Wednesday, January 27, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Farmers Insurance Open

Si-Woo Kim wins the American Express in Palm Springs:

Kim's victory was fitting given Palm Springs is one of the most unpredictable stops on Tour and Kim is one of the least predictable players on Tour. But this week the Tour goes to Southern California to play Torrey Pines.

Torrey Pines is another split course tournament where each player plays 1 round on the North Course and those that make the cut will play the final two rounds on the South Course. The South Course is where they play when they hold the US Open or PGA Championship at Torrey Pines. It is usually the longest course they play all year on Tour tipping out at 7,765 yards.

Torrey Pines is a municipal course where San Diego residents get to play for only $45. Non-resident fees change depending on time and season, but they usually go for around $230. On the weekends it is a first come, first serve booking basis.

Both courses feature narrow fairways. The field average for fairways hit will be around 50%. The North Course is much shorter and the green countours are a little flatter which makes for lower scoring. The green contours on the South Course are some of the hilliest of any on Tour and they aver slow. Typically the South Course will have the second loest make percentages on Tour next to Pebble Beach. But as Pebble Beach's greens have improved in recent years Torrey may end up having the lowest make percentages on Tour.

There has been some talk in recent months from Tour players, particularly Kevin Kisner, about how short hitters won't win at Torrey Pines. I think that's a bit of a misnomer given victories from shorter hitters like Brandt Snedeker and Ben Crane not too long ago. In fact, Rocco Mediate was 170th out of 197 golfers in driving distance in 2008 when he faced Tiger Woods in a playoff to win the US Open.

Certainly, distance helps here. And it helps a little more at Torrey Pines than say Bay Hill, but short hitters can win here...particularly if the course is playing tough. This is usually due to the green complexes favoring better putters which have a tendency to be shorter hitters

Nonetheless, from the Tour players I have talked to over the years it's a polarizing course. Many love the course and the backdrop of the ocean. The entire experience is pleasant as if you're coming from LA, once you get on I-5 South around San Clemente it's one of the most pleasant and beautiful driving experiences I've ever had in this county.

But others avoid Torrey Pines at all costs. They can't stand the length and the extreme green complexes with 24-yard wide fairways and there's not enough good views of the ocean for them to consider it a top course on Tour.

This course is usually won thru long iron play and quality driving. The final critical hole is the 18th a par-5.

Projected Winning Score: -13


Jon Rahm +700
Rory McIlroy +850
Xander Schauffele +1,200
Tony Finau +1,800
Viktor Hovland +2,500


Sung-Jae Im +4,000
Bubba Watson +5,000
Corey Conners +10,000
Carlos Ortiz +12,500
Wyndham Clark +15,000


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