Opening Day is here! Well technically, the third opening day, but I’m not counting the Safeway Open in the fall or the small field Sentry Tournament of Champions to kick off the start of 2019. event, with Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy teeing it up, marks the real beginning of a condensed golf season.
Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: Farmers Insurance Open | When: Jan. 24-27
Where: Torrey Pines — La Jolla, California
About Torrey: Players will play both the easier north course and the tougher south course over the first two days before weekend play moves to the south for the final two. Better get your scoring done while you’re on the north side, too, because the south — which has hosted a U.S. Open and has plans to host it again in 2021 — is a nasty concoction of high rough, narrow fairways and few scoring opportunities. The winning score here over the last five events has only been better than 10 under one time.
Ranking the field (odds)
Field strength — A: This field includes eight of the top 13 players in the world, and should provide fireworks throughout given the star power. Tiger is the main event (obviously), but I like that Fowler, McIlroy and Spieth are all showing up for the festivities.
Three things to know
1. Jordan Spieth is 33-1 to win: I had to double-and triple-check this. A list of players who have better odds than Spieth this week: Charles Howell III, Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele and Marc Leishamn. What a world.
2. Here’s a weird stat: Eight straight winners of this tournament have started the event on the south course rather than the north. Bet some guys are looking at pairings when they come out.
3. One San Diego native for another: Phil Mickelson is skipping this week for the first time in 29 years, but fellow San Diegoan Xander Schauffele might be ready to take the mantle from him as the hometown hero. Schauffele comes in having won two of his last four starts.
One story I’m following
U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland is playing this week after his triumph as an Oklahoma State Cowboy last year at Pebble Beach. It’s his second PGA Tour start, and it comes in the middle of another all-time season for his Pokes, which are ranked No. 1 in college golf.
Woods will make his 2019 debut here, which is no surprise given that this is almost always where he starts the calendar year. Last year, he finished T23 after coming in surrounded by ambiguity. Before that, on this course, it was total bliss. Woods has won eight times here, including the 2008 Farmers Insurance Open U.S. Open, and has only finished outside the top 10 four times in his career.
Here are Tiger Woods’ career finishes at Torrey Pines.
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) January 21, 2019
- 2018: Jason Day
- 2017: Jon Rahm
- 2016: Brandt Snedeker
- 2015: Jason Day
- 2014: Scott Stallings
Farmers Insurance Open picks
Winner: Quietly playing the best golf of anybody in the world right now. There’s a reason he’s the favorite in this caliber of field.
Top 10: He might be top 10 in every single start this year with no wins. This course disproportionately awards success off the tee, and Finau is among the best in the business.
Sleeper: I get why he’s this low, but I love him at that number. Good odds for a two-time champion with a top 20 in his last start in Hawaii.