The PGA Tour heads to the familiar Torrey Pines this week for a two-course event, the Farmers Insurance Open.
The field is full, but Jon Rahm stands out above everybody. He is coming off a second consecutive worldwide win (he has four in his past six starts). Oh, and he has two wins at Torrey Pines under his belt.
Is Rahm completely unfadeable? Is anyone close?
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Past 5 Winning Scores: -15, -14, -15, -21, -10
Past 5 Cut Lines: -3, -1, -1, -3, -1
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (emphasis on Driving Distance), Strokes Gained: Putting, Birdie or Better Rate, Adjusted Strokes Gained
Torrey Pines (South Course) Information
Average Green Size: 5,000 square feet
Green Type: Poa annua
Torrey Pines (North Course) Information
Average Green Size: 6,000 square feet
Green Type: Bentgrass
We move away from pure birdie-fests for this week with winning scores generally in the 15-under range with cut lines a lot closer to even par than what we've seen recently.
Three rounds (for golfers who make the cut) will be played on the South Course with one of the pre-cut rounds taking place at the North Course for all golfers. The greens are getting smaller this week, which plays part in the lower scoring. The South Course has greens that are around 83% of the PGA Tour average with the North Course's greens about average in size.
We're seeing bentgrass (North Course) and poa greens (South Course), and it's statistically really hard to putt at the South Course -- specifically from within 15 feet.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
The best strokes gained averages among golfers who have played at least twice here over the past five years:
- Justin Rose (+2.53): 6th, DNP, MC, 1st, 8th
- Jon Rahm (+2.48): 3th, 7th, 2nd, 5th, 29th
- Ryan Palmer (+2.23): 16th, 2nd, 21st, 13th, 2nd
- Will Zalatoris (+2.13): 2nd, 7th, DNP, DNP, MC
- Jason Day (+2.06): 3rd, MC, 16th, 5th, 1st
- Tony Finau (+1.95): MC, 2nd, 6th, 13th, 6th
- Luke List (+1.73): 1st, 10th, 36th, 40th, 12th
- Max Homa (+1.48): MC, 18th, 9th, DNP, DNP
- Hideki Matsuyama (+1.43): 30th, 53rd, 45th, 3rd, 12th
- Robby Shelton (+1.38): DNP, 16th, 36th, DNP, DNP
- Lanto Griffin (+1.37): 30th, 7th, MC, DNP, 12th
- Si Woo Kim (+1.26): 11th, MC, DNP, 29th, 35th
- Xander Schauffele (+1.25): 34th, 2nd, MC, 25th, MC
Win Simulations for The American Express
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets for the Farmers Insurance Open
Another week, another time that I can't quite get on par with betting the model's most likely winner. Jon Rahm is nearly 15.0% likely to win, according to the simulation model. However, the odds of +390 just aren't enough return to want to get there.
Instead, the model is seeing notable value on Xander Schauffele (+1000) and Will Zalatoris (+1300) right behind Rahm. Both have the game to take down Rahm, and Schauffele's performance last week removes worries about his back injury. I'm betting Xander this week.
Other than that, it's tough to find a lot of value because the field is so flat outside the top 10 or so golfers.
I'll add top-10 analysis once available.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Farmers Insurance Open
All stats cited below originate at datagolf and reference ranks relative to the field over the past 50 rounds. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,400 | Golf betting odds: +390) - It's not too often that a golfer's salary goes up above $12,000 on FanDuel, but if not this week for Rahm, I don't know when it's appropriate. The win odds are incredibly short. He has won two straight starts and four of his past six worldwide starts. He has won here in the past (and also won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines). Rahm has finished top seven in four straight iterations of this event. There's no process that leads you to fade him. It's only game theory or lineup balance (i.e. a lack of value) that makes him a target to avoid in certain tournament lineups.
Tony Finau ($11,400 | +1200) - I'm sticking with Finau in the top range, especially in cases of not getting to Rahm in a particular lineup. He does everything you want for success at Torrey Pines, including ranking top-30 in distance (30th). He is also 2nd in strokes gained from ball-striking. Finau did miss the cut here last year but otherwise has shown good form at Torrey Pines, including four straight top-13s entering last season and seven consecutive top-25s.
Others to Consider:
Xander Schauffele ($11,800 | +1100) - Proved last week the back was no longer an issue; field leader in T2G the past 50 rounds.
Max Homa ($10,600 | +2600) - California narrative this week for Max; two top-20s at Torrey the past three years; 15th in ball-striking.
Maverick McNealy ($10,200 | +4200) - Distance and short game are there; if the irons are just okay, he'll vie for a top-10.
Keegan Bradley ($9,800 | +5000) - The case for Bradley is pretty clear-cut: he's a strong tee-to-green golfer (26th) and an even better ball-striker (15th). We've seen two top-20s from him over his past four starts at the Farmers, and his salary seems to be down solely because of the putter starting off cold to start the 2023 calendar year.
Taylor Pendrith ($9,500 | +8500) - Uncharacteristically, Pendrith lost strokes off the tee last week (just one measured round due to the ShotLink availability) but should be able to get back on track at a course that rewards distance. Pendrith is a top-10 ball-striker who debuted at Torrey Pines a year ago to finish T16 while ranking top-20 in both strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: approach.
Others to Consider:
Cameron Davis ($10,000 | +4000) - Hasn't quite figured out Torrey to finish well but is 11th in distance and 19th in ball-striking.
Alex Smalley ($9,600 | +7500) - Has plus distance and top-10 irons; 56th here last year despite horrid short game.
Wyndham Clark ($9,400 | +9500) - Fits the bomber narrative (6th in distance) and still 67th in the three non-driver strokes gained stats.
Emiliano Grillo ($8,900 | +11000) - Grillo has missed two straight cuts to start 2023 and is doing it due to poor chipping and putting. That's something that can definitely hold him back. However, he's got top-25 ball-striking and has four top-25s in nine starts since August.
Brendan Steele ($8,300 | +17000) - Long off the tee with some spike potential with irons, Steele is a prototypical value based on the more predictable stats than short game. That's good for us because he ranks 95th in strokes gained: around the green and 134th in putting over the past 50 rounds. That totals a short-game rank of 129th; he's 4th in ball-striking. The field drops off quickly, and if you want access to Rahm or multiple studs, then guys below $8,500 have to be on the radar.
Others to Consider:
Callum Tarren ($8,200 | +19000) - 14th in approach and 19th in putting with distance (20th) to spare.
Jhonattan Vegas ($8,100 | +21000) - Ball-striking and distance are there; upside could be capped due to short game.
Taylor Moore ($7,500 | +34000) - Pure dart but has some statistical juice long-term.