The PGA Tour heads to Torrey Pines this week for the Farmers Insurance Open, which as has become tradition begins on the Wednesday so that the Sunday is clear for the NFL Championship games. A decent field is always assembled here for what is always a good week of golf.
Max Homa certainly enjoyed his week in this tournament last year when he landed yet another title in the state of California and he is in the field looking to keep hold of the title. A decent set of opponents will be looking to take the title off of him.
2023 – Max Homa
2022 – Luke List
2021 – Patrick Reed
2020 – Marc Leishman
2019 – Justin Rose
2018 – Jason Day
2017 – Jon Rahm
2016 – Brandt Snedeker
2015 – Jason Day
2014 – Scott Stallings
For the second week in succession we have multiple courses in use this week. We are at Torrey Pines where the North Course and the South Course will be used. The field will play the two once over the first two rounds before those who make the cut will play the final 36 holes on the South Course, the track which hosted the US Open a couple of years ago. Both courses are par 72s with the North measuring 7,256 yards which probably needs to be taken advantage of because the South is a monster at 7,765 yards, comfortably the longest on the PGA Tour.
The weather often has an impact in this tournament and it is expected to be cool for the most part so that South Course is likely to play like a bit of a beast. The wind is likely to be minimal so that is a help to the players. You need a bit of length here but it can be important to hit the fairways too. Quite often, as is the case with all Championship courses, putting is a key statistic and these greens aren’t necessarily the easiest to putt on. This is basically a very good test.
You never get a bad field in this tournament and nothing has changed this week with a host of leading PGA Tour stars wielding their clubs at Torrey Pines. Max Homa will get the most attention because he is the defending champion and more limelight might come his way because the winner last week, Nick Dunlap, has pulled out of the tournament late on with the exertions of the last few days having caught up with him.
The other leading American challengers in the event include Xander Schauffele who often gets plenty of support in this part of the world, Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay. The European charge isn’t as deep this week as it might otherwise be, largely because a Torrey Pines regular in Jon Rahm no longer plays on the PGA Tour, but it is headed by Ludvig Aberg while Jason Day, Min Woo Lee and Sungjae Im head up what is quite a significant international contingent looking to take down a prestigious title.
Xander Schauffele hasn’t won for a while but he has been slated up as the 9/1 favourite to win the tournament this week. Schauffele has started the year well without winning though. He has begun with T10 and T3 finishes and he was second to Patrick Reed here three years ago. He also went well in the US Open which was played here in the same year. Schauffele is local to this part of the world so he will know all about the test at hand but a player who hasn’t won for some time is a little short to me at 9/1.
Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay have been priced up as the 12/1 second favourites to win the tournament this week. Morikawa was third here last year when he flushed it from tee to green as he so often does. He opened up the year with a T5 finish at The Sentry and it isn’t too long ago that he won the ZOZO Championship. Cantlay is teeing it up for the first time in five years here and his previous record in the event isn’t that strong. The main track might just be too long for him.
Max Homa goes into the tournament as a 14/1 shot to retain the title. Homa won just two months ago when he took down the Nedbank Golf Challenge over on the DP World Tour and his form here is much deeper than just the win. He is another player who goes very well from tee to green and in a field which feels an ounce weaker than usual he is likely to be a leading contender once again. As ever though the time restraints on a defending champion puts me off.
Sungjae Im and Ludvig Aberg are 22/1 to win this week. The latter is on debut here and while that hasn’t held him back too much in the past, I think this is a place and a tournament where some previous course knowledge helps so I’ll pass him over. Im has been a birdie machine in the last few weeks and with successive top 10 finishes in this tournament he should certainly be on the shortlist but he tends to keep finding one too good which might be a concern.
I have had Keegan Bradley on my radar for this tournament from a long way out. His long game has been in tip top form for a while and over the last 12 months he has really found a groove with the putter. He has an excellent record here having finished second here last year when nobody played the weekend better and he has a pair of other top five finishes in the event. He has started this season in good form having finished second in the Sony Open and he looks a really threatening player in any event he tees it up in these days. He is a major champion so the tough test will bring out the best in him and he looks a great main bet here.
The other main bet I like this week is Will Zalatoris. It is hard to use statistics to support this bet because he has played so infrequently over the last 12 months or so but since his return he has won at the FedEx St Jude and if he remains fit throughout 2024 then surely many more titles are going to follow for this elite ball striker. Unlike Bradley, Zalatoris hasn’t won a major but he has done everything but win one so he’ll be fine on a tougher test like this. Zalatoris lost out in a playoff in this two years ago and if his improvement with the long putter continues then I think he’ll be right in contention again here.
Speaking of Luke List, he is my first outsider for this tournament. We know he can win around here as he did so a couple of years ago and being a long hitter who can get streaky with the putter I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes in again here. List is ranking high in the approach stats early in this season and that is definitely a positive around here and we know he can get stuck into the par 5s. List added the Sanderson Farms title to his win here in the fall and while 2024 hasn’t started magnificently I think it could be that a test like this will get his juices flowing again. I think he’s overpriced for a genuine shot at the title.
Taylor Moore is another former winner on the PGA Tour who feels like a big price this week. He won the Valspar Championship last year on a tough test like he will find here so that is certainly something that will bode well for his chances. Moore was just outside the top 10 in this tournament last year and has gone on to win since then so that is certainly encouraging. Since he won the Valspar he has had a couple of other top fives on tour, one of which was at the St Jude where his -12 was good enough for fifth. He has form on tough courses and tends to hit irons well which is the test around here so I’ll pay to see how he goes over the course of the week.
Back K.Bradley to win Farmers Insurance Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 29.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back W.Zalatoris to win Farmers Insurance Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 46.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back L.List to win Farmers Insurance Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back T.Moore to win Farmers Insurance Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 111.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)