This article is part of our Golf Picks series.
Farmers Insurance Open Betting Preview
The PGA Tour heads south to San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open, which begins Wednesday and features the only Saturday finish of the season.
The event is being held at the renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course, where golfers will play both the North and South courses over the first two days. Those who make the cut will play the final two rounds at the South Course.
It's another strong field headlined by last week's winner Jon Rahm -- the favorite at 9-2 odds -- and includes five of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking. Last year, Luke List, at 80-1, picked up his maiden Tour victory, defeating Will Zalatoris with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
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North Course - Par 72, 7,258 yards
South Course - Par 72, 7,765 yards
Average Strokes Gained Rankings: Farmers Insurance Open Winners Since 2018
- SG: Off-the-Tee: 35
- SG: Approach: 29.6
- SG: Around-the-Green: 39.8
- SG: Putting: 22.8
- SG: Tee-to-Green: 14.4
- Driving Distance: 34.4
- Driving Accuracy: 54.8
With strokes gained data only being measured at the South Course, dissecting the champion's profile is a little more difficult than usual. List dominated with his ball striking last year, while Patrick Reed used his short game prowess the year before. Playing well on the slightly-easier North Course is important, which Jason Day did in his 2018 victory, finishing 7-under-par there and just 3-under over three rounds on the South Course. One thing is certain at the host venue of the 2021 U.S. Open -- the South Course is incredibly long. It also features narrow fairways and is one of the toughest tests players will face all season. That will require all facets of a player's game to be in form. Therefore, I'm looking to target those who play well from tee to green and approach it well from 225 yards and up, as they will be in the best to position take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the par-5s.
Prolific at Torrey Pines
The following golfers have the lowest scoring average at this event since 2018.
- Justin Rose: 69.2
- Jon Rahm: 69.4
- Ryan Palmer: 69.7
- Will Zalatoris: 69.7
- Jason Day: 69.7
2019 champion Rose tops the list, although it would be Rahm had the 2021 U.S. Open results been included. Rose, who recorded a T6 here a year ago, is not receiving much respect from the oddsmakers at 60-1 to win. Coming off a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, Rose has shown some form this season, notching a top-10 among his four starts and finding himself in the mix heading into the weekend at The American Express. Another player coming off a frustrating season but who has fared well at Torrey Pines is Day, whose resume includes two wins and a runner-up since 2014. His 25-1 odds are much less appealing than Rose's, though, so he will be better-suited for DFS contests.
These five players, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes from tee to green over their last 20 rounds.
- Collin Morikawa: 1.48
- Will Zalatoris: 1.41
- Max Homa: 1.41
- Jon Rahm: 1.31
- Xander Schauffele: 1.31
Morikawa enters off a disheartening finish to the Tournament of Champions, where he was unable to convert a six-shot lead heading into the final round. However, his play from tee to green has been stellar and it often comes down to how he plays on the greens, as he posted a top-5 in three of the last four tournaments in which he has gained strokes putting. Two players appear on both lists, and those are Zalatoris and Rahm. There's not much to say about Rahm, who won four of his last six worldwide starts and is obviously the golfer to beat this week. Zalatoris will look to improve upon his 2022 runner-up, and it seems there are no longer any questions about his health.
Farmers Insurance Open Bets: Outright Picks
Xander Schauffele (11-1)
Schauffele showed no ill effects from a back injury that caused him to withdraw from the Tournament of Champions earlier this month, finishing T3 at The American Express. That gives me plenty of confidence in placing a wager on him, especially with him growing up in San Diego.
Hideki Matsuyama (40-1)
Although Matsuyama's results have been lacking of late, it's rare that you see him with odds this high. His form was solid at the Sony Open, where he finished eighth in Stokes Gained: Approach, and he genrally just needs to find some success on the greens to get into contention. He has made seven cuts in a row at Torrey Pines, with a best finish of T3.
Sahith Theegala (55-1)
Theegala's boom-or-bust nature makes him a preferred outright bet for me, and he has put himself in contention often enough to think that a win is right around the corner. The California native played well during the West Coast Swing last year and finished top-10 in SG: Approach here a year ago.
Farmers Insurance Open Bets: Top-10 Wagers
Keegan Bradley (5-1)
Bradley is a good target if you like the course history angle, as he posted back-to-back top-5 results here in 2017 and 2018. His ball striking was in good form last year, but he lost over five strokes in the short game. With Bradley having posted a pair of top-5s over his last five starts, the value is too good to pass up.
Brendan Steele (8-1)
At a place where ball striking tends to be a key factor, it's hard to overlook Steele, who finished second when combining SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Approach at the Stadium Course last week. His putting always holds him back, but I'm willing to take the chance.
Ben Griffin (9-1)
I'll be betting on a Griffin top-10 often in non-elevated events if his odds remain in this range, and apparently I'm not the only one, as this number checked in at 11-1 when I began writing. The rookie notched two top-5s over his last 10 starts and missed only one cut. He quickly cracked the top 100 of the OWGR and is trending even higher.
Farmers Insurance Open Bets: Head-to-Head Matchups
Hayden Buckley (-110) over Ryan Palmer
In a matchup between an up-and-comer and a fading veteran, I'll go with the second-year player in Buckley, who is coming off a runner-up in Hawaii. His driving play -- he ranks third in SG: Off-the-tee this season -- will be a big asset this week. Even though Palmer has played well here, he has just one top-10 since the start of last season and has missed more cuts than he has made this season.
Will Gordon (+100) over Alex Smalley
This is an interesting matchup between two players with breakout potential, and I like the Gordon side at plus money, as he's missed just one cut this season. Gordon is one of the longest drivers on Tour, which will be needed on the South Course. Meanwhile, Smalley also didn't show much here last year, posting a T56 result.
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