The PGA Tour makes its return to one of the more popular golf courses on the schedule. A star studded field heads to La Jolla, California for the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines Golf Course. Fittingly, here’s your 2021 Farmers Insurance Open Gambling Preview & Strategies.
Here’s everything to know about the event before placing a single wager on it.
2021 Farmers Insurance Open Field
There are plenty of big names making the trip to Torrey Pines this week. But the more interesting tidbits on the field is more about who isn’t here.
The biggest name who isn’t playing is Tiger Woods. He announced last week that he underwent yet another back procedure and will be sidelined for at least another month. It’s never a good thing for a 45-year-old athlete to go under the knife for his back for a fifth time. In the short term, fans won’t watch him play at the site of perhaps his greatest and most impressive major championship victory.
Another name I’m surprised isn’t here is Bryson DeChambeau. Bryson is known to meticulously dissect and overprepare for the game of golf. I’m stunned he’s not at Torrey Pines this week scouting out the golf course ahead of the U.S. Open there in June. Bryson’s game is a perfect match for Torrey Pines. It would have done him good to play this event and get a preview of what he’s in for in June.
As far as major names in the field, Jon Rahm is the Horse for the Course. Rahm won his first PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines in 2017 and has a few other great finishes there. He’s a very popular pick to win both this week and the U.S. Open in June.
Another huge star making his debut in 2021 on the PGA Tour is Rory McIlroy. McIlroy is fresh off an impressive performance in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour. He’ll make the long trip from the Middle East to California to play in one of his best events on the PGA Tour. Despite the success, he hasn’t won this tournament before. He’ll hope to not only break that drought, but a PGA Tour winless streak that dates back to the fall of 2019.
Other notables in the field include Jason Day, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, and Matthew Wolff.
For the full field, click here.
The Golf Courses
Torrey Pines is a municipally owned golf course built in 1957 on the site of an old U.S. Army Base just north of San Diego. The golf course was designed by William Bell and featured two 18-hole tracks on both the north and south sides of the property. The PGA Tour has made Torrey Pines a regular stop on the tour since 1968.
Starting in 2000, the U.S. Open began to have an appetite for municipal public golf courses in their effort to #growthegame. Along with fellow municipal golf course Bethpage Black, Torrey Pines was picked by the U.S. Open to host the 2008 event. They hired Rees Jones to redesign the golf course so that it was suitable for championship play.
The revisions to the South Course included a significant lengthening to counter advancements in golf technology. It also repositioned of greens closer to the canyons to bring them into play. Finally, Jones added numerous fairway bunkers to challenge the professionals off the tee. The course was lengthened over 500 yards and runs almost 7,800 yards from the tips.
While the USGA loved the new-look of the golf course, it had more than a few detractors. The South Course is often regarded by the nerdy golf architecture community as a “good view spoiled” due to its lack of imagination. Tom Pernice called it a “typical piece-of-junk Rees Jones design”. Because it was altered with the professionals in mind it became an absolute behemoth for amateurs to play. If you were to walk the golf course from the back tees, you’d log almost 5.5 miles on your Fitbit.
Looking at the layout, I agree that it has Rees Jones’s lackluster fingerprints all over it:
Some people like this type of golf. Big ball parks. Narrow fairways. Deep rough. Tough driving holes because of pinched in fairway bunkers. For me personally, I look at this golf course and find it boring and overly punishing for amateurs. Especially for the price an out-of-towner would pay to play it. While the locals enjoy it for much less, anyone who wants to play this bucket list golf course will fork over $250 to get their ass kicked for six hours. That’s not including $50 they’ll lose on golf balls forever lost in the canyons and deep rough.
From an architectural standpoint, there’s nothing that stands out about the property other than the views of the Pacific Ocean. Each hole is a never-ending parade of straight, narrow holes of enormous length. All of them have fairway bunkers that are challenging to carry off the tee. And almost every green is guarded by a pair of bunkers both left and right. If you’ve seen one hole at Torrey Pines South, you’ve seen them all.
Meanwhile, the North Course was redesigned in 2016 by Tom Weiskopf. Unlike its big brother to the south, Weiskopf sought to redesign the North Course with the amateur, not the professional, in mind. As such, Weiskopf enlarged greens, removed eighteen bunkers (mostly of the fairway variety), and cut down dozens of trees due to a beetle infestation. While the removal of the trees disappointed some, it opened up the golf course significantly and gave way to spectacular views of the coastline.
