The Farmers Insurance Open returns to Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif. Jon Rahm, No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is one of three golfers in the top 10 in attendance and is the pre-tournament betting favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. We’ll shop the odds and make our 2021 Farmers Insurance Open betting picks from the top value plays.
Si Woo Kim won last week’s American Express, as he held off a fourth-round 61 from Patrick Cantlay. Marc Leishman returns to defend his 2020 title. Torrey Pines’ South Course will also host the 2021 US Open from June 17-20, helping to draw out a strong field including former major wins Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.
Tiger Woods typically plays this event and likely would have this year ahead of the US Open, but he was forced to withdraw following a procedure on his back in late December.
The course: Torrey Pines Golf Course
Unlike the US Open, the Farmers Insurance Open will be split between the North and South Courses. The former, measuring 7,258 yards and playing to a par of 72, will be played by all golfers in the field Thursday and Friday. Those who make the cut will exclusively play the 7,765-yard, par-72 South Course Saturday and Sunday. The US Open will be played solely on the South Course.
Further complicating the switch in courses, the North Courses features Bentgrass greens with the South consisting of more unpredictable Poa Annua putting surfaces. Scoring will be lower on the North Course; nine holes played below par last year to just seven on the South Course. Not only is it considerably shorter, but fairways are wider and greens are larger. Trees and sand bunkers have been removed.
The South Course follows the traditional US Open model of long, narrow farrows and thick rough. Greens are also smaller and firmer. Conditions will certainly be toughened over the next five months in preparation for 2020’s third major.
Seven of eight par 3s between the courses exceed 200 yards; two on the South Course played below par last year. The most common par 4 distance is between 450 and 500 yards. All eight par 5s play below par.
Key stats to consider for your 2021 Farmers Insurance Open betting picks
Other than a 22-year-old Rahm in 2017, the last five champions of the Farmers Insurance Open have ranked inside the top 28 of the OWGR at the time of their victory. Woods is a seven-time winner of this event to go with his US Open win in 2008. Two 2021 participants in Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker have each won twice since 2012.
Winning scores since 2010 have ranged from Snedeker’s minus-6 in 2016 to Jusin Rose’s minus-21 in 2019. Leishman beat Rahm by one stroke at 15-under par last year.
TPC Harding Park, the site of the 2020 PGA Championship, and last week’s Stadium Course at PGA West are two of the most comparable courses on Tour. The South Course has most often rewarded long hitters, especially off the tee. A hot week on the greens can compensate for the shorter hitters; Leishman averaged 2.68 Strokes Gained: Putting per round last year.
We’ll focus our stats for this week on Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, SG: Tee-to-Green, and SG: Approach. Look at Par 4 Efficiency: 450-500 Yards and give some consideration to Sand Save Percentage as a potential tiebreaker.
2021 Farmers Insurance Open betting picks: Sleepers and value bets
J.B. Holmes +30000
Holmes returns to play for the first time since a missed cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October. It was his lone missed cut in just nine events, but he also withdrew from the Workday Charity Open and had a top finish on the year of T-14 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He tied for 16th in this event.
Holmes’ 52 career rounds played on the South Course are topped by just five golfers in this field. He has averaged 1.07 strokes gained per round on the field and has three top-10 finishes in his last six appearances. He most recently finished fourth in 2018 with 3.46 SG: Putting per round.
The 38-year-old, five-time PGA Tour winner is an excellent value bet at an inflated number. He’s +19000 at FanDuel. His last victory was at the 2019 Genesis Invitational. That event consistently draws a comparable strength of field as the Farmers.
Get the best J.B. Holmes odds at DraftKings Sportsbook
Gary Woodland +7000
Woodland showed glimpses of past form with a T-16 finish at the American Express. The 2019 US Open champ had four top-10 finishes but six missed cuts in 19 events in 2020. Torrey Pines’ North Course will more closely resemble the conditions of Pebble Beach Golf Links. Woodland won the US Open there by three strokes at minus-13.
Woodland missed the cut in this event last year, but he still comes in at No. 40 in the OWGR and has two previous top-10 finishes here in 2019 and 2014. He has gained 0.94 strokes per round across 40 rounds on the South Course.
He averaged 2.62 SG: Tee-to-Green, 1.73 SG: Approach, and 1.00 SG: Off-the-Tee in the 2019 tournament. His long game was a strength last week with 1.32 SG: Tee-to-Green and 0.90 SG: Off-the-Tee per round.
