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Power Rankings: Farmers Insurance Open

4 Min Read

Power Rankings


    Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf

    Editor’s note: Adrian Meronk withdrew Wednesday, Jan 24, before the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open and was replaced in the field by Erik Barnes.

    In the understatement of the young year, Nick Dunlap is prepared to experience success at a higher rate of speed than others. So, it only made sense that his celebration for winning The American Express would have been a day shorter than usual before returning to competition.

    “Would have been.” The first breakthrough winner on the PGA TOUR this season withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open on Monday.

    For the third consecutive year, the Farmers is scheduled for a Wednesday start and Saturday finish. A full field of 156 is laced up at Torrey Pines Golf Courses — plural — in San Diego. Details of the formats, the two tracks and more can be found below.

    Dunlap’s historic achievement aside, the learning curve continues in earnest for all of the other fresh faces taking on Torrey Pines times two for the first time. The compromise to expanding fields to 156 at this time of year at this latitude requires multiple courses to be used before a cut falls. So, after being tested by three in the Coachella Valley last week, a new set of two is poised alongside the Pacific Ocean come Wednesday.

    The North and South Courses at Torrey Pines share duties as host for the first two rounds. After the standard 36-hole cut of low 65 and ties is applied — on Thursday — only the South Course will be used. On Saturday, the North Course will host the first round of the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Invitational. With the South Course open on Sunday, the second round of that 36-hole tournament will conclude there.

    Both host courses of the Farmers Insurance Open are stock par 72s, but that’s essentially where the similarities end.

    In two of the last three seasons, Torrey Pines South was the hardest of all non-majors on the PGA TOUR. Last year’s scoring average was 73.623, edging Muirfield Village Golf Club, host of the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, by one-tenth of a stroke. At 7,765 yards, the South also is the longest course that membership faces all season.

    Torrey Pines North tips at 7,258 yards and always checks in well under par. When considering splits across the first two rounds in the last five editions of the Farmers Insurance Open, the North has averaged at least 2.1 strokes lower than the South and as wide at 4.2 strokes easier. So, the second-biggest understatement of the young year is that would-be contenders must take advantage of their one loop on the tamer of the tandem.

    Throughout the FedExCup era (2007-present), every winner of the Farmers Insurance Open but one (Brandt Snedeker, 70, 2016) has signed for a sub-70 on the North. This week’s defending champion, Max Homa, scored a 68 on it last year. He was the fourth in the last five editions to open the tournament on it, thus sufficiently dousing the notion that it used to be the opposite of the preferred rotation after eight consecutive winners through 2018 opened on the South.

    With calm and dry conditions throughout the week, both courses will have every opportunity to present their best selves. Waves of precipitation in the days leading up to the tournament will have softened the turf, so dare it be stated that there will be more bark than bite for a change. Aside from the customary potential for a marine layer across the properties in the morning, sunshine will peek around and in between clouds all week. Daytime temperatures should eclipse 60 degrees. Wind will be a non-factor.

    The setups are the same. The lushest rough is about four inches and all 36 of the combination Bentgrass-Poa annua greens will be allowed to reach 13 feet on the Stimpmeter.

    Top 10s would be exempt into the WM Phoenix Open on Feb. 8-11. However, if any doesn’t crack that typically deep 132-man field, the top-10 exemption would pay forward into the Mexico Open at Vidanta on Feb. 22-25.

    ShotLink to measure distances of every stroke is utilized only on the South Course at Torrey Pines.


    MONDAY: Power Rankings
    TUESDAY*: Sleepers; Golfbet Insider
    SATURDAY: Payouts and Points, Medical Extensions, Qualifiers, Reshuffle

    *Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.

    Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.

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