As The American Express was a pro-am tournament, there was a more relaxed atmosphere than usual on the PGA Tour last week. It will be much more business-like in San Diego this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. Held at the world famous Torrey Pines, this is one of the biggest tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule and it has attracted a suitably strong field.
Jon Rahm announced himself to the world when he became the first player in 60 years to win on his debut at Torrey Pines back in 2017. He’s had much more success since that win and is fully deserving of his billing as one of the favourites for the Farmers Insurance Open.
Torrey Pines is a world class golfing venue which has been used by the PGA Tour for decades and hosted the 2008 US Open. Given Tiger Woods’ incredible record at the San Diego venue (he’s won this tournament seven times) he was a fitting winner of that US Open and there will be huge interest in Woods as he makes his first appearance of the new decade.
Both the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines are used for the first two days of the Farmers Insurance Open. After playing a round at each, the halfway cut will fall after which time the action will be contained at the South Course.
The South Course is the tougher test by some distance and at 7,765 yards is the longest layout used on the PGA Tour. Clearly, it takes power to cope with the South Course but it’s also a real test of shot making and the short game. The change from Poa Annua to Bentgrass greens does at least make the greens a slightly easier prospect although they can run very fast at Torrey.
|South and North Course, Torrey Pines||San Diego, California||7,765 Yards/7,258 Yards||$7,500,000|
The list of recent winners of the Farmers Insurance Open gives you an immediate insight into what is required to win this event. The presence on the winners’ list of Justin Rose, Jon Rahm and Jason Day (twice) shows that it takes a combination of power and ball striking brilliance to tame the South Course. Those three have also made it inside the top two of the world rankings showing that class really does tell in this event.
Brandt Snedeker is also a top class golfer but his win in 2016 was very different to the other four. He battled some of the toughest conditions ever seen on the PGA Tour during the final day of that tournament, becoming the only player to shoot under par.
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2019||Justin Rose||-21||2 Strokes|
|2017||Jon Rahm||-13||3 Strokes|
|2016||Brandt Snedeker||-6||1 Stroke|
Analysis: Expect Another World Class Winner
This is the strongest field of the year so far on the PGA Tour. The best players like to test themselves against the best and on the toughest courses and the world class players are out in their droves this week. As we’ve seen from the list of recent winners, this is an event which goes the way of proven world class players more often than not.
The calibre of players towards the top of the betting suggests that we’ll see another big name lifting the trophy come Sunday evening. Certainly, it will require a top level performance that marries power and control simply to have a chance of contending.
Rahm Can Win Again
Jon Rahm is a golfing phenomenon. Even those who followed his college career were surprised by how quickly he made himself at home in the ranks of the PGA Tour. Quite incredibly, Rahm’s maiden win on the PGA Tour came at Torrey Pines in 2017 when he was making his debut. The Spaniard has since won multiple times around the world and heads to San Diego as the second favourite with the bookies.
There are many good reasons to suggest that Rahm is the player the others all have to beat at odds of 8/1 with Betfred. He is one of the most powerful players in the game, is an elite level ball striker and has plenty of confidence with the putter. His win in 2017 came on the old Poa Annua greens but he has putted well on Bentgrass in the past so shouldn’t have any issues even if his advantage on the Poa Annua greens is no more.
Rahm is at a level that he’s able to win any tournament in which he tees it up but he really comes alive on the biggest stage. Torrey Pines is certainly that and he is ready to win the Farmers Insurance Open again.
Finau Has the Tools to Contend
Tony Finau is one of the most consistent golfers on the planet. He has all the technical ability required to contend on all sorts of different courses as his excellent run of results last season showed. The problem for Finau is turning a strong performance into wins.
For a player of his class, a sole PGA Tour win is a poor return at the age of 30. Finau is well aware that he must start fulfilling his potential and there’s every chance he’ll double his tally of wins at Torrey Pines. Finau has never finished worse than 24th in this event and has two top 10 finishes to his name. After some good golf at the Hong Kong Open and The American Express, Finau is a tempting price at 28/1 with Ladbrokes.
Final Verdict: Jon Rahm to Win
There are several players who tick all the boxes required to win at Torrey Pines. Jon Rahm is somewhere towards the top of that list and should be set for another big year. Rahm is sure to contend in the majors and other huge tournaments and can kick his 2020 off with a win at 8/1 with Betfred.
About the Farmers Insurance Open
The PGA Tour season is scheduled to include a number of different ‘swings’. These are runs of tournaments over the course of a few weeks which take place in the same locale. Three examples are the Florida Swing, the new Asian Swing which takes place at the start of the season and West Coast Swing.
The Farmers Insurance Open is arguably the most prestigious of the events on the West Coast Swing. It takes place at the infamous Torrey Pines, a fearsome test of golf which is set high up on the California cliffs above the Pacific Ocean.
Farmers Insurance are one of a number of companies to have sponsored this event since it was first held back in 1952 as the San Diego Open. Convair were the first sponsors and were followed by companies as varied as Wickes, Isuzu and Lehman Brothers. It has also moved around to a few different courses in the San Diego area before settling on the North and South Courses of Torrey Pines.
Star Quality Gives the Tournament a Boost
With Hollywood and Los Angeles, California is widely regarded as the home of the entertainment industry. Golf has long done a good job of using the pull of stars from the world of screen, stage and music to boost events. The San Diego International (as the Farmers Insurance Open was known in 1968) was an early mover in this regard by getting in the legendary crooner, Andy Williams, as a host for the event.
Williams was one of a number of celebrities who served as celebrity hosts of PGA Tour events at the time. Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jr. all added star quality to golf tournaments and Williams decided he could do likewise, whilst turning San Diego into a hotbed of golf.
Many people played key roles in the growth of the Farmers Insurance Open as it developed into one of the most respected tournaments on the PGA Tour, but Williams holds a special place in the hearts of everybody involved with the event and with golf in San Diego in general.
Tiger’s Five In a Row
When you go through a list of people who had a significant positive impact on the Farmers Insurance Open it doesn’t take long before you get to Tiger Woods. The man that many believe to be the greatest golfer of all time has set a string of records at golf courses all around the world but few events have seen Tiger hunt as successfully as this.
Woods’ first tournament win in what was then the Buick Invitational came in 1999 in what was just his second start at Torrey Pines. His love affair continued through the years with seven wins in the Farmers Insurance Open including an incredible run of four victories on the spin between 2005 and 2008. That run of four wins is actually five when you factor in the 2008 US Open which was held at Torrey Pines and was won, rather predictably, by Woods. All of Tiger’s wins at Torrey Pines are detailed below.
|2013||Farmers Insurance Open|