Farmer’s Insurance Open @ Torrey Pines 2022 — Preview and Picks

The PGA Tour stays in Southern California this week and heads to a familiar spot in San Diego: Torrey Pines.

Torrey Pines hosted two exciting events last year, with Jon Rahm winning the U.S. Open there over the summer, and Patrick Reed winning the Farmer’s last January.

Amid controversy of cheating, or just severely bending the rules depending on how you look at it, Reed played great and sort of ran away with the event on Sunday last year. He’s been in dreadful form, however, having lost strokes ball striking in his last 8 statistically measured events. (I’ve heard rumors of a swing change in the process for Reed, which means things usually get worse before better.)

Good form, bad form, or unknown form — whatever the case, many of golf’s elite players will tee it up this week at Torrey Pines. 14 of the top 25 ranked players in the world arrive at one of the most difficult venue’s on tour, which typically yields wins from the world’s best.

Many consider this event one of the true starting points for golf season because of the strong field and iconic course, as well as it being the first week in which CBS’s coverage of the weekend rounds begins.

(*Not to mention 2022 Masters commercials are now out in full force*)

Wisely, CBS will not attempt to compete with the NFL’s conference championship games, with the Farmer’s starting on Wednesday and ending on Saturday.

The Course

There’s not a ton to say about Torrey Pines, as it’s one of the most well-known stops on tour.

A VERY long Par-72 (7,765 yards) with Poa annua greens, gaining strokes off the tee is essential here. Even if you’re in the fairway, golfers who hit it short are going to consistently have 200+ yard approach shots into greens…

That said, the average PGA Tour pro these days does hit the golf bar far, which doesn’t exactly eliminate a ton of guys this week.

The greens themselves are not the easiest to hit, which makes around the green play important as well. (Patrick Reed was excellent last year at getting up and down to save par.)

It’s just a good test of golf, requiring players to be solid throughout the bag, which is why we typically get such strong winners here. You can’t fake it at Torrey.

There also seems to be a fairly strong course history correlation that indicates who navigates this course well year after year — Rahm, Finau, Palmer, Leishman are amongst the notables who usually play well at Torrey Pines.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that there are actually two courses golfers compete at for the Farmer’s — Torrey Pines South and Torrey Pines North.

The North course only comes into play for rounds one and two, with half the field rotating in there each day.

Despite efforts to make the North course harder, it does play notably easier and puts some emphasis on shooting a good score the one day you’re playing there.

(Quick) DraftKings Picks

10K+

It’s extraordinarily tough to not anchor your lineups with Jon Rahm ($11,200) this week. He’s the best golfer in the world and he’s dominant at Torrey Pines. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

If I’m looking elsewhere in this range, I think I’m inclined to take some shots on Hideki Matsuyama ($10,600) and Xander Schauffele ($10,100).

I like playing into the hometown narrative with Xander, and I truly believe he wins at Torrey Pines at some point in his career. Why not this week?!

Hideki’s in tremendous form, winning two of his last five starts. The hot putting is especially encouraging from Hideki, and it’s kind of hard to imagine that not continuing here.

I’ll probably wait and see with Dustin Johnson ($10,300), but if there’s one guy who can arrive after not playing an event in several months and just bum-rush the field it’s DJ. That said, his course history at Torrey isn’t great.

9K+

The 9K range is terrifying, because it’s just full of elite golfers who could either win or miss the cut.

If I’m looking for stability though, I’m probably dropping all the way down to Tony Finau ($9,100), a noted course history guy who has finished T13 or better in his later five trips to Torrey Pines. Finau doesn’t have any stellar finish in recent months, but ball striking stats indicate he’s hitting it fine.

Finau will be extraordinarily popular this week, so be mindful of that if you’re playing GPPs…

Two others who expect to be moderately popular…

Will Zalatoris ($9,200) and Marc Leishman ($9,000) sandwich Finau in this price range.

