The PGA Tour is in San Diego this week as the Farmers Insurance Open is set to begin on Thursday. This is the most notable event of the new year as it has a more elite-field than usual which includes the main headline, Tiger Woods. This tournament is held at Torrey Pines as three of the rounds are to be played at Torrey Pines South Course while the other round is at the North Course. The South Course is the more difficult one due to the fact that it is the longest course on tour, a Par 72 measured at just under 7.700 yards. It features four Par 5s which all measure over 550 yards. As for the North Course, it is a 7,258-yard Par 72 with fairly large greens. Longer hitters tend to have much more success here than shorter hitters so this should be one of the main concerns regarding lineup research this week. That being said, the key statistics for this week are SG:Off-the-tee, driving distance, ball striking, Par 4 efficiency (450-500 yards), Par 5 efficiency (550 yards+). Now let’s get into some picks!
Top Price Tier:
Tony Finau DK $8,700 FD $10,900
Finau has put up a pretty good start to his season. He has made all 5 cuts in his last 5 tournaments, also finishing in the Top 40 in each tournament. Of his notable performances, he finished runner up (2nd) at the Safeway Open and Top 20 in both the Shriners and WGC-HSBC. Finau has pretty decent course history at the Farmers Insurance Open, getting gradually better with more experience. He has participated in each of the last three years collecting a T24, T18 and T4 respectively. Being a longer hitter, specializing in his distance, Finau, evidently, has very good course fit. Finau currently ranks 2nd in the PGA in driving distance averaging 329.8 yards per drive. This has contributed to his 28th place SG:Off-the-Tee. Additionally, he ranks 37th in the PGA in Ball Striking. On Par 5s measured at 550+ yards, Finau ranks 8th in the PGA in scoring average at 4.316. Tour average in this statistic is 4.705. His Par 5 birdie or better % overall is 34th best in the PGA. On par 4s (450-500 yards) Finau ranks just below tour average with a scoring average of 4.172. Overall, Finau is in a really good spot this week, at a favorable price and he might be overlooked due to the hefty amount of options in the top tier.
Mid Price Tier:
Brendan Steele DK $7,800 FD $9,700
Steele, after collecting a win at the Safeway Open, has made 3 consecutive cuts finishing in the Top 30 each time. Most recently, last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Steele finished T20 shooting under 70 in Rounds 2, 3 and 4. He has participated at the Farmers Insurance Open in each of the last 5 years. He has made all 5 cuts with 5 top 50s. His best result was last year when he finished T20. As for his statistics, Steele is another example of a power hitter who typically have more success at these kinds of tournaments. On the longer Par 4s, Steele ranks 3rd in the PGA in scoring average (3.833), On the Par 5s that are longer than 550 yards, Steele is 47th best in the PGA. He is 6th in SG:Off-the-Tee, and 36th in driving distance averaging 304.7 yards per drive. One of the most enticing statistics about Steele is that he ranks 1st in ball striking this season which ultimately means he has a great balance between driving distance and GIR. Steele has top 15 potential and I think he has a great price point for that given that he is almost guaranteed to make the cut.
Low Price Tier:
Ryan Palmer DK $7,300 FD $8,500
Palmer has gotten back into the swing of things after a rough 2017 season. So far in 2018, he has made two consecutive cuts, most recently the CareerBuilder Challenge last week where he had a great showing shooting -14 and finishing T20 with 21 birdies all week. Palmer surprisingly has never played at the Farmers Insurance Open in any of the last 5 years. Moreover, being a great driver, Palmer has the tools to succeed this week. He ranks 29th in Ball Striking, improving from 60th the week before. He is 11th in driving distance averaging 314.8 yards per drive. He is 61st in SG:Off-the-Tee. Palmer is a really decent Par 4 and 5 shooter, as he mainly struggles on Par 3. His overall Par 5 BoB% is 50% which is 49th best in the PGA. He ranks 4th in Par 4 BoB% and 7th in scoring average. Overall, pretty good numbers for Palmer to begin the season. A Top 50 finish at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open is well within his reach.
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As our main PGA writer, Gabriel D’Antonio knows all the ins and outs of golf. As a team golfer for many years, Gabriel knows how to spot the best PGA players. And as a fantasy sports player, Gabriel knows the ins and outs of winning! Check out his articles when it comes time for the pros to hit the links.