Jon Rahm the (betting) man to beat
January 24, 2023
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- Jon Rahm is this week's odds on favorite priced at +450 according to BetMGM. (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Two starts. Two wins. The calendar hasn’t hit February yet, but so far 2023 is the year of the Rahm.
The Spanish sensation is coming off victories in his last two PGA TOUR events, including The American Express last week. He won twice on the DP World Tour late last year as well, and is now turning his attention to Torrey Pines, where he earned his first TOUR win in 2017 and also added the 2021 U.S. Open.
It’s rare to see a favorite as short as Rahm is this week, priced at +450 according to BetMGM. The last time the pre-tournament price drifted that low was around a man named…Jon Rahm.
Yes, it was just last year that Rahm teed off at the same price at the Mexico Open at Vidanta. He went on to win that tournament.
Rahm’s odds are within range of the numbers tied to Tiger Woods in his prime. Woods won this tournament seven times, priced in the range of even money (+100) at his peak, and he, like Rahm, also won a U.S. Open on the South Course.
And while Rahm has a ways to go to reach the lofty standards of 2000s Tiger, the question remains: is he really that much better than the other 155 players in this week’s field? Consider the array of head-turning prices on the Spaniard this week, via BetMGM: +450 to win, -120 for a top-5 finish, -250 for a top-10, -450 for a top-20 and -1200 to make the cut.
For perspective, consider that the San Francisco 49ers are +125 underdogs against the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday’s NFC Championship game – a two-horse race. The price comparison implies that oddsmakers believe a Rahm top-5 out of a 156-player field is more likely than a team on a 12-game winning streak making the Super Bowl.
In the last 15 editions of the Farmers Insurance Open the favorite has triumphed just twice – both were Woods when he was +100 in 2008 and +700 in 2013. But Woods (+200) and Rahm (+1000) were both pre-tournament favorites ahead of their respective U.S. Open wins at Torrey.
When Rahm won in 2017, he was +5000 as a young up-and-comer. But that’s the last time he surprised anyone with his success in La Jolla. Rahm has opened as the betting favorite for this tournament every year since, barring 2020 when Rory McIlroy edged him out.
Since his 2017 win, Rahm’s Farmers Insurance Open results read T29-T5-2-T7-T3. He has not finished outside of the top 10 since 2018, enough to justify his status as favorite even without another win. Of course, the U.S. Open victory did come in this span.
“If you consistently can drive it in the fairway on this golf course and far enough, you're obviously going to be able to be more aggressive than most people,” Rahm said of the keys to playing well at Torrey Pines.
“The main thing is predominantly for pretty much almost every hole, the proper miss is to the right, so that's why Tiger has such success here. Sometimes if you miss the fairway by five yards or 100 to the right, it doesn't matter... the entire back nine, 13 through 17, left is a no-go, left is dead.
“(And with) poa annua greens and how they can get a little bit bumpy… you're going to see people miss a lot more putts, (so) it puts a little bit more stress on those ball-striking abilities and that's why I think I've had success in the past. I've been able to drive it really well around here and be aggressive in a lot of situations and be successful with it."
Rahm anchors the marquee group in Round 1 on PGA TOUR LIVE, playing alongside Tony Finau and Justin Thomas. He is +115 to be the victor in this group on Wednesday, with Finau +200 and Thomas +240. Viewers can watch his opening round on the South Course via ESPN+ Wednesday, and there are a number of opening-round specials focused on the tournament’s top draw:
To make five or more birdies/eagles: -200
In 18 rounds on the South Course in the Farmers Insurance Open Rahm has made five or more bridies/eagles seven times.
To shoot 69 or lower: -150
In 18 rounds on the South Course in the Farmers Insurance Open Rahm has shot 69 or lower seven times.
Birdie 1st hole: +300
On the 17 occasions where Rahm has opened his round on the South Course in the Farmers Insurance Open on the par-4 first hole, he has four birdies, eight pars and five bogeys.
To make an eagle: +450
In 18 rounds on the South Course in the Farmers Insurance Open Rahm has made eagle six times.
To be bogey-free: +1100
In 18 rounds on the South Course in the Farmers Insurance Open, Rahm has been bogey-free just one time (2020).
But what about the contrarian look?
Well, the average starting price for the winners at the Farmers Insurance Open over the last 15 years has been +4360 spanning from Woods at +100 in 2008 to Scott Stallings at +20000 in 2014. The average drops to +3380 over the last five editions.
While Rahm showed he can win as a heavy favorite, if we go back to the Fortinet Championship in September 2021, where he entered the week as an incredible +300 favorite, we can see the opposite result occur also.
With his mind perhaps on the Ryder Cup to be played the week after, and some stomach issues early in the week, the superstar would miss the cut in Napa. So far there are no indications of illness in San Diego and, while this is his third start in four weeks, the only fatigue may be from lifting all of his new-found hardware.
Winning three straight starts on the PGA TOUR has only happened twice in the last decade. It’s very rare. Rahm is good enough to be the next to do so but it won’t be easy.
“It's very nice that if I'm going to have the short turnaround after a win, after a tough Sunday… that I’m coming to a golf course that I've had a lot of success and a lot of positive memories at,” Rahm adds.
“It's always refreshing to come here and I love this tournament so much that every time I come, I have that extra motivation to hopefully win it again. Got my first win here and I would love to be able to be a two-time champion like many people have done in the past.”