DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Picks & Plays for The Farmers Insurance Open
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This week we stay in California but trade the desert of Palm Springs for the coastal setting of Torrey Pines. Its iconic courses are situated along the cliffs of the California coast, just north of San Diego. The facility is home to 36 holes spread across two full 18-hole setups, broken out into the North and South Courses. Once again, we have two courses in the rotation this week: golfers will play the North Course once during the first two days; the South Course is the more famous venue, as well as the primary course this week. It will host three rounds.
Through the years, the North Course has been the easier one by a large measure. Simply put, it’s easier and shorter. But since its renovation in 2016, which saw the greens change from pure Poa to full 007 Bentgrass, the greens have gotten faster and the fairways firmer. While the northern sibling is still the preferred course for getting aggressive and going low, it is not quite the respite from the jaws of the South Course it once was.
The South Course is as iconic and challenging a course as you’ll find in the world. Set along the coast with dramatic vistas and drop-offs that lead to the beaches below, it’s very exposed. This means wind plays a role on some key holes this week. Golfers will have to plan their shots accordingly as they navigate the 7,600-yard course laid out in Kikuyu grass fairways and Poa greens.
How it plays
The challenge for golfers this week will be placing the ball on the tight fairways consistently. Players that have found success annually at this event tend to be strong drivers. Since plenty of fairways will be missed this week, length is an important factor as well. If you are going to miss the short grass, it might as well be closer to the green and hopefully with a wedge in hand.
The Poa greens can frustrate some players, and conditions grow tougher toward the end of the day. Even short putts are not a sure thing on Poa greens. Give a bump to any strong Poa putters in the field this week; their comfort on these surfaces should come in handy.
Ultimately, this event is very different from the boat races and birdie fests we’ve had to start the season. The winning scores have averaged 11.25 under par over the last eight years. While the players will need to score on the par 5’s this week, many of the holes require planning for par. A lot of success on these tracks can be traced back to bogey avoidance, versus birdie or better stats. See the complete breakdowns below for both courses.
- Strokes Gained: OTT
- Par 5 Scoring
- Long Iron Play
- 450+ Par 4
- Strokes Gained: T2G
PGA DFS Picks
Top tier: $11.4k-$9.6k
Rory McIlroy ($11.1k)
Rory is making his debut at this event as he starts to add more US spots this season. Coming off the heels of a 4th at the TOC, Rory has started out the year on a positive note. His trademark gaining of massive strokes off the tee should serve him will this week given the course length. His approach game appeared to be in good shape as well in Hawaii. Rory should be able to overcome his inexperience here with raw power. He’s also potentially a bit under-owned for a top-tier GPP play. The only real knock on Rory for a course fit are the Poa greens — not his favorite surface. Finally, Rory comes out No. 1 in my blended model this week.
Tony Finau ($9.9k)
Tony Finau is going to be one of the highest-owned and touted players this week on Fanshare Sports. Having posted increasingly positive results at this event, Finau has established himself squarely in the upper echelon PGA players. Yet still needing a big win to cement himself atop the heap, Finau should find Torrey Pines sets up well for his game. His elite distance and high ball-flight really allow him to take extra chances around this track. Everything is pointing toward a strong Finau week, with the only downside being his pairing with Tiger Woods. The massive crowds and additional distractions that come with the Big Cat’s group can be challenging, and this is Tony’s pairing with Tiger. I’m not saying fade Finau, but be aware.
Marc Leishman ($9.7k)
Marc is playing the best golf of his career to start off the year. Since winning the CIMB Classic, he has posted an 18th, a fourth, and a third. Making five of his seven cuts here and with plenty of upside, Leishman is a strong cash play and potentially goes a bit under-owned for GPPs given the other big names around him. “Leish” is a golfer with plenty off the tee for this track. He hits a nice high ball and is very comfortable in the wind. He has also been quoted as saying this course is one of his top five favorites in the world, having similarities to the courses he grew up playing in Australia. Look for Leishman on the leaderboards over the weekend.
Others to consider: Tiger Woods has had a lot of success here over the years but is in questionable form. Jason Day is a two-time winner and runner-up here with decent form coming in. Jon Rahm is obviously a threat and playing well. Finally, Justin Rose is fresh off a club change he’s working through but is still playing well.
Middle tier: $9.5k-$7.9k
Gary Woodland ($9K)
This range is absolutely stacked with smart plays, but let’s start with Woodland. For one thing, he really let the DFS community down last time out at The Sony Open with an 80th. I am chalking that up to Gary just having a bad week and hope most people aren’t willing to jump back on the Woodland bandwagon just yet. He’s affordably priced this week on a course he fits very well. Woodland has played here seven times and made all seven cuts with four top 20 finishes and a top 10.
Cameron Champ ($8.5k)
Champ is making a lot of noise in the DFS community this year with his insane length off the tee and strong results thus far. With an 11th at the TOC and two other top 10s prior to that, Champ has feasted on easy courses. This week he will see a real test on a plus par course, but one that should suit his game well. Champ’s raw game feels similar to Jason Day’s, very strong off the tee, but with a less-than-stellar approach game. Still, mind that strong putter; it can get really hot. Day has made a career off bombing it and recovering, and Champ could take the same path to success on this track. Champ’s last time out in California he gained 6.4 strokes off the tee, and he comes in ranked No. 7 overall in my blended model.
Emiliano Grillo ($8.1k)
Grillo used The Sony Open to kick off his season and shake the rust off before getting into the grind of 2019. Grillo posted a 22nd there, and prior to that during the swing season, Grillo notched three top 15 finishes. A tidy player who relies on his ability to keep it straight off the tee, Grillo won’t be bombing it around Torrey Pines, but he should find more than his share of fairways and greens this week. This will be Grillo’s third trip to Torrey. His first time out, he posted a missed cut, followed that up with a 33rd, and then last year posted a 12th. Grillo can attack this course but has to be a bit more strategic about it than others.
Others to consider: Hideki Matsuyama, Keegan Bradley, Jordan Spieth, Charles Howell III, Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes
Value tier: $7.8k and lower
Sungjae Im ($7.8k)
Sungjae Im put up another top 20 last week. And having showed well in California earlier this season (fourth at Safeway), Im seems to enjoy the West Coast swing. He is familiar with the coastal course setup given his South Korean roots and should find some comfort on the new course this week. He is in solid form currently, gaining strokes in every phase of the game last week and has plenty of length to compete this week too. Sungjae comes in ranked 15th overall in my model.
Harris English ($7.3k)
Harris English has started off his 2018-19 campaign with seven straight made cuts dating back to the Safeway Open, a stark departure from last season, which saw him missing more cuts than he made. English seems to have his game in order at the moment, and he’s managed success at Torrey previously: he’s made all six of his cuts at this track while posting a second place, 14th, and an eighth last year. While we can’t necessarily count on English’s upside, he’s a strong player to round out a lineup at an affordable price.
Others to consider: Sam Burns, Keith Mitchell, Adam Svensson, Carlos Ortiz, Hunter Mahan, Braden Thornberry
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