Farmers Insurance Open Preview and Picks
The PGA Tour stays in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. Last week, Brian Gay birdied the second playoff hole to win the Humana Challenge over Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth. It was the fourth PGA Tour title for Gay who will be taking this week off as 156 golfers will be eyeing the $6,000,000 purse this week in what is the biggest field of the young PGA Tour season.
Torrey Pines North and South courses are the hosts for the 46th consecutive year and it really does not get much better than that. Torrey Pines is one of the few municipal courses on the schedule and still plays as one of the tougher stops on tour, namely the South course which is the sole course used on the weekend. The South ranked as the 11th hardest for a second straight year in difficulty while the North was the third easiest last season.
Scoring low on the North course is imperative because the South will not give in. The South Course is the longest course on Tour at 7,698 yards but that does not mean big hitters will dominate. Expereience is the biggest factor this week as a mix of small greens with Poa annua can cause havoc for many. Only the U.S. Open has gone longer than the Farmers in a first timer winning as you have to go back to 1957 when Arnold Palmer captured the tournament in his first trip here.
This was a tough tournament to watch last year on Sunday as Kyle Stanley blew a seven-shot lead following a triple bogey on the 72nd hole to send the tournament into a playoff that was eventually won by Brandt Snedeker on the second playoff hole. Stanley got his revenge however as he overcame a six-shot deficit on Sunday to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open the following week.
To no surprise, Tiger Woods (+650) is the heavy favorite this week. After a T44 here in 2011, he skipped last year to play in the Abu Dhabi Championship. He is back this year after missing the cut in the United Arab Emirates last week because of a fluke penalty due to a drop. He is a six-time winner of this event but this will be just his second start in the last five years here. We will use him as a hedge.
Bubba Watson (+1,500) has been off since the opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions where he finished T4 in the rain-shortened event. He finished T13 at Torrey Pines a year ago but the odd years have been the best as he finished T4 in 2007, T7 in 2009 and was the winner in 2011 as he won by a shot over Phil Mickelson. He has finished 12th or better in five of his last six events.
Nick Watney (+2,000) also has not played since Kapalua where he finished T14 after the 54-hole weather shortened event. That was his first go around with his new Nike equipment and he was clearly more comfortable than Rory McIlroy was overseas. He has also liked the odds years as Watney won here is 2009 and finished T6 in 2011 after a Sunday 63. He has been in the top ten in four of his 10 starts here.
Hunter Mahan (+3,000) won twice before April last season but carded only two top tens the rest of the way which was part of the reason he missed the Ryder Cup team. He has gained a new perspective after a near disaster in Israel in November and following a T26 at the Hyundai, he is back to a place that has treated him well. He has finished tied for sixth in each of the last two years at the Farmers.
Bill Haas (+4,000) fell apart on us last week but we will go back with him here as the extra day off hopefully will help. He has an exceptional history at Torrey Pines as he has finished T11 or better in three of his last four appearances including a T4 last year as he opened with a Friday 63 but was still a shot off the lead. He has shot even par or better in 19 of his last 24 rounds here.
For a longshot, we will take a look at Jimmy Walker (+5,000). He has opened 2013 with a couple top 25's after closing last year with a T10 and a T4 so he should keep the momentum going. He has never won on tour but the time will come and this could be the place. After missing the cut here in 2009 and 2010, he broke through with a T29 in 2011 and last year a Friday 65 helped him earn a T8.
Recommended Tournament Win Six Pack at the Farmers Insurance Open - All for 1 Unit
Tiger Woods (+650)
Bubba Watson (+1,500)
Nick Watney (+2,000)
Hunter Mahan (+3,000)
Bill Haas (+4,000)
Jimmy Walker (+5,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 3 events: -15 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
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