The Farmers Insurance Open Preview and Picks

The Farmers Insurance Open
Thursday, Jan. 28 Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010
Torrey Pines Golf Club La Jolla, CA
The Golf Channel/CBS

by Evergreen of

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Its hard to believe that January is on the way out, but week four of the PGA Tour is here and pros stay in California for The Farmers Insurance Open. This will be the first year for the title sponsor with this event most recently known as the Buick Invitational. Nick Watney will defend his 2009 title against a strong field that includes Phil Mickelson for the first time in 2010. Phil is a former champion here in 2000 and 2001 and the title is truly up for grabs with Tiger Woods still on leave. Woods won this event five times between 2003 and 2008 bowing only to John Daly in 2004 before missing the 2009 event due to injury. The Golf Channel has the early rounds with CBS assuming its regular weekend telecasts from here on.

One unique feature of this event is that both host venues are used at Torrey Pines. The South and North courses are extremely different in terms of layout and scoring and will bring very different challenges to the players.

The South is the much harder to the two, measuring nearly 7,600 yards while playing at par-72 and finished as the 5th most difficult course in 2009 play. Torrey North seems diminutive by comparison; measuring 6,874 yards but also plays at par-72 and will be much more cooperative to scoring than the South. The South Course is one of the sternest tests outside of the Majors and is also the 2nd longest course in the Tour rotation.

Players will alternate between the two courses before the cut with the South Course hosting play for the weekend. The winner will obviously have to tame the tougher Torrey South, but will also have to make the most of the North to avoid having too much ground to make up.

11-under was good enough for the win last year and a similar number should win this time around with clear weather forecasted through the weekend. Consistent and steady golf will win this week and this will be the first event that will truly reward the longer players on Tour, provided they can find the fairways.

Each week, we take a look at the online golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we like to contend for the win. Well pick a short favorite, middle of the road and long odds player and also breakdown a few head to head matches. Here are our picks for the 2010 Farmers Insurance Open.

Short Favorite: Robert Allenby (14 to 1)
Phil Mickelson is the consensus favorite across the boards at a typical 6 to 1, but Allenby is the favorite among those who have made at least one start this year. Roberts lone start was at the Sony where he put together three consecutive 67s after an opening 65 and wound up in solo 2nd. Everyone knows that the putter is Allenbys nemesis, but the flatstick was better than average in Hawaii and he needed only one more to fall for a possible win. He hit 80% of his greens at the Sony and has always been good with the irons, ranking 24th in GIR% in 2009. Allenby also averaged 307 yards off the tee which could come in handy when tackling Torrey South. Why he could win: Fairways and greens are so important on tough tracks, and Allenby finished 2009 ranked 5th in total driving and 7th in ballstriking. The 17th best scoring average from a year ago would easily be top-10 if the putter would just cooperate.

Middle of the Road: Nick Watney (18 to 1)
Defending champs have fared well in the last few years on Tour even if the back to back wins are still rare for anyone not named Tiger. 18 to 1 is really good value for a defender, especially since style of play is so important this week. Along with his 2009 win, Watney also has a T9 in 2007 and his T16 at the season opening SBS Championship was plenty good for an endorsement here. Why he could win: One word: length. Watney finished 2009 ranked 6th in driving distance and has the power to overpower any course. Nick also finished last year ranked 2nd in par-5 birdies, which is absolutely critical this week as there arent a lot of scoring opportunities outside the par-5s. The balance of the stat sheet was good enough for the 20th ranked birdie average per round and the 17th best scoring average overall.

Longshot: Ryan Moore (33 to 1)
Youll see Ryans name on all the sleeper pick lists due to his recent run of hot golf. Moore finished the fall swing of 2009 with finishes of T7, T8 and 3 and started this year with a T6 and T10 to run his top-10 streak to five events. Nothing will really jump off Ryans stat sheet at first glance, but he is so solid across the board, ranking in the top-75 in all the key scoring areas. If he can come through in the next couple of weeks, hell lose the longshot tag in a hurry. Why hell win: Moore ranked 33rd in driving distance last year which is plenty to contend with Torrey South and is 8th rank in total driving shows a good combo of accuracy along with that length. In 2010 action, Ryan is hitting 75% of his fairways and nearly 84% of greens in regulation.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *Matches are for entire event. Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches, updated daily.

Lucas Glover (-115) v. Dustin Johnson (-115) (Johnson)
Dustin is a unique combination of strength and touch, ranking 3rd in driving distance and 29th in putting average. Both phases of his game will be rewarded this week and although Glover won this head to head last year, his 184th rank in putting average will limit him more times than not on a difficult course.

Justin Rose (-115) v. Chad Campbell (-115) (Campbell)
The books could not have found a more even match than this one. Both players had top-15 finishes at the Sony only to miss the cut at the Hope and the stat sheets are similar to the point of frustrating when trying to find the better pcik. The one significant edge does go to Campbell and his 9th best GIR% compared to Roses 83rd rank in that category. Patience is key in very tough conditions and Campbell has the better reputation as a grinder.

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Good Luck!