Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 Farmers Insurance Open Picks.
2023 Farmers Insurance Open: Field
Field: 156 Players
Cut: Top 65 and Ties
Lineup Lock: Wednesday, January 25
Defending Champ: Luke List
The PGA Tour (well, CBS) wants none of that NFL Sunday smoke, so the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open will start on WEDNESDAY and end on SATURDAY this week. I mention this in CAPSSSSS because of the overflow of people reaching out to me Wednesday evening last year asking me if I knew the event was starting that day. I guess not capitalizing the days of the week was the issue. I hope. That or people are simply morons and nothing can help them.
You’ll want to tune in, however. Internet golf losers may hate Torrey Pines, but it’s a fun watch to any sensible person. We know the course from all the US Opens and Tiger Woods moments. Plus, the field is quality: Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Si WOOOO Kim, Sungjae Im and last year’s playoff loser, Will Zalatoris.
The event is split between the Torrey Pines North and South courses the first two days, before shifting to just the South Course for the final two rounds. Of note: The North course is about 500 yards shorter and much easier. than the South Course.
2023 Farmers Insurance Open: Key Stats
Strokes Gained: Approach
Driving Distance Gained
Proximity Gained: 200+ Yards
Strokes Gained: Around The Green
Par 4s Gained: 450-500 Yards
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
- Four of the past five tournaments have seen strong long-iron play correlate to success
- 2022: All top-10 finishers gained in proximity from 200+
- 2021: Seven of the top-9 finishers gained in proximity from 200+
- 2019: Justin Rose won and was second best in the field from 200+
- 2018: All top-11 finishers gained in proximity from 200+
Top 5 players last season in proximity from 200+: Schauffele, Sungjae, Morikawa, Smalley and Wise.
Top Players over the past 24 Rounds: Xander Schauffele, Austin Eckroat, Sungjae Im, Dean Burmester, Thomas Detry, Gary Woodland, Ben Griffin, Patton Kizzire and Wyndham Clark
2023 Farmers Insurance Open: Course(s)
Course: Torrey Pines South (Three Rounds)
Shot Tracker: Yes
- None of the Par 3s average a score under par
- Six of the Par 4s measure 435-465
- All four Par 5s are north of 560 yards
- The four Par 5s were the four easiest holes last year (all had a birdie rate over 30%, three had an eagle rate over 1.5%)
- Holes 8-9-10 were among the seven easiest holes last year, while Hole No. 1 was the 6th toughest (minor lean toward starting on the front 9). But you want to target the North Course Players the first two days regardless
Course: Torrey Pines North (One Round)
Shot Tracker: No
- All four Par 3s are north of 200 yards
- All four Par 5s are under 560 yards
- The four Par 5s were the four easiest holes last year (all had a birdie rate over 40%, two had an eagle rate over 4% and a bogey rate under 4%)
- Holes 2-3-18 were the three toughest last season, so starting on Hole No. 1 is your better bet (holes 9-10 were among the four easiest)
2023 Farmers Insurance Open: Past Winners
- 2022: Luke List -15
- 2021: Patrick Reed -14
- 2020: Marc Leishman -15
- 2019: Justin Rose -21
- 2018: Jason Day -10
- 2017: Jon Rahm -13
- 2016: Brandt Snedeker -6
- 2015: Jason Day -9
- 2014: Scott Stallings -9
- 2013: Tiger Woods -14
2022: Luke List (-15, beat Zalatoris in a playoff)
- Highlight: 66 on Sunday (his best round of the weekend, was five back of Zalatoris)
2021: Patrick Reed (-14, only golfer to reach double figures under par)
- Highlight: 64 on Thursday (co-leader after Round 1)
2020: Marc Leishman (-15)
- Highlight: 65 on Sunday, his best round of the week and tied for the best round on the final day
2019: Justin Rose (-21)
- Highlight: 63 on Thursday (four rounds in the 60s)
2018: Jason Day (-10, won three-way playoff with Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer)
- Also won the event in 2015 (four-way playoff: Harris English, JB Holmes and Scott Stallings)
- Highlight: Was eight back after Thursday, rebounded from a first round 73 with a second round 64
12 of the past 14 winners have posted a top 10 at this event prior to winning. Jon Rahm won in his first start in 2017. Scott Stallings in 2014 was the other exception.
2023 Farmers Insurance Open: Notes
Torrey Pines South is the longest course in the annual PGA Tour rotation.
