This week we are off to the Farmers Insurance Open being played at Torrey Pines in beautiful California. The players will be faced with the difficult task of playing both the North and South Courses. Below is a little about each of these tracks.
The South Course
This is considered the tougher of the two golf courses and will be a difficult task for any golfer. It was changed just over 10 years ago and now is home to a Par 72 course that is just over 7600 yards in distance. The South Course was home to the US open in 2008. Its course record is held by a guy who will be playing this week for the first time of the year (on the PGA Tour), Tiger Woods (Shot 62 in 1999). Be sure to pay attention when the players are on holes 7 and 12. Both of these long Par 4’s have given the players fits over the years.
The North Course
This course is much shorter than The South Course but still poses challenges for the golfers. It is a Par 72 course that will be playing around 7000 yards for the players this week. The North Course is where many players will hope to go low but if the wind is gusting that idea may vanish quickly. Mark Brooks and Brandt Snedeker share the North Course record with a blistering 61. A fun hole for people to watch is the 172 yard Par 3 17th. Players will be faced with coastal winds and a pond short and to the left. The green is large but the 17th is still a daunting par 3 for the players.
This week includes a hometown hero in Phil Mickelson, a six time champion at this event in Tiger Woods, as well as plenty of up and coming stars. The players will gather in La Jolla, California, to bomb their way around the challenging courses. The largest news of the week though is that Tiger is teeing it up in 2013 for the first time on the PGA Tour. I think he may have picked this course for a reason too. Woods has won the Tournament 5 of the past 6 times he teed it up at Torrey pines (2005 to 2008, and again in 2008 at the US Open.)
To say Woods is not the favorite going in would be ridiculous. He can be found as low as a 3.5 to 1 favorite to win this week at Torrey Pines, but most books are around 6 to 1.
Phil Mickelson will be coming home to a course he played all the time while growing up. Phil has also won this tournament multiple times, capturing the title here in (1993, 2000, 2001). He will have the support of the crowd as he always does, but I feel his statement pertaining to his taxes will be a distraction.
Other players who will have plenty of eyes on them this week include Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson. Torrey Pines is the first full field event that brings out the big names, thus resulting in added exposure and intrigue.
What players need to do to win this week?
When it comes to Torrey Pines it is all about distance. Past Champions of this tournament include John Daly, Nick Watney, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Davis Love III. Ben Crane (2010) would be the one anomaly to this rule in recent history, but I feel you can expect yet another long driver to hold the trophy at weeks end.
I feel the Distance is most important on the difficult Par 4’s, especially on the South Course. Many people will look at the Par 5 scoring but I feel keeping it together on the more challenging holes is more important. The ability to overpower a difficult hole gives a player a clear advantage over the rest of the field.
The other intangible I will look for this week is players comfort levels. Golfers who have a history of playing well here will have an added advantage. The Poa Annua greens can not be overlooked either. Certain players tend to putt better than other on these greens and they take some time to get used to. Also if you look at the history of this tournament it tends to favor players born or living in California.
Steve’s 6-Pack System Picks for Farmers Insurance Open
We look to get in the win column this week. Torrey Pines has been a tournament dominated by two big names in the past (Tiger and Phil). I however feel neither one of them will win this tournament for the 5th straight year. Watching Tiger on the European Tour last week confirmed to me that he still doesn’t have his driver figured out. Phil on the other hand will have the previously mentioned distraction of his tax comments to deal with.
BUBBA WATSON 14 TO 1 – Bubba has treated us very well here at golfpicks. We had him when he won the 2010 Travelers Championship, the 2011 Farmers Insurance Open and most importantly last season when he won his 1st major at The Masters. I expect Bubba to win again this season and Torrey Pines may be the place he does it. Bubba has a very good history at this course (2007 – T4, 2008 – T47, 2009 – T7, 2010 – cut, 2011 – Won, 2012 – T13). Bubba will obviously look to once again overpower Torrey Pines with his unbelievable distance. Last season Bubba was 1st on Tour in Driving Distance which resulted in a 2nd place ranking for Greens in Regulation. When Bubba won here in 2011 he averaged over 316 yards for the week and hit over 81 percent of his Greens in Regulation. I expect Bubba to continue his excellent play ( seven Top 12’s in his last nine starts) and once again be in contention on Sunday.
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