Farmers Insurance Open Preview & Tips10 min read
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods make their eagerly anticipated first starts of 2020 this week with a world-class field competing at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Players will compete across both the South and North course at Torrey Pines before the final two rounds take place at the tougher South track.
The updated South course has been extended further, ahead of next year’s US Open, with the 7,765-yard par 72 the longest to be used on the PGA Tour.
Favourable conditions this week will help the field but they will need to take advantage of the easier North course, and distance off the tee is undoubtedly a major advantage at this event.
McIlroy, who will return to the top of the world rankings if he wins, finished fifth here on his debut last season and is obviously respected but after putting away the clubs over Christmas, there is plenty of rust to shake off which suggests odds of 6/1 can be ignored.
Woods has an outstanding record with eight wins at Torrey Pines but has finished no better than 20th in his last four visits,and the cool weather is not ideal for the 44-year-old.
Jon Rahm Each Way
Jon Rahm is the pick of the favourites and the powerful Spaniard is a confident selection to land his second title at Torrey Pines.
Rahm is immensely comfortable in San Diego and loves competing in California. The world number three announced his arrival as a superstar, at the age of 22, with his breakthrough PGA Tour win at this venue three years ago.
Rahm also tied for fifth 12 months ago and his immense driving ability is likely to herald multiple victories at this esteemed course by the end of his career.
Rahm is stalking the top of the world rankings and the 25-year-old looks ready to have a huge 2020 with a major title well within his sights. He ended last year with wins at the Open de Espana and the DP World Tour Championship which secured his first Race to Dubai triumph.
Rahm finished second at the Hero World Challenge in December before knocking off the festive rust, after getting married, with tenth spot at the Tournament of Champions.
The three-time PGA Tour winner is a phenomenally consistent performer and it would be a surprise if he failed to challenge this weekend.
With a calm forecast, Rahm can take advantage at one of his favourite courses and is a huge threat at 15/2.
Jason Day Each Way
Jason Day appears to be the forgotten man but the prolific PGA Tour winner can claim another victory this week at an attractive price.
Day won for the first time at Torrey Pines in 2015 after coming through a four-man play-off. The Australian’s love affair with this track continued two years ago after again winning a play-off against Alex Noren.
The 2015 PGA Championship winner was also fifth 12 months ago and is extremely comfortable competing at this classic course.
The former world number one has dropped down to 44th in the world rankings, and this fiercely competitive golfer will be focused on returning to the top of the game.
The 32-year-old has been hampered by a series of injuries and his latest back problem curtailed the end of last year, forcing him to miss the Presidents Cup.
Day has won 12 PGA Tour titles and, if he can get into contention, can be relied on to hold his nerve.
His fitness carries a level of uncertainty but he is well-rested and won for the second time at Torrey Pines after a long break. Day could make odds of 33/1 look extremely generous by Sunday night.
Brandt Snedeker Each Way
Brandt Snedeker is another course specialist and he can challenge for a third win at the tournament this weekend.
Snedeker has a long history of success at Torrey Pines which started with third place in 2007 on his first appearance.
Twice a runner-up, Snedeker won at the course in 2012 and clinched his second victory four years later after a brilliant final round could not be surpassed in treacherous conditions.
The forecast is much more favourable this week but Snedeker’s outstanding putting on Poa annua greens always makes him a contender at this event.
The 39-year-old made an encouraging start to the year with a final round 66 earning a top-12 finish at the Sony Open.
With nine PGA Tour wins to his name, Snedeker is a proven closer and this represents one of his best opportunities for success. His short game skills can make up for a lack of punch off the tee and Snedeker is an each-way contender at 40/1.
Cameron Champ Each Way
Cameron Champ is one of the rising stars in the sport and the huge-hitting Californian can challenge for his third victory in his home state this weekend.
Champ’s prodigious power helped him win his first PGA Tour title at the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2018. The 24-year-old proved this was no one-off by landing the Safeway Open in September. It was a welcome result for the American after struggling to handle the increased expectation surrounding him for much of last season.
Champ appears much more at ease now with his elevated status and has added consistency to his game.
Making his last six cuts across the globe, Champ finished eighth at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan and was 14th at the Tournament of Champions. Four solid rounds at the American Express secured 21st spot last week and he looks to have the perfect skill set as he prepares for his second start at this tournament.
Champ, who is second on tour for driving distance, can take advantage of the par fives and threaten victory at appealing odds of 66/1.
Lanto Griffin Each Way
Another Californian worth backing at a generous price is Lanto Griffin.
His form on the Korn Ferry Tour last year, which included a win in April, earned promotion to the PGA Tour and he made an immediate impact.
The 31-year-old posted four successive top 20s before breaking through for his maiden title at the Houston Open in October. His impressive short game, ranking seventh for total putting and ninth for scrambling, has been central to his recent success.
Griffin began the new year with a solid first appearance at the Tournament of Champions, finishing 13th, before a closing 64 earned an impressive tie for seventh in his last outing at the Sony Open.
Significantly, Griffin played well on his sole start at Torrey Pines two years ago taking 12th place. He was ranked outside the top 300 in the world that week but returns as a PGA Tour champion with the confidence and ability to contend this week at 66/1.