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Farmers Insurance Open Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 01/22/2014
After two runner up selections, Chris Kirk at the Sony Open and Ryan Palmer at the Humana Challenge, we look to get into the winners circle this week as the PGA Tour continues the California swing with the Farmers Insurance Open from historic Torrey Pines in La Jolla. Last week, Patrick Reed ran away from the field with three rounds of 63 before holding on to a two stroke win over Palmer. It was the 23-year olds second PGA Tour victory. This week, 156 golfers will be eyeing the $6,000,000 purse in what is the biggest and most star studded field of the young PGA Tour season.
Torrey Pines North and South courses are the hosts for the 47th consecutive year and it really does not get much better than that. Torrey Pines is one of the few municipal courses on the schedule and still plays as one of the tougher stops on tour, namely the South course which is the sole course used on the weekend. The South ranked as the 11th hardest for a third straight year in difficulty while the North was once again ranked much easier. Players see the South course three times compared to the North just once.
Scoring low on the North course is imperative because the South will not give in. The South Course is the longest course on Tour at 7,698 yards but that does not mean big hitters will dominate. Expereience is the biggest factor this week as a mix of small greens with Poa annua can cause havoc for many. Only the U.S. Open has gone longer than the Farmers in a first timer winning as you have to go back to 1957 when Arnold Palmer captured the tournament in his first trip here.
Leading the way is Tiger Woods (+250) and while he has won this event eight times, there is clearly no value in riding him this week as even a hedge bet gets little in return. This is his season debut on tour and while debuting here last year didn't hurt him, there is too much value in other places and we are totally unsure which Woods comes out in 2014.
We used Brandt Snedeker (+2,000) last week and after an opening round 72, he simply could not make a push. He heads back to Torrey Pines where he has had some great success. He finished T2 in 2010 and then T9 in 2011 before winning in 2012 in a playoff after Kyle Stanley blew a seven-shot lead. He followed that up with a T2 last year and he will be in the mix again this year.
Jason Day (+2,200) is also making his 2014 debut but like Tiger, this was his first start last year and it resulted in a T9, one of 10 Top Ten finishes from last season. He did not miss a cut in 21 starts and while two top threes are solid, we went without a victory for the third straight year. He is too good to go this long without a win and this could be the place to kick start a breakout season.
Bubba Watson (+2,800) is another player making his season debut but he has had a lot of success coming in with time off as three of his wins have come with not playing the previous week. The lone exception was when he won here in 2011 but we was coming off a missed cut the previous week. In addition, he has two other top tens at Torrey Pines and his last start here resulted in a T13 in 2012.
We are getting excellent value with Charles Howell III (+5,000). We have used him each of the last two weeks and after a T8 at the Sony, he finished a disappointing T58 last week at the Humana Challenge. He has four top tens this season which leads the tour and this is another course he has played well at. He has five top tens in 11 career starts here and helping him this year is his scramble ranking of second.
Ben Crane (+8,000) will be the big longshot this week as he looks to put a disappointing 2013 season in the rearview mirror. His T8 last week at the Humana already gives him half as many top tens as he had all of last year. While he has missed the cut each of the last two years here, he won this event in 2010 (granted Woods was not in the field) but he can use that along with last week to get back into the mix.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Farmers Insurance Open - All for 1 Unit
Brandt Snedeker (+2,000)
Jason Day (+2,200)
Bubba Watson (+2,800)
Charles Howell III (+5,000)
Ben Crane (+8,000)
2014 Record to date after 2 event: -10 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge -5 Units