Get the best Gary Woodland odds at FanDuel Sportsbook
Brooks Koepka +3650
Koepka’s a value play this week. He’s just +1400 at both DraftKings and FanDuel to win the 2021 US Open at this venue; it’ll play under more difficult conditions and host a stronger field. He’s sixth by the odds at DraftKings for the US Open but is 14th by the odds this week.
The former world No. 1 is No. 12 coming into the week. He began his 2021 schedule with a missed cut at the American Express while losing 2.29 strokes per round on approach. He still gained 1.75 strokes putting and 0.29 strokes per round off-the-tee. Though he’ll hope to not spend much time in the sand, Koepka leads the Tour early in the 2020-21 season with a sand save percentage of 83.33 through 16 rounds. He’s tied for 25th in scoring on par 4s from 450-500 yards.
He’s always difficult to trust at non-majors but should finally be healthy. Koepka could be looking to make a statement ahead of the US Open; this will be his first appearance at this event since 2017.
Get the best Brooks Koepka odds at DraftKings Sportsbook
2021 Farmers Insurance Open betting picks: Our winner
Matthew Wolff +3400
Wolff debuted at this event with a T-21 finish last year while averaging 0.88 SG: Approach per round. He ranks 15th in the OWGR following a T-40 finish at the American Express in which he lost 0.55 strokes per round on the green and 0.52 strokes per round around it.
Though he didn’t win last year, he had three runner-up finishes including the US Open. He has the length to battle the South Course over the weekend and clearly showed last year he can contend on US Open-worthy putting surfaces. He has averaged 1.17 SG: Approach through 19 measured rounds, and he has shown improved putting from the 2019-20 season.
Wolff is the sixth-best golfer in the field by the OWGR measure, but he has just the ninth-best odds at DraftKings. That’s a strong value at the top of the board in a strong field.
Get the best Matthew Wolff odds at DraftKings Sportsbook
This article was originally published on Monday, Jan. 25. Odds subject to change.
Best golf betting sites
The PGA Tour is one of the major focuses of online and mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetMGM. All three online books, and their respective mobile apps, offer outright, placing, matchup and prop odds on weekly tournaments, as well as futures on majors and the Ryder and Presidents Cups. It’s also possible to live-bet a tournament mid-round or at the end of the first, second, or third rounds as odds adjust.
Once you have an account on your book of choice, select PGA Tour or Golf from the top menu alongside NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and the other sporting options. From there, choose the tournament for a given week, or look to the Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, or Open Championship among the available futures bets. Place your wagers for the outright winner, top 5 or top 10 finishers, or head-to-head round or tournament matchups.
How to bet on golf and win
Odds to win a tournament can range from as low as +500 for a favorite like world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in an event with a weaker field to upward of +250000 for a little known, low-ranked golfer. Outrights are also available to lead after each round, with odds rising slightly for the top of the field and dropping for the longshots. It’s best to spread out your wagers across several golfers with odds of +2000 or higher while steering clear of the heavy favorites.
All books will offer bets for a top 5, top 10, top 20 or even top 30 finish, either for the whole tournament or for each round. The odds drop significantly, especially for a top 30 showing, but it’s a good way to still get action on the longshot you like when backing a win is too much of a risk. These odds are generally released a little later than the outright odds.
Head-to-head or 3-ball
These bets pair golfers from the same tournament groupings or from similar Official World Golf Ranking positions for the best score in either a single round or the tournament. Compare world rankings of golfers from the same group, while adjusting for current form and course history. Odds will generally range from -150 to +150 for a much smaller return on your investment.
Like the above, books will also compose larger groups of comparable golfers based on their OWGR position, or nationality. Back a golfer to finish as the top American or top South African. Groups generally consist of between six and eight golfers with odds ranging from -110 to +1000.
These bets carry an incredible amount of risk but can be best way to find value in fields fronted by two of the world’s top golfers. You’ll need to predict the exact finishing position of the winner and runner-up, i.e. McIlroy to win and Jon Rahm to finish second. While they’d individually be carrying outright odds lower than +1000, the straight forecast can fetch a much greater return.
Each way bets combine an outright bet with a placing wager. Bettors make both bets and are paid out for both if their golfer wins, or just for the placing of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th.
The PGA Tour website (and other sites) track golfer scoring by round and by tee time, whether it be in the morning or afternoon. Look at these stats and recent form and back a longshot to get off to a hot start before falling off. Additionally, someone like McIlroy will often have higher odds to lead after just 18 holes than he would to win the tournament.
Typically less rewarding and exciting than any of the above, weekly props will ask for a hole-in-one to be scored, for the winner to birdie the 72nd hole, or for the event to go to a playoff. Like Super Bowl novelty props, there isn’t a whole lot of research required for most of these odds, and odds will be heavily skewed toward the most likely result.
