After winning the CareerBuilder Challenge for his second win in three starts, Jon Rahm heads to Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif., to defend his Farmers Insurance Open title.
Rahm, 23, won the CareerBuilder in a four-hole playoff over Andrew Landry. His victory last year at Torrey Pines was just as dramatic, as Rahm eagled his final hole with an impressive double-breaking putt to win by three shots.
A week after a three-course rotation was used, The Farmers will use the North and South courses for the first 36 holes at Torrey, with the latter hosting the final two rounds. Both are par-72s with the South playing 7,698 yards and the North playing 7,258. The South is annually much tougher than the North.
Last year marked the debut of Tom Weiskopf’s redesign of the North Course, so players who teed it up here a year ago will have an advantage on the track. The redesign saw bentgrass greens installed while the South still has Poa annua on its putting surfaces.
To contend this week, players will need to drive it long and straight, as the rough is a real defense at Torrey. Players who hit long-irons well should be considered, as well. Some key stats to consider: strokes gained-off the tee (SGOTT), strokes gained-tee to green (SGTTG), greens in regulation from 175-plus yards and, of course, strokes gained-putting (SGP).
As for Tiger Woods, he’ll return this week for his first PGA Tour event since he missed the cut last year at Torrey.
Here are my top-25 fantasy-golf options for this week’s Farmers Insurance Open:
1. Jon Rahm: Coming off victory at CareerBuilder, his third straight finish of second or better. Only person he’s lost to in those starts was Dustin Johnson. Won Farmers in his debut last year. Hitting it incredibly right now, especially off the tee, ranking sixth in SGTTG and fifth in SGOTT.
2. Justin Rose: Tied for 22nd in Abu Dhabi to end his run of 10 straight top-10s. Had three wins during that span, too. His T-4 last year at Torrey snapped a streak of two straight MCs at the Farmers. Historically good from tee to green.
3. Jason Day: Won here in 2015 and was T-2 in 2014, but has missed the cut in each of his last two trips to Torrey Pines. Luckily, his form at the moment is much closer to what it was back in 2015. He has four top-11s in his last five worldwide starts and hasn’t finished outside the top 25 since the British Open, when he was T-27.
4. Hideki Matsuyama: Starting to look like the normal Hideki with four top-5s in his last five starts. T-18 in Farmers debut in 2014, but missed two straight cuts before a T-33 last year at Torrey. Great ballstriker, ranks T-18 in GIR percentage from 175-200 yards and seventh in SGTTG, but his driver can be a question at times.
5. Tony Finau: Finished T-4 last year after going T-18, T-24 in his first two trips to Torrey. He bombs it off the tee, rankings 20th in SGOTT, while also ranking ninth in SGTTG and T-18 in GIR percentage from 175-200 yards. T-32 at Sony was his worst finish this season as he has a runner-up and two other top-16s to his credit.
6. Rickie Fowler: Started his career at the Farmers with four straight top-20 finishes, but has missed three of his last four cuts here. Odd, because Fowler drives it well. He ranks 33rd in SGOTT and 26th in SGTTG with a small sample size. He hasn’t hit his irons well (by his standards) this season, but is T-8 in GIR percentage from 175-200 yards. Ranks 39th in SGP. T-4 or better with a win in four of last five starts. Plus, he’s not flying across the world from Abu Dhabi this year.
7. Charles Howell III: His T-2 finish last year at Torrey was his 10th top-16 finish in 15 trips. Has posted four top-20s this season, including a T-20 last week. Ranks 19th in SGTTG.
8. Marc Leishman: One of the Tour’s best with long irons. He’s twice a runner-up at Torrey (2010, ’14) and was T-20 last year. T-47 at Sony followed a stretch of five top-7s in his last seven starts.
9. Gary Woodland: Hasn’t missed a cut in eight tries here with three top-20s, including last year (T-20). Long off the tee, strikes it well and ranks 14th in SGP. Coming off a T-7 at Sony.
