This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
Winner's Share: $1.35M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
Course: Torrey Pines GC (South and North courses)
Yardage: 7,765 (South)
2020 champion: Marc Leishman
The field is always strong this week. But with the golfers returning to the South course for the U.S. Open in less than five months, this year's lineup is actually a little bit underwhelming – and that would've been the case even if Tiger Woods (back surgery No. 5) had been on hand. There are only three players ranked in the top 10 – Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy – after five such players showed up last year. There are 14 of the top 25, up from last year's 11, led by Brooks Koepka, back for the first time in four years. And no matter the rankings, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth – the latter making his 2021 debut – are always among the headliners.
But the biggest attraction this week might be the course itself. The mighty South has become an all-time behemoth, ballooning to within a Dustin Johnson 5-iron of 8,000 yards. Yes, the distance is now 7,765 on the official scorecard, and if that holds or even increases for the U.S. Open – and why wouldn't it? – it would be be the longest course in major golf history. The back-nine is a mere 38 yards from from 4,000. Last year, the South clocked in at 7,698, according to the official Golf Course Superintendents Fact Sheet.
Really, Torrey Pines is what Kevin Kisner and Kevin Na had in mind when they said recently that they can't win at certain tracks. (There actually are three Kevins in the 156-man field, but they are Stadler, Streelman and Tway.)
This week as usual, the South will be in play for three of the four rounds. It ranked seventh on the PGA Tour course difficulty meter last year. Seven of the 10 par-4s exceed 450 yards. The shortest par-5 is 564 and two reach 600. Three of the par-3s are 200-plus and two are 225-plus. Really, you could make a case that there's only one short whole on the entire course – the 389-yard second. Last year, the 505-yard 12th ranked as the third-hardest hole on the entire PGA Tour, and the 480-yard 15th also was a bear. Not only is the sheer length of the course a challenge; the golfers will be far back in the fairway aiming at some of the smallest greens on Tour. The tricky poa annua surfaces average only 5,000 square feet. The North course is some 500 yards shorter at 7,258 and is far easier, though the 486-yard 18th was among the 15 hardest holes on Tour last year. The greens are a bit larger than at the South at an average of 6,000 square feet, and they are bentgrass.
Needless to say, there's a premium on distance this week. And with the weather on the chilly side and with rain in the forecast, it's hard to imagine a course anywhere in the world playing longer. But as we always say, there's more than one way to win a golf tournament. Just ask two-time Torrey Pines winner Brandt Snedeker.
Weather-wise, specifically, temperatures will not make it much past 60 during the week, and some days it won't leave the 50s. It will be in the 40s in the mornings. Rain is forecast for Thursday and especially on Friday.
Key Stats to Winning at Torrey Pines South
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee/Driving Distance
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green/Scrambling
• Par-4 Efficiency 450-500 yards
In the past seven years, the winning score has ranged from 6-under (Snedeker, 2016) to 21-under (Rose). Four times in the past seven years, the winner has been single digits under par. Last year, Leishman shot 15-under. He did not do it in conventional fashion. He ranked only 34th in driving distance, at a mere 295 yards, and just two of the top 15 finishers were among the top 10 longest. Instead, it was putting that closely mirrored the leaderboard: Leishman ranked first in Strokes Gained: Putting, runner-up Rahm was second and T3 Snedeker was fifth. Rory McIlroy, who tied Snedeker, ranked only 42nd but was second in greens in regulation. Also, the short-hitting Snedeker has won twice, once on the strength of his sensational putting but especially thanks to his scrambling. So, there certainly is more than one way to win on a long course. But we just don't see it happening this year with the weather and all. Big hitters Day, Rahm, Stallings, Woods and Watson have all won the tournament in the past decade. GIR numbers are annually among the lowest on Tour, which brings deftness around the greens into play. Five of the past nine winners were top-10 in scrambling. (Snedeker was fifth and sixth in his two wins). In 2019, the top seven finishers were top-25 in both driving distance and Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, while only one of them was also top-10 in SG: Putting. Rose, Rahm, Woods, Watson and Day twice were all outside the top 20 in SG: Putting.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Jon Rahm - $11,300 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 8-1)
Rahm withdrew before The American Express began last week after tweaking his back while working out. He said the injury was minor, so we will take him at his word. He has excelled on this track, finishing top-5 in three of the past four years, including his breakthrough win in 2017 and a runner-up to Leishman last year.
Rory McIlroy - $11,000 (8-1)
McIlroy finished third in Abu Dhabi last week, giving him a fifth straight podium finish at the season-opening European Tour event, albeit without a win. He's done similarly well in his two visits to Torrey Pines, finishing third last year and fifth the year before. He had top-10s at the Masters and U.S. Open last fall. But despite all that, he's gone 17 months without a win anywhere in the world.
