Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Farmers Insurance Open
Welcome to Torrey Pines. Arguably the most famous municipal course in the entire country, Torrey is the annual host of the Farmers Insurance Open and the site of one of golf's most iconic moments and major championships. It was the South course that hosted Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate's 18-hole playoff on the day after Father's Day in 2008, and with the 2021 U.S. Open slated to return to Torrey Pines, we can expect a terrific field this week.
Golf course architect Rees Jones, known as the "Open Doctor" began overseeing renovations in March of last year to get the course ready for the USGA's desired conditions. Those renovations included an overhaul of the course's irrigation system, the rebuilding of 84 bunkers, and adjustments to several holes but most notably the 9th, 10th, 15th and 17th.
The par 5 ninth added a cross bunker 50 yards ahead of the green and a trimmed-up collection area behind the green, both of which will make the second shot decision more difficult. A new tee was added on the par 4 10th, as well as a second fairway bunker to further emphasize the accuracy required to keep a tee shot in the short grass. The 15th hole has a new tee that may not be rolled out until 2021 U.S. Open, and the 17th tee has been moved closer to a canyon to put another seed of doubt in golfers' minds as they pull the driver out of the bag.
Also at play this week in La Jolla, California is the less demanding North Course, which plays a good deal easier and has not included in the renovations. Participants will split their first two rounds between the North and South course before the top 65 and ties tackle the South behemoth twice more over the weekend.
Wind is always a factor on coastal tracks, but this time of year is nothing compared to summer. Mostly sunny conditions are in the early forecast, and it's looking like a beautiful week of golf.
Let's dig into the courses and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
|Season||Course||Par||Yardage||Average Score||Avg O/U Par||Rank|
|2019||Torrey Pines (South)||72||7698||71.729||-0.271||18|
|2018||Torrey Pines (South)||72||7698||72.813||+0.813||8|
|2017||Torrey Pines (South)||72||7698||72.766||+0.766||14|
|2016||Torrey Pines (South)||72||7698||74.498||+2.498||2|
|2015||Torrey Pines (South)||72||7698||73.518||+1.518||6|
|2019||Torrey Pines (North)||72||7258||69.84||-2.16||45|
|2018||Torrey Pines (North)||72||7258||71.410||-0.590||28|
|2017||Torrey Pines (North)||72||7258||71.277||-0.723||32|
|2016||Torrey Pines (North)||72||7052||70.929||-1.071||38|
|2015||Torrey Pines (North)||72||7052||70.232||-1.768||46|
The South Course is the real test here, as should be expected given its major championship pedigree. And with three rounds played here, the top finishers will have to tame this monster track if they want to hoist the hardware. It features poa annua greens, kikuyu grass fairways, and rough that will be overseeded with rye grass throughout the winter season.
It routinely plays as one of the most difficult courses on tour, and while low wind and soft conditions made it the easiest it has been in quite a while last year, the pendulum will likely swing the other way this year as the U.S. Open renovations vault this once again over par on average.
The North Course features bentgrass greens and the same overseeded kikuyu blend. The rough is heavily overseeded as kikuyu alone would make it dastardly enough to make even the USGA flinch. But the blend will still be a bit sticky and the fairways will not have the kind of rollout seen in Hawaii and last week at The American Express.
While the South Course obviously holds more weight and will be the focus in preparing lineups, the ultimate winner will likely have dominated his North Course round in the early going to get near the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. A low score breeds confidence in the days to come, and the North very much has its say despite playing second fiddle its sibling course.
The obvious comparison is another long municipal track that has Jones' fingerprints on it -- the Black Course at Bethpage Black. Last year's PGA Championship along with the Farmers is a nice starting point this week. Augusta National and Quail Hollow are two other championship courses that require both distance and precision off the tee, as well as elite iron play.
The common theme is that the initial perception would be that bombers gain an advantage, but in reality, the courses require more thought and strategy than meets the eye.
These stats have proven vital to success at the Farmers Insurance Open.
|Key Stats for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines|
|Strokes Gained: Off the Tee|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
|Proximity Gained 175+|
While distance should be obvious given the massive length, accuracy off the tee is actually a better way to separate from the field. The South Course is perennially among the top 10 lowest accuracy percentages on Tour, and in each of the past two years it rated as the hardest fairways to hit. The North course was just behind it with second and fourth lowest accuracy percentage in 2019 and 2018, respectively. Highlighting strokes gained: off the tee allows us to see who is gaining on the field consistently, whether by out-driving his opponents or keeping it in the fairway.
The significance of approach play is enormous, with a variety of strategies available from almost every fairway and rough. Most of those opportunities will come from beyond 175 yards. All eight par 3s are at least that length, and the par 5s are all over 520 yards (two on the South Course are over 600 yards). The rough around the greens can be nasty, and if this plays out as a preview of next year's U.S. Open, proximity is going to be huge to find golfers best at avoiding long bunker or rough lies around the green.
Birdies or better are important every week given their weight in fantasy scoring, and while we don't expect the winner to crack 20-under par at Justin Rose did last year, the more meager finishing numbers in the 6-under to 10-under par make round numbers on the card even more important because they are in short supply. Avoiding bogeys and scrambling can get attention as well, but scoring is at a premium this week.
Much of that scoring can come at the par 5s -- last year each of the top 4 performers on par 5s finished inside the top 10. In 2012, the top 5 in par 5's gained finished T12 or better.
Course History Studs
Woods is a seven-time champion at Torrey Pines. While most of those came at his world-beating best, he has back-to-back top 25s the past two years and should have had plenty of time to practice for his 2020 debut.
Justin Rose, Jason Day, and Jon Rahm have multiple top 5s the past three years including a win. Day has the most variance in his history, with two wins and three other top 10s but also having missed two missed cuts over the past seven years. Rose never cracked the top 20 until three years ago T4 three years ago, and since then he's finished T8 in 2018 and 1st last year. Rahm is built for this course, and with a win in 2017 and a T5 last year, he should be a popular option this week.
Tony Finau has played here each of the past five years and never finished outside the top 25, highlighted by T4 in 2017 and T6 in 2018.
But the best course form without a win belongs to Charles Howell. In his 17 trips to Torrey Pines, he has 12 top 25s, 3 runner-up finishes, and no missed cuts.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.