January 24, 2022
By Justin Ray, Twenty First Group, PGATOUR.COM
Jon Rahm’s best shots at Torrey Pines
In just five years, Jon Rahm’s performances at Torrey Pines have reverberated in the record books, indelibly tying the world’s No. 1 player to this southern California layout.
In 2017, Rahm concluded his inaugural Torrey Pines appearance with a powerful exclamation mark, making eagle on the 72nd hole to seal victory. Rahm was the first player to win the event with a closing eagle since Tiger Woods in 1999, and the first to win in his Farmers Insurance Open debut since Arnold Palmer in 1957.
Four years later, Rahm closed his first major championship victory in a similar fashion: with a red-hot Torrey Pines finish. Rahm closed birdie-birdie, becoming the first U.S. Open champion to birdie the final two holes of regulation since Tom Watson in 1982. His victory made him not only the first U.S. Open winner from Spain, but the first Spaniard to win any United States Golf Association championship.
Rahm is a cumulative 51-under at the Farmers Insurance Open since 2017, the best cumulative score by any player in that span by five strokes. But what specifically has set Rahm apart from his peers in his 20 career rounds at this event? Twenty First Group dove into the numbers to explain.
North Course Dominance
Over the last five years, the North Course at Torrey Pines has played about two strokes easier than the South has. No player has taken more advantage of that disparity than Rahm, who in five career rounds on the North Course has a grand total of five bogeys. Rahm’s career scoring average of 66.4 on the North Course is the best of any player since 1990 with at least four competitive rounds there. His remarkable 6.20 birdies-or-better per round on the North Course ranks third-best in that span, trailing only Ryan Palmer (6.63) and Tom Kite (6.25).
Rahm has hit less than 50 percent of his career fairways on the North Course (48.6 percent, to be exact), but it hasn’t impacted his ability to score on that layout. Thirty-three percent of the time Rahm has missed the fairway on a par-4 or par-5 on the North Course, he’s still gone on to make birdie or better. That is a significant advantage over the field average historically (20 percent). Rahm has been stellar on the par-4s at the North Course in his career, regardless of tee shot outcome: his 3.72 scoring average ranks third-best among players with four or more rounds played since 1990.
Elite drives on the South Course
While missing the fairway hasn’t penalized Rahm much on the North Course, that can’t usually be said for the South. Traditionally, only about 14 percent of players who miss a fairway on Torrey South go on to make birdie or eagle. That’s been no issue for Rahm – his driving accuracy leaps to 63 percent when playing the more difficult Torrey Pines South layout in this event.
Since Rahm’s debut in 2017, there are 122 players with six or more Farmers Insurance Open rounds at Torrey Pines South. Of that group, Rahm is the only player to average a full stroke gained per round off the tee. Since Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee became available in 2004, Rahm’s average of +1.07 per round is the second highest of any player with a dozen or more rounds. Fellow tournament winner Bubba Watson (2011) is the only player in Rahm’s league in that regard, gaining 1.33 strokes off-the-tee per round in that span.
|Most Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee Per Round, South Course Since 2004|
|*Minimum 12 rounds played in span|
More than 55 percent of Rahm’s Strokes Gained: Total on the South Course have come from tee shots, the third-highest rate of any player with 10 or more SG: Total on this course in the last five years. His ability off the tee has been especially beneficial on par-4s, where Rahm has gained, on average, half-a-stroke on the field with his drives per round. That is the third-highest rate on the South Course in that stretch, trailing only Cameron Champ (+0.77) and Luke List (+0.55).
Different recipes to get it done
Over the last 30 years, the players to average the most birdies-or-better per round at the Farmers Insurance Open are Woods (4.88) and Rahm (4.60). Not coincidentally, those are also the two players to win U.S. Open titles at the venue, with Woods’ unforgettable performance on a broken leg coming in 2008.
But the two champions have used different formulas to separate themselves from the field on the South Course. While we mentioned Rahm using his driver to a distinct advantage, Woods has averaged just +0.34 Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee per round at Torrey South since ShotLink data became available in 2004. That’s less than one-third of the strokes Rahm gains from the tee box.
Woods, however, has been peerless with his iron play on the South Course, averaging a stellar +1.24 Strokes Gained: Approach per round in that span. Of players with 12 or more rounds since 2004, Woods is one of just five players to average a full stroke gained per round in that statistic, and he ranks one-tenth of a stroke per round better than any other player.
Much like how he has performed on the PGA TOUR in the last seven months, Rahm has found success through his bag in his career at this event. Since 2017, Rahm ranks well above average in every Strokes Gained statistic at this event – leading off-the-tee, and ranking 43rd in approach, 29th around the green and 48th in putting (out of 122 players with a minimum of six rounds).
That’s a microcosm of the balanced excellence Rahm has been displaying week-in and week-out on TOUR: since July 1 of last year, Rahm leads all players in Strokes Gained ball-striking (off-the-tee + approach) and ranks No. 6 in Strokes Gained: Putting. The reigning world No. 1 is the justifiable betting favorite this week at the Farmers Insurance Open.
|Best Scoring Average at Torrey Pines South Since 1990|
|Jose Maria Olazabal||67.3|
|*Minimum 4 rounds played in span|