Weekly Preview: Farmers Insurance Open

Weekly Preview: Farmers Insurance Open

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

Farmers Insurance Open

Torrey Pines
San Diego, CA

The PGA Tour heads to San Diego for this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

There is of course only one actual beginning to each PGA Tour season, but there are several "firsts" along the way. There's the start of the fall season, which is technically the official opener but also the one with the least fanfare. Then we get the first event shortly after New Year's Day, and we're all just happy to see green grass at this point. We then hit the first full-field event on the calendar. Perhaps no "first" hits like this week's, though, as the Farmers Insurance Open provides the biggest pop among the group mentioned. In addition to always providing strong field, this is also our first look at a classic track. No offense to the beautiful courses in Hawaii, but they just don't hold up to Torrey Pines. I know people don't tune in simply to see the course outside of maybe at Augusta, but it certainly makes the happenings more interesting when there is history involved.

If the course and the loaded field weren't enough, we get something new this year as well – a Saturday finish! Wait, maybe the exclamation point should be saved for – we get a Wednesday start! It's tough to say whether the bumped-up start or the Saturday finish is more exciting, but the bottom line is that this week will be unlike any we see this year because of the

Farmers Insurance Open

Torrey Pines
San Diego, CA

The PGA Tour heads to San Diego for this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

There is of course only one actual beginning to each PGA Tour season, but there are several "firsts" along the way. There's the start of the fall season, which is technically the official opener but also the one with the least fanfare. Then we get the first event shortly after New Year's Day, and we're all just happy to see green grass at this point. We then hit the first full-field event on the calendar. Perhaps no "first" hits like this week's, though, as the Farmers Insurance Open provides the biggest pop among the group mentioned. In addition to always providing strong field, this is also our first look at a classic track. No offense to the beautiful courses in Hawaii, but they just don't hold up to Torrey Pines. I know people don't tune in simply to see the course outside of maybe at Augusta, but it certainly makes the happenings more interesting when there is history involved.

If the course and the loaded field weren't enough, we get something new this year as well – a Saturday finish! Wait, maybe the exclamation point should be saved for – we get a Wednesday start! It's tough to say whether the bumped-up start or the Saturday finish is more exciting, but the bottom line is that this week will be unlike any we see this year because of the scheduling. I honestly can't blame the PGA Tour, as no one wants to square off against the NFL right now, especially after what we saw this past Sunday. While it will take some adjusting, I think we're all going to enjoy both the early start and the early finish.

LAST YEAR

Patrick Reed shot a final-round 68 on his way to a five-stroke victory over three players, including Xander Schauffele.

FAVORITES

Jon Rahm (13-2)

It's interesting that Rahm enters with the same odds he had last week at The American Express. His track record at Torrey Pines is better than it was there, but the competition is much tougher this time around. With that said, his history here is really stout, as he won this event in 2017 and also notched three other top-10s in five total starts. His form isn't great coming, but it's good enough that with a little tweak, he could again find himself in the winner's circle. His low odds don't provide much value, however.

Justin Thomas (12-1)

It's crazy that Rahm's odds are almost twice as low as anyone else's in the field, especially when you consider the guys he is going up against. Rahm's standing at the top of the board automatically inflates everyone else's number, which provides some added value. You'd think  JT would be lower than he is on name alone, but it's his track record here – or lack thereof – that lands him here. Thomas has only played this event twice and not since 2015, so I'm not sure he's a big fan of Torrey Pines. As such, I'd pass on him at this price.

Xander Schauffele (14-1)

Is this the year that Schauffele breaks through for his first major? We will see, but we do know he is capable of winning events like this. The problem is, his history here doesn't help us much. He finished runner-up here last year, but prior to that, he missed the cut four our of five times. Does his runner-up last year mean he's figured out Torrey Pines, or was it just a good week? Considering the other options available, there's just too many questions to go with Schauffele at this number.

THE NEXT TIER

Marc Leishman (25-1)

Leishman didn't fare as well in Hawaii as we hoped, but he played well enough that a return trip to a course he likes might be all he needs to notch another win. Leishman certainly likes Torrey Pines, as he's played this event 13 times and has missed just two cuts. He won here in 2020 and owns a total of five top-10s. At this number, Leishman is certainly worth a look.

Tony Finau (25-1)

Is Finau going to take his game to another level after finally picking up his first full-field PGA Tour win in August? If he is, it might start right here, as he's a perfect 7-for-7 on cuts made in the Farmers Insurance Open. His best result was a runner-up here last year, and he finished top-10 in over half of his seven starts. Finau's season did not get off to a great start, but that's baked into his odds. You may not see odds like this next to Finau's name the rest of the year if he plays well at Torrey Pines.

Will Zalatoris (35-1)

Zalatoris was in the exact same spot on this list last week and ended up with a T6 at The American Express. He never threatened, but he did fight his way back into the top 10 after an opening-round 71. Zalatoris has only two starts in this event, but he did post a T7 this past year, so we know he can get around the track. Much like Finau, odds like this on Zalatoris are going to be a thing of the past soon.

LONG SHOTS

Lanto Griffin (80-1)

Griffin notched a T3 at The American Express, and he might be set for a nice little run here. Griffin runs extremely hot and cold, so if he's on the warm side right now – and it appears that he is – this would be the time to jump on him before he cools off. Griffin has played well in two of three starts at this event and looks like he could make another run.

Francesco Molinari (80-1)

Molinari can also run hot and cold, but his streaks seem to last entire seasons. Molinari was on fire in 2018 and 2019, but he had a rough go of it in the years before and after. He's off to a good start, posting a T6 this past week, so perhaps this season is going to go his way. If you are concerned about the field, don't be. Molinari has outplayed the best in the world many times, so he won't be intimidated.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Xander Schauffele - I still don't think many OAD players are ready to use Rahm quite yet, and JT's track record here leaves much to be desired, so the next man up is Schauffele. The gold medal winner doesn't have a long record of success here, but his runner-up this past year is bound to boost his confidence. I won't be making this play, but I can't argue with it if you do.

Moderately-owned Pick: Marc Leishman - Leishman is one of those golfers you want to slot in sometime before the PGA Tour departs the West Coast. This looks like a good spot to use him, as his form is satisfactory and his track record is outstanding.

Lightly-owned Pick: Francesco Molinari - This is certainly a risky play, as there are so many good options to choose from. Still, if you're feeling lucky, Molinari could be your guy. The only question is, was last week an outlier or is he back at the level he was a few years ago?

Buyer Beware: Dustin Johnson - There's a reason Johnson is only 25-1 this week – his history here is not good. It's not often you see DJ's odds climb above the teens, so the fact he's well into the 20s says a lot. He has just one top-10 in nine appearances in this event.

Last Week: Patrick Cantlay - T9 - $222,300

Season Total: $2,864,071

This Week: Tony Finau - This came down to Finau and Leishman, but ultimately I decided on the former because he has been more consistent in this tournament. Leishman has won here, which Finau has not, but Finau has never finished outside the top 25 in seven starts. In his past five, he finished no worse than T14.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Jon Rahm $12,200
Middle Range: Marc Leishman $10,500
Lower Range: Henrik Norlander $8,200

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: Adam Hadwin - T25

Streak: 1

This Week: Tony Finau - I got away from the double-up last week and it worked, but I'm going right back to it because my OAD golfer has not missed a cut here in seven starts. Finau may not be in top form, but that could change with one good round; and quite honestly, he doesn't need to be at his best to make the weekend.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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