The longest is now longer at the Farmers Insurance Open.
At 7,765 yards, the updated South Course at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, will be the longest track in history to host a PGA TOUR event. Technically, it already was, but its additional 67 yards will move it past a pair of recent stops for the U.S. Open, which is operated by the USGA. When Chambers Bay hosted the 2015 edition of the major, it was capable of stretching a then-record 7,710 yards, but it set the standard only until 7,741-yard Erin Hills hosted in 2017.
As the short list of projected contenders at the Farmers Insurance Open illustrates below, the field of 156 has no shortage of star appeal and red-hot form upon arrival. For what it faces at Torrey Pines – other than elevated views of the Pacific Ocean – what has changed and why, how the North Course has evolved since its renovation, and the trend that defending champion Justin Rose ended, keep scrolling.
POWER RANKINGS: FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include reviews of numerous notables such as Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman and Francesco Molinari along with past champions Phil Mickelson (1993, 2000, 2001), Bubba Watson (2011), Brandt Snedeker (2012, 2016) and Jason Day (2015, 2018).
Introducing a historical connection between Torrey Pines South and the U.S. Open is nothing new. After all, this is where Tiger Woods prevailed at the major in 2008. But shortly after the conclusion of last year's Farmers Insurance Open, Rees Jones orchestrated sweeping upgrades of the course in preparation of the 2021 U.S. Open, so new memories are promised.
Only the Poa annua greens were untouched, but tees, approaches, areas around greens and every bunker has Jones' freshest imprint on them. A new tee at the par-4 10th hole is responsible for a good chunk of the longer walk, while the installation of new irrigation across the stock par 72 was a priority.
Before you wonder how the South Course could get any harder, consider that last year's scoring average of 71.729 was its lowest since 2001, this despite possessing the hardest fairways to find from the tee of any course on average (7.38 of 14 per round). However, the field also averaged 11.77 greens in regulation per round and connected for par breakers on 3.5 of those opportunities. So, from the perspective of how to score, the South Course sat just inside the top half of the hardest of all courses all season.
Even without the modifications, Torrey Pines South will play tougher than its co-host. It always does. And that already recognizes the fact that the North Course got stingy post-redesign by Tom Weiskopf, well, at least at first … and second.
In the first two spins after Weiskopf signed off on the work, the par-72 North set decade highs in scoring in 2017 (71.28) and 2018 (71.41), but last year's average of 69.840 was a seven-year low. No doubt that docile conditions yielded redder numbers, but maturity of the greens and course knowledge cannot be ruled out as factors. Consider that the GIR percentage rose 1.1 per round to an average of 12.7.
The North tips at 7,258 yards and its fairway-hit percentage of 7.47 per round was second-lowest of 2018-19, but it slots among the easiest in all other categories but par-3 scoring average (T7) due to the fact that all four one-shotters can be played at over 200 yards. The 241-yard third hole has ranked inside the top-20 hardest par 3s on the PGA TOUR since the North Course was redesigned.
Every golfer gets one round on the North Course and its bentgrass greens. The field is split in half on each course during the first two rounds, but only the South will be used for the third and final rounds. All 36 greens will be calibrated to run about 12-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter.
For the entirety of last year's tournament, Rose ranked T8 in fairways hit, T2 in GIR, third in putts per GIR and first in putting: birdies-or-better percentage. He also co-led the field in par-3 scoring and finished T4 in par-5 scoring. That is a stock formula to follow. (ShotLink technology is used only on the South.)
Rose also became the first champion since Ben Crane in 2010 to open the tournament on the North Course. His 63 on it was the lowest by any winner since Woods scored the same in the second round in 2005.
Pleasant weather is forecast throughout the tournament, so scoring could mirror last year's. A primarily sunny sky will allow for stunning visuals. Never bet against a marine layer in the morning, but daytime highs in the mid-60s and light winds will optimize the other feels.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.