10. Brian Harman: Ended his top-8s streak at five with a T-20 at CareerBuilder. Was T-9 last year at Torrey. Ranks 11th on Tour in SGP and is striking it well, too, ranking 25th in SGTTG.
11. Patrick Cantlay: Though he missed the cut in his only trip to Torrey, in 2013, this course should suit him. He ranks 34th in SGTTG, including seventh SGOTT. Comfortable on the West Coast. T-20 or better in seven straight Tour starts.
12. Francesco Molinari: Length is not his strength, but he’s straight and is an incredible ballstriker. Was T-14 last year at Torrey and coming off eighth-place finish in Bahamas.
13. Kyle Stanley: Has built off his successful 2016-17 season as he has four finishes of T-21 or better in five starts this season, including a T-10 at Sony his last time out. Good ballstriker, especially with his long irons, and he was T-14 last year at Torrey, where he lost in a playoff in 2012.
14. Shane Lowry: After nearly falling out of the world top 100, Lowry is back to No. 64 thanks to four straight worldwide top-12s, including a T-2 in his last start, at the European Tour season finale in Dubai last November. T-33 last year at Torrey after two straight top-13s.
15. Brendan Steele: Poor showing at Kapalua, but he has a win and two other top-20s in his other starts this season. Has made five straight cuts at Torrey, including a T-20 last year. Ranks 21st in SGTTG and sixth in SGOTT.
16. Bud Cauley: Opened with a 69 on the North Course last year before missing the cut by one shot with a 76 on the South. Enters this year with three top-14 finishes, including a T-14 last week. Has complete game, rankings 10th in SGTTG, 23rd in SGOTT, 15th in SGP and T-19 in GIR percentage from 200-plus yards.
17. Jhonattan Vegas: His T-28 last year at the Farmers followed finishes of T-18, T-11. He’s also coming in playing well with a T-11 at CareerBuilder and a T-7 at Kapalua. Driving and irons a real strength.
18. Ollie Schniederjans: Coming off T-7 at Sony, he already has four top-25s this season. He ranks 36th in SGTTG and was T-9 last year at Torrey.
19. Brandt Snedeker: Risky play, but owns two wins at Torrey Pines, including in 2016, to go along with five other top-10s. Missed cut at CareerBuilder, but did improve 60 spots to 18th in SGP. Ranks T-7 in GIR percentage from 200-plus yards.
20. Charley Hoffman: Teeing it up for the first time since his runner-up in the Bahamas. Checks many of the stat boxes this week: T-4 in GIR percentage from 200-plus yards, T-14 from 175-200, 27th in SGTTG and 17th in SGOTT. Has missed just one cut here since 2012, though has only contended once, when he was T-7 in 2014.
21. Si Woo Kim: Driving it well this year, which explains why he ranks 30th in SGTTG. Slightly less inconsistent so far this season with top-10s at Kapalua and Mexico. Did WD after an opening 83 last year at Torrey, but he’s much healthier now. Was T-18 the year before.
22. J.J. Spaun: Was T-9 last year at Torrey and has good vibes on the West Coast. Went T-10, T-14, second to close the fall, though is coing off a missed cut at CareerBuilder. Still, he’s 15th in SGTTG and if he can make a few putts hell have a good week.
23. Phil Mickelson: Another risky play. Coming off a MC at the CareerBuilder and driving it horribly, though he is still 31st in SGTTG, 16th in SGP and seems to always find something at Torrey. His T-14 last year at Torrey snapped a streak of three straight missed weekends here. Won this event in 1993, 2000 and 2001.
24. Emiliano Grillo: His game is showing flashes of turning around. Yet to miss a cut in five starts this season and was T-9 in Mexico. Ranks third on Tour in GIR percentage from 200-plus yards. 30th in SGP and ninth in SGOTT. T-33 last year at Torrey.
25. Tiger Woods: Yes, the eight-time winner at Torrey and seven-time winner of this event makes the top 25. He looked the best he has in a long time in the Bahamas. Fingers crossed that he can stay healthy.