Golf betting strategy
Having gone over where to bet on the PGA Tour and some of the available betting options, we’ll now look at some strategies for long-term golf betting success to keep you turning a consistent profit week-to-week.
Unlike in the NFL where bettors have up to 16 games on which to bet per week, or the NBA, MLB or NHL with 10-15 games per day, golf bettors have around 155 golfers they could back every week. It’s important to diversify and back several different golfers each week, all while focusing on longshots. Like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm or Brooks Koepka? They likely won’t be worth your while at odds ranging from +500 to +1500. Focus the majority of your weekly bets on those priced at +2000 or higher, with a win going a lot further.
Separate your weekly allowance – approximately 10 percent of your bankroll – between outright, placing and matchup bets. While the large profits come from hitting an outright winner, hedge those bets on more conservative lines to give yourself a better chance of making at least a moderate return on your overall investment.
One of the most frustrating parts of sports betting, in general, is having a golfer withdraw from a tournament due to injury. If they do so before hitting their first tee shot of the week, your initial bet is likely to be refunded, but if it comes after the first shot or at any point thereafter, you’re probably going to be out of luck. This is another reason to diversify your wagers.
There’s also little news circulating before events regarding which golfers may be dealing with injuries. There aren’t beat reporters tied to each golfer, like teams in other sports. It’s largely on bettors to monitor schedules, results, and news pertaining to surgeries or injury treatments. Always be wary of golfers coming off a withdrawal, missed cut or a particularly poor round which may have been the result of a minor injury.
Course history vs. recent form vs. stats
The three main areas of PGA Tour betting research focus on past success at a course and/or tournament, recent results and scores, and statistical rankings against the rest of the field. The latter has been a major area of growth in recent years, both on the PGA Tour website and third-party sites, with a focus on Strokes Gained. This measures a golfer’s performance in a statistical area against the rest of the field in events they’ve played.
Course history vs. recent form can be a point of contention in the golf betting community. All too often in golf we see someone come off a string of missed cuts only to put together the perfect four rounds for their first career win. We also see golfers win an event after never having cracked the top 10 of a field there or miss a cut after five-plus years of top finishes. It all goes into making golf one of the most exciting and sweat-inducing sports on which to bet.
The PGA Tour schedule is made up of 49 events over the course of the year, though some of these tournaments run in the same weeks. Golfers can also be swayed to participate in events on the European Tour either by sponsorships, prize money or appearance fees. Most top-ranked golfers will pick and choose their events throughout a season, focusing on majors and the most profitable tournaments. Others will play nearly every week while attempting to work their way up the OWGR or gain entry to other more exclusive events.
When looking to place a wager, it’s important to track a golfer’s travel, whether it be back-and-forth from the US and Europe, or bouncing between the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour. Other golfers may take prolonged breaks either to rest an injury, prepare for a particular event, or work on their game outside of a tournament format. It’s also common for more experienced and successful golfers to tailor their annual schedules around events and courses where they’ve previously won, or the majors.
Sportsbook line movement
Betting on golf is all about knowing how to spot a value. Top-ranked golfers are nearly always worth a wager on the rare occasions when they carry odds higher than 20-1. Proven winners can put it together at any time on any course, regardless of their course history, recent form, or statistical rankings.
Lines can also adjust throughout a tournament week based on the public’s betting action. Someone regarded as a value when the odds are posted Monday afternoon may not be regarded as such by early Thursday morning.
All of this is especially important when looking to place futures bets on majors. Know a golfer’s worth and true abilities, and be prepared to place your futures bet amid a poor stretch of results in regular tournaments or following a minor injury. While their odds may rise several months out from a major, they’re likely to correct by the time of the tournament week.
While not as commonly discussed as weather pertaining to baseball or football games, forecasts are extremely important in golf betting. Whether a golfer is teeing off in the morning or afternoon waves can make a world of difference. Windier conditions on the west coast or in rainy locations are especially impactful. Always be sure to check daily and hourly forecasts, especially when looking to place a First-Round Leader bet or for any single-round bet.
Many golf fans and professionals alike often joke about the importance of the FedExCup. It has become more of an incentive for others, largely due to the significant financial bonus attached. Additionally, mid-tier golfers will load up their schedules around majors in hopes of gaining late entry to a field with a preceding win or a move up the world rankings. Be wary of a top-ranked golfer appearing in a weaker field at a lesser-known event. Just because sponsors want them there doesn’t mean the tournament will get their full effort.