Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour this week in what he hopes is a great homecoming. By homecoming, we mean that he OWNS this course. Nobody has won at Torrey Pines more than Woods; he's won there eight times, including five straight tournaments from 2005-2008.
This week's Farmers Insurance Open is played on the Torrey Pines South and North Courses. Players alternate the first two rounds between the two courses, and golfers who make the cut will play the South Course on Saturday and Sunday. The South Course has played about 2-2.5 strokes harder than North Course in recent years (we only counted the first two rounds of last year due to the hurricane-like weather in Round 4 which caused a scoring average of 77.9). The South will usually average around 1.5 strokes over par while the North usually averages 1 stroke under par.
The cut line is normally around -1 in this event, although that could change this year based on two factors. Nasty weather has been hitting Torrey Pines and more rain is coming Tuesday and Wednesday, so the rough will be nice and thick. Also, the North course is newly renovated and this will be the first time the players get to see it. They added around 200 yards in length to the course, went from 59 to 41 bunkers, leveled greens to make them flatter, resurfaced greens with Bentgrass, enlarged greens, and added six yards of closely-mowed areas around greens.
From a player perspective, on paper these changes look to have made the North Course easier. However, we won't know for sure until we see them hit the course on Thursday and Friday. When putting together your DraftKings lineups, you'll want to look for players who hit it high and can scramble this week. Taking advantage of the Par 5s will be key as well.
Key Stats: Par 5 Scoring, Putting 10'-15', BoB% (Birdie or Better), Bogey Avoidance, Scrambling, Rough Proximity.
Dustin Johnson ($11,100)
Dustin Johnson is "Taylor Made" for this course. He ranked sixth or better in three of our key stats from 2016 (1stt in BoB%, 4th in Par 5 Scoring, and 6th in Rough Proximity). His apex height ranking of 13th will also give DJ an added benefit this week as the course should play softer after all the rain. DJ also ranked 26th in SG:App last season which helped him rank third overall in tee-to-green strokes.
Johnson is coming in hot after finishing runner-up at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week and sixth in the Tournament of Champions three weeks ago. He was 13th at the Farmers last season and finished third in 2011. DJ is our top ranked golfer in our rankings model at The Fantasy Fanatics. He is a great play this week and many believe he is the best player in the world at this time.
Rickie Fowler ($9,700)
Fowler followed his best season as a tour pro in 2015 with a subpar season last year. In 2015 he had two wins and a runner-up finish on his way to fourth place in the Fed Ex Playoff Rankings in 2015. Last season he had zero wins and only one top-three finish. He finished 31st in the FedEx standings and didn't qualify for the Tour Championship.
Apparently, Fowler has used this as motivation. He started the new season with a sixth-place finish in the WGC HSBC Champions and followed that up with a third-place finish in the Hero World Challenge. He took 36th last week in Abu Dhabi. Fowler has the game to contend and win at Torrey, as he has shown with a sixth-place in 2013 and fifth-place in 2011. He also made the cut as an amateur in the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines. Fowler ranked 13th in Par 5 scoring last season and also ranked 8th in SG: Tee to Green. He can get up and down with the best of them, ranking 21st in scrambling last season. He can bomb it, he can hit greens, and can make birdies. He should be the lowest owned of the top players, making him an ideal play this week.
Value Picks and Sleepers
Gary Woodland ($8,600)
Gary Woodland comes into this week ranking in the Top 5 of our TFF rankings model. When you look at his stats and course history, you can see why. Woodland has made his last six cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open, including an 18th and a 10th. Like DJ and Fowler, Woodland takes full advantage of the Par 5s, ranking 7th in Par 5 Scoring in 2016. For a player who hits it as long as Woodland, his ranking of 59th in scrambling is very underrated. Woodland ranked 30th in SG:App last season and 23rd in GIR. He is coming off of a sixth-place finish in the Sony Open two weeks ago and will look to keep up his great playing this week.
Lucas Glover ($6,700)
If there is a guy who just scrapes it around and does enough to hold onto his PGA Tour card, it's Lucas Glover. After missing four out of eight cuts to end last season and begin this season, something seems to be clicking for Glover. He has since finished 5th, 3rd, 36th, and 41st. This turnaround is in large part to his Par 5 scoring. He also led the tour in GIR last season and ranked ninth in rough proximity. Glover is in prime condition and is looking like this may be the season he will get his first tour title since 2011.
Ollie Schniederjans ($6,300)
Schniederjans spent 42 straight weeks as the World's No. 1 Amateur in 2014, which earned him exemption into the the 2015 US Open and 2015 British Open, where he made the cut in both. In his first full season as a professional, Schniederjans finished sixth on the money list of the Web.com Tour and earned his PGA Tour card for 2017. After missing his first three cuts on tour while shooting a pair of hockey sticks (77) in each event, he has made the weekend in three straight events, including a sixth-place result at the RSM Classic. There aren't a lot of stats for Ollie on the PGA Tour yet, but what we do know is he hits greens and is a very good putter. His final Web.com stat rankings had him 33rd in Par 5 scoring and 19th in BoB%. Schniederjans is priced very generously this week and has the upside to finish inside the top 20 at Torrey.
Other Players to Consider: Martin Laird ($6,500), Grayson Murray ($6,200), Roberto Castro ($6,800)
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