The First Look: Farmers Insurance Open
January 18, 2019
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- January 18, 2019
Inside the PGA TOUR
Farmers Insurance Open preview
Tiger Woods gets his PGA TOUR season underway at his customary starting spot, seeking more Torrey Pines glory against a strong lineup boasting FedExCup champion Justin Rose, current points leader Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm and defending champion Jason Day.
Rory McIlroy is set to give Torrey Pines a test for the first time in his career, adding to his travelogue of West Coast Swing stops previously bypassed. Jordan Spieth also returns after a three-year hiatus as he seeks a jump-start to his season.
FIELD NOTES: Masters champion Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler also help create an appetizing menu of spectator options for those not following Woods. … In all, the lineup figures to deliver 19 of the top 30 in the current FedExCup standings. … Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland tees it up against PGA TOUR competition for the second time since winning at Pebble Beach. The Oklahoma State junior missed the cut at last fall’s Mayakoba Golf Classic. … Former top-ranked amateur Braden Thornberry makes his pro debut at Torrey Pines on a sponsor invite. The 2017 NCAA champion, who left Mississippi at midyear, tied for fourth at the FedEx St. Jude Classic weeks after his NCAA triumph. … Another exemption went to Doug Ghim, former U.S. Amateur runner-up and winner of college golf’s Ben Hogan Award.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
STORYLINES: Woods makes his long-awaited 2019 debut, his first official start since a stirring Sunday at last fall’s TOUR Championship ended a winless run of 1,876 days. He’s won this event seven times along with the 2008 U.S. Open, but was last seen finishing next-to-last at the Hero World Challenge. … Schauffele, a La Jolla native, already has two wins this season but might be content with simply making the weekend at Torrey Pines. He’s missed the cut in all three Farmers starts. … Spieth hopes to find a spark in his first visit to Torrey Pines since 2015. His first three starts of the season have yet to produce a top-50 finish, with two missed cuts. … Day seeks to become the event’s fourth back-to-back champion, joining J.C. Snead (1975-76), Mickelson (2000-01) and Woods (four straight from 2005-08). … Last year’s result made it eight consecutive Farmers champions to open their week on the South course. Ben Crane (2010) was the last winner to start play on the North.
COURSE: Torrey Pines GC (South), 7,698 yards, par 72. Now beginning its sixth decade as a PGA TOUR venue, the former World War II army base has evolved into a major championship layout amid one of the TOUR’s more scenic settings. William Bell’s 1957 design skillfully transformed the cliffs fronting the Pacific Ocean into a stimulating layout, attracting the TOUR’s annual San Diego stop in 1968. Torrey Pines also hosts the Junior Worlds each July. A Rees Jones upgrade in 2001 helped attract the 2008 U.S. Open, captured by Woods in an epic playoff over Rocco Mediate, and the South course is set to serve again as 2021 host. Torrey Pines’ North course (7,258/72), in its third year of a Tom Weiskopf redesign, again will be utilized for the first two rounds.
72-HOLE RECORD: 266, George Burns (1987), Tiger Woods (1999).
18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Mark Brooks (2nd round, 1990) and Brandt Snedeker (1st round, 2007) at Torrey Pines North, predating the Weiskopf redesign. South course record: 62, Tiger Woods (3rd round, 1999). Redesigned North record: 64, Jason Day (2nd round, 2018).
LAST YEAR: Day made short work of a Monday finish, needing 13 minutes to dispatch Alex Noren with a birdie on the sixth extra hole after their playoff was halted by darkness the previous evening. The playoff began with three men, but Ryan Palmer was eliminated on the first extra hole before Day and Noren matched two more birdies and two pars until twilight took over. Day found the rough upon resumption at the par-5 18th, laying up back to the fairway and watching his 85-yard wedge trickle back to 18 inches of the flagstick. Noren’s second shot, meantime, wound up in Devlin’s Billabong that fronts the 18th green. Day’s 11th PGA TOUR victory ended a 20-month winless drought dating back to THE PLAYERS Championship in 2016. Woods tied for 23rd in his first TOUR start back after a fourth back surgery.
HOW TO FOLLOW (ALL TIMES ET)
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 11:45 a.m.-7 p.m. (Featured Groups). Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups), 3-6 p.m. (Featured Holes). Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups), 3-6:30 p.m. (Featured Holes).
LIVE ON TWITTER: Thursday-Friday: 11:45 a.m. – approx. 1:00 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday: 11:30 a.m. - TBD.
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday, 1-6:30 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).