2019 Farmers Insurance Open – DFS PREVIEW

A strong 63-65 over the weekend propelled 31-year-old rookie Adam Long to his first PGA Tour win, that he closed out over Phil Mickelson with a clutch 15-foot birdie on the 72nd hole. This week we stay in California, but move back to the coast, for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Like last week, we will see multiple courses in use with each golfer getting an opportunity to play one round on Torrey Pines North and one round on Torrey Pines South. Those who advance to the weekend will compete only on the South course for the two weekend rounds. Here is a brief description of the two courses:

Torrey Pines South Course: Par 72, 7,700 yards. This is the featured course at Torrey that will see three out of four tournament rounds here this week and is the course that comes to mind when people think of Torrey Pines. This course played host to US Open in 2008 and will again in 2021. The South Course is the longest course we will see on tour this year and typically ranks in the top 5 in difficulty each season. There are 10 holes on the course that see a bogey rate of 19% or higher and while there are four par fives, all are over 560 yards in length with two measuring in at over 610 yards, so there are not many easy birdies opportunities available. Out of bounds only comes into play on two holes and there are a few holes bordered on one side by canyons that play as red staked hazards. Over the past several years a significant number of trees on the course have been removed due to a bark beetle infestation so the primary defense of the course now comes from its distance and its long, thick kikuyu rough that most of the field will encounter at one point or another with fairways and greens difficult to hit this week. The fairways are approximately 20% more difficult to hit than the tour average with the greens about 10% more difficult to hit than the tour average.

Torrey Pines North Course: Par 72, 7,258 yards. Prior to its renovation a couple years ago, the North Course would play over two strokes per round easier than the South Course but we’ve seen the gap close. However, it will still be difficult for a golfer to make the cut this week if they don’t turn in a good round on this course. The renovation increased the size of the greens and flattened them out as well as moved bunkers into the landing areas for the tour pros. The putting surfaces here have also been changed from poa to bent grass. All four par fives see birdies at a 40% or higher clip and we will defiantly see a good amount of eagles mixed in.   

In terms of stats, because of the tight fairways and difficult to hit greens, strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained approach will be weighted heavily this week. Approach shot distribution this week is heavily skewed towards 200 yards+ and 175-200 yards due to the length of the course so a strong long-iron game will be a contributing factor to a successful week.

Here are our top stats to consider this week:

  • Strokes Gained Approach
  • Strokes Gained Off the Tee
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Proximity from 175 to 225 yards
  • Par 5 Efficiency

Due to the difficultly of the South course, this week plays a bit like a major in terms of scoring with the winning score for the week likely to fall around 10 under par. Course history will also play a factor this week as eight of the last ten winners of this event had a top ten at this event prior to their win.

Tiger Woods will headline a very strong field, as is the norm, at the Farmers this year. In addition to Tiger we will see Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, and defending champion Jason Day. The kikuyu rough and Poa greens make scrambling here difficult but offer an advantage to players familiar with these grass types that are seen quite often in Southern California, Australia, and South Africa. This week I’ll be targeting players who gain strokes off the tee with strong long iron approach games. I will also be looking for players who have historically been good at avoiding bogeys and that play par fives efficiently as there are not a lot of birdie opportunities at Torrey, so a successful player will need to take advantage of the par fives. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament lineups on DraftKings this week:

High End – Tony Finau – $9,900

If you’ve rostered Tony Finau often in DFS golf over the past year you have likely been profitable and we are going to jump right back on board here as he makes his 2019 debut. Torrey Pines is a great course fit for Finau as he is long off the tee and has a better short game than most realize. He has the results to back it up as well as he has finished T-6 and T-4 his last two starts at the Farmers. In addition, he makes a lot of birdies, something that is important for DFS scoring at a course were birdies are at a premium. The only thing going against him this week is that he’s paired with Tiger on Thursday and Friday but I don’t see this phasing Tony too much with his easy-going personality and it won’t be enough to keep him off my main roster.

Upper Mid-Range – Gary Woodland – $9,000

If we start with Finau at $9,900 it makes it very easy to get another $9000+ player on your roster. I’ve been going back and forth between Gary Woodland and Patrick Cantlay for this spot, but the data has led me to lean in Woodland’s direction. He missed the secondary cut two weeks ago at the Sony to MDF mostly due to a bad putting week but that was right after an emotional week that saw him miss a very makeable putt to force a playoff at Kapalua at the same time he was dealing with a death in the family. From a course history and stats perspective everything is lining up for a bounce back performance this week at Torrey Pines. He’s recorded top 20 finishes here each of the past three years and has gained 31 strokes on the field over the past five years at the Farmers. His long-term average also ranks top 15 in the field in both proximity from 175-200 yards and proximity from over 200 yards, two key stats for this week.

Value – Joaquin Niemann – $7,300

After a missed cut at the Desert Classic, I think it’s worth ignoring the recency bias and going back to the well with Joaquin Niemann. We only had one round worth of ShotLink data for him last week where he lost 4.9 strokes putting but the tee to green game was fine. This is his first trip to Torrey Pines as a member of the PGA Tour but he has had prior success at the course as the winner of back to back Junior World Championships held on the South Course in 2016 and 2017. The return to a venue he has had success at, along with a change in grass type may help him regain some confidence on the green and allow him to take advantage of his solid ball striking providing us with upside at low DFS ownership.

How we did last week:

Article Plays:

Jon Rahm – 6

Chez Reavie – T28

Joaquin Niemann – MC

Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:

Patrick Cantlay – T16

Harold Varner III – T18

Zach Johnson – T28

Chez Reavie – T28

Joaquin Niemann – MC

Corey Conners – MC

Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result: Win

2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 8-3

Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 33-13

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