DRAWS AND FADES
Draws and Fades: Farmers Insurance Open
January 24, 2023
By Rob Bolton , Golfbet for PGATOUR.COM
- Justin Rose won this event in 2019 and has four top 10s here since 2017. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
It’d be grounds for dismissal if I didn’t open this week’s column with the courtesy reminder that the Farmers Insurance Open is scheduled to begin on Wednesday and conclude on Saturday.
The first threesomes on both courses at Torrey Pines are slated to go off split tees at 9:00 a.m. local time. That’s noon on the East Coast, so at least those of you in that time zone can sleep in the most if you forget to make the adjustment.
The Farmers isn’t a designated event, at least this season. The PGA TOUR is reserving the option of spreading the love around in 2024. That said, we’re treated to a buffet of suitors in every format on what is one of the toughest par 72s of the season.
Since the designated events were determined and stepped forward in conversation, a popular question that I’ve fielded is how to respond to the series in fantasy formats. Because there is a valid explanation for everything decided, all questions always are encouraged when you’re in the dark. It’s just that there’s much less impact on fantasy than reality.
Bottom line, because eligibility criteria for all designated events hasn’t changed, how fields are constructed is the same. The only difference is that the 23 golfers who qualified for bonus money via the 2022 Player Impact Program have committed to the events in the series. And even then, each can sit out one by choice, just as Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry took a pass on the Sentry Tournament of Champions. (NOTE: I didn’t cite Lowry’s DNP at the time because I wasn’t aware that he qualified for the tournament for finishing inside the top 30 in Eligibility Points despite not qualifying for the TOUR Championship.)
Although there should be an increase of starts among PIP performers in the designed events, my instinct is that we’re probably not going to feel a difference in most fantasy contests, if any. It should widen ownership dispersion a bit in DFS, and it also gives PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf gamers targets for which to reserve starts for any of the 23, but it also probably will flatten scoring if the PIP performers hog leaderboards.
However it plays out, diversity and depth remain your best friends.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Justin Rose (+175 for a Top 20) … Although successes are much more infrequent of late, I’m willing to endorse this reach for the 2019 champion. Take it back to 2017 and he’s connected for four top 10s in five tries. (He sat out the 2021 edition.) Even at 42 years of age – rather, because of it – his experience on both courses should make a difference. And hey, it’s not like he hasn’t done enough to warrant the consideration. He arrives having recorded a top 30 in three consecutive starts, all in full fields.
Luke List (+100 for a Top 40) … The defending champion lined up as a Sleeper here last year. In that link, note that he was +240 for a Top 20. As of Tuesday afternoon this week, he was +250 for the same finish! Hey, that’s what you get when you’re as inconsistent as the long-hitting ball-striker who relies too much on the putter to make noise. So, let’s default into this finish at even money. After all, he’s fulfilled this result in each of the last five editions of the tournament.
Ryan Palmer (+110 for a Top 40) … If you missed it on Golf Channel in early December, Billy Ray Brown mentioned to him and partner Charley Hoffman after the first round of the QBE Shootout (that they led with a 56) that the duo was slotted last (of 12) in “the” (a/k/a my) Power Rankings for the event. Naturally, for me, it was entertaining and satisfying to see the work garner that kind of attention, but I appreciated their response even more. They stated that, as the oldest team in the format, they should play the best because they have the most experience. As you’ll read over time, I’m a firm believer in self-confidence because it’s controllable. Find a successful professional athlete without it and, well, you won’t. Many will even offer that it can be described as self-conceit. Palmer should have that in abundance at Torrey Pines, too. Since 2018, he has a P2 (2018) and a T2 (2021) among five top 25s. No doubt he’d wonder why I didn’t tag him with a prop for a Top 20 here instead. Perhaps he’ll be asked about it…
Byeong Hun An
Davis Thompson … The conservative investor is keeping this simple. I want to see how he responds after last week’s disappointment. In time, no doubt he’ll take away nothing but positives, but is it too soon to expect it? It was reasonable and fair to exert the same caution with Mito Pereira after what happened with him on the final hole of the PGA Championship last year, but he didn’t rest and piggybacked the T3 at Southern Hills with a T7 and a T13 in the immediate two weeks that followed. It’s unfair to draw a direct comparison because everyone is wired differently, but because they’re rarer, we tend to remember the surprises that result in positive results than the same in the negative.
