Farmers Inurance Open: Rory returns for first PGA Tour start of 2021

Rory McIlroy makes his first Tour start of the calendar year at the spectacular Torrey Pines for the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open, so here's David Kristiansen with his ones to watch...

David Kristiansen

Two-time FedExCup winner Rory McIlroy and past champion Jon Rahm will head a star-studded lineup haeding to San Diego’s scenic Torrey Pines Golf Course for the Farmers Insurance Open this weekend.

McIlroy makes his first Tour start of the calendar year after teeing it up in Abu Dhabi last week having finished T3 at Torrey Pines a year ago.

And after withdrawing from The American Express last week with a tweaked back, Rahm returns to the tournament he won in 2017 and was runner-up in 2020.


Patrick Reed

Course: 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 as it’s usually the first full-field tournament with multiple top-10 players in attendance.

This year’s edition won’t have a Tiger Woods teeing it up due to his recent back surgery, but we will get to see the year’s best field to date with McIlroy, Rahm and Koepka headlining.

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.

Bubba Watson Golf

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.

You will need to gain strokes off the tee to have any chance here, I would lean towards the bombers over those that hits 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 while 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 , Justin Rose and Marc Leishman being the last four 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
  • Scrambling


Harris English Golf

Harris English @ 23.00 
2 pts EW (1/4 the odds 5 places)

My first pick of the week will be the rejuvenated American who has been playing the best golf of his life over the last year with the highlights being the 4th place finish at the U.S Open before finally getting his first win in seven years in Hawaii a couple of weeks ago.

His all-around game without any real weaknesses over the past 12 months should also do him well on this all-around test and while a much better golfer now he does have three top 15 finishes here including a runner-up spot over just his past six starts.

From a stats perspective, we find Harris ranked in the top 10 in par 5 scoring, proximity from 200+, scrambling and strokes gained around the green.

Hideki Matsuyama Golf

Hideki Matsuyama  @ 29.00 
2 pts EW (1/4 the odds 5 places)

Beginning the season by losing 10 strokes putting, not to mention some pretty average iron play at TOC, things did not look good for Hideki, but he did show some major signs of life at Sony – gaining almost 7 strokes with his approach and another 3 off the tee, but once again his putting woes saw him just finishing T19 after losing 4 strokes on the greens.

Matsuyama will never be a great putter but getting away from the Bermuda greens in Hawaii and onto these poa annua greens, a surface that he actually is slightly positive on through his career, should help a lot and on these particular greens he has gained strokes in three of his last four starts.

Looking beyond his putter this course sets up perfectly for a guy who is known for his ball-striking but is also an elite scrambling and around the green player ranking in the top 10 in both those categories over the past 50 rounds.

Be sure to follow David Kristiansen on Twitter for all his latest golf picks – GolfKristiansen

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