This article is part of our DFS PGA series.
A the PGA tour continues its swing through California, we'll tackle the action in San Diego as some of the tour's best (including Tiger Woods, who is making his debut) tee up at Torrey Pines for the Farmer's Insurance Open.
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Torrey Pines Golf Club, San Diego, CA
South Course - Par 72, 7,698 yards
North Course - Par 72, 7,258 yards
Just like last week's American Express, golfers will begin on Thursday with two courses, and then the final two rounds are played exclusively on the South Course. As someone who's played the South Course, I can tell you right off the bat that's it's a bear of a layout. When played from the tips, it ranks as the 18th-most difficult course on the Tour. In contrast, the North Course is a far shorter and easier track, so as we tackle the first round, I'm going to give a lot of OVER exposure to guys that are playing the North Course on Thursday.
While I'm going to include past history and course assignment in my master table, the meat of our analysis will involve drilling down to see which statistical categories matter in our player selection. Long drivers are definitely an advantage here, especially when playing the South course. The fairways are easy to miss and iron approach play is extremely important as well, as some of the greens on both courses are what many might call 'postage-stamp-sized' – and that's about how big they feel from 200 yards out.
Here's a list of our categories as we assemble our table:
Round One Scoring Average
Par 5 Birdie or Better
Strokes Gained: Approach
Long Iron Acxuracy 175-200 yards
Once we get past this tournament, we will have a big enough sample size to utilize 2019-20 statistics. This will be the last week that I'll use 2018-19 rankings for these categories.
|Driving Accuracy||R1 Scoring Average|
Par 5 Birdie-or-
Long Iron Accuracy
As you can see, our 10-player offering ranks pretty high in terms of driving distance, and as expected, the long bombers aren't particularly accurate. The table is very revealing in other aspects, however. You'll also notice that I placed X's over Woods' numbers – that;'s because I am excluding him from consideration. My reasoning is that, especially where Torrey Pines is concerned, we have no way of knowing just how healthy Woods is or isn't. I'm going to avoid a tricky spot if I'm able, so I'm eliminating Woods right off the bat.
Let's now take a look at each player, look at their OVER/UNDER category, and make a prediction based on what we've researched. An asterisk (*) indicates that it's one of my top 5 picks.
Rory McIlroy - EAGLES: 0.5
McIlroy has four shots at eagle on the North Course, and I think his best shot will be at the 520-yard 17th hole. A solid drive here will leave him a short iron into this relatively unprotected green.
Jon Rahm - BIRDIES: 3.5
I like Rahm's chances to trounce the North Course on Thursday. The four Par 5's should put birdies in play for Rahm, who will have no problem reaching them in two. His past history and statistics over the past year light up our table, and it's enough for me to give Rahm a green light on the North Course.
Rickie Fowler - PARS: 12.5
Fowler has the disadvantage of playing the South Course on Thursday, and a look at his past history provides ample evidence that Torrey Pines doesn't really suit his game. He looked good last week at the AMEX and his long-iron accuracy is on point. There may not be many bogies on his card, but birdies will be hard to come by as well. It's a deceptive category because we're betting on five holes to go the other way for Fowler. If he can't birdie the Par 5's I think we can cash in the Over here, but it's a tough call. Not one of my top 5 picks, but I'll take the over.
Jordan Spieth - BOGEYS: 2.5
Jordan struggled through most of last year and he's forced to tackle the South Course in the first round. I don't expect it to be too kind to him, and although I hope he can return to form this year, I think we may see three bogies from Spieth, probably on the long Par 4's.
Bubba Watson - EAGLES+BIRDIES: 3.5
Like Fowler, he's not one of my locks, as you just never know with Watson. He hasn't played here recently, and one has to wonder if he just doesn't like how the wholes shape up for him. I expect a so-so day for Watson, but he has the length to get to the Par 5's. I'm prone to just eliminate the eagle possibility and focus on the birdies. He'll likely get to the Par 5's in two, but might miss a green or two along the way.
Jason Day - PARS+BOGEYS: 12.5
Day has a great history here and even though he's teeing off on the South Course, you're basically looking at the reverse of this pick and assuming he'll get five birdies or eagles - that's certainly doable for Day. That's a very liberal estimate, however. A round of 68 is within the realm of possibility, but I think going conservative here is a better way to go.
Phil Mickelson - STROKES: 69.5
Pretty much a no-brainer for me, variance be damned. Mickelson is especially slow out of the gate and the South Course hasn't been particularly kind to him.
PICK - OVER*
Justin Rose - BIRDIES: 3.5
Rose loves both of these courses, and he won this event last year. Rose can also get out of the gate early with a decent score. Factor in the Par 5's and sprinkle in a Par 4 here and there, and I think Rose can notch four birdies.
Hideki Matsuyama -STROKES: 67.5
Matsuyama also has a great history here, and his stats click most of my boxes, but I think a 67 might be a tad too ambitious for the South Course. I hate to be too conservative, but it's more likely that he'll go north of this number. But -what the heck.