The long-awaited Hudson Swafford victory has finally happened!
In hindsight, the CareerBuilder Challenge was the perfect event for it to take place. With three rounds before the cut, Swafford only needed to play near the final group in one round. That will certainly help the nerves.
I wanted to find out how long this win was in the making. I found the excerpt above from my OHL Classic preview in October of 2015. If a win was “long overdue” 15 months ago, you can imagine how long his biggest fans have been waiting for this day. Fans of Graham DeLaet and Kevin Chappell have been waiting even longer, so maybe one of them will be next. One can only hope.
Moving on… we head from one rainy event in California to another. Lucky for us, the rain is all taking place before the tournament this time. At least that is the current forecast. That should make the rough nice and lush.
The host course this week is Torrey Pines South Course, which the golfers will play three times, one time before the cut and then both weekend rounds. It’s a true bomber’s paradise when conditions are right. Last year we saw extreme conditions with winds exceeding 40 mph, leading to a massacre on Sunday/Monday. The course won’t always play that tough, but it’s never a pushover. The course record is 62 (Big Cat) so don’t expect another round of 59 this week.
There is only one par 4 under 410 yards, which will be a big change from most of the events we’ve seen in the early season. There are also zero par 5s under 550 yards on the South Course. It’s time for the big hitters to come out and play.
The fairways are some of the toughest to hit on TOUR. That is another advantage for the bombers because everyone in the field will be missing half their fairways. Meanwhile, the bombers will be 50 yards closer to the hole, thanks to their advantage in the carry-distance department.
Of course, any golfer that can show extreme accuracy off the tee can also gain an advantage. That is why golfers in the K.J. Choi mold are still able to compete here. They can play so conservatively off the tee, that they find a much larger percentage of fairways than the field. They will need to bring their A-game in terms of long-iron play, though.
Lastly, the poa annua greens can play an impact in handicapping as well. For some golfers it’s a non-factor, but others are completely lost on poa. Make sure you check the Poa Annua Anti-Specialists to potentially know who to avoid.
It’s also important to note that the golfers will all play one round at the North Course, as well. Check out the Fantasy Golfanac for more details on that layout. I listed five or six articles that talk about the renovation. It’s been completely redone since last year’s tournament so it’s a bit of a wildcard in how it will really play this year. There is speculation that it will play about half-a-stroke harder than previously, but it was an easy course to begin with.
If we look at the new scorecard for the North Course, we’ll see back-to-back par 5s at holes 9 and 10, followed but a short par 4 11th. For DraftKings purposes, it could pay dividends to target golfers who start on the 1st tee @ the North Course. This could help you pick up a few extra birdie streaks on Thursday/Friday. Those streaks will be VERY TOUGH to come by on the South Course.
For correlated events/courses I am looking at Riviera, Valero Texas Open, Quail Hollow, Safeway Open, and Doral.
Players to Watch
Jason Day… A tough track that rewards distance and doesn’t punish errant drives too much? Sounds like a perfect fit for the Aussie. His track record backs that up as he posted back-to-back top 10s before winning the 2015 edition. Last year he was battling flu-like symptoms leading up to this event, so I am willing to ignore the missed cut.
Gary Woodland… If you haven’t checked out the Fantasy Golfanac for this week, Woodland is heavily featured in the quotes section. One that stood out to me is, “…you know the South Course is a big boy golf course. But the South Course is one of my favorite golf courses we play all year. Most holes go left-to-right so I’m excited about playing well today and excited about the weekend.” Woodland loves it here, posting a 7-for-7 record but just one top 10. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him add another by week’s end.
Martin Laird … Another golfer that loves the layout. Had this to say last year, “You have got to be sharp around here, you got to drive the ball well, and you have to do everything well. I don’t know, it just kind of sets up for my eye. There’s a lot of tee shots I like the look of.” Sometimes the “fits my eye” is just a cop-out answer when a golfer doesn’t know why they play well at a course. But this time, he has back-to-back top 10s to back it up.