The most beneficial change to the golf course was the simplest one. They decided to flip the nines so the Back Nine plays along the canyons and the Pacific Coastline. This provides a dramatic finale to a round and ensure a golfer walks off with fantastic memories, no matter how poorly they might play.
I’ve lobbed plenty of criticisms of Torrey Pines so far, but I’ll stop there with a compliment. As an ardent supporter of public golf, it is a very affordable and accessible one to play for residents of San Diego. Locals can play Torrey Pines South on weekends with a cart for $126. That’s a bargain considering it’s one of the most famous golf courses in the United States and on the bucket lists of many amateur golfers to play. And if anyone wants to go out after work for a twilight round, locals can do so with a cart for a measly $48.
But for out of towners looking to cross off a course on the bucket list, I suggest heading north to either Monterrey or to Bandon Dunes in Oregon. If you’re going to fork over that much money to get out there anyways, you’re better off playing superior golf courses than this one.
2021 Farmers Insurance Open Gambling Strategies
Like last week’s American Express, the first two rounds will split the field across the North and South Course. The North Course continues to play much easier than the South Course despite the renovations. DFS players should load up on guys playing on the North Course on Thursday and Friday in Showdown Contests. As for the tournament as a whole, only the South Course maintains ShotLink data and three rounds of play will be performed. As such, gamblers should ignore the North Course as its results are immaterial to the final results.
There is one consistent attribute year in and year out that gamblers should keep in mind – driving distance. The South Course is an absolute monster. With narrow fairways and penal rough it gives longer hitters a tremendous advantage over a player who lacks distance.
Some people have the misconception that lengthening a golf course, narrowing fairways and growing penal rough will elevate the importance of driving accuracy. This is an absolutely false assertion. At this type of golf course it reduces the likelihood to hit the fairway for everyone and punishes shorter hitters more than it does a longer one. It forces short hitters to try and hit a longer iron out of the rough, which even for professionals is a very difficult task. It’s much easier for a longer hitter to try and dig a wedge or a higher-lofted iron out of deep rough onto the green.
In fact, driving distance has statistically been shown as a much greater importance to success at Torrey Pines than the average PGA Tour golf course:
Another factor to keep in mind is that the grass at Torrey Pines is Poa. Almost every player in the field grew up playing on some form of Bentgrass or Bermuda grass. Poa plays much differently and is an unfamiliar grass type for many. It’s actually an invasive species of grass and has over 500 strain varieties. It can be mixed together with different strains to create different turf conditions from one golf course to the next. These different strains also have different rates of growth, with some growing more slowly than others.
The most stark difference between Poa Annua and other forms of grass is how it plays on the greens. Whereas Bentgrass rolls quite true and Bermuda plays faster or slower depending on the grain, putting surfaces with Poa Annua can be quite bumpy and inconsistent, especially later in the day. That can sometimes make putting a bit of a crapshoot on a mixed strain putting surface with different rates of growth of the grasses. That means by no fault of the player one roll over the wrong blade of grass could send a putt offline.
Gamblers also need to look at the weather report before placing bets. Torrey Pines really shows its teeth in cold weather and when the winds are up. In these conditions, many holes are very difficult to hit the green in regulation due to their sheer length and the blustery conditions. Scrambling and wedge play becomes more important because almost everyone is missing the green at high rates. In calm conditions, however, long ball specialists have a decisive edge because they have the club head speed to both carry fairway bunkers and gouge out of the rough. Shorter hitters are at a big disadvantage when Torrey Pines turns into a long drive contest.
As of this writing, the weather looks to be cold and blustery. Maybe a short hitter will emerge victorious after all.
Finally, the following players in the field this week have gained over a stroke per round (minimum of 12 rounds) on the South Course:
- Jon Rahm – +2.66
- Tony Finau – +2.07
- Brandt Snedeker – +1.85
- Charles Howell III – +1.83
- Bubba Watson – +1.77
- Marc Leishman – +1.68
- Jason Day – +1.56
- Hideki Matsuyama – +1.53
- Talor Gooch – +1.47
- Keegan Bradley – +1.27
- Phil Mickelson – +1.25
- Ryan Palmer – +1.21
- J.J. Spaun – +1.12
- Patrick Reed – +1.03
Almost everyone on this list has serious firepower off the tee. The lone exceptions are Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Reed. Both of them have found success at Torrey Pines in tough scoring conditions. It’s here where their marvelous wedge play and scrambling shines best over the rest of the field. But besides these two, this event is dominated by the bombers.
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