Torrey Pines isn’t exactly the most exciting layout on the PGA Tour. It’s a long, straightforward challenge with plenty of bunkers that doesn’t stimulate the architecture crowd, nor some of the top players in the world. But it’s a beautiful venue on the Pacific Ocean with several fun holes and five of the top 10 in the World teeing it up at familiar course with plenty of history.
And there’s something to be said for that as we break down the golf picks for the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open.
Last Week: Jon Rahm continued to play out of his mind and added to an epic heater with his second consecutive victory, shooting 27-under 261 for the week to win the American Express by a shot over Davis Thompson. Rahm was the top-priced player in the field last week and has now won four of his last six starts – he’s also been T-8 or better in seven consecutive starts. Rahm is teeing it up again this week and goes off as a +450 betting favorite, with an $11,600 price tag for .
Torrey Pines, San Diego, California
South Course: 7,765 Yards, Par 72. Greens: Poa annua
North Course: 7,258 Yards, Par 72. Greens: Poa annua
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Jon Rahm, $11,600: You’ll have to find some good bargain bin options to play Rahm at this price, but it feels like a requirement at this point. He’s finished T-16 or better in 10 consecutive events dating back to last year’s FedEx St. Jude Championship, with four wins in his last six. This is arguably also his best event – Rahm won his Torrey Pines debut in 2017 and has finished T-7 or better in five of his six career starts at the Farmers Insurance Open. His otherworldly ability off the tee is a huge advantage at Torrey Pines, where the bombers always have the edge. The scary thing is Rahm actually lost more than a full shot in Strokes Gained Putting last week and still got it done. This is the type of tournament he could go out and win by six shots.
Max Homa, $9,100: You’ll need to cut costs somewhere if you pony up for Rahm, and we think Homa’s a strong option on the lower end of the top shelf. He hasn’t played well at Torrey Pines for the most part, missing four cuts in six starts. But he finished T-9 and T-18 when he made it to the weekend, and this should theoretically be a good venue for him. We don’t expect a large ownership percentage at this price given the course history. However, he was T-3 his last time out at the Tournament of Champions and won his first start of the year at the Fortinet Championship. This could be an even bigger breakout year for Homa, a two-time winner last season. He’s been hot with the putter and sharp with the irons, and we like him in the lineup this week.
Jason Day, $8,800: Day’s game is really starting to come around. He was fighting the irons all of last summer, but he’s now finished with positive Strokes Gained Approach in nine of his last 10 events and putted beautifully at last week’s American Express. This has also been one of Day’s best venues. He won this event in 2015 and 2018, and he has six top-10s and a runner-up in 13 career starts – including a T-3 last year. It’s easy to forget Day is only 35-years-old, and he finally seems healthy. The numbers look good throughout the bag and we’ll see what he can do this week in San Diego.
Hayden Buckley, $8,000: We’ll gladly place Buckley in the lineup, even at this price. The 26-year-old is coming off a solo-second finish at the Sony Open and already has four top-25s in seven starts this season. He’s an absolute menace with the driver, which plays well around here, and he’s seen the course before having missed the cut a year ago. Buckley’s combo of distance and accuracy should be enough to carry him to a solid finish with a little help from the putter.
Alex Smalley, $7,700: Smalley has quietly played some outstanding golf to start the season. He’s got five top-25s in nine starts – including a T-22 last week – and he finished the fall portion with a T-4 at the Houston Open and T-5 at the RSM Classic. Smalley finished T-56 last year in his Torrey Pines debut, including a 10-under 62 on the North Course in Round 2. He smokes it with the driver and he led the field last week in Strokes Gained Approach. The game is clearly feeling good and Smalley could definitely make a weekend charge with a hot start.
Stephan Jaeger, $7,200: We don’t expect Jaeger to be a popular play this week in DFS or on , but he’s made eight of nine cuts to start the year and continues to play solid golf across the board. He had a T-9 at the Houston Open and finished T-36 at last week’s American Express, where he hit it well enough to do something more but couldn’t get the putter going. He missed the cut on the number a year ago after shooting a 7-under 65 at the North Course in Round 1, but the game was a mess at that time. He’s done plenty to build on this season, and he could surprise with a strong week at Torrey Pines.
Carl Yuan, $6,900: Yuan is enjoying his first full season on Tour after tearing it up on the Korn Ferry in 2022, with nine top-10s, three runner-ups and a win. He’s missed four of seven cuts so far this season and the game completely fell apart last week when he missed the American Express cut by nine shots. But he’s only 25-years-old and still getting adjusted to the new schedule. This should be a much better week for him, as he has more than enough distance off the tee and keeps it tight with the irons. He was a streaky player all last year, sandwiching top-5s between a few missed cuts. He’ll have a very low ownership percentage and could pay off in a big way.
Austin Smotherman, $6,700: Smotherman hasn’t done much of note this season, which is why you’ll find him at the bottom of the roster. We think he has potential this week. The 28-year-old SMU grad finished T-11 last year at Torrey Pines, including a blistering 6-under 66 in the final round at the South Course. That came after back-to-back missed cuts, and it makes sense he’d take to this place where long and a little wayward is totally fine. He has the distance to get it around and the California native always seems to putt better on Poa. If you need someone at this price level, you could do a lot worse than Smotherman.
When: Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 26-29
Where: Torrey Pines Golf Course, San Diego, California
TV: Golf Channel, CBS