FANTASY GOLF FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
By James Dalthorp
BEAST DOME NATION.
This week on the PGA Tour, settle in for some of the best views and scenery the Tour has to offer – with the La Jolla coastline and Torrey Pines state park. I’ve been to this event and competed on the Torrey Pines golf course – and there is plenty to chew on (now on both courses in the first 36 hole rotation).
This is a major championship layout, unlike the first 6 or 7 events we’ve had in the 2020 FedEx Cup system, therefore – we can expect a higher demand on greens in regulation, scrambling, and making important putts. Up to this point, there’s a strong case to be made that most of those events are forgiving in a sense that if those guys teed it up at those courses in their free time, 59 is not out of the question. In competition, you can bet that these guys will occasionally be very happy with a round of even par. The cut line will probably be closer to 2 under par than 5 or 6. Last year, it was -3.
Remember the North!!!
We have the North Course and the South Course at this layout and the players will rotate between the two for their tee times in the early going. The North was redone in the past few years and is much more of a test than it used to be. In my opinon, Justin Rose really capitalized on the North Course last year and that made the difference for him. In previous years, we have seen this trend as well. The North tends to be a significant contrast to the South – even though the South will take up three out of four rounds.
The biggest factors this week? We’re switching from bermuda to poa annua greens. That favors players who hit their putts firmly with speed, know the California turf if they get in the rough, and bombers will enjoy the softer conditions that favor long hitters. Unlike last week, you probably won’t see shorter hitters anywhere near the top come Sunday.
1. TIGER WOODS
He’s won this event a whopping seven times, including a U.S. Open on a broken leg in a playoff. I didn’t pick Tiger in Japan at the Zozo, unsure of his game over the offseason and wondering exactly where he stands in his routine and practice. Holy smokes. Ladies and gentleman, if you love this game or you just love watching greatness, there can be nothing more satisfying than watching Tiger in his best form. He is oozing major game again. His win over Abraham Ancer in the Presidents Cup and his perfect record (while being a a captain) speak volumes, not to mention his stats are top notch. He’s been leading in approach to the green and his putting stats are up. He’s playing smarter and he’s confident. I’d say he’s got a good 7-10 years left in him and you can bet that he has a 50/50 chance of getting the record for all-time PGA wins this week, 83.
2. BRANDT SNEDEKER
Your fantasy roster can’t pick top 10 players in the world for each pick and as we know this early in the year – they won’t perform like you expect until the Augusta flowers have bloomed. Snedeker is a great player to have in your back pocket. He’s been consistent and very mellow at this event the past two years – but he makes every putt on these poa annua greens. He finished T12 last week in the Sony with a double bogey. That event will have some similarity to this one in terms of soft conditions. He’s been inconsistent on the North course since they redid it – but you can bet that Sneds record here is not to be reckoned with. A win or 2nd four times including scoring records, and only one missed cut.
3. JUSTIN ROSE
The 39 year old’s game didn’t look great last week in Singapore but he still clawed his way to a runner-up finish. I watched the final round and it was beyond miraculous. He was on fire… made one bomb and three or four birdies in a row that were gutsy. He is the defending champion, and Justin is playing his first event in the calendar year on Tour after skipping the Sentry. I’ve never thought too highly of Justin’s mechanics but I’ve learned by watching him that he is just an artist. He has great timing and feel. This is an Olympic year and Justin won the gold in 2016. I don’t usually hold a defending champ in very high regard but Justin’s putter is on fire. Much like his win last year, he’s coming off two top 5 finishes at international events with good fields. We forget that Justin has a major – and he’s been a tough competitor on these types of layouts. He knows how to win here.
4. JASON DAY
Hard to know the state of his back, but Jason always plays well. I know because he won Junior World here in 2004 (I was in the field). He won here 16 years ago – and he still shoots the same scores like it’s nothing – because this golf course really plays to this strong suit. He hits it very far, his bunker game is excellent if needed, and he makes a ton of putts on these greens. The only question mark is his back – and I don’t think he’ll let some stress keep him from playing in this event. He’s been a little quiet since he won the Skins game at the Zozo and I think he’ll be ready this week.
5. TALOR GOOCH
He had a notable water ball on 17 last week. Forget about it!!! There is only one hole at Torrey Pines where you’ll have water problems and potentially only a couple other possible hazards. There’s hardly any out of bounds, either. The Oklahoma State product likes tough tracks. He finished T20 at the Houston Open, the most difficult among the tracks in the Fed Ex Cup so far – and was T17 last week. Last year at this event, he shot 69-68-67-68. Stuff of legend. Tied for 3rd. Young, hungry player. Go for it.
6. CAMERON SMITH
There’s some great Aussies in this game and none are better than Cameron Smith in 2020. His finishes at this event over the last few years: MC, MC, T33, T20, T9. His top 10 last year included a 65 during the final round at the South Course – and just like Day, this course suits his game. He’s coming off of a WIN at the Sony in those rainy conditions as well as this insane month that included a wild Presidents Cup where he beat Justin Thomas. Smith is a breakout star and his poker face is not going away. This guy has a huge chip on his shoulder. I don’t know why. But look out. He has all the skills.