Farmers Insurance Open Analysis & Picks
Event: Farmers Insurance Open
When: January 28-31, 2021
Where: Torrey Pines (South) - San Diego, CA
Watch: The Golf Channel/CBS
The California Swing continues at one of the most well-known venues in modern American golf as the PGA heads to Torrey Pines for The Farmers Insurance Open. More and more pros are making their 2021 debuts as we finish up January, with Rory McIlory making his first start of the season this week alongside Jason Day and Jordan Spieth. Marc Leishman will defend his 2020 title against a strong overall field that is led by betting favorite and former champ, Jon Rahm. Youth is served with Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff among a good crop of young stars, but the veteran pool is about as deep as it gets with Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler also in action. The North and South Courses at Torrey will be used on the first two days, with all weekend play taking place at the South.
The courses at Torrey Pines have been a staple on Tour for decades, and the South Course was the scene of high drama in 2008 when Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open in a playoff. The Open returns to Torrey South this year, so The Farmers will serve as a bit of Major prep, although things will be a bit easier this week than when the USGA gets its say this June. The courses are quite different, although both play at par-72. The North is significantly shorter at 7,250 yards while the South stretches out to 7,700 yards, and hitting the fairways is the most challenging task on-paper here. In 2020, the field found the short grass less than 54% of the time, and Torrey’s fairways have ranked as the hardest to hit in multiple seasons. Straight hitters like Brandt Snedeker and Ben Crane have used accuracy to win here, but guys like Bubba Watson and John Daly have used their power to attack and shrink the course. A hot putter can be the great equalizer, and Leishman led the field in strokes gained-putting en route to his win last year. Look for strong short game practitioners to succeed as well, especially if the winning score hovers in the high single digits under par.
Each week, we take a look at the online sportsbook sites and highlight the best values on the board. We make a short, middle, and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of popular head-to-head matches that can be found at just about every golf betting outlet. Odds to win info and pairings for this week can be found at Bovada. Here are our picks to win the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open.
Xander Schauffele (12 to 1 odds to win)
Schauffele has been putting in quality work in the early going with three straight top-5 finishes heading into the week, including a runner-up spot at the CJ Cup. Xander isn’t straight off the tee, but that hasn’t hurt his GIR game, where he ranks 38th in greens hit despite ranking outside the top-150 in fairways. He still manages a top-10 mark in overall tee-to-green performance, and a top-15 putter has turned in the 7th best birdie average this season. He doesn’t lose strokes to the field in any category and heads to Torrey, ranked 2nd in total strokes gained. He hasn’t fared well in the past here, but I think a top-10 scoring average is bound to show well this week. For those who want in on the action but that don’t want to “gamble”, Xander can be bet to finish in the top 10 at +125 odds at Bovada Sportsbook. Credit cards work there for deposits and they’ll give you a 50% bonus up to $250 as well!
Patrick Reed (25 to 1)
Reed suffered his first cut at the AMEX but had three straight top-15 finishes leading into last week, including a T13 at the U.S. Open and a T10 at the Masters. He has made the weekend in all five of his Farmers starts with a steady improvement in results going 23-16-6 in his last three trips. He is not the prototypical shot maker but absolutely gets it done on the greens with top-4 ranks in strokes gained-putting, one-putt percentages, and GIR putting average. That putting average on greens hit has produced the 4th best birdie average this season, and I like Reed to battle his way around Torrey and cash in with the putter like several past champs have done here.
Francesco Molinari (66 to 1)
With just seven starts in 2020, Molinari has been a forgotten man on Tour, but it was just two seasons ago when he won The British Open before becoming a Ryder Cup hero and finishing the year as the 7th best player in the world. He did win again in 2019 but has fallen to 110th in the OWGR to fit the bill of the longshot. He was universally faded last week but produced a T8 at the AMEX and was T15 in Houston to show he still has some gas in the tank. He ranks 25th in tee-to-green performance, so I think he will get it around Torrey just fine, and his putter is producing 4.25 birdies per round. He does lead the Tour in scrambling from the rough, which should come into play this week as well. He did miss the cut here last season but notched a personal best round of 67 to show some fire. You can get him to finish in the top 20 at +250 at Bovada.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with your favorite online betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Scottie Scheffler (-110) v. Vicktor Hovland (-120) (pick to win: Scheffler)
Both players shot 1-over to miss the cut in their Farmers debut last season, but both have put together strong fall and winter results to count among the mid-pack favorites this week. Scheffler has gone 2-1 against Hovland in the last three events and should make it another win as Scottie is a top-10 player in driving accuracy. That should produce a scoring edge over the course of the week, and Scheffler also has small edges in putting and scrambling stats. I would give Hovland the nod if this were just about winning potential, but head-to-heads often come down to the player that can grind it out over four days, and I think Scheffler has the higher floor. Scheffler finishes just inside the top-20 while I have Hovland just outside the top-25.
Jon Rahm (-125) v. Rory McIlroy (-105) (pick to win: McIlroy)
Rahm has ascended to be the No. 2 player in the world for good reason, and it is a little tough to bet against a former champ that holds a course record at Torrey, but I think McIlroy is the closest thing to Tiger when it comes to driving ability. Over the course of seven regular victories here, Woods dominated the field off-the-tee and out-putted everyone as well. McIlroy is still the unquestioned top driver on Tour when he is on, and he is about 80 spots better than Rahm in putting average right now. Rory also leads in birdies per round, which could be important as we have seen Torrey produce some low rounds in recent seasons. Rahm is also still getting comfortable with new equipment and just got over a sore back that kept him out for a couple of weeks. I will take a strong opponent against Rahm until he shows he’s back on top of his game.
Good luck and good golf!