Farmers Insurance Open outrights and matchups preview

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It now definitely feels like the golf season is underway as we take the trip to Southern California and visit Torrey Pines. This year, the event holds a little more importance being that it will be the site of the US Open in June. The next few weeks (Scottsdale, Pebble Beach, Riviera, etc.) is when the season really picks up steam and that starts this week with the Farmers Insurance Open.

The field

Perhaps the best field we have seen so far in 2021, a number of top golfers in the world will be competing this week at Torrey Pines. Leading the betting board is Jon Rahm who withdrew last week but should be back fresh heading to Torrey. Below him we find Rory McIlroy who is coming off a solid showing in Abu Dhabi last week and will be making his 2021 debut in the states.

A few of the previous winners of this event who are back in the field include Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, and Bubba Watson. Last week’s winner, Si Woo Kim, will be hopping right back into action as well as Tony Finau who once again was unable to close things out on a Sunday (but did hit us a nice top-10 bet). 

Perhaps as big as the names here are also the ones that are not. Sadly Tiger Woods had another back procedure and will be unable to make his annual trip to Torrey Pines. Surprisingly, Bryson DeChambeau will also not be playing. I would expect to see him next week in the Arizona desert. 

Course preview

This event will take place spread across two different courses; the North Course and the South Course. Three of the four rounds will be played at the South Course so that is where our focus will take place. 

This course is known for the length and fast greens. The South Course is a par-72 that plays well over 7,400 yards and requires distance off the tee. The rough won’t be quite as thick as it will be for the US Open this summer but above average rough, hard to hit fairways, and fast greens should all lead to a more challenging week than we have seen the past few events. In the past at this course, golfers who can get the ball down the fairway further have the advantage, even if they are in the rough. The typical cut line is around -1 or -2 as opposed to the -4 or -5 we have been seeing lately.

The length really shows on the par-4s. The four most difficult holes on the course are par-4s that stretch to over 450 yards, with the 12th hole reaching almost 500. Long irons will definitely be a stat to look into this week. The par-5s offer the best scoring chances and rank as the four easiest holes, including the signature 18th hole, historically known for the Tiger Woods birdie in 2008 en route to the US Open title. 

Due to the difficulties in hitting fairways and the long rough, hitting greens will be a commodity hard to come by so we will place a greater emphasis on around the green play than we usually do. Golfers who have more length off the tee should find it easier to navigate around the 18 holes leaving them short irons into the hard greens. Distance, approach, and scrambling will be equally important when looking into a potential winner of the Farmers Insurance Open. 

Notable stats

  • SG: Approach
  • SG: Ball Striking (combines Greens in Regulation and Total Driving)
  • Driving Distance
  • SG: Around the Green
  • Proximity 200+ yards

Gary Woodland
Jul 16, 2020; Dublin, Ohio, USA; Gary Woodland plays his shot from the fairway on the ninth hole during the first round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Outright value

Matthew Wolff +3300

Player NameSG: APPSG: BSDr DistSG: ARGP4: 450-500Prox: 200+SG: P
Matthew Wolff2512139151242
Wolff stats

I swung and missed on this one last week. The logic was sound. The results just weren’t there. That’s part of golf betting. Sometimes it just doesn’t hit but the process can still be right. If I liked Wolff last week, I love him this week. Torrey Pines is all about getting the ball far off the tee and then hitting solid second shots. Wolff is 2nd in the field in approach and 12th in driving distance. He also is solid with the long irons, ranking 12th in proximity from over 200 yards.

His debut at this event last year resulted in a finish of 21st. Throughout his career, he has putt much better on Poa than any other surface. He hits a ton of greens and can drive the ball a mile. I love starting the card this week with Matthew Wolff. 

Bubba Watson +4500

Player NameSG: APPSG: BSDr DistSG: ARGP4: 450-500Prox: 200+SG: P
Bubba Watson29116106216265
Watson stats

Bubba Watson quietly had a great end to the 2020 calendar year. Outside of his disappointing Masters, he ended the year with 7 straight made cuts, including back to back top-10s at the CJ Cup and the Zozo. He did so with elite ball striking. He actually leads this field over the past 50 rounds in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. He, of course, is known for his length off the tee, which will also be a huge advantage this week.

We all know the putter and short game leave a lot to be desired but throughout his career, Bubba has always been better on Poa greens than any other surface. That shows at this exact event where he has four finishes inside the top-25, including a win in 2011. Last year he finished 6th and we are hoping that solid form shows again in his first start of 2021. 

Gary Woodland +8000

Player NameSG: APPSG: BSDr DistSG: ARGP4: 450-500Prox: 200+SG: P
Gary Woodland1149391271271623
Woodland stats

The stats don’t always tell the whole story and that is the case here with Gary Woodland. 2020 did not go the way he would have liked but a lot of it was due to injuries. After a MC at the US Open, he revealed that he was battling a torn labrum in his hip. A couple months later he withdrew from the Zozo with a back injury. Just looking at stats during this stretch wouldn’t really work for identifying where his game currently stands. 

He looked great at the AmEx. The 2019 US Open champ finished 16th last week and this was led by great ball striking. He gained 4 strokes on the field tee to green and 2.7 on approach. Even with the injury filled fall season, he still is 11th in the field on approach over the past 50 rounds. If he can get the driver back to where it once was (one of the best in the world) there is no reason why he can’t compete this week at a course where he has four top-20 finishes in his last five trips. 80/1 is a criminal number for him to win, assuming he is fully healthy. 

Tournament matchups

Rory McIlroy -110 over Xander Schauffele

Rory looked great last week overseas but was just unable to close coming down the stretch on Sunday. He has played this event twice and has finished 5th and 3rd. Good form and solid course history sets up well for Rory heading to Southern California this week. Xander on paper should set up well for this course with his long driving and consistent irons but for some reason he has not done well in the past. He has results of MC/25th/MC/MC/MC. For the California native, this isn’t exactly his best course. I will gladly side with the four-time major champ at even odds in this matchup.

Sam Burns -102 over Si Woo Kim

We’re 2/2 so far this year targeting matchups against the previous week’s winner so I will keep this rolling until it doesn’t work out. Si Woo was absolutely dialed in last week. His irons were sharp, his putter was unreal, and he was in the fairway on seemingly every hole. He gained 11.6 strokes: tee to green. Simply staggering numbers. I don’t see that hot of play continuing. Sam Burns on the other hand definitely had an off week by missing the cut. But when looking closer, he actually gained 4.6 strokes: tee to green and 2.7 strokes on approach. He is a true bomber ranking 4th in this field in driving distance. I love the set up this week for him over the short hitting Kim. 

Finishing positions

Marc Leishman top-10 +450

The Leishman 2020 season will certainly be remembered for the poor play in the middle and end but people forget he is actually the defending champ of this event. In his career he also has four other top-10 finishes here. He tends to play well during the West Coast swing and based on what we saw at the Sony, this year may be no different. A 4th place finish was carried by gaining 6.1 strokes on approach. That is a great sign for the golfer who had actually been losing strokes his previous 10 starts. If he has figured out his irons and is back in form,  I am wanting to get in early on his odds before the sportsbooks adjust accordingly. 

Ryan Palmer top-10 +500

Sneakily, Ryan Palmer has been one of the most consistent golfers over the past few months. At the end of the 2020 year, he placed 17th at the CJ Cup and 4th at the Zozo. He then started his 2021 with two made cuts including a 4th at the Tournament of Champions. He has been gaining strokes in all major categories over his past 10 starts and is 14th in this field in strokes gained: approach and proximity over 200 yards. 50/1 is a great number for him to win but I like the +500 top-10 even better.

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