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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the Farmers Insurance Open

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

This week on the PGA Tour is the Farmers Insurance Open, also known as the tournament Tiger Woods seemingly always wins. He won last year for the seventh time and eighth time at Torrey Pines when you include the 2008 U.S. Open. But that's not the full story when it comes to this event, and that begins our statistical look:

History Lesson

The event is played on the Torrey Pines North and South courses the first two days with the weekend using only the South Course.

This will be Woods' first start in 2014 after a five-win 2013 that saw him dominate the all-around ranking for much of the season. Also consider that Tiger is historically an extremely good player following layoffs, so the fact that Tiger hasn't played since the first week of December is not a deterrent like it is for others.

Other recent winners include Nick Watney (2009), Ben Crane (2010), Bubba Watson (2011) and Brandt Snedeker (2012).

Our recommendation is Snedeker, who opened his season with a T11 at Kapalua and tied for 58th last week at the Humana Challenge. He leads the tour in par-3 birdies or better.

Conversely, we do not recommend Watson, who - to put it kindly - hasn't done much since his 2012 Masters victory besides a near-win at Hartford last year. This is his first start of 2014 after a 2013 where he was fifth in greens in regulation but 119th in strokes gained-putting.

Who is Playing

Phil Mickelson -
Besides Tiger, Mickelson is also making his 2014 PGA Tour debut. He finished second in Abu Dhabi last week where he was classic Phil, hitting shots righty on Sunday out of trouble spots and yet almost winning the tournament. If he drives it accurately this week he could be a strong pick in the La Jolla, Calif., event he won in 2000 and 2001. Mickelson is also in the process of helping to re-design the North Course and lives in the San Diego area, commuting from home each day.

Rickie Fowler
- Another Southern California product, Fowler is coming off a strong weekend at the Humana where he shot 67-66 to make the cut and have a decent finish of T33. He ranked 12th in driving distance for the week. If you want take a flier, Fowler may be your guy at a ballpark where he's almost won.

Josh Teater -
A super sleeper is Teater, a player who has been in contention before at Torrey Pines yet still hasn't broken through for his first win. He's 28th in driving distance.

Sunday Surgers

Players who made a move on Sunday and are in this week's field:

Rickie Fowler -
That Sunday 67 gave him a 21-spot boost up the final leaderboard.

Hudson Swafford -
Swafford, a PGA Tour rookie, shot a final-round 65 that moved him up to a T25 finish. He's 17th in greens in regulation and 15th in total driving.

Billy Horschel -
Horschel, who has contended at Torrey Pines before, shot a Sunday 64 at PGA West to go from a potentially mediocre finish to a T25 as well. Early in 2014 he's third in driving accuracy on Tour.

Roberto Castro -
Castro did the same thing Horschel did, shooting a final-round 64 to rocket up 45 spots for a T25 result. Unlike Horschel, however, Castro is still looking for his first win. He's 18th in strokes gained-putting this season.

Josh Teater -
The aforementioned Teater moved up 21 places on Sunday at the Humana with his Sunday 66.