The US PGA Tour offers a rare Wednesday start this week so as not to clash with the NFL Conference playoffs scheduled for Sunday. The tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open at the coastal Torrey Pines location close to San Diego, where Luke List beat Will Zalatoris to win the event a year ago.
Last week's winner Jon Rahm has won this tournament previously, as well as winning a US Open here, so it's unsurprising to see that the bookmakers will have him at very short price in this extended field.
Before moving on, a shout out is due to Davis Thompson, one of our golfers to watch in 2023. Davis went off at 175/1 last week and shared the lead going into the final round in the American Express, before being beaten by Rahmbo by just one stroke. The first round of the Farmers Insurance Open is played at the South course, followed by one round at the North course before the dreaded cut, and with temperatures forecast to remain in the mid-60's the players will be hoping for benign conditions. The final two rounds return to the South course, which is a long 7,765-yard par 72, while the North course is the same par, but is slightly shorter at 7,258 yards in length.
The South course is by far the toughest of the two layouts, with narrow Bermuda fairways overseeded with Rye grass, and protected by penal Kikuyu grass rough, all of which combine to make driving accuracy absolutely paramount.
Small Poa annua grass greens are a tricky challenge to putt on and can be a little bumpy, while the greens on both courses are protected by strategically placed bunkers, and so good approach shots are key. The North course is slightly less demanding, a blander layout with the same Bermuda grass fairways, while its Bent grass greens are relatively easier to putt on. Obviously, Jon Rahm is the clear favourite this week, and is generally available at 4/1, which, in a field of 160 golfers, is not good value, despite his current form and his phenomenal record at Torrey Pines. Xander Schauffele is next best at 11/1, and after withdrawing with a back injury the week before, the American contended last week, and made a late surge into the top three with a closing round of 62. However, he struggles to convert those strong finishes into wins, and again we are left short of value from bookmakers who are definitely not giving much away this week.
One player who this course does suit is Tony Finau, both in terms of driving and ball striking, plus he also putts well on Poa, and he is available at 11/1.
The out-of-form Justin Thomas is 14/1 and top ball striker Will Zalatoris 16/1, but the latter was slightly off his game last week, and although he is suited by tough golf courses, do those odds really offer top value?
Another supreme ball striker is Collin Morikawa is 14/1, and although he slightly imploded down the stretch to be caught and passed by Jon Rahm's charge two weeks ago, the tough set up of the south course could work in his favour.
Others to consider:
As a California native who goes well on West Coast courses, Max Homer has won on Poa/Bent grass mix surfaces before and might outplay the 20/1 that is available in places. Hideki Matsuyama is a Masters champion and prefers testing, strategic courses. He has been suffering from a series of niggling injuries for a while now, but did show up well in Hawaii the last time we saw him, and his 33/1 tag seems decent enough. Taylor Pendrith hits the ball far off the tee, and if he can keep it fairly straight this week then 66/1 is a bit of each-way value.
Finally, S H Kim has been in good form of late, and certainly better than his generously priced odds of 150/1 (and touching 200/1 in places) might suggest.
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