January 23 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
The Farmers Insurance Open is the first of 27 tournaments that rewards a base of $6 million. And since it has rewarded its champion with 48 world ranking points each of the last two years -- on par with events like the 2012 AT&T National and The Greenbrier Classic -- there are always many fine options from which to choose.
Those variables suggest that it's time to burn an elite stud, a guy who's poised to contend. That's why I'm going with the No. 1 in my power rankings, Bubba Watson.
The 2011 winner here has two other top 10s and a tie for 13th in seven appearances. While he won again in 2011 (New Orleans), he's been an absolute machine since the Australian summer late that year.
Because of the variety of talent in play, there are numerous arguments about whom to burn and whom to reserve. Certainly, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Charles Howell III, Bill Haas and Rickie Fowler would populate that conversation. If your format doesn't disqualify defending champions, then it would be difficult to talk you out of Brandt Snedeker.
So, in a week like this, beyond recent form and course history, one factor that matters is the absence of a negative. Regarding the aforementioned:
-- Woods missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and has played the Farmers Insurance Open just once since winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He tied for 44th in 2011.
-- Mickelson created some buzz in the last few days discussing his tax-related issues for which he's since apologized. That could be considered a distraction.
-- Howell is fresh off a crushing defeat at PGA West. While he owns one of the prettiest records among non-winners at Torrey Pines, can he keep his rally rolling after that disappointment?
-- Despite a sterling career slate at Torrey Pines, including top 10s the last two years, Haas' play since winning the 2011 FedExCup could be characterized as surprisingly inconsistent.
-- Fowler is showing signs of turning a corner after a back injury disrupted his second half of 2012, but he still needs to prove it in a full-field event.
Meanwhile, Watson continues to motor along and seems to have found a glorious balance in his life.
Last week: Robert Garrigus; T16; $78,560.00
Overall Record: 3-for-3
Top 5s: 1
Top 10s: 2
Top 25s: 3
Missed Cuts: 0