Farmers Insurance Open Preview and Picks to Win
Dates: January 25-28, 2018
Courses: Torrey Pines South and North Courses, San Diego, CA
TV: The Golf Channel
The West Coast (California) Swing continues on the PGA Tour this week with the pros headed to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open. Farmers has only been the title sponsor of this event for a short while but this event has roots going back to 1952 and the days of the San Diego Open. Buick served as the main sponsor for most of recent history and the venerable Torrey Pines has drawn high quality fields year in and year out. Tiger Woods has won seven Farmers championships in his career and makes his 2018 PGA debut this week. Nearly all of the news has centered on Woods return and the online betting sites have taken notice. Tiger played well enough in the 18-man Hero World Challenge to have the books in protection mode and most betting sites have Tiger as a relatively short odds option at 20 to 1 or so. He is in the 5 to 1 range to notch a top-5 finish and just 2 to 1 get inside the top-10. That is pretty remarkable considering the state of his game over the last few years but reports of him flat killing the ball in practice have many excited for his return to competition. Torrey South has certainly been kind to Tiger throughout his career but his relatively low value makes him a pretty poor betting value for a guy that hasnt performed well more often than not lately. That said, if he wins this week, or at least contends, you wont see him anywhere near 20 to 1 anytime soon.
Jon Rahm will defend his 2017 title this week and he has moved to #2 in the world after his win at the CareerBuilder last week. The 2015 champ Jason Day is entered and the top end of the field also features a very hot Justin Rose as well as fan faves Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. Players will play one round at Torrey North and one round at Torrey South over the first two days with all play continuing at the South Course after the 36-hole cut. Both courses play at par-72 but the South can stretch to nearly 7,700 yards with the North limited to 7,250 or so. The low scores have most often come at the South despite that extra yardage and the North is just two years off a Weiskopf redesign. The course record at the South is 62 while Justin Roses 65 stands as the course record at the new North. Players of all skill sets have done well here in the past so while there is no preferred approach to winnning, it is a safe bet that the winner will be using every shot in his bag at some point in the week. Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and now Rahm have made for some big champs in the early PGA season and there is a decent chance that one of the big dogs will be lifting the trophy come Sunday afternoon.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the best values on the board. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that are featured at just about any golf betting site. Here are our picks to win the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open.
Justin Rose (14 to 1 odds to win)
If you dont follow international golf over the winter, you dont know just how well Rose has been playing lately. He won the HSBC in October, finished 5th at the Hero and also won the Turkish Airlines event in December. That is an impressive run and many are suggesting that Roses floor is a top-10 at the moment. Add in that he was 4th here last year and that 14 to 1 is starting to look like the best value on the board. Rose finished 2017 as the 9th best tee-to-green player on Tour and that should have him in good shape to handle the nuances at both venues. The length is there off the tee and his is a good enough putter to finish inside the top-11 in birdies and scoring last year. He is a bit below average in putting average on greens hit but all that really means is that he needs a slightly above average week on the greens to win. Most players need more and when Rose does perform well with the putter, the field is in trouble.
Brandt Snedeker (33 to 1)
Tiger dominates the record book at this event but the second best career record at Torrey probably belongs to Sneds. He won here in 2012 and 2016 with a T2 in 2013 and T9 last year in there as well. Snedeker is a solid tee-to-green player with top-50 or top-60 marks in the various ball striking categories but he makes his mark on the greens where he finished 2017 ranked 31st in both GIR putting and overall putting average. He is a top-20 scrambler and also brings top-20 ranks in birdies and scoring. He isnt a dominant player but you like the fact that he has such a strong track record on these greens. He should be among the best with the putter again this week and that should have him contending if his irons are sharp.
Charley Hoffman (55 to 1)
Hoffman was Mr. Close-call last year with two runner-up finishes and two more 3rd place runs. He had his best overall year in the Majors and seems to be getting better even though he is now on the other side of 40. He hasnt played much in the fall and winter but did finish in the top-8 in both the Hero and QBE Shootout. Neither of those events are official but good play is good play. Hoffman is long enough to challenge the eage opportunities on the South Course and he remains one of the best overall drivers on Tour, ranking 15th in off-the-tee performance. He is a bit of a streaky putter but did well enough on the greens last season to finish 17th in birdie average and led the Tour in total birdies recorded. He can go low when necessary and his veteran experience level is a nice feature for a longshot bet.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with Bovada Sportsbook for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Gary Woodland v. Patrick Reed (pick to win: Woodland)
Reed is a gutty competitor every week but he has been prone to spotty play at times and you would say he is in a bit of slump considering two missed cuts in four starts this season. He also withdrew here in 2016 after a third round 81 while Woodland has been in the top-20 here two years running. Woodland is significantly longer off the tee and that is a factor considering both players hit about the same amount of fairways. Reed is the better putter and that helps him score at the same level of Woodland despite the deficit in ballstriking but you can overlook that for Woodland at Torrey considering he has multiple solid finishes. Gary is comfy on the greens here and that helps offset Reeds putting advantage that would show bigger at a different course.
Rickie Fowler v. John Rahm (pick to win: Rahm)
This might be one of the closest matches on the board with both players firing it well at the moment. They both teed it up at the TOC and Rahm edged Rickie with a 2nd place finish to Fowlers 4th. Expect a similarly close match this week but give the edge to Rahm on heat alone. He is chasing down Dustin Johnson to become the #1 player in the world and his top-end tee-to-green game easily imports to any course. Fowler is not far behind on the ballstriking and turns a slightly better scoring average but no one is better than Rahm at the moment outside of Dustin Johnson. Fowler is the better statistical putter but both men are top-flight scramblers so that on-green edge is more about Rahm netting a few more pars per round, not necessarily making mistakes. We dont have a lot to go on in the early season sometimes so stay with Rahm while he is hot.
Good luck and good golf!