Damien Kayat previews the 2023 edition of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open set to take place at Torrey Pines in California.
2022/2023 US PGA Tour
Farmers Insurance Open
Torrey Pines, La Jolla, California
Everything is just screaming Jon Rahm this week. The burly Spaniard won his second consecutive US PGA Tour event at last week’s American Express.
It was his fourth worldwide win in six starts. It vaulted Rahm to number three in the world rankings (don’t get him started on that barometer).
He actually has the chance to reclaim that No.1 ranking this week (depending on Rory’s performance in Dubai). And he couldn’t have picked a better spot to launch that attack.
Rahm’s victory at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open was his first PGA Tour victory. He also won his maiden Major Championship at the 2021 US Open staged at Torrey Pines.
Current form and course form both suggest that Rahm has it in him to produce a remarkable hat-trick this week.
Farmers Insurance Open
The West Coast swing continues this week with the 71st staging of the Farmers Insurance Open. Originally known as the San Diego Open, this event was first staged back in 1952.
It began its partnership with the now iconic Torrey Pines way back in 1968. And this event has seen a litany of iconic champions throughout its history.
Names such as Nicklaus, Player and Watson adorn its honours role. But no player is more synonymous with Torrey Pines than the legendary Tiger Woods. He has won the event a remarkable seven times.
He also memorably won the 2008 US Open staged here on one fully operational leg.
The event is played over two courses: the North Curse and the South. The players rotate between both courses prior to the weekend. They will then take on the far more challenging South Course for the weekend.
Both courses were designed by Billy Bell Jr and were opened in 1957. The North Course is about 400 yards shorter and plays much less difficult than the South.
Tom Weiskopf undertook a renovation to the North Course prior to the 2017 renewal. This has led to a slight narrowing of margins between the two courses.
But the shorter North Course, with its slower bentgrass greens, is fairly scorable. The South Course is perennially ranked as one of the tougher tests out there.
It has tight Kikuyu fairways and plays very long. Players need to drive the ball far and relatively straight. But they also need to negotiate very slick poa annua greens.
Look for players with amazing ball-striking stats who can scramble for fun.
I have already waxed lyrical about the chances of Jon Rahm this week. But what of the rest of the field? Justin Thomas underwhelmed at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and hasn’t really come to grips with Torrey Pines as of yet.
Tony Finau has flirted with contention here before and has to be respected on current form. It will be interesting to see how Collin Morikawa bounces back after that historic collapse at Plantation.
Also, keep an eye out for Xander Schauffele. He was exceptional in the final round of the American Express, shooting a 62 that included a ridiculous albatross. He finished second here a few years back and looks hungry to contend again.
2022: Luke List (-15) *playoff
2021: Patrick Reed (-14)
2020: Marc Leishman (-15)
2019: Justin Rose (-21)
2018: Jason Day (-10) *playoff
2017: Jon Rahm (-13)
To Win Outright:
Jon Rahm 4/1 | Justin Thomas 14/1 | Xander Schauffele 14/1 | Tony Finau 14/1 | Collin Morikawa 14/1
Max Homa- To Win 22/1 | To Place 48/10
Californian Max Homa has an absolutely brilliant record in his home state (three of his five wins have come at home). He won the Fortinet Championship in the Golden State in September. He then followed that up with a brilliant President’s Cup performance- nabbing four points from four matches. Homa was ninth here in 2020 and 18th in 2021. He finished T3 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and I think he’s primed for success this week.
Luke List- To Win 80/1 | To Place 17/1
Defending champion Luke List is ridiculously priced at 80/1 this week. He finished 10th here in 2021 and obviously took home the title last year. He had a top 25 at the American Express going into last year’s Farmers. So, his missed cut at this year’s American Express does look a bit concerning. However, an opening round 73 really destroyed him last week. He shots rounds of 67 and 68 over Friday and Saturday. I think it’s fair to assume he just had a bad day on Thursday. He finished in a tie for 11th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. I really think his awesome tee-to-green game makes him an appealing sleeper pick (especially in the place market).
The Man to Beat- Tony Finau- To Win 14/1 | To Place 3/1
I’m really feeling Finau this week. He has won three times in his last ten starts. During that span he has only finished outside the top 20 twice. Last week’s T16 is slightly misleading (he only finished six shots back of eventual winner Rahm). He has been in brilliant form and his combination of length and accuracy makes him an irresistible pick for Torrey Pines. He has finished inside the top 25 in seven of his eight starts here. That includes four top 10’s (including a T2 in 2021).