Farmers Insurance Open 2020: Big guns are back for the first time this year

With names like McIlroy, Woods and Rose back in contention for the first time in 2020 it's easy to see why David Kristiansen believes this is the first meaningful event of the year...

David Kristiansen

The PGA Tour’s return to Torrey Pines for Thursday’s 2020 Farmers Insurance Open also means Tiger Woods is back as he seeks his record-setting 83rd PGA Tour victory when he makes his first start of the calendar year as part of a star-studded 2020 Farmers Insurance Open field.

Woods has won the Farmers seven times and also captured the 2008 U.S. Open at the scenic cliffside course overlooking the Pacific Ocean and joins a number of big names including Rory McIlroy and previous winner Jon Rahm, while Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and defending champion Justin Rose will also be in attendance.

The AmEx recap

Sunday looked to become pretty dull with Andrew Landry leading by as much as six at one point, but three straight bogeys on the back nine from the American coupled with a blistering last round 63 by Abraham Ancer led to the two being tied.

That’s when Landry stepped onto the 17th and proceeded to hit an exceptional tee shot to the island green par 3 that settled 6 feet from the hole which he knocked in for a birdie to secure his second PGA Tour victory.

Our three picks made the 54-hole cut but never really threatened the top of the leader board closest came our 250 to 1 longshot Ted Potter Jr who was inside the top 10 most of Saturday but a finishing triple-bogey ended his chances.

The Course

Venue: Torrey Pines South

Length: 7700 yards (Par 72)

Greens: Poa Annuas

Opened: 1957

Architect: William F. Bell, re-designed by Rees Jones in 2001

Farmers week has always been when I personally really start caring about golf again. It’s usually the first full-field tournament with multiple top 10 players in the field and this year’s edition has five of the top ten showing up including Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy.

The tournament utilizes both the North and the South course at Torrey Pines in the two first round, the golfers that make the cut will compete on the South course for the last two rounds so that is the course I will mainly focus on for the purpose of this article.

A couple quick notes on the North course: it is also a par 72 but plays almost 500 yards shorter than the South, all four par 3s are over 200 yards and the average score is usually two shots lower than the South course.

The length of the holes combined with the narrow fairways makes the fairways on the South course some of the most difficult to hit on tour and you will need to go gain strokes off the tee to have any chance here, I would lean towards the bombers over those that hit most fairways but are on the shorter end.

With four par 5s and three of the four par 3s being over 200 yards the long irons will get a workout this week. The greens are fast Poa Annua that is hard to hit and difficult to get up and down on without a strong short game.

In summary, this is close to an all-around test of golf which often gets won by a top tear player as showed by Jason Day, John Rahm and Justin Rose being the last three champions here and oh yeah, a certain Tiger Woods has won here seven times.

Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:

  • Par 5 scoring
  • Strokes gained off the tee
  • Strokes gained short game
  • Poa annua putting
  • Proximity 175-200 and 200+ yards
  • Bogey avoidance


Season overview:
Wagered: 70,5 units
Won: 85.91 units
Result: + 15.41 units

The Picks

Xander Schauffele  17.00*  2.5 pts to WIN

Being from California you would imagine he has played this course more than most, but he just didn’t seem to figure it out as a pro missing the cut in his first three starts.

Last year saw the four time PGA tour winner got his first made cut here with a respectable T25 after having shot under par in all 4 rounds. He comes into this year’s edition on the back of two runner up finishes in his three starts this season and when we look at what Schauffele does well Torrey Pines should set up nicely for him.

He ranks in the top 10 in par 5 scoring, strokes gained off the tee and bogey avoidance. His driving distance, strokes gained around the green and proximity from 200+ yards are also in the top 25 in the field.

Marc Leishman  51.00* 1 pt EW 

Leishman was disappointing in the President’s Cup but seem to have found something at The Sony two weeks ago where he gained 4,4 shots off the tee and almost 7 shots on approach.

He loves Torrey Pines having four top 10s here in the last decade including two runners up finishes and when we look at what the Australian does well that makes sense, he ranks 4th in approaches from 200+ yards and is in the top 25% of the field in par 5 scoring, around the green, bogey avoidance and proximity from 175-200 yards.

He is also one of the highest prized golfers that I would categorize as being part of the upper echelon of the field that usually gets it done here.

Lanto Griffin  71.00  0.5 pts EW 

Lanto isn’t elite but he is playing the best golf of his life over the past six months. The 31-year-old got his PGA tour card for the first time in 2018 but proceeded to lose it straight away after only managing one top 20 finish all season.

Coincidentally that top 20 came here at Torrey Pines with a T12. After getting his card back this fall, he has proceeded to rack up eight top 20 finishes in ten starts including a win at the Houston Open.

He ranks 7th in both Par 5 scoring and proximity from 200+ yards, poa annua is his preferred putting surface, he is 13th in bogey avoidance and has only lost strokes around the green in two events since he got his card back.

Farmers Insurance Open
January 23-26
Live on Sky Sports

*Odds subject to change

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