The Farmers Insurance Open is the true beginning of the 2017 PGA Tour grind. Every course these guys have faced over the fall and winter portions of the season thus far have been cakewalks compared to the behemoth that is Torrey Pines South. At a hulking 7,700 yards, this course has hosted U.S. Opens, boasting long and thick rough, undulating and tricky Poa Annua greens, plenty of tough bunkers, and other pitfalls that are sure to snare even some of the most competent golfers. It is definitely the first week where even-par will be a score that does not cause us to roll our eyes, as the cut line has historically fallen at about even-par or -1 over the past five years.
You might ask, then, why would the cut line possibly be under par? Well, one of the first two rounds is played at the newly-renovated Torrey Pines North which, at a 450-yard discount with bigger, bentgrass greens and fewer bunkers, provides those who can take advantage with a big opportunity to pad their pre-cut scorecards. A poor round on the easy North course – particularly on day one – can make a made cut a very tall order as scoring is far more difficult on the South.
So how do we select good plays to deal with this monstrosity? While there are some shorter players that have had success here, bombers have a clear edge as the sheer length of the course and thick rough will make it very hard for shorter players, particularly if they’re not finding the fairway at a strong clip. Unfortunately, bombers also tend to be inferior scramblers, so if they end up missing greens, they’re going to be in huge trouble as well. My feeling is that your selection process for Torrey should be tight, decisive, and concentrated on players whose skillsets and experience at this event suggest the greatest possible edge in sneaking through that cut line without having to make miracle pars.
I’ll conclude with a couple final notes on this week. Firstly, I would resist the temptation to push the button on Tiger as we are really in no position to speculate where his game is going to be on a track this hard right now, and shots out of thick rough requiring tons of torque could spell back reinjury. Secondly, I would strongly recommend omitting the final round of last year’s Farmers from your research as the winds created virtually impossible conditions which heavily skewed players’ statistical averages throughout the tournament.
Course: Two Courses – Torrey Pines North and South. Players alternate courses the first two days, then play the weekend on South.
Yardage/Par: South: Par 72, 7,698 Yards. North: Par 72, 7,258 Yards.
Scoring Expectation: South is a very tough customer. I’d bet on high single-digits to low double-digits for the winner.
Greens: South: Poa Annua. North: Bent.
Weather: Looks to be pristine for the duration of the event with maybe a touch of wind on Friday and Saturday, but nothing to be concerned about.
Dustin Johnson ($21,000, Cash or GPP) – He is not cheap, but few golfers are more worth the price this week than DJ. He’s got all the tools in his arsenal that we could possibly want for a strong play this week, and were it not for the cataclysmic winds in the fourth round of last week, he would’ve been a great bet to ship. I will be deploying him in all formats this week with confidence.
Jon Rahm ($17,500, Cash or GPP) – It wasn’t the sparkling contention finish we hoped for out of Rahm last week, but considering he didn’t birdie a Par 5 until Sunday and still managed to shoot -9 with plenty of bogeys, it’s safe to assume that this kid is the real deal. He comes at a pretty nice discount this week on FantasyDraft and should be a very strong bet to find his way through the if he can continue his tee-to-green dominance.
Harris English ($14,300, Cash or GPP) – One-shot Harris has been a bad beat DFS play for three consecutive events, having missed each of his last three cuts by exactly one shot. However, on a course this week where par is a far more acceptable score, English should be a pretty strong bet to cruise through the cut line with some reasonable upside at a discount price, just as he has in all four of his showings at this event.
Charles Howell III ($14,000, Cash or GPP) – “Bargain” doesn’t even begin to cover the value that Howell presents this week on virtually all DFS sites, much less FantasyDraft’s extremely generous $14,000 pricing. Howell is one of the few players this week who has played this event over five times and never missed a single cut, much less ten times, or in his case, fourteen times. As a nice bonus, he’s got six top-tens to go with those fourteen made cuts. Plug him in and don’t think twice.
Good luck in your contests this week, stay disciplined, and trust your process!