Statistically Speaking: Farmers Insurance Open
January 23, 2023
By Mike Glasscott , PGATOUR.COM
- Xander Schauffele has a game that projects to perform well at Torrey Pines. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
The early-season tour of California shifts from the desert of the Coachella Valley to the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean just north of San Diego.
The Farmers Insurance Open will provide the first stern test throughout the entire bag as Torrey Pines Golf Club hosts for the 56th consecutive season. The joy of La Jolla comes with the pain of navigating almost 7,800 yards on the South Course for three rounds. The North Course, easier by almost three shots recently, will provide 18 holes of scoring opportunity to pad the scorecard for those 65 and ties that make the weekend on the South.
The difficulty of the South Course isn't a mystery. Chances of marine layer, cool temperatures especially in the morning, plus winds blowing from four different directions during tournament play won't help scoring.
Tight fairways provide difficult targets to hit off the tee. Welcoming the off-target tee balls and approach shots is over seeded (with Rye) Kikuyugrass. Recovering from the lush, thick rough on approach or around the green will be tricky at best.
Once on the dance floor the Poa annua greens are some of the slickest and trickiest on TOUR. Don't lose concentration until picking the ball out of the cup.
The North Course does not use ShotLink lasers but it provides A TON of birdie chances. Perfect Bentgrass greens engulf birdie putt after putt and it one of the easier scoring par-72 layouts the pros will see all season. It's mandatory to post a number here to contend as there aren't many rounds in the mid-60s lurking next door!
The field of 156 is all professionals this week as the pro-am, three course rotation returns next week at Monterrey Peninsula, Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach.
Defending champion Luke List (-15) defeated Will Zalatoris in a playoff for his first TOUR victory. His win allowed him to join a very exclusive club as he became just the third winner since 1990 to pick up his first TOUR victory at this event. Only Justin Rose (-21, 2019) posted a lower winning total in the last 10 editions.
Tiger Woods (not entered) holds the South Course record (62) and shares the tournament scoring record (-22).
Only players listed are competing this week; click stat headline for additional players; Stats from 2021-22 completed season.
The challenge begins with some of the tightest fairways on TOUR. Finding fairways this week is fantastic and so is replacing ball marks on the putting surfaces. Miss either and the over seeded (with Rye) Kikuyugrass will determine where the next shot ends up. Easier to handle the rough with less club so distance won't hurt in this formula.
Only one of the last six winners have resided outside the top 16 in this stat and that was short game hall of famer Jason Day in his second win in 2018.
Rank Player 1 Will Zalatoris 3 Justin Thomas 5 Tony Finau 6 Luke List 9 Sungjae Im 11 Xander Schauffele 12 Jon Rahm 17 Collin Morikawa 19 Hideki Matsuyama 23 Keegan Bradley 24 Max Homa
Grinding out the Par-4 holes is a necessity this week. Over the last six events Torrey Pines South has ranked in the top five most difficult in this category four times. The other two events were ranked No. 10 and No. 11. Only Justin Rose (2019, -21), who missed the tournament scoring record by a shot, didn't hit the top 10 (T12) from the last six winners.
Rank Player T1 Justin Thomas T1 Xander Schauffele T3 Tony Finau T3 Sungjae Im T10 Jon Rahm T10 Hideki Matsuyama T17 Will Zalatoris T17 Collin Morikawa T25 Taylor Pendrith T25 Tyler Duncan
After three weeks of shootouts, grinding out pars will be encouraged over the 54 holes on the South Course. Not only is keeping it in play off the tee and into the green valuable but so is navigating Poa annua putting surfaces. One-trick ponies will get bucked off on this U.S. Open-style layout. All 14 clubs and the space between the ears should get a workout this week.
Rank Player 1 Sungjae Im 2 Tony Finau 4 Xander Schauffele 12 Justin Thomas 15 Hideki Matsuyama 18 Adam Long 20 Kevin Streelman 23 Jon Rahm 27 Will Zalatoris T29 Tyler Duncan
Those who are unsteady with the flat stick on Poa annua are probably staying home this week! With reduced scoring chances the pressure will be on converting birdies and saving pars. These greens don't let many lengthy putts get close and it's also difficult to stop it when chipping/pitching from the greenside Kikuyu. No mental gimmes this week!
Rank Player 5 Beau Hossler 7 Kelly Kraft 19 Maverick McNealy 20 Justin Rose 24 Adam Long 27 Max Homa T28 Jon Rahm 30 Patrick Rodgers 31 Wyndham Clark 32 Xander Schauffele
The Bottom Line:
It's Jon Rahm's world (Win: +450) and we're just renting space! He's the only winner to pick up the trophy on his debut since 1991. The other five most recent winners have needed six or more previous visits and have all been in their 30s.
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