished twice already this season, with two other top-10s. Woodland ranked seventh last year in driving distance and this season is 10th in greens in regulation.
Brandt Snedeker - $8,400 (40-1)
An interesting factoid about the 36-year-old: he is ranked 71st on Tour in driving distance. It doesn't sound like much, but it is the best of his career. Besides Snedeker's two wins here, he has two seconds and a third through the years. He clearly is at home on this track.
Emiliano Grillo - $8,100 (50-1)
Grillo tied for 12th here a year ago in his third visit to Torrey Pines. He hits it pretty far for someone on the diminutive side, averaging over 300 yards off the tee. He's also an impressive 24th in par-4 450-500. Grillo has already rung-up a runner-up in Malaysia this season to go along with three more top-25s, including last week at the Desert Classic. Grillo is also 34th in greens in regulation.
Tier 3 Values
J.B. Holmes - $7,900 (60-1)
Holmes has yet to tee it up in 2019, but his history in this event is too good to pass up. He has three top-6s in the past four years, including a runner-up in 2015. The big-hitting Holmes had a top-10 plus two more top-25s during four fall-season starts. Despite all the bombers making their way to the Tour, the 36-year-old Holmes still finished 24th in driving distance last season.
Luke List - $7,700 (60-1)
List missed the cut last week, but we're happy he got in three rounds after a long winter layoff. Not only is List fifth in driving distance this season, he's 14th in strokes gained: putting. If those numbers continue, they're enough to offset his so-so scrambling (ranked 78th). List finished 12th at Torrey Pines a year ago.
Beau Hossler - $7,400 (80-1)
Hossler is a SoCal native well-versed in playing Torrey Pines. He won a junior event there back in 2011, then made his professional debut there two years ago. He's 2-for-2 in cuts. Hossler is ranked 37th in driving distance, 23rd in strokes gained: around the green, and 36th in par-4 450-500. He had a pair of top-25s during the fall season but christened 2019 with a missed cut last week.
J.J. Spaun - $7,300 (100-1)
The San Diego State alum is back for his third go-round at this familiar track. He recorded a top-10 and a top-25 in his first two visits. Spaun is not a long hitter, but course knowledge helps him overcome that. Still, he's ranked 50th in par-4 450-500. Spaun has already teed it up seven times this season, with three top-15s during the fall season. He tied for 51st last week.
Keith Mitchell - $7,000 (125-1)
Mitchell is a very impressive young player who tied for 63rd in his Torrey Pines debut a year ago. He was ranked 10th on Tour in driving distance last season, and this season he's 13th in scrambling. Mitchell has three top-25s in five starts so far, including two weeks ago at the Sony.
Richie Werenski - $7,000 (150-1)
This will be Werenski's third time through the Farmers Insurance Open. He tied for 20th in his debut before missing the cut last year. He's ranked 47th on Tour in par-4 450-500. Werenski closed the fall season with three straight top-25s. He missed the cut last week at the Desert Classic.
Joel Dahmen - $6,900 (Field, 12-1)
The feisty Dahmen is 7-for-7 in cuts this season, with his lone top-25 coming in his most recent start at the Sony. He missed the cut last year at Torrey Pines, but he got a taste. Dahmen is ranked 33rd on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee. He's also 53rd in strokes gained: tee to green.
Sebastian Munoz - $6,400 (Field, 12-1)
We hardly ever dip below $6,700, much less below $6,500, but we see something we like in Munoz. The 26-year-old Colombian by way of the University of North Texas is back on Tour after having lost his card following 2016-17. Munoz notched a top-10 two weeks ago at Waialae. He played here two years ago and tied for 54th. What we really like is a nice combination off the tee (ranked 73rd in strokes gained) and around the green (ranked 13th). Munoz is also ranked 48th in strokes gained: tee to green.