Fantasy Golf Picks: 2017 Farmers Insurance Open Sleepers, Starts & Preview
Farmers Insurance Open
Defending Champ: Brandt Snedeker
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Farmers Insurance Open Field
156 Players | Top 70 and Ties After 36 Holes Make the Cut
In the first few weeks of college football you get a couple decent matchups, but it’s generally just the best teams scheduling a bunch of LOSAH schools in de-facto exhibition games. They’re tune-ups for the season. That’s essentially what the first few PGA events do too. Ya, we got some big names spliced in during the Hawaii swing, but the quality of the fields, especially the upper tier, were pretty weak. THAT CHANGES NOW!!!!!!! The big names are out in full force at Torrey Pines.
For years, the Farmers Insurance Open has acted has the unofficially start of the PGA season for casual fans. Sure, there were plenty of us that spent Saturday afternoon waiting for the Golf Channel to get cameras on Adam Hadwin in the midst of his 59 at the CareerBuilder. That’s not highly representative of the viewing public, though. Torrey Pines is a perfect gateway tournament for people to get back into golf. There are familiar names, everyone knows the venue, and, with football over, many are looking for something to watch on weekends as an excuse to ignore their spouses. It’s just a big win all around. Also, there’s no better hungover TV watch than golf. You can fall asleep for hours, wake up, and really not missed much.
Despite being one of the lowest ranked players in the 156-man field, Tiger Woods is the headliner. Obv. Tiger is teeing it up for the first time since December, and the Farmers marks his first PGA TOUR event since a T10 at the Wyndham Championship in 2015. Can the seven-time Farmers champ, and 2008 US Open winner at Torrey, on a blown out knee, compete this week? Unlikely. Doesn’t matter, though. I’m just glad Tiger’s back on the links. If he shows up on the leaderboard at any point, even if it’s after Hole 5, I’ll be happy. Once Tiger gets some reps in, I have confidence he’ll have a moment or two this year, it just more likely to come when Ryan Palmer and John Huh are the next two best players in the field. Not here.
While the media coverage will be all about Tiger, there’s actually 11 of the world's Top 25 players in the field: Jason Day (1), Dustin Johnson(3), Hideki Matsuyama (6), Patrick Reed (9) Justin Rose (13), Rickie Fowler (14), Paul Casey (16) Brooks Koepka (19), Jimmy Walker (21), Phil Mickelson (22) and Emiliano Grillo (25). It’s worth noting, both DJ and Fowler played over the weekend in Abu Dhabi. They may be somewhat jet-legged as they deal with the 12-hour time difference. Byeong-Hun An will be suffering through the same issues as well. Beyond the impressive upper crust, the second tier isn't devoid of legit names either. Two-Time, and defending champ, Brandt Snedeker, Daniel Berger, Kevin Chappell, Louis Oosthuizen, JB Holmes, Francesco Molinari, and Shane Lowry are all adding to the strength of this field.
We’ll get a glimpse of Beau Hossler too. The reigning Fred Haskins Award winner is making his first PGA start as a professional. Hossler had shoulder surgery last June, but has fully rehabilitated the injury. You probably remember Hossler from the 2012 US Open. Then 17, he contended deep into Sunday before collapsing on the back nine, dropping into a tie for 29th. He made the cut again three years later, finishing T58 at the 2015 US Open. Hossler made his first start post-injury on the Adams Tour in December and promptly collected his first, likely of many,. Keep an eye on him, especially at a scrub value on DraftKings - $6,100.
Farmers Insurance Open Key Stats
Farmers Insurance Open Courses
Torrey Pines (South) 7,698 Yards | Par 72
Torrey Pines (North) 7,258 Yards | Par 72
When you think “Torrey Pines” you’re thinking about the South Course. The one that hosts the US Open. However at the Farmers, both the North and the South tracks will be used. Players will alternate between the courses for the first two rounds, then spend the weekend on the South course. There’s something very important you need to know about what differentiates these layout:
Torrey Pines South Course = Long + Hard
Torrey Pines North Course = Shorter + Easier
Now you why the South is called the Porn Star Course.
Now, most Fantasy Golf formats don’t let you swap golfers in and out of your lineups day-to-day, but for the ones that do (Yahoo! in particular), it’s worth splitting up your roster with half of your squad getting the North Course Round One and the rest Round Two. Sure, it’s only one day worth of advantage, but it’s that extra 2% which separates the top of the standings.