Harris English … He’s within a month of the one-year anniversary since his surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. That’ll be Feb. 14. In the interim, he’s delivered only two top 25s, none of which in his last eight starts. And since 2019 at the Farmers, he’s 1-for-3 with a T71 in 2020. The anomaly of the relevant experience is a solo third at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, but his form at the time was substantially better than it’s been of late. In that context, he’s a trap.
Charley Hoffman … Making his 25th appearance in the tournament where he made his PGA TOUR debut in 1994. The 46-year-old has scattered three top 10s at Torrey Pines, the most recent of which a T9 in 2020, but position on leaderboards almost everywhere has been far and few between for a year now. Still, with his experience here, the sharpest angles this week would be to toss a fraction of a unit at him making the cut or in a matchup.
Lanto Griffin … Gotta love that he’s returning to the PGA TOUR for one of its most difficult host tracks. At least he opens on the North Course (on the first hole at 10:30 a.m. PT). He made the cut in the Korn Ferry Tour opener in The Bahamas last week, and then withdrew from the second event on that circuit to be at Torrey Pines. He’s fully exempt this season and armed with a medical extension for 2024 if he needs it. In the meantime, despite a 3-for-4 record that includes a pair of top 15s here, give him time to dust off the rust at this level.
Odds sourced on Tuesday, January 24th at 6 p.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
J.B. Holmes … Since we last saw him (at the 2021 Fortinet Championship), the five-time PGA TOUR winner turned 40. He’s equipped with 26 starts on a Major Medical Extension, so he reenters as an intriguing midseason pickup in every format. With a sponsor exemption recently announced to play the WM Phoenix Open and his exemption into The Genesis Invitational (as the 2019 champion), we’re poised to have at least three looks on the West Coast Swing.
Mark Hubbard … After opening the new year 0-for-2, he’s now failed to cash in five straight starts. With potentially three consecutive road trips beginning next week, it’s a good time for a break, especially since his only cut made in three tries at Torrey Pines was a T61 eight years ago. Remain patient.
Chez Reavie … First week off of 2023. He’s 4-for-9 this season and 147th in the FedExCup.
John Huh … This is his third consecutive early withdrawal to start 2023. He went 4-for-8 in the fall but his unintentional time off has extended beyond two months now. Torrey Pines has been good to him over the years, so keen DFSers lamented his decision not to play, but at least he’s deciding to bow out earlier than, say, the day of the opening round or after attempting to play. That’s always his right, but, and as you know, not everyone accepts that. Like most golfers of a certain age – he’s 32 – he’s battled a sore back over the years, but nothing has surfaced to explain this latest setback.
Max McGreevy … First career withdrawal after the commitment deadline and before an opening round. He’s 117th in the FedExCup with a T8 in Bermuda. His results over time are not for the faint of heart, but deep salary leagues in which piling up starts – albeit that’s not happening this week – should make room at the end of the roster because he’s fully exempt.
Chris Stroud … Second straight early WD. With only two starts remaining on his medical extension, and with conditional status still requiring a podium finish to secure, expect him to continue to be choosy about when to tee it up. He’s 102nd in the FedExCup and forever has the safety net of Past Champion status, so he might opt to try to schedule the starts to stay warm as other opportunities to play on merit (or sponsor exemptions) present themselves.
RECAP – The American Express
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Jon Rahm Win
2 Scottie Scheffler T11
3 Patrick Cantlay T26
4 Tony Finau T16
5 Will Zalatoris T36
6 Si Woo Kim T22
7 Andrew Putnam T36
8 Brian Harman MC
9 Sam Burns T11
10 Tom Hoge T32
11 Tom Kim T6
12 Taylor Montgomery 5th
13 Cameron Young T26
14 Sungjae Im T18
15 Sahith Theegala T54
Wild Card Brendon Todd MC
Golfer (recommended bet, if applicable) Result
Dean Burmester (+375 for a Top 20) T54
Thomas Detry (+275 for a Top 20) T26
Callum Tarren (+450 for a Top 20) MC
Martin Laird T62
Patrick Rodgers MC
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
January 24 … none
January 25 … Andrew Putnam (34)
January 26 … Adam Schenk (31); Nick Hardy (27)
January 27 … Jonathan Byrd (45)
January 28 … none
January 29 … none
January 30 … Taylor Montgomery (28)