Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and many more of the top golfers from the Official World Golf Ranking make their 2020 PGA Tour debut at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open. Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. once again serves as the host. Tiger’s hunt for his record-setting 83rd career PGA Tour victory begins this week after he collected his first win of the 2019-20 season at the Zozo Championship in Japan in late October. Here, we make our betting picks for the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.
This week’s star-studded field includes five of the top-10 golfers in the world but is missing world No. 1 Brooks Kopeka. Justin Rose (No. 8) is back to defend his 2019 title and is one of those trying to prevent Woods from setting history. Last year’s Farmers Insurance Open ranked 17th out of 49 PGA Tour events by strength of field. As a result of the stronger field in attendance this week, much of the betting value disappears. Bettors need to save their bankroll for larger wagers on a couple of the favorites to win outright with a few sprinkles on longshots for a top-5 or top-10 finish.
The course: Torrey Pines Golf Course
Torrey Pines is split between a North and South Course, with all members of the field playing one of their first two rounds on each course, before all golfers remaining after the 36-hole cut move to the South course for the weekend. The North Course measures 7,258 yards and plays to a par of 72. The South Course is significantly longer at 7,698 yards and also plays to a par 72.
The original William F. Bell design underwent redesigns by Rees Jones in 2001 and again in 2019 to upgrade the venue to US Open conditions. It last hosted the major in 2008 and will again next year. The South Course is the longest of any venue which hosts a regular PGA Tour event. There is only one water hazard on the course but 54 bunkers. The greens feature a mixture of Bentgrass with Poa Annua.
Nine holes on the South Course played to a scoring average below par last year, with the par 5 9th (4.574 strokes) ranking as the easiest hole on the course. It saw 10 eagles and 130 birdies carded against just 18 bogeys in 2019. Nine holes played above par, as well. None were more difficult than the par 4 12th. The 504-yard behemoth played to an average of 4.387 strokes with just 22 birdies against 110 bogeys and 16 doubles.
Key stats to consider for the Farmers Insurance Open
First and foremost, winners win at Torrey Pines. All but one of the last five champions was ranked inside of the top 25 in the OWGR at the time of their victory, including two-time winner Jason Day. The lone exception from that group is Jon Rahm in 2017, who was playing in just his 13th event as a professional and entered the week ranked 137th. He soared to 46th with the win and entered the top 10 later that season. Winning scores have varied dramatically in the last five years, from Brandt Snedeker‘s minus-6 in 2016 to Rose’s 21-under last year to win by two strokes over Adam Scott.
Based on historical trends from the last three runnings of this tournament, courtesy of Fantasy National, the key stats for the week are Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Birdies or Better Gained, Good Drives Gained and Proximity from 150-175 Yards. I’m also taking a look at Sand Saves Gained, though it’s better used as a differentiator between golfers. My model looks at the most recent 36 rounds for all golfers in the field on courses longer than 7,400 yards.
Farmers Insurance Open betting picks: Sleepers and value bets
Betting W/O Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods: Gary Woodland +1600 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
The reigning US Open champ is getting nice odds when FanDuel’s top five betting favorites are removed from the board. As mentioned above, Torrey Pines is a past and upcoming US Open venue. While it’s much longer than Pebble Beach Golf Links, where Woodland won his first major last year, distance has never been an issue with his game. He ranks fifth in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth in SG: Ball Striking over everyone’s last 36 rounds on long courses. He has made the cut here each of the last five years, picking up a top finish of T-9 in 2019. Remove the big favorites from the field and Woodland looks enticing at this price.
Burns finished T-40 at this event in 2019, and he’s coming off a T-6 result last week at The American Express for his best result in more than a year. He has a strong approach game and is ninth in this field from our key proximity distance. He’s a strong value play at FanDuel with an 8.5-1 return on your investment. He’s just +500 (5-1) for a top-20 finish at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Two of Day’s 12 career PGA Tour victories came at the Farmers Insurance Open. He hasn’t found the winner’s circle since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, but he was T-5 at Torrey Pines last year. He has historically played his best golf early in the calendar year, and a return to a favorite course may bring his first top-10 finish since last year’s Travelers Championship (T-8).
Leishman’s odds are more attractive due to the added talent in this week’s field. The 28th-ranked golfer in the world is the 11th-best golfer in attendance. He’s 20th by the odds at DraftKings and 19th at FanDuel (+4500). He ranks eighth by my stat model as a great ball striker with a good tee-to-green game. Leish has made three straight cuts at Torrey Pines with a T-8 finish in 2018.
Farmers Insurance Open betting picks: Our winner
As discussed, we’re mostly interested in betting favorites this week. The way get value on Woods (+1000) and McIlroy (+650) this week as DraftKings’ third and first favorites, respectively, is to pair them together in a Straight Forecast. The bet requires Woods to win with McIlroy finishing second for an 80-1 return on your investment.
Tiger has nine career wins at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 US Open. Both he and McIlroy have already won early in the 2019-20 season, with Rory getting his win at the WGC-HSBC Champions in early November. McIlroy finished T-5 here a year ago, and he’s likely to get a front-row ticket as Woods chases yet another career milestone Sunday afternoon.
This article was originally published on Tuesday. Odds subject to change.