Torrey Pines South was the second most difficult track on TOUR last season. Some will say it’s a direct result of the gave the flagsticks more lean than the Terror Squad and Fat Joe combined. And they’re not necessarily wrong. Normally, TP South isn’t the second most difficult layout players will see all year. But it’s usually one of the toughest. In 2015, in base level conditions, the South Course was sixth of 52 in difficulty. In 2014, fourth of 48. It’s ain't easy. The wind devastated everyone not named Brandt Snedeker in the final round last year, but the almost 7,700 yards will always keep it overly challenging.that
There have been some renovations to the North Course since last year, but it’s difficult to gauge whether or not it will make scoring more difficult. It’s been extended by over 200 yards, which normally would reduce scoring, however the number of bunkers have dropped from 60 to 42 and the average size of the greens have gone up almost 1500 square feet. Also, about 55 trees had to be removed due to a beetle infestation. So, the tradeoff is added length overall for some relief from the hazards. Tom Weiskopg, who led the redesign, says, “.”
While we’ve seen some non-distance players walk away with a victory over the years, generally ones with elite putting and short games who gain a lot of strokes tee-to-green, I’m going to side with the deep hitters on the whole. It’s no guarantee they perform better, but bombers will have an easier time correcting for errors. Whether it’s being able to still hit a GIR after a wayward tee shot or just making a few of those lengthy Par 5s a little bit more accessible.
Farmers Insurance Open Picks (Yahoo! Game)
Tee Times will be released Tuesday night if you want to go half and half.
Jason Day & Gary Woodland - Day, the world’s number one player, and former winner at Torrey, will lead my team. The major choice in this area will come down to Day vs DJ. With DJ making the return voyage from Abu Dhabi, I’ll side with Day on this one. You can have them both, but I like to open up my second spot for a lesser owned player, especially when I have turned to an elite option for the first pick already… Similar to the first choice, I got stuck between Brendan Steele and Woodland. Steele rides in with the better immediate form (back-to-back T6s to start 2017), although, Woodland has been lights out recently too. Woody dropped a T6 on us at the Sony, and was a runner up to finish the swing-season. The big decider is going to be short game. Neither would be classified as “good” in either aspect but Woodland isn’t a complete liability. Granted, in his 14 rounds in 2017, Steele has been above average both around and on the greens, but that’s only 14 rounds. Look back to last season where he was 161st in SG: ATG and 149th in SG: PUTT, or the year before when he was 89th and 121st. I feel like that’s more indicative of his true game. Like I said, Woodland isn’t much better, but enough to move the needle. This is just for the Yahoo! game, though. On DraftKings, Steele ($8,000) and Woodland ($8,600) are both quality values.
Hideki Matsuyama, Charles Howell III, Francesco Molinari, & Jamie Lovemark - Hideki has missed two straight cuts at this event, including a devastating three-putt on the 36th hole last season to sink many-a-lineups. Meh. Statistically, he is a perfect match for this layout and is playing the best golf of his life. Keep riding the hot streak… May as well use the same logic for CH3. Howell’s reeled off five straight Top 15s and is truly playing his best golf in years. Oh, he’s played this event year since 2003 and has never missed a cut too. So there’s that… Keeping on the recent form theme, while not a bomber, Molinari too has five consecutive Top 15 finishes, and scores a lot better on longer holes than you’d imagine. One the premier long-iron players in the world, the Italian continues to pile up birdies on Par 5s and Par 4s measuring more than 450 yards… Yes, I will let Lovemark hurt me again this week. I’m not sure how to quit him.
Martin Laird & Brooks Koepka - I always have issues pinpointing the weeks I want to use Party Marty, but I’m going to push all-in on him at Torrey. Historically one of the TOUR's best Par 3 players (12th in 2017, 22nd 2016), Laird’s seen a marked improvement in his overall game to start the new season. The Scotsman is currently Top 10 in both SG: T2G (9th) and SG: APP, albeit in a small sample. He enters in excellent form (T6 last week; T13 in his previous start), and has developed an affinity for this event. He’s made four consecutive cuts at the Farmers, with Top 10s in back-to-back years… Distance, ability to generate birdies on long holes, pedigree; Brooks appears to be perfectly suited to dominate Torrey Pines. If there’s one aspect that will hold him back, it’s his inconsistency from just off the greens. Currently, he’s sitting in 26th SG: ATG, but that’s only with one event of data. The past two season he’s hovered around 100th on TOUR in that mark. If he can merely not lose strokes in his short game, which should be aided by the removal of so many bunkers on the North Course, Brooks has the game to challenge for a title.
The Pat Mayo Hour covers the entire scope of the Fantasy sports landscape from Football to Reality TV, daily and yearly leagues and everything in between. You can watch the Pat Mayo Hour every weekday at 3:00pm EST, 8:00pm EST and Midnight on the FNTSY Sports Network Television channel or on your Apple TV, Xbox, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. If you have a Fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at PatMayoHour@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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