Zalatoris finished 7th here last year and is coming off a strong week at the AmEx; Leishman has strong course history, including a win, and is playing well of late. All that said, I’m likely to stay away from both in tournaments as I think there are equal, if not more, enticing options in this price range who will be much lower owned…

One of those guys is Sam Burns ($9,700), who I think will get overlooked. He played in the final group with Patrick Reed at Torrey last year, but just putted horrifically bad and finished 18th.

Another similar story is Sungjae Im ($9,300), who charged up the leaderboard here last year…only to shoot at 42 (+6) on the back nine. If he just shoots even Par on those same holes he finished Tied for 2nd.

Both Burns and Im appear to be in good form, so I’m happy to play them.

8K+

I’ll keep this short because the 8k range itself is short, but I like Corey Conners ($8,800) here, especially coming off a disappointing missed cut at the AmEx last week.

Conners is an elite ball striker, whose weak putting will not be as much of a hinderance this week. Just making Pars and staying out of trouble can often be enough at Torrey Pines.

Conners isn’t necessarily a priority play for me though, as I’d still rather pay up into the 9k range of golfers if I can.

Maverick McNealy ($8,200) and Ryan Palmer ($8,100) are secondary options I’ll look to at the bottom of this range. Palmer’s got course history on his side, along with some nice form coming in. McNealy doesn’t have as much course history as the tour vet, but he’s played well at Torrey in his few trips and comes in with good form too.

McNealy and Palmer will likely be the most popular golfers in this range, however, so if you play them just look to find differentiating pieces in your lineup elsewhere.

Am I ready to get hurt by Matthew Wolff ($8,500) again? Probably — it’s certainly a course that suits his game when in form.

7K+ & 6K+

I think I’m going to play the stat-model-demi-god Luke List ($7,600) this week. List’s ball-striking has been tremendous of late, and he has two top-12 finishes at Torrey Pines in the past four years. This just seems to be an event where his poor putting can be forgiven. He’ll be popular.

Mito Periera ($7,400) and Gary Woodland ($7,300) are two lower-ish projected owned guys in this range that I’m very intrigued by.

Periera hasn’t played an event since the RSM Classic in November, where he finished T29, and he’s never played the Farmer’s before. Both of these things make Mito a massive unknown entity coming into this week.

That said, Periera burst onto the PGA Tour scene last summer with immaculate ball-striking and occasionally hot putting. He contended deep into the Fortinet Championship (T3) in the Fall, nearly medaled at the Olympics (finishing T4 in the log jam playoff for Bronze) and had a few other top 10 finishes last summer.

So I’m willing to take a shot on a guy who everyone was excited about last year and seems to be off the radar, coming to a course that should suit the big hitting Chilean well.

Woodland, on the other hand, played last week and missed the cut. To me it seemed like he just got off to an abysmal start — 3-over Par on his first nine holes — and never had a chance to fully recover and make the cut. He did play better though, clawing back to -4.

This is admittedly a bit of a shot in the dark on a golfer in Woodland who is good long-term and has strong course history — 5 top-20 finishes at Torrey since 2014.

Joseph Bramlett ($6,700) will be a justifiably popular name to select under $7,000, as he’s put together two incredible ball-striking weeks in a row and contended for most of the AmEx. He’s also made the cut at the Farmer’s in his two trips.

I think I’m personally going to pivot and play Vincent Whaley ($6,800), who comes in with two made cuts in his two events played in 2022 (T40 at AmEx and T17 at Sony).

Whaley’s strong suit is off-the-tee play, which will help him out this week. And by his own admission, Whaley seems to fair better at tougher courses. I’m in on Vincent Whaley making the cut and maybe even sneaking in a top-20 at Torrey Pines.

Unlike last week where several golfers under $7,000 made for great — optimal even — plays, I expect that the very good to elite golfers will mostly contend at Farmer’s and those towards the bottom of DK pricing will just be your cut-making hopefuls.

Thanks for reading and happy GOLF.

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