Eat The Chalk or Make The Pivot, Farmers Insurance Open

We have a short turnaround for what many consider the first real test of golf in 2023. The Farmers Insurance Open tournament will be quite different than what we have seen the past 3 weeks. Birdies will be a premium while missing the fairway and greens will potentially penalize players. Torrey Pines South is the host course for three rounds with everyone playing a round at TP North. South is the famed course but the North is no slouch and is more difficult than any of the other courses we have seen this year. The South course will play around 7600-7700 yards with tight fairways, plenty of rough and true west coast poa greens. Meanwhile the North course comes in around 7,250 yards, same tight fairways, plenty of rough and bentgrass greens. Also of note these greens are closer to average size on tour. Playing a round well under par on the North course is key to winning because the South is that hard. On top of all this the area has seen plenty of rain. Expect the courses to play longer. Finally, without tee times all of the below could change. This is due to Thursday currently looking fairly windy. With that said it’s being written as if their is no wind impacts.

10K+ Players
Some are calling this the Jon Rahm invitational. The guy is on absolute fire playing top notch golf. Now he gets a course we’re he has won twice while finishing inside the T5 three other times in his 7 trips around. As noted last week he loves this area and feels extremely comfortable here. Rahm proposed to his wife at this course. His length off the tee combined with great accuracy, solid iron play, touch around the greens and hot putter all suggest another great finish. Jon Rahm is chalk I will eat.

All 3 of the remaining 10k players are pivots of Rahm. Xander Schauffele is the one who concerns me the most. This is his home and his results here aren’t the best. On the other end his game sets up well for the course. My worries with Xander are with his recent injury and is he swinging at 100% vs what he said was 80%. In addition how will the fairway rough affect his swing. It’s a pass for me when it comes to Xander.

Both Tony Finau and Collin Morikawa have solid results here. I expect both to contend come Saturday afternoon. I doubt we see sub 15% ownership on either but I feel both can be had for at least half of Rahm’s ownership. It will be interesting to see how many go back to Morikawa after his collapse a few weeks back. The biggest concern for me with Collin is his inconsistency with the short game. Finau sets up similar to Rahm when it comes to game style. The concern with Tony is his accuracy off the tee can be suspect. No doubt I will be playing both of these studs. All it takes is 1-2 bad holes from Rahm for other players to take advantage.

9K Price Range
Limited options with the range and I am starting with the pivots. Sungjae Im and Hideki Matsuyama should be the two lowest owned. I will be staying away as I simply feel their upside isn’t their. Most likely we get a solid finish with both but I am willing to take my chances neither T10. The other player I will pass on is Max Homa. He will get ownership but is still a pivot off the three left in this range. Homa loves playing in Cali but this is easily his worse course on the west coast. His game although improved doesn’t set up the best.

Hard to imagine that a mis priced Justin Thomas isn’t the most popular in this range. He has played here four times finishing 10th, 19th, 20th and MC. The iron play along with around the green are top notch. The big concern is his accuracy off the tee and a rather inconsistent putter. The latter two combined with a high ownership will keep me away.

I am still on the fence with Taylor Montgomery. We all know he can put. He also has the distance. Concern is the iron play isn’t the best. With these being smaller than average greens I am concerned with how many birdie opportunities he will have. Yes the putter is great but I want him to use the flat stick for birdies not saving pars. He finished well here last year which keeps him on the fence for me. The ownership isn’t a concern as I feel he should be in line with Homa.

8K Price Range
There is just something about Torrey Pines that agrees with Jason Day. He usually brings his best game as shown by his results. Two wins and three other T5’s puts him right behind Rahm when it comes to course history. Day played well last week and appears to be healthy currently. The recent rain will hurt him off the tee but his on and around the green play is superb. No doubt I will definitely have some Day and it will be chalky when paired with Rahm. That’s fine with me as I have four other slots to get different.

After Day this range is filled with players who have solid records here. My concern with all is over years some have missed the cut but my bigger concern is their upside. Many are lacking T10 finishes with few T5 finishes. On the other end though most should come at lower ownership due to roster construction paths. I am eliminating JJ Spaun, Hayden Buckley, and Adam Hadwin. Their game doesn’t set up well for the course and I don’t see the upside.

The length of the course concerns me for Si Woo Kim. The positive though is the short game is one of the best. My concern is how will his new broom stick putting style react to poa greens. Cam Davis should be low owned after disappointing recently. Is this week he plays well and gets back on everyone who passes. Even with mediocre results here I have some interest. Justin Rose has great history here. He played solid last week. Will people know be on him. My concern with Rose is the age making the course play really long for him. He has also been very reliant on a putter much more so than other parts of this game. In the end I will probably pass on all three of these players.

This brings us to Luke List and Keegan Bradley, two similar players. List is the defensing champ. That will draw people in and minus one round he has played well the past couple weeks. Keegan has struggled so far this year but I actually prefer him over List due to the fact he plays much better in the wind. I also feel he is a nice pivot off List. Bradley has solid results here and playing him will make the roster different.

The final two players in the range are Mav McNealy and Sahith Theegala. After Day I expect McNealy to garner the most interest. He is another Cali player who continues to improve his overall game. Solid history combined with a good finish at the Sony will bring people toward him. Theegala is the pivot off Day and McNealy. His game sets up well for the course. His recent results will pull people away. Theegala has plenty of experience playing here in his youth and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is contending come Saturday.

7k Range Price
No different than last week we have a plethora of options to choose from of which I don’t see anyone commanding huge ownership numbers. A few of the players who I see could draw some of the higher ownership in this range would be the following. Wyhdham Clarke, Ben Griffin, Ben Taylor, Alex Smalley, and Will Gordon. Of these players the two that interest me the most would be Clarke and Gordon. Both are long hitters, suspect iron play but on and around the green they are solid.

Some pivots that I like and most should be sub 10% owned would be the following. Taylor Pendrith, Robby Shelton, Lanto Griffin, Matthew NeSmith and Gary Woodland. The first two fits the mold with distance while the latter three with course history. All five make your lineups with Rahm or any of the other chalkier plays different. In the end we have several players who could surprise and I might be willing to take some chances on others if I can find a core of 2-3 expensive I like mixing and matching several in the lower 7k range. Others that interest me are Patrick Rodgers (could be talked up in ownership), Nick Hardy, Cam Champ, Aaron Baddeley and Dean Burmester.

Thats all she wrote for the Farmers Insurance Open. Keep an eye on the weather for round 2 as I am sure this will become a hot topic. Let’s continue to roll and Run Pure!

OTHER GREAT ARTICLES

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *