FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
It was a decent week for us at the CareerBuilder Challenge with a full place for Adam Hadwin pushing our profit back over the 70pts mark for the season.
In addition Beau Hossler performed very well for us as a trader.
For its second week of the West Coast swing the PGA Tour moves about 80 miles South West in California from La Quinta to La Jolla, San Diego.
The field from a betting perspective is headed up by defending champion Jon Rahm however all eyes will be on Tiger Woods as he continues his comeback with his first start in 2018 at a venue he ‘owned’ back in his heyday.
Whilst Torrey Pines has been a hugely successful venue for Tiger in the past it would be a massive ask for him to be in contention come the weekend and personally I would say making the cut would be a good result for him this week.
For the second week running we have a tournament which uses multiple courses with all players playing 1 round on the host course the South Course over the first two days along with one round on the North Course.
Those making the cut then play their final two rounds on the South Course.
The North Course is a par 72 coming in at 7258 yds. Whilst the North Course had a redesign from Tom Weiskopf in 2016, which toughened it up slightly, it’s still by far the easier course of the two and the one to take advantage of over the first two days. The greens are bentgrass.
The South Course is pretty much the longest Par 72 course on tour stretching to just under 7700 yds. The greens are Poa Annua.
Whilst it’s not impossible for shorter hitters to compete here big hitters do have an advantage on the South Course.
The event was dominated by Tiger Woods through the early part of the 2000s with four consecutive wins coming from him from 2005 – 2008. The most recent of his 7 wins at the event came in 2013.
Over the years this has been an event on the whole for the big names with only Ben Crane and Scott Stallings being seen as shock winners in the past 10rs or so.
In addition to Tiger the other course specialist over recent years has been Brandt Snedeker who as well as having 2 wins to his name has 6 other top 10s in the last 11 editions.
The only first time PGA Tour winner in the event this century was Rahm last year and obviously he was no ordinary ‘maiden’.
After 3 weeks of birdie fests on the tour to open up 2018 this event is a far different animal with single figures under par winning 3 of the last 4yrs.
Being a coastal event the wind can have a big impact on the winning score and who can forget Snedeker’s ‘round of the year’ 69 in the gales [certainly not me as I was on him!] in 2016 to pinch the trophy from nowhere, with all around him struggling to break 76.
Rain will not be an issue this week however wind could well be. Gusts of 20mph plus are forecast for all four days with the windiest days predicted to be Thursday and Sunday. Those getting to play the North Course on Thursday could well get a break.
I have gone with 5 players this week as follows;
KYLE STANLEY – 60-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/4 odds 1st 5 FINISHED 51st
Those with a decent memory will remember Stanley’s meltdown at Torrey Pines in 2012 when a triple bogey 8 at the par 5 18th, combined with a Snedeker birdie at the same hole, lead to Kyle blowing the 4 shot lead he had possessed stood on the 18th tee.
Just as memorably 7 days later the golfing gods reversed the fortune in spectacular fashion with Stanley overcoming an 8 shot deficit going in to the final round to win his maiden tour title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Fast forward 6yrs and Stanley is now back on track having overcome a spectacular career slump, which lead to him having to head back to the Web.com tour in 2015 to regain his full playing privileges.
Now that Kyle is back on top of his game I’m happy to jump on board at a course, which when he’s on song undoubtedly suits his length of the tee and ball striking qualities.
A career best event performance of a 10th place finish at the Sony Open 2 weeks ago shows Kyle has started 2018 as he finished 2017. Most interestingly that week Stanley ranked 6th for Strokes Gained Putting, which is normally his achilles heel, and if he can continue that good form on the greens on a course where his ball striking will be far more significant he can go very close.
SHANE LOWRY – 66-1 - 1pts E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 6 FINISHED M/C
2017 was a frustrating year for Shane particularly on the PGA Tour with only 1 top 10 coming at the Wyndham Championship in August.
After this though the Irishman finished 2017 like a train on the European tour with a 2nd place an 8th place and two 12th place finishes in his last four starts.
The hope is that Shane can now pick up where he left of at the end of last year on a course which he has shown to be to his liking in the past.
One other reason I like Shane this week is that as noted above the wind could well be a factor and if that does transpire to be the case there’s not many in the field you’d prefer to have on your side than Lowry.
BEAU HOSSLER – 150-1 - 1pts E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 35th
Those who have been following my selections will know that I have been on Hossler as a ‘trader’ the past two weeks and he delivered for us at the CareerBuilder trading as low as 21 after the initial ‘back’ recommendation at 200.
Moving forward I’m happy to move Beau in to the ‘main team’ this week on a course which I’m hoping will suit him.
If 2017 proved anything on the PGA Tour it’s ‘if your good enough your old enough’.
Whilst a maiden tour victory at this event for Hossler would be a big ask he is undoubtedly a special talent who could just follow in Rahm’s footsteps in achieving that.
As a native Californian who was brought up about an 1 ½ hrs away he is bound to have plenty of support and I can see him backing up his good play at the CareerBuilder with another strong effort this week.
Harris English – 125-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 6 FINISHED 8th
There’s no doubt that following Harris over the past couple of years has proved an incredibly frustrating business with occasional good performances prevented from being really good ones by card wrecking double or triple bogeys.
It’s just possible however that something clicked at the CareerBuilder with a closing 66 at the tough stadium course vaulting him in to an 11th place finish.
If there is a good week for English to have ‘found something’ it certainly could be this one as Torrey Pines has proven to be a fruitful hunting ground for him with no missed cuts and a best placed 2nd in his 5 visits here.
With no top 5 finishes on tour since the back end of 2016 this is obviously a risky play however it is only a few years since Harris was talked about as the ‘next great thing’ and his ability is not in doubt.
As a player cut from a very similar mould to Kyle Stanley this is again a course which plays right to his strengths and I’m happy to take a chance at 125-1 that he can carry on the momentum from last week.
JOHN HUH – 125-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 45th
Finally I will take a chance on another player who finished the week with a 66 at the CareerBuilder to secure 3rd place in John Huh.
Whilst ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’ like with English there is enough in Huh’s past form at Torrey Pines with an 8th & 6th place finish in 6 starts to suggest he may be able to keep that momentum going.
Huh went to college in California and in his 6 yrs on tour he has twice had a stretch on the West Coast where he has strung a succession of good results together.
In addition if the wind does blow Huh has proven in the past he can handle tough conditions finishing 8th here in the gales of 2016 and famously claiming his only PGA tour title to date after outlasting Robert Allenby in a marathon playoff in the wind at the Mayakoba.
UPDATED 23rd JAN
TRADER - MICHAEL THOMPSON FINISHED M/C Best price traded 260
Regardless of what sort of form he is in Thompson has shown in the past he has a liking for Torrey Pines.
As the wind is forecast to be stronger on Thursday than Friday from a trading point of view I like the fact that he is opening up at the North Course, and he is in the first groups out.
In 2015 he opened up with a 65 at the North Course before going on to finish 11th.
He's also a proven wind player with his only PGA tour victory to date coming in the Honda Classic so if the wind does blow a bit through the week as predicted he is equipped to handle it.
Currently trading between 550 - 650.