This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
Farmers Insurance Open Betting Preview
The PGA Tour heads south to San Diego for this week's Farmers Insurance Open in what feels like the unofficial start to the golf year with the star-studded field.
World No. 1 and tournament favorite Jon Rahm (13-2 odds) headlines a list of players that includes six of the top 10 in the world. Torrey Pines plays host and players will rotate between the North and South Courses, with those making the cut playing the final two rounds at the South Course. Last year, Patrick Reed, at 25-1 odds, cruised to a five-shot victory for his ninth PGA Tour victory.
Unlike the first three tournaments of the year that have been birdie-fests, Torrey Pines has a bit more defense, with the winning score typically ranging from 10-to-15 under-par as the South Course stretches over 7,700 yards. Couple that with some of the hardest fairways to hit on Tour for even the shortest hitters, and driving distance becomes even more of a key factor. We'll see a lot of approach shots requiring long irons and three woods, so players will need to rely on their scrambling with greens being more difficult to hit than usual.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 8:00 PM ET Tuesday.
Torrey Pines Tamers
The following five golfers, with a minimum of three appearances, have the lowest scoring average at the Farmers Insurance Open since 2017.
Rahm has the lowest scoring average over the five-year stretch at the Farmers, and that doesn't even include his performance at Torrey Pines last summer that earned him his first major at the U.S. Open. Also the site of Rahm's first PGA Tour victory, he's understandably the overwhelming favorite as the lone golfer with single-digit odds. He will likely be a popular pick for one-and-done contests this week. Another player who's had an affinity for the San Diego track is Finau, who has recorded a top-25 in all seven of his appearances, including a share for second last year. He's dealt with some mediocre form since winning in the playoffs last summer, but this is certainly a place where he can snap out of it, and he is certainly a reasonable selection as the 10th choice on the board at 25-1 odds.
The Proper Form
The following players, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes from tee to green over their last five tournaments:
List probably isn't the golfer you'd expect to find at the top of this list as the only non-winner among the group, but nevertheless, his ball striking has been superb recently, and he's posted five top-25 finishes over his last seven events. In his typical fashion, he ranks outside the top 200 this season in Strokes Gained: Putting, but play on the greens is usually neutralized at Torrey Pines, where even the best putters struggle. As such, List looks like a great affordable option in DFS contests. Also in good tee-to-green form is Im, who led the field in the category over two rounds at the Stadium Course last week. He's not the first player most people gravitate towards on longer courses, but he does have above average length off the tee and is one of the best in the game with long approach shots. He should be on your radar at 30-1.
Daniel Berger (20-1)
Outside of Rahm and Thomas, in my eyes Berger has emerged as the next best player in this field, and that creates value on him as the fifth choice at 20-1. At a course where you need all aspects of your game to be on, Berger is above average in every facet and finished T7 at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last summer. He's in contention constantly, with seven top-10 finishes in his last 12 events.
Maverick McNealy (45-1)
Another week and yet another bet on McNealy, who I'm convinced is on the brink of a win. He finished 15th here in his initial appearance at Torrey Pines – his best finish at that point of his career – before missing the cut last year after losing three strokes on the greens. McNealy is off to a hot start this season, with a top-25 finish in over half his starts and a rank of 13th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
Joaquin Niemann (80-1)
Niemann is an automatic bet at odds this high in a non-major. He is priced as the 30th choice on the board behind guys like Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Mackenzie Hughes, which just feels disrespectful. He's another player with a solid all-around game and is a good fit for Torrey Pines having ranked 13th in driving distance last season.
Max Homa (7-1)
Homa tends to play some of his best golf in his home state, with two of his three PGA Tour wins coming in California. He's had success at the Farmers Insurance Open as well, recording a top-10 in 2020 and finishing two shots shy of another one last year. With five top-10s over his last 23 events, this is too good a value to pass up.
Jhonattan Vegas (8-1)
Vegas fits the mold of a golfer that should succeed at Torrey Pines, one with elite length that also is solid from 175 yards and up with his approaches. He does have one top-5 at this event and also flashed some form this fall with a pair of top-15 finishes in five appearances. A win is probably too big of an ask, but this is a good number on a top-10 wager considering he had three of them last summer.
Cam Davis (11-1)
Davis has made the cut in all four of his trips to Torrey Pines, with a best finish last year of T32 after struggling in the final round. He has emerged into a much better player than in any of those prior appearances and is another long hitter that can take advantage of the four par-5s and won't be overwhelmed by the lengthy par-4s.
Matsuyama is coming off a win at the Sony Open in Hawaii in which he led the field in SG: Putting, an area he typically struggles mightily in. I don't anticipate that happening again and like Scheffler at even money. He was in the mix in the final round at the U.S. Open held at Torrey Pines and is playing great golf recently, with three top-5 finishes in his last five starts.
I'm going to stick with Zalatoris after hitting a matchup with him last week, as Reed has been struggling too much for me to think he's just going to flip the switch, even at a place he's played well at. We've seen streaks from Zalatoris, as he can go in slumps but also reel off several good finishes in a row. I'm fine laying the extra juice considering he played well here last year.