Originally known as the San Diego Open, this event was first played way back in 1952. Torrey Pines has been the host course since the 1968 renewal. As is tradition, the players will play both the North and South Course over the first two days. They will then play the considerably tougher South Course over the weekend.
2020/2021 US PGA Tour | Farmers Insurance Open
North and South Course, Torrey Pines, La Jolla, California
Thursday 28 January – Sunday 31 January
Si Woo Kim showed amazing Sunday confidence last week, claiming his third PGA Tour title following a magnificent closing round of 63. He will look to make it back-to-back titles in the second leg of this West Coast Swing. Torrey Pines is one of the most iconic courses on the PGA Tour (it will actually play host to this year’s US Open). Some of the big guns will be in contention this week, with Rory McIlroy looking to put last week’s disappointment on the European Tour behind him.
Both the North and South Course at Torrey Pines were designed by Billy Bell Jr and opened in 1957. Rees Jones revamped the South Course extensively after it had been awarded the 2008 US Open: Tiger Woods won that iconic event in a playoff against Rocco Mediate-despite injury. This is a unique event in that both courses have different green complexes. The North uses Bentgrass while the South uses Poa Annua. The South plays longer and is particularly tricky given the narrow, Kikuyu fairways. The South Course is actually one of the toughest tests on tour (due mainly to the penal rough). Statistics seem to suggest that your game has to be in all-round good shape to compete. Distance is helpful on the South Course while scrambling and iron-play will be vital to success. This is a classical test that will test the course management of all players.
As noted earlier, Rory McIlroy will be looking to put a poor final round in Abu Dhabi behind him. McIlroy has finished 5th and 3rd here on his two previous visits. But I’m slightly concerned by the long haul from Abu Dhabi to California. Jon Rahm is only making his 2nd appearance this year after a 7th place at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The Spaniard is a clear favourite after winning this event in 2017: he also finished runner-up last year. Xander Schauffele is always a factor while Tony Finau will be hoping to build after another near-miss at last week’s American Express Championship. Defending champ Mark Leishmann – who happens to be a two-time winner here – is also in the field. Si Woo Kim will look to cash in further following last week’s win. Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka lurk menacingly in the background for what should be a fascinating week.
2020: Mark Leishmann (-15)
2019: Justin Rose (-21)
2018: Jason Day (-10) *playoff
2017: Jon Rahm (-13)
2016: Brandt Snedeker (-6)
Outright Betting (To Win)
Jon Rahm (7/1)
Rory McIlroy (8/1)
Xander Schauffele (12/1)
Tony Finau (18/1)
Harris English (25/1)
To Win (40/1), To Place (17/2)
Day is just made to challenge this golf course. A former Players and PGA Champ, Day has an affinity for these old-school, challenging layouts. And just take one look at his form in this event. He has five top 10 finishes in his last eight starts at Torrey Pines. That includes two victories – one as recently as 2018. He had solid end to 2020, with two top 12 finishes in his last three events. He putts brilliantly on Poa Annua greens and could use this event as a springboard to reclaim his best form. He was the best player in the world by some distance during that one spell, lest we forget.
To Win (50/1), To Place (11/1)
Here we have a man who lost in a playoff of this event in 2018 (losing to aforementioned pick Jason Day). He followed that up with a T13 in 2019 and a T21 last year. He started 2021 with an excellent solo 4th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He currently sits 19th on tour for GIR and 2nd in Birdie Average. He has a good blend of distance and putting ability, which should make him ideal for this Torrey Pines test. This looks an open event with some of the leading PGA players declining to play this week. Palmer could be a sneaky dark horse.
The Man to Beat
To Win (25/1), To Place (11/2)
I think it’s fair to swerve both Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm this week. Rahm is a bit undercooked while McIlroy was unconvincing in contention in Abu Dhabi last week. I would rather opt for one of the most consistent players over the past 16 months. In a top-quality FedEx Cup playoff event – the Northern Trust Open – he finished runner-up to Dustin Johnson. He then finished 4th at the US Open. He signed off 2020 with a 5th at the Mayakoba Classic. He was also magnificent in winning the QBE Shootout alongside Matt Kuchar. But there has been no lag in 2020. He won the Sentry Tournament of Champions and his game looks solid. Torrey Pines will expose a player’s weaknesses: English doesn’t appear to have any. He also finished runner-up here in 2015. You have to play him at 25/1.