Farmers Insurance Open Betting Preview

Bubba Watson

Bubba Watson (Photo credit: jpellgen)

The PGA Tour heads to one of its most iconic locations this week, as Tiger Woods heads up a field of the world’s best at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open. For the second straight week, players will be on multiple courses, alternating between the North and the South in the first two rounds before heading back to the South Course for the weekend.
2013 Farmers Insurance Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: Torrey Pines North and South
  • Location: La Jolla, California
  • Yardage: 6,874 to 7,569 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM (CBS)
  • Sunday – 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:30 PM (CBS)

Typically, the winner at Torrey Pines is one of the best players in the world. That seems obvious to say, but there are tons of courses that produce less than stellar champions, ones where just about anyone can get hot and stay at the top of the leaderboard. There’s a reason that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have won ten events combined at Torrey Pines, and why other champions include Jose Maria Olazabal, John Daly, Davis Love, Bubba Watson and last year’s winner Brandt Snedeker. Torrey Pines presents a consistently challenging layout, especially on the South Course, and greens that are difficult to read even from short distances.

Key Storyline This Week
As it always is when he tees it up, the performance of Tiger Woods is the storyline to watch this week. Woods has won seven times at Torrey Pines, so it makes sense that he’s the consensus favourite this week, and you’d think that the rust is starting to wear off after he played last week in Abu Dhabi. I’m not overly concerned about his poor performance in the UAE, and I doubt that he is either. Keep in mind that his success here isn’t just based on those seven wins, as he has four other top-5 finishes at Torrey Pines, including his last major championship, when he won the 2008 U.S Open in a playoff against Rocco Mediate. I’m not going to guarantee a win for him this week, but I’d be absolutely shocked if he finishes outside of the top-10.
Suggested Plays
Bubba Watson (Best Odds 15-1 at Betfair)
When Woods is in an event, he’s almost certainly going to be the favourite, which leaves tons of great value for other players in the field. Watson is a former winner of the event, and finished fourth a few weeks ago at the wind-shortened Hyundai Tournament of Champions. His freakish length is what gets the most attention, but his short game has approved dramatically over the last few years, and at 15-1 there’s too much value to pass up.
Phil Mickelson (Best Odds 18-1 at Bet365)
Quite a week for Phil Mickelson. After finishing a less than stellar four days at the Humana, the four-time major winner made some ill-advised remarks about paying too much in taxes, and then quickly apologized a day later. Now, he heads to Torrey Pines, a place where he’s won three times and is expected to contend. His play at the Humana left a little to be desired, but his scores of 67-66-66 to close out the tournament are a positive, even at a scorer’s paradise like PGA West. Much like Woods, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t finish inside the top-10, with a solid chance to win the whole thing.
Rickie Fowler (Best Odds 25-1 at Bet365)
Fowler is the perfect example of someone who is trending upward at Torrey Pines. In the three events he’s played there, not including the U.S. Open where conditions were much tougher, Fowler has finished in the top-20 all three times. He hasn’t played since the Hyundai, but he did finish in sixth place in really tough conditions. At this point, he should be ready to pull one out at Torrey Pines in his fifth trip, and with all of the talent in the field this week, you have a chance to get him at longer odds than normal.
Charles Howell III (Best Odds 31-1 at Betfair)
First off, you may look at this as an attempt to ride the hot hand, but that’s not entirely the case. Howell has six top-15 finishes at Torrey Pines, including a pair of runner-ups in 2005 and 2007. The big knock on Howell over the years has been the putter, but so far in 2013, he’s been on fire on the greens, averaging just over 27 putts per round and currently ranking 16th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained Putting. Of course, the fact that he hasn’t had a round higher than a 67 this year doesn’t hurt either. Note that his runner-up finish at the Humana last week gave him 14 for his career. The only player in his 30’s with more than that? Tiger Woods.
Nicolas Colsaerts (Best Odds 58-1 at BETDAQ)
We’re going to be seeing a lot more of the Belgian Bomber this season on the PGA Tour, and people are expecting big things. Colsaerts is the longest hitter in the world, and even though he’s never seen Torrey Pines, I like him in this spot at 58-1. Much like Watson, his distance gets all of the attention, but he has pretty nice touch around the greens, and he performed well last year at big events like the Ryder Cup and the Open Championship. His lone start of 2013 yielded a 9th place finish, and it’s not often that you can get a player ranked 36th in the world at this kind of a price.
Jonas Blixt (Best Odds 90-1 at BETDAQ)
There isn’t much current form to go on with Blixt. After finishing 18th at the Hyundai, he missed the cut two weeks ago at the Sony. Blixt is a world-class putter and scrambler, and played pretty well here last year before a final round 75 derailed any chance he had of picking up his maiden victory. That win did come later in the year at the Frys, also played in California, so he does seem to like the area. He’s my dartboard special at 90-1.
Other things to watch:

  • Does the cut streak continue for Mike Weir? The 2003 Masters champ came close to ending his drought at the Humana last week, and would have done it if he didn’t triple bogey his final hole on Saturday. The streak now sits at 18 missed cuts in a row for Weir on the PGA Tour, but he did show signs of life last week. He does have a fifth place finish at Torrey Pines, but that was back in 2001.
  • Weir’s fellow countryman Adam Hadwin will be playing in the event thanks to picking up the win at the Monday qualifier. Hadwin just missed out on earning his tour card last year, finishing just outside the top-25 on the Tour money list. Mark Baker, Michael McCabe and Brad Adamonis will also be playing thanks to the Monday qualifier.
  • 19-year old Jordan Spieth will also be making his pro debut this week by way of a sponsor’s exemption.

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