Farmers Insurance Open
Torrey Pines South (host) and North courses
La Jolla, CA
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Poa annua (5,860 square feet on average)
Rough: Perennial ryegrass/kikuyugrass 3.5”
Water Hazards: 1
Course Architect: William Bell (1957); Rees Jones (2001)
Winner’s Share: $1,080,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker defeated Kyle Stanley in a two-hole playoff after Stanley found the water on the 72nd hole. Snedeker overcame a seven-shot deficit on Sunday for his third career (at the time) victory.
Dates: January 24-27
Format: Players will play each course once before playing the weekend at the South course. Top 70 and ties will make the weekend.
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Bentgrass/Poa annua (4,500 square feet on average)
Water Hazards: 2
Course Architect: William Bell (1957)
Notes: Only PGA West (Nickalus Private) and Kapalua played easier in 2012. The North has been in the easier half of courses played on TOUR over the last five years.
After the early 2013 rookie rebellion, plenty of you will probably want to jump in grab you one this week, but read this first.
Jay Don Blake is the last first-time winner at Torrey Pines. His victory was in 1991. Kyle Stanley ALMOST joined that club last year. Almost.
No rookie has won this event since 1954 when amateur Gene Littler was victorious. Like Prince said, that’s an awfully long time.
Since 2000, only four players (Woods twice, Mickelson and Daly) have converted a 54-hole lead into victory. These are all major champions.
Tiger Woods (6) and Phil Mickelson (3) are the only multiple champions in the field. And they’re both So-Cal born and bred.
Only Woods, Mickelson and J.C. Snead have been repeat winners.
Woods (62) holds the South course record while Brandt Snedeker and Mark Brooks share the North course record of 61. Two of them have titles here.
The average winning score since 1999 is just over 15-under-par. The last two winners each posted 272 (-16). Tiger Woods and George Burns share the tournament record at 266 (-22).
Of the last 21 winners here, 17 have been major champions. In the last four years, three of the four winners have not been major champions. Trend or not to trend; that is the question!
Rank and File
Eighteen of the top 50 in the OWGR are playing this week
Seventeen of the 30 players who played in the TOUR Championship are entered this week as well.
As everyone remembers, Torrey Pines South course was the scene for the 2008 U.S. Open where Tiger Woods finally put away Rocco Mediate. Although the course will not be set up to those conditions, the South course, which will be used for the weekend rounds, will present the first non-resort challenge of 2013. The rough will come into play off the fairway and around the greens. Playing over 7,600 yards, you would think guys who can bomb it here will have an advantage. They do (Daly, Mickelson, Woods, Watney, Singh and Watson as former winners suggest this) but Brandt Snedeker and Ben Crane, two of the last three winners, are more known for their putting than their distance off the tee so shorter hitters are not to be written off this week either.
Gamers, time to start paying attention as the conditions this week on the course will change dramatically. For the first time in 2013, we will see actual, penal rough off the fairways as the sticky kikuyugrass will be approaching 3.5 inches long. Secondly, the Bermudagrass greens that they players have been feasting on the last three weeks will now be lumpy-bumpy Poa Annua for three rounds on the South course. Brandt Snedeker, the best putter on TOUR, could putt on cobblestones but I would recommend guys with experience at Torrey Pines and previous success on the West Coast on courses with Poa annua when drafting your team this week.
Top 10, Plus One
Dustin Johnson: The HTOC winner is coming off a WD at the Sony Open after a bout with the flu. His new girlfriend is “sick”, as the kids would say. He’s shown his love for the coast of California at Pebble over the years. The conditions won’t bother him if wind picks up. His best finish in five events at Torrey Pines is T3 in 2011. When he’s healthy, he can win any time he tees it up.
Tiger Woods: He’s won here six times, seven if you include the 2008 U.S. Open. He’s entered this event 12 times and been in the top 10 in 11 of those. His three victories last year all came in events where he had multiple career victories. He won’t have any jet lag from the Middle East to worry about as he went home after his round Friday after missing the cut in Dubai. His worst finish at this event, T44, was in his last start back in 2011.
Bubba Watson: The 2011 champion shifted the number of major winners in the last 21 years in this event after his win at last year’s Masters. He likes San Diego as evidence in his seven starts here. He has a T4, T7 and T13 to go along with his win. This will be his eighth consecutive start at Torrey Pines so you know he looks forward to teeing it up here especially after putting together a solid weekend at Humana.
Brandt Snedeker: The 2012 champion backed up his solo third finish at the HTOC with a T23 finish last week in the Coachella Valley. In six events here Snedeker has been first, T2, third and T9 at Torrey Pines. Yes, please.
Nick Watney: The 2009 champion adds a T6 and a pair of T9s on top of that victory as he tees it up for the ninth year running at Torrey Pines. His T13 at Kapalua isn’t going to blow you away but his late season finish to 2012 should pique your interest as he played quite well.
Rickie Fowler: The So-Cal native opened his 2013 with a T6 at the HTOC and will feel right at home at Torrey Pines this week. He’s played in three events and been par or better in 10 of those 12 rounds. He has finished T5, T20 and T13 last year so I would endorse him this week without question.
Phil Mickelson: This will be the 24th time that Mickelson has teed it up in his backyard and he’s made the cut in 19 previous events. He has three victories, second only to Woods, and is currently redesigning the North course that he grew up playing. He shook off the rust to have a nice weekend in the desert last week but he’ll have to shake off the tax man questions this week. I can’t figure out Mickelson this early in the season but, as I always say, I can’t dismiss him either.
Scott Piercy: The SDSU grad was cruising along here last year before a final round 73 derailed his chances. Piercy is really coming into his own and his T15 at Sony his last time out included a pair of 64s to open. His length will help him destroy par five and par fours this week.
Keegan Bradley: He enjoys courses that are long and strong and Torrey Pines South fits that format. He has no problems on poa Annua greens as evidence by his stellar play at Riviera, Pebble and here. If he’s in the field, he’s probably in this column! He’s finished T25 and T22 in the last two years.
Charles Howell III: In an interview after round three at Humana, Howell talked about how much he enjoyed making his schedule every year and how he looks forward to playing the courses where he performs well. Add the Farmers Insurance Open to that list. It’s easy to see why. In 10 events, CH III has six finishes in the top 14 and has never missed the cut. He opened with T3 at the Sony and lost in a playoff at Humana last week. Giddy up!
Hunter Mahan: After three MCs, a T56 and a T29 in his first five appearances here, Mahan, the Orange, California native, has embraced the challenge at Torrey Pines. In his last four starts, the premium ball striker has finished T11, T27 and T6 the past two years here. He’s been knocking on the door. Time to open it up!