Power Rankings: Farmers Insurance Open

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January 21, 2013
Rob Bolton,

It's been one year since Kyle Stanley infamously triple-bogeyed the 72nd hole at the Farmers Insurance Open. He'd go on to lose in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker, who emerged from seven strokes adrift in the final round. That set the tone for a recurring theme in 2012 as another six champions -- including Stanley the following week in Phoenix -- would claw back from at least six strokes in arrears entering their last rounds to win.

RobBolton-Column

That Snedeker was in position to capitalize was no surprise. In fact, he extended an 11-year trend among winners at Torrey Pines Golf Club; that is, each recorded at least one top 10 in a previous appearance. In fact, just two of the last 19 champs failed to post a top-10 before breaking through, but both logged a top-15 -- Davis Love III (1996 winner) finished T12 in 1995; Jose Maria Olazabal (2002 winner) placed T13 in 2001. Even Tiger Woods, who helps skew the data as a six-time champion during this stretch, tied for third in his debut in 1998 before winning his first in 1999.

Since 1968, both courses at Torrey Pines -- the North and the South, both par 72s -- have co-hosted this tournament. Each of the 156 in the field will play the North Course once before the 36-hole cut of low 70 and ties. Once that falls, only the South will be used for the final two rounds.

Taking it as low as possible on the North is a prerequisite. Snedeker shot 64 in the second round there last year. (Stanley opened with a 62 on the North.) Ben Crane and Bubba Watson turned in 65s en route their victories in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Torrey South is more about course management and survival. In each of the last four years, its fairways have ranked inside the top 10 most difficult to find off the tee. That's not normally relevant, especially since the North Course is among the annual leaders in fewest fairways hit, but the South is capable of measuring a PGA TOUR-high 7,698 yards, which is 631 yards longer than the North. That means that golfers on the South are often wielding longer irons into greens that average just 5,800 square feet.

 In two of the last three years, including 2012, the greens-in-regulation split on the South was just over two-thirds. In 2011, it landed at 61.47 percent. Throughout that inconsistency, scrambling has remained a challenge as Torrey South hasn't ranked lower than 11th in each of the last five years. It's a virtual coin flip to save par from off the green.

Gradually worsening weather conditions are expected. Thursday's high temperature will climb above 70 degrees, but it will struggle to hit 60 by Sunday. Rain will have crept into the forecast by then and winds may freshen as that energy approaches.

Power Rankings: Farmers Insurance Open
Rank Player   Comment
Bubba WATSON Bubba WATSON Backed up his victory here in 2011 with a T13 last year. Under par in his last eight rounds on the property. Also logged top-10s at Torrey Pines in 2007 and 2009. Hasn't played since a T4 at Kapalua, his 21st top 20 in his last 26 starts.
Dustin JOHNSON Dustin JOHNSON A staple in this feature returns after withdrawing midway into his second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii due to flu-like symptoms. Won at Kapalua the previous Tuesday. Two top-20s with a T3 (2011) in five starts at Torrey Pines.
Charles HOWELL III Charles HOWELL III Ranks fifth in all-time earnings at Torrey Pines, highest among non-winners. He's 10-for-10 with six top-15s, including a pair of runner-up finishes. He's started 2013 with a T3 and a playoff loss. His actual scoring average in eight rounds is 65.75.
Nick WATNEY Nick WATNEY The most recent champion (2009) to sandwich his title with top-10s, one prior and two since. Opened his season with a T13 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to extend his streak of top-20s to five (dating back last fall).
Brandt SNEDEKER Brandt SNEDEKER Recorded the first of two wins here on the road to becoming the 2012 FedExCup champion. Ranked T33 in GIR at Torrey Pines but ninth in strokes gained-putting. Also led the field in the all-around. Four top 10s in six appearances.
Keegan BRADLEY Keegan BRADLEY Two top-25s in as many appearances at Torrey Pines. Led the field in total driving en route to last year's T22, but ranked T45 in greens hit and 34th in strokes gained-putting. Started 2013 with a share of fourth place at Kapalua.
Tiger WOODS Tiger WOODS Six-time winner at Torrey Pines has played just once in the last four editions, settling for a T44 in 2011. Last week's missed cut in Abu Dhabi prevented him from sitting higher in this feature, but he netted nine top-10s in 19 TOUR starts last year.
Scott PIERCY Scott PIERCY Took a week off after a pair of top 15s on the Aloha Swing. In his last two starts at Torrey Pines (2010, 2012), he's posted top-20s but ranked outside the top 45 in both starts in fairways hit and GIR. Placed inside the top five in total putts, however.
Phil MICKELSON Phil MICKELSON The three-time champion has 10 top 10s in 23 appearances at Torrey Pines. His latest was a runner-up in 2011. He's coming off a T37 in his 2013 debut at the Humana Challenge where he shot 17-under in his last three rounds.
Hunter MAHAN Hunter MAHAN When greens in regulation on difficult courses carries additional weight, you'd expect this sharpshooter to succeed. Sure enough, he's tied for sixth in the last two editions; also shared 11th place in 2009. Opened the year with a T26 at Kapalua.
Marc LEISHMAN Marc LEISHMAN Polished off a career-best T9 at Waialae with a bogey-free run of 10-under on his last 30 holes. Top-25s in four of his last five starts worldwide; had none in his previous nine. Co-runner-up at Torrey Pines in 2010; placed T9 in 2011.
Bill HAAS Bill HAAS Owns the kind of track record here that the trend of champions supports. In eight appearances, he's logged five top-20s. Both of his last two starts resulted in top-10s, including a career-best T4 last year.
Scott STALLINGS Scott STALLINGS Suffered a disappointing close to last week's Humana Challenge, but his T4 is his fourth top 15 in five starts dating back to the Fall Series. He now has eight top-25s in his last 12 starts. Missed the cut at Torrey Pines in his only appearance in 2010.
John ROLLINS John ROLLINS After concluding 2012 with no better than a T35 in 10 starts, he's opened this season with a pair of top 20s. Last week's T16 at the Humana Challenge featured 26 birdies. Four top-10s in 12 starts at Torrey Pines, including a solo third last year.
Nicolas COLSAERTS Nicolas COLSAERTS First-timer at Torrey Pines making his PGA TOUR rookie debut. Opened 2013 with a T9 at the Volvo Golf Champions to bridge his solid form from last year. Led the European Tour in 2012 in distance off the tee and ranked 10th in GIR.
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