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PREVIEW: 2022 PGA Tour – Farmers Insurance Open

The 2nd leg of this year’s West Coast Swing heads to one of the most iconic courses in American golfing folklore for the Farmers Insurance Open: Torrey Pines.

Tony Finau - Farmers Insurance Open - PGA Tour
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The 2nd leg of this year’s West Coast Swing heads to one of the most iconic courses in American golfing folklore for the Farmers Insurance Open: Torrey Pines.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022 US PGA Tour
Farmers Insurance Open
Torrey Pines, La Jolla, California
26th-29th January

The Farmers Insurance Open was originally known as the San Diego Open and it was first staged in 1952. The event began its now-legendary relationship with Torrey Pines in 1968.

Many of the game’s greats have tasted success at this classic venue. The likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller have all emerged victorious around this hallowed course.

But it is undoubtedly Tiger Woods who is most immediately associated with this Californian institution. The seven-time champion memorably won the 2008 US Open (hosted on the South Course), taking down Rocco Mediate in his so-called ‘one-legged’ Major victory.

The event’s current structure sees the entire field playing both the North and South Course over the first two days. The 36-hole cut then requires the remaining players to play the far more challenging South Course over the weekend.

Designed by Billy Bell Jr., both of these courses were opened in 1957. After being awarded the 2008 US Open, the South Course was extensively reworked by Rees Jones.

It was also reworked again ahead of last year US Open (won by Jon Rahm). The North Course plays much easier and players may need to take advantage of their 18 holes out there. The Bentgrass greens are easier to read and it measures at least 400 yards shorter.

The South Course is regularly ranked as one of the toughest challenges on the tour, with tight Kikuyu fairways and tricky Poa Annua greens. One thing is essential if you wish to prosper in this event: you need to strike the ball well.

Players with length have an obvious advantage on the South Course. But perhaps even more critical is what players do on these devilish Poa Annua greens.

2021 US Open Jon Rahm is clearly a Torrey Pines specialist. The World Number One not only won his maiden Major in dramatic style last year; he also won this very event in 2017.

He actually has five top-seven finishes in six visits to Torrey Pines! But he faded away rather disappointingly in the closing stages last week. Six of the world’s top ten will be in action in this star-studded field.

Huge hitters such as DJ and Bryson DeChambeau will always be a factor. Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele will also be looking to get their respective seasons going this week.

Hideki Matsuyama has won three times in the last 12 months and will be looking to make it back-to-back victories following his brilliance at the Sony Open. Defending champion Patrick Reed is also in the field while there are is a trio of multiple winners in the lower depths of the markets (Day, Snedeker and Mickelson).

Past Winners

2021: Pattrick Reed (-14)
2020: Mark Leishman (-15)
2019: Justin Rose (-21)
2018: Jason Day (-10) *playoff
2017: Jon Rahm (-13)

To Win Outright:

Jon Rahm 8/1 | Justin Thomas 12/1 | Xander Schauffele 14/1 | Dustin Johnson 16/1 | Hideki Matsuyama 16/1

Value Bets

Ryan Palmer- To Win (60/1), To Place (13/1)

Palmer seems to be rediscovering a semblance of form, making his last four cuts and finishing in a tie for 12th in his last start at the Sony Open. But the reason I’m really backing him at this price is due to his form at this venue. He has two-runner up finishes in six starts at Torrey Pines (2018 and 2021). This, combined with his recent uptick in form, make him a killer deal in the place markets at 13/1.

Matthew Wolff- To Win 66/1 | To Place 14/1

2020 US Open runner-up Matthew Wolff has had his share of demons to fight over the Covid period. Some young players are just better equipped to deal with such a trying circumstance. Wolff’s mental health and golf game suffered. But he started to show some encouraging improvement towards the end of 2021. He actually picked up four consecutive top 20 finishes to end 2021. That included a runner-up at the Shriners. Sure, he missed last week’s cut. But a volatile player such as Wolff only presents greater equity after failures. He missed the cut at the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic before winning his maiden PGA Tour title at the 3M Open a week later.

The Man to Beat- Dustin Johnson- To Win 16/1 | To Place 7/2

I’m hoping that DJ’s long winter break will have him chomping at the bit this week. Johnson doesn’t tend to play this event too regularly. He did, however, manage to pick up a top 20 finish at last year’s US Open. He also showed good form in 2021 at courses that correlate with Torrey Pines. He finished in a tie for 8th at the Genesis last year and in a tie for 10th at the Palmetto. Johnson suits these Kikuyu fairways perfectly (as evidenced by his form at Riviera). He has a win and nine top 10’s at Riviera throughout his career. His combination of length and accuracy should stand him in good stead this week. It all depends on how well he putts.

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