2014 Farmers Insurance Open Betting Preview

Tiger Woods (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Tiger Woods (Courtesy: Zimbio.com)

Tiger Woods returns to Torrey Pines for his first event of 2014, as he looks to defend once again at the Farmers Insurance Open.

2014 Farmers Insurance Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: Torrey Pines North and South
  • Location: La Jolla, California
  • Yardage: North (6,874 yards, par 72) South (7,569 yards, par 72)
  • Defending Champion: Tiger Woods
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day and Bill Haas

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

Key Storyline This Week

Tiger Woods will always be the focus when he tees it up in an event, but he also has a chance here this week to break one of his own records if he can successfully defend his title. Woods is going for his ninth win at Torrey Pines, which would break his own record at three different courses, for most wins at one venue. He’s also won eight times at Bay Hill and Firestone, and as expected, he’s the heavy favourite this week, coming in at roughly 5-2 in most places. Last year, he won by four shots, and really, that wasn’t even indicative of the dominance he showed over the rest of the field. A few late bogeys diminished a lead that was once eight shots after an opening three rounds of 68-65-69. Other things of note:

  • Ten of the world’s top-30 players are in the field this week, including Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson.
  • Graham DeLaet is making his 2014 debut.
  • Victor Dubuisson, who won last year in Turkey, is making his U.S. debut.
  • Last week’s winner Patrick Reed pulled out this week due to displaced ribs.

Torrey Pines

Much like last week, multiple courses are used at the Farmers, as both the North and South courses are in play, with the more difficult South course being used in three rounds, including both on the weekend. The South is the longest course on the PGA Tour schedule, coming in at over 7600 yards and playing at nearly a full stroke over par last year, while the North is much shorter, and played more than a full stroke under par in 2013.

Big hitters tend to do well here, as the par-5’s are usually some of the easiest on the PGA Tour, so those who can take advantage of them the best will likely put themselves in a much better position. However, Torrey’s greens are also notoriously difficult to read, leading to first time players usually having some form of adjustment period and giving the better putters a chance to make up shots. When you look at the list of recent winners, it’s full of bombers and great putters from Woods, Bubba Watson and John Daly to Brandt Snedeker and Ben Crane. It might also be a coincidence, but Woods last year is also the only 54-hole leader in the last five years to hold onto the lead and come away with the victory.

The weather is looking great for most of the tournament, with no rain and minimal wind in the forecast.

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Tiger Woods: There isn’t much else to say about Woods when it comes to Torrey Pines. He’s going to be in contention all week unless something catastrophic happens, as his record below indicates. At 5-2 though, I’m going to pass and look elsewhere.

tw torrey

  • Phil Mickelson: Mickelson is a three-time winner at Torrey Pines, but the last time he did that came all the way back in 2001. In the 13 appearances since, he has cracked the top-10 five times, so it’s not like he hasn’t been good here, but outside of a runner-up in 2011, he hasn’t been in contention here in awhile. He is coming off of a runner-up in Abu Dhabi though, so he is in good form. Much like Woods, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in contention on Sunday, but the odds are just too short for me this week.
  • Brandt Snedeker: Since his last win at the Canadian Open in July, Snedeker only has one top-10 finish, though his numbers have been better than the finishes have looked in his two 2014 events. He hasn’t been worse than even par in any of his eight rounds, and if it wasn’t for Woods, he’d be the guaranteed “horse for the course” candidate here. In eight appearances at Torrey Pines, he’s got six top-10’s, including a win and two runner-ups.
  • Jason Day: Day hasn’t played since the Australian Open in early December, so his run of seven straight top-25’s might not mean much, but it’s difficult not to like his chances here. After three appearances of middling play at best, he finally cracked the top-10 here last year with a final round 66.
  • Bill Haas: Sneaky finish at the Humana last week where I swear we never saw his name mentioned until the very end. It’s amazing that rounds of 65-66-67-67 and a T6 can have a guy go unnoticed, but that’s pretty much what usually happens with Haas. He’s also posted three consecutive top-10’s in this event.

Suggested Plays

Jason Day (Best Odds 33-1 at bet365)

Of all the top players in the field, Day represents the best value at roughly 33-1 at various books. I know I said that the break in his action may lessen his current form, but you have to like the confidence he takes into the week and last year’s good performance should have him feeling pretty good. I fully believe that Day is in for that breakout year in 2014, and this is a great place for him to get his start.

Rickie Fowler (Best Odds 45-1 at 888 Sport)

Fowler played well last week in his 2014 debut despite not finishing very high, and I think his work with Butch Harmon will be rewarded at some point, so the combination of his odds and his prior success at Torrey Pines makes him an intriguing play here. He’s got four consecutive top-20’s here, including last year where he rebounded after an ugly opening round 77. Considering that he fell out of the top-50 in the world rankings this week for the first time in 30 months, he needs to start bouncing back.

Marc Leishman (Best Odds 81-1 at BETDAQ)

Leishman is really flying under the radar here, and I’m not sure why. Three straight finishes in the top-11, including a solo fifth at the Sony Open, and he’s got a decent track record at Torrey Pines too, with two top-10’s in five appearances, with his best finish being a runner-up to Ben Crane in 2010.

Ryo Ishikawa (Best Odds 150-1 at Coral)

Ishikawa is getting it back together, and while I don’t expect him to win this week, I like him at this price to sneak into the top-5. He’s been playing pretty well over the last couple of weeks, and a T12 along with an opening round 68 last year makes me think he enjoys it on the course.

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