Eleven of the past 17 winners at the Farmers have finished the season inside the top 30 in Driving Distance, and the ones who didn’t gain a ridiculous amount of strokes putting on the field — hello, Patrick Reed.
Three things to target from your picks: driving distance, iron play from 175-plus yards and around-the-green. While a short smacker like Brandt Snedeker has experienced a lot of success at Torrey Pines, most of the leaderboard is generally congested with bombers who don’t have the yips from just off the green.
Very rarely does Strokes Gained: Around The Green factor into the winning score. However, because of the tiny greens on the South Course, pairing an average-or-better short game with a big driver is the way to crack the Sunday leaderboard. Not the only way, but the path of least resistance. Obviously, fairways + distance off the tee will equal a slew of GIRs, which would be optimal, but that’s just simply unfeasible for three rounds on this course with the average scrambling percentage hovering around 52%.
If you feel the need to put shorter hitters in your lineups, make sure they gain strokes off the tee through their accuracy and know how to hit a long iron. There are six par 4s measuring over 450 yards and five of them are inside the six most difficult holes on Torrey Pines South and all played over par. Holes No. 12 and No. 15 are two of the 50 toughest holes on the PGA Tour almost every year, majors included.
The driving accuracy percentage of players who made the cut generally hovers around 50%. Both courses sport some of the most difficult fairways to hit every season. Between both courses, since 2012, Torrey Pines South and Firestone CC South were the only venues ranked inside the top 10 of lowest driving accuracy percentage each season. While no longer played on the PGA Tour, a glance at past performances from Firestone CC is encouraged to find some crossover hints. It’s worth noting, Tiger has won eight times apiece at each of those courses.
Jon Rahm, Ryan Palmer, Justin Rose, Tony Finau and Jason Day have the most Strokes Gained: Total over the past five years at the Farmers Insurance Open. Of note, Finau, Rahm and Palmer dueled down the stretch at The Memorial in 2020 in the Uber-tough conditions.
Although Poa Annua putting surfaces tend to run slower on average, expect greens on the South Course to run faster because of the windy and dry conditions. After renovations in 2016, there’s actually a split in grass type between the putting surfaces at the courses when the North Course switched to bentgrass. Both courses average more three-putts than the PGA Tour average.
In a minimum of five weighted rounds at the South Course since 2018, only five players are averaging at least one stroke gained putting per round who are in the field this week: Rory Sabbatini, JB Holmes, Will Gordon and Michael Kim.
2023 Farmers Insurance Open: DraftKings Notes
- 2022: 7 players scored 100+ DK points, 5 were priced $7,600 or cheaper
- 2021: 8 players scored 90+ DK points, 6 were priced over $8,000
- 2020: Each of the top-5 DK scorers was priced $8,300 or higher
- 2019: 3 of the top-5 in DK pricing finished top-6 in DK points
- 2018: Four of the top-5 DK scorers were priced $7,800 or cheaper
Since the field alternates between courses for the first two days, target bombers at the easier North Course for DraftKings Showdown purposes. If your golfers can start on Hole No. 1 instead of Hole No. 10, that’d be a big advantage, too, as there’s a stretch of easier holes from 9-12. There is one drawback, however: there’s no ShotLink at the North Course and minimal cameras. So trying to follow what is going on will be an exercise is futility.
With larger greens and shorter holes, GIR rate and scrambling percentage at the North Course are above the PGA Tour average. Three of the Par 5s on the North Course also generate more eagles than any par 5 on the South. And, it’s over 500 yards shorter.
2023 Farmers Insurance Open Picks
When you’re doing the check list of skills you want to have this week, Homa fills up the sheet. He’s above average in distance and inside the Top 25% for accuracy among the players in the field. That will work. Then in the case of chipping and long irons, Homa rates out Top 15 of all players. Throw in his penchant for winning, prowess on California greens and previous Top 10 in this event, and Homa is primed for a win if Jon Rahm decides to have mercy on the field.
Gordon finally missed his first cut of the season at the American Express, so no better time to hop back on the horse. The irons are always going average, usually at best, but his game off the tee and his touch around the greens are perfect for Torrey Pines. He’s two-for-two in cuts made at The Farmers lifetime, and is averaging an insane +1.2 SG:PUTT in six career rounds at the South Course.
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 24 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.
Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.