Tony Finau - $10,700 (20-1)
Normally we'd bypass Finau in this situation, coming off a bitter near-miss the week before. But that's become routine for Finau, and he's quite capable of another near-miss this week. He's finished top-6 three of the past four years here, with a 13th the other time, and has never been outside the top 25 in six career trips to San Diego. Last week notwithstanding, Finau had been putting better this season.
Harris English - $9,800 (25-1)
English has had a number of very high finishes here, and they came long before his game kicked into a new gear beginning some 16 months ago. He was runner-up in 2015 and eighth in 2018. We'll pay no mind to last year's 71st-place result. Since capturing the Tournament of Champions at the beginning of the month, English has played another tournament and a few weeks to recharge.
Tier 2 Values
Viktor Hovland - $9,300 (30-1)
Hovland is making his maiden trip to Torrey Pines, but for all its length it's a pretty straightforward course from tee to green. And that's where Hovland excels. He's not the longest hitter, but he's ranked seventh in SG: Off-the-Tee and is 11th in greens in regulation. He's even greatly improved his play around the greens.
Hideki Matsuyama - $9,200 (30-1)
This is a week where the top-25 machine can really make a run at a top-10 finish, even with his usual terrible putting. Matsuyama finished third here in 2019 and 12th the year before. He's ranked top-35 in all of SG: Off-the-Tee, Approach and Around the Green.
Ryan Palmer - $8,400 (50-1)
Palmer played great at the end of last year and into 2021 before a poor effort at Waialae (T41), so we'll toss that result aside. He's finished no worse than 21st at Torrey Pines the past three years and was runner-up in 2018. Palmer is ranked 15th on Tour in par-4 450-500.
Will Zalatoris - $8,100 (50-1)
Zalatoris has not played since Mayakoba in December. He's going to have to make the most of his opportunities when he gets a sponsor's invite, as he did this week. If he's in form despite the long layoff, Zalatoris' game is well-suited for Torrey Pines, as he's ranked top-10 in both SG: Off-the-Tee and Approach. This will be his second Farmers, having missed the cut in 2018.
Tier 3 Values
Gary Woodland - $7,800 (60-1)
After a pretty bad 12 months, Woodland arrives a whopping $1,700 cheaper than he was a year ago. He had been battling back problems, but last week had his best result in months, tying for 16th at the Amex. Before missing the cut here last year, he had made 10 straight Farmers cuts with half of them being top-20s.
Corey Conners - $7,700 (60-1)
We all know of Conners' putting difficulties. But in his lone visit to the Farmers in 2018, he putted decently in tying for 29th (he ranked 54th in the field that week). The rest of Conners' game is tailor-made for Torrey Pines.
Jason Kokrak - $7,700 (60-1)
Kokrak is another player in the superior ball striker/terrible putter mode well-suited for this course. He's finished top-25 here in three of his past four visits. Kokrak is ranked 26th in greens in regulation this season. But you know what? All of a sudden his putting has gotten better – he's ranked 14th on Tour.
Charles Howell III - $7,500 (100-1)
Like his 20-for-20 run at the Amex, Howell is a perfect 17-for-17 in making cuts here through the years. He also has a boatload of top-10s, with three runners-up and a tie for sixth in 2018. He also was 20th in 2019 before skipping 2020's tournament. The 41-year-old is still ranked top-50 in SG: Off-the-Tee and is 11th in SG: Putting.
Brandt Snedeker - $7,000 (125-1)
Snedeker's game has been in decline for a few years now – he just fell outside the top 100 in the OWGR – but there's no way we're bypassing the two-time champion who still finished third a year ago. Yes, the weather will make his task even harder, but the upside is just too great at this long-shot price. He's made the cut 11 of the past 12 years. On the other hand, Snedeker has not so much as finished in the top-15 since last year here.
John Huh - $7,000 (125-1)
The main reason Huh is priced even this high is because he's made the cut eight of the past nine years. But he's also playing well. He hasn't missed a cut this season and has four top-25s in five starts, including last week at the Amex. He is ranked 22nd on Tour in greens in regulation.
Martin Laird - $6,800 (200-1)
After winning the Shriners in the fall, Laird opened 2021 with a couple of decent weeks – T17 at the TOC and a made cut at the Amex (T47). He is ranked fourth on Tour in greens in regulation. Laird comes back to Torrey Pines year after year, and he's made the cut in seven of his past eight trips.
Anirban Lahiri - $6,400 (400-1)
We're admittedly going out on a limb here, but there are indications that Lahiri can at least make it to the weekend. He didn't do that last year, but he did so in 2018. He had a couple of top-25s in the fall season. While he doesn't have much to show for his two 2021 starts – T62 at the Sony and a missed cut at the Amex – he has shot four of his six rounds in the 60s. He's ranked inside the top 100 in SG: Tee-to-Green.