Shane Lowry… An interesting name given his T13 and T7 here, but hasn’t teed it up since the Euro Tour finale in November. I will pass.
Nick Watney… Continues to shake off the cobwebs after he returns from injury. He posted a 10-birdie 67 in R1 last week, so I think he’s getting close. Unfortunately he recorded a double, a triple, and a quad before leaving La Quinta. Just needs to eliminate the big numbers and he’ll be right back in contention. Might as well do it on a course he knows so well, like Torrey Pines. If you’re still waiting for a Hunter Mahan revival, this would also be a good week to jump aboard. His lack of form over the past year is just too scary to trust, though.
Dustin Johnson… DJ’s track record at Torrey Pines is a bit baffling. Just one top 15 in eight tries. On paper it’s the perfect layout for the big hitter, but he can’t seem to piece together four good rounds. IF you think he’s going to be popular this week, then he’s probably a nice fade. But if you think his track record here lets him fly under the radar, then he’s probably worth a shot in GPPs. Jetlag can’t be ruled out, either, as he arrives fresh off a runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi. With his ability to rack up the birdies, I think I’ll take on my chances on DK but avoid on formats like Yahoo.
Justin Rose… Speaking of poor track records at Torrey Pines, Rose is just 4-for-7 with nothing better than a T22. Perhaps Rose is committed to solving the puzzle because he’s committed for the third year in a row, despite missing the cut in each of his last two visits. Course horses are fun to back, but class is permanent. Good week to invest in Rose and hope he’s low owned? Perhaps.
Tiger Woods… You can’t talk Torrey Pines without mentioning the Big Cat. This is the infamous event where his glutes weren’t activating, leading to a WD in 2015. Before that he was 14-for-14 with SEVEN WINS at Torrey Pines. Based on his birdie barrage at the Hero World Challenge, I think he’s ready to make the cut this weekend, but a win is asking a little to much right now.
Emiliano Grillo… We faded Grillo last week because he was coming off a layoff and he didn’t have good bermuda stats. Even though the bermuda was dormant last week, the fade paid off. This week it’s time to hop back on. Grillo won the Junior Worlds at Torrey Pines in 2009 and should have plenty of good vibes around these parts. Missed the cut last year in his Farmers debut after a 5-over 77 R1.
Jhonattan Vegas… Also won the Junior Worlds at Torrey Pines and nearly turned that into a win during his 2011 Farmers debut (T3). Has two more top 20s here in five trips since the debut. Safe to say he likes Torrey Pines and it playing some of the best golf of his career over the last 12 months.
Beau Hossler… Sticking to the theme of winners at the Junior Worlds, Hossler won the 2011 edition. He’s stated he’s 100% healthy after the big injury that ended his college season. He’s relying on sponsor’s invite early in the season, trying to play his way into status. This looks like a great place to start for the Big Hoss.
Patrick Rodgers… One of the correlated courses I’m looking at is Quail Hollow which is the site of Rodgers’ best finish on TOUR (T2). He played his college golf at Stanford, so the California layout should be a bit comfy. A nice high-risk, high-reward option this week.
Aaron Wise… Keep on pumping him out in DFS lineups. Especially this week since he grew up just 90 miles from Torrey Pines. Before last week he said this in reference to the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA WEST, “I like hitting a high cut and, obviously Jack (Nicklaus) hit a high cut, so that course fits me really well, I think.” When you match this up with some previous quotes at Torrey Pines, that high cut should play nicely this week.
My Top 25 for the 2017 Farmers
1. Jason Day
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Brandt Snedeker
4. Charles Howell III
5. Jimmy Walker
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Phil Mickelson
8. Jhonattan Vegas
9. Marc Leishman
10. Harris English
11. Gary Woodland
12. Tony Finau
13. Jon Rahm
14. Daniel Berger
15. Brendan Steele
16. Keegan Bradley
17. Martin Laird
18. Justin Rose
19. Brooks Koepka
20. Emiliano Grillo
21. Paul Casey
22. J.B. Holmes
23. Charley Hoffman
24. Luke List
25. Hideki Matsuyama