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Farmers Open Preview: Home Field Advantage

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

As Mark Wilson capped yet another fine Sunday finish last weekend, the question begged, has there been a more anonymous five-time winner on the PGA TOUR? Let's be real here, could you pick Mark Wilson out of a lineup? Half of you answering yes probably would pick out Dean Wilson. So how is it that Wilson can win five times on the PGA TOUR and remain unknown while Rickie Fowler, who has yet to win on the PGA TOUR, is practically a household name? The easy answer would be flair. Fowler is busrsting with it and Wilson blends in with the background. The real answer, though, has more to do with the timing of Wilson's victories than anything else. You see, all five of Wilson's wins have come within the first three months of the season, with his three most recent wins coming in January. In case you haven't noticed, the PGA TOUR doesn't exactly find much traction until the Masters in April, and it's not that the early part of the PGA TOUR season has less meaning than the months that follow, but anyone who follows golf can tell you that more people pay attention April through August than any other time during the season. Perhaps Wilson likes it this way, though. Who wouldn't like to remain part of the crowd while cashing large checks every year? After all, if he wanted more attention he'd just save his best for summer.

What the Humana challenge means:

Johnson Wagner: Wagner is the story of the early season thus far as he backed up his win two weeks ago with another strong outing last week at the Humana. I questioned Wagner's tenacity last week, but it looks like he may have turned the corner this season. That or the 'stache he's rocking has more power than we know.

Zach Johnson: Johnson had a chance to become part of the mix late Sunday, but he uncharacteristically faded down the stretch. That's unfortunate for those who own Johnson as it's only going to get harder.

Jeff Maggert: A much better finish to the week for Maggert at the Humana as he closed with a 64 on Sunday, which put him alone in fifth place. Maggert is already halfway to his card for 2012. Look for some momentum to carry into the coming weeks.

This week:
Farmers Insurance Open

Last Year:
Bubba Watson shot a final-round 67 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson.

Players to Consider:

1. Nick Watney

Watney has a strong track record here - four top-10s in seven tries - and he's typically tough early in the season. This looks like a perfect spot for another win.

2. Camilo Villegas

Villegas ended the 2011 on quite a roll, and it appeared early last week that the momentum had carried over until he faltered on the weekend. But Villegas has played well here and could be in contention again this week.

3. Phil Mickelson

He's not at the top of his game, as witnessed by his T49 last week, but you can't argue with his track record here; and you can never count him out on the West Coast.

4. Sang Moon-Bae

A nice start to his rookie season for Sang Moon-Bae, who finished T30 at the Sony and T14 last week at the Humana. This venue may be unfamiliar to him, but that hasn't mattered in the previous two starts.

5. John Mallinger

Mallinger snuck up of the field last week at the Humana, and while he couldn't seal the deal, he came awfully close. It's doubtful he can win this week, but he can contend.

Players to Avoid:

1. Jamie Lovemark

Lovemark will have some success this season, but his game is not quite where it needs to be, and Torrey Pines is not the place to fix your game.

2. Bill Haas

Haas has a decent track record here, but he's just a little off his game, as proven by his play last week at the Humana where he had also had a strong track record.

3. Anthony Kim

Most weeks on the PGA TOUR, golfers off their game smack the ball around for two days and are on their way. Unfortunately for Kim, the cut didn't take place until early Sunday last week, so he had to endure three poor rounds over four days. Ouch.

4. Bud Cauley

Cauley played well enough to make the cut last week but faded a bit on the weekend, and he takes a step up in class this week. Look for a setback this week from Cauley to be followed by some strong showings in the weeks to come.

5. Jhonattan Vegas

The Farmers marked the end of Vegas' run last season as he finished third. He hasn't been the same player since this event 12 months ago. Vegas is so far off his game that there is no hesitation at all in placing him on this list.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week:
Farmers Insurance Open

Group A

1. Nick Watney
2. Phil Mickelson

Unfortunately, three of my top five come from Group A this week, so I had to leave one off. Camilo Villegas drew the short straw, but I don't feel too bad about it as I have a couple decent players here in Mickelson and Watney.

Group B

1. Bubba Watson
2. Hunter Mahan
3. Justin Rose
4. Rickie Fowler

It's Bubba and the first-timers this week in Group B. Not first time at this event, but first time teeing it up on the PGA TOUR this season. As we've seen, though, it doesn't really matter much these days about a player's first start. The schedule is so long that there isn't much time between seasons anyhow. Besides, look at the names here: Mahan, Fowler and Rose. One will show up in a big way this week.

Group C

1. John Mallinger
2. Sang Moon-Bae

I'm definitely taking a risk with this pair this week, but both players enter with some momentum, and I doubt they'll both fall apart this week. It's not as if there are a lot of strong choices in Group C anyway, so I might as well go with the hot hands.

Starters Round One

1. Nick Watney
2. Bubba Watson
3. Hunter Mahan
4. Sang Moon-Bae

Just like last week, there are multiple courses in play this week, but unlike last week, there are major differences in the courses. There are two courses this week, Torrey Pines North and South, and the North course, which the players will each play once, is much easier. My starting four listed above will change based on the courses each golfer plays Thursday. All things equal, I would go with the four listed.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Again, the course comes into play for the first two rounds. After that, it's all on the South course. So use course history on the weekend and use the course played for Thursday and Friday. In a perfect World, you'll have one player on each course for Groups A and C on Thursday and two on each course from Group B. If not, and I'm not kidding here, you might want to consider altering your roster. I won't have that luxury, so I can only hope that my roster plays well. That said, most of the players on my roster know their way around the South course, so I should be fine on the weekend with the roster as is.

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