Farmers betting tips
Dave Tindall's in-depth preview and best bets for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Last Updated: 23/01/13 8:46pm
The PGA Tour remains in California for this week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
First staged in 1952, this well-established event usually attracts a decent field and this year is no exception with Tiger Woods making his first appearance on the PGA Tour in 2013.
The tournament is held over two courses - the North and South - laid out in spectacular fashion along cliff tops close to the San Diego coast.
Both courses are used during the opening 36 holes, before the South takes centre stage for both weekend rounds.
The event has also been dominated by Americans with just one overseas winner - Jose Maria Olazabal (2002) - since 1963.
The action gets under way on both courses at 9am local time on Thursday. California is eight hours behind.
Those starting on the easier North Course include Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and defending champion Brandt Snedeker
Tiger sets out on the South alongside Rickie Fowler and Nick Watney.
Sky Sports have live coverage of all four days, with the first broadcast at 8pm (SS3 HD) on Thursday.
Host course Torrey Pines South, a par 72, was revamped for the 2002 event and measures in at a lengthy 7,569. It closes with a par five over water which is often the scene of dramatic finishes. Famously, Tiger Woods holed a 15 foot birdie putt here in the 2008 US Open to force a play-off with Rocco Mediate. Tiger eventually triumphed and it remains the most recent of his 14 major victories. The North Course is also a par 72 but much shorter at just 6,874 yards. The North Course is considerably easier than the South as was illustrated during the opening round of last year's tournament when 15 of the 16 players to card scores of 66 or lower were playing the North. It's been very dry in the build-up to the event, with Tiger Woods saying in his press conference on Tuesday: "The golf course is on the quick side. Obviously, haven't had a lot of rain here. The fairways are quick. The greens are a little bit firm, and for this time of the year it's drier than we normally play it."
Rain is set to be a factor this week with the wet stuff forecast for Thursday (40% chance), Friday (70%) and Sunday (30%). Winds are fairly modest and are predicted to peak in Sunday's final round at 11mph. Temperatures are set to fall from a high of 70 degrees on Thursday to 59 on Sunday.
Last year - Snedeker beats Stanley
In one of the most dramatic finishes in PGA Tour history, Kyle Stanley squandered a three-shot lead on the final hole before losing a play-off to Brandt Snedeker. Stanley's third to 18 sucked back into water and, after wedging long with his fifth, he three-putted for a closing triple-bogey eight. Amazingly, Stanley responded by coming out and winning the following week's event in Phoenix.
The leading contenders (and Sky Bet odds)
Tiger Woods (7/1): This used be Tiger's playground, so much so that he even won the 2008 US Open here whilst in excruciating pain and limping around on one leg. Before that he'd won this event no less than six times between 1999 and 2008 so it used to be a case of virtually handing him the trophy each year. However, since that 2008 US Open, he's played in the tournament just once, finishing tied 44th in 2011. A two-shot penalty meant he missed the cut on his season debut in Abu Dhabi last week although his performance there was hard to assess. It contained some excellent shots but also some dreadful ones, including a couple of duffs from the tee. Hasn't won in his native California for five years.
2013 form: MC
Course form: 44-1-1-1
California form: 21-15-30-44
World ranking: 2
Dustin Johnson (12/1): The big-hitting American started 2013 with a bang by winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, a victory which highlighted his love of playing golf by the sea. Twice a winner at Pebble Beach and also a runner-up in The Open at Royal St George's, DJ also enjoyed the sea breeze in his nostrils here in 2011 when closing with a 66 to finish tied third. Johnson, who is dating the daughter of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, relishes this event and tweeted "Love this place..." after a morning session on the range on Wednesday. Over the last four years he boasts the joint-most top 10 finishes in California (11) alongside Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker.
2013 form: 1-WD
Course form: 43-3-MC-19
California form: MC-4-5-43
World ranking: 14
Bubba Watson (14/1): The Masters champion is a past champion here having held off Phil Mickelson to win the 2011 edition by a shot after closing with a 67. As well as that win he was also fourth in 2007, seventh in 2009 and 13th last year. He said 12 months ago: "It's just a great test of golf. You've got beautiful scenery. You've got a beautiful city. You've got history behind the tournament." Bubba also says the rough isn't too bad so his monster driving doesn't get overly-punished when it goes wonky. Has played just once this year but, despite feeling unwell, he managed a fourth place in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
2013 form: 4
Course form: 13-1-MC-7
California form: MC-13-13-WD
World ranking: 9
Brandt Snedeker (14/1): True, Snedeker got lucky last year when Kyle Stanley collapsed on the final hole but he had to win a play-off and also deserves huge credit for his closing 67 which meant he was the man in position to cash in on the leader's misfortune. Although the circumstances were unusual, a Snedeker win here was always on the cards at some point as he'd previously finished runner-up (2002) and third (2007) in past starts here as well scoring a couple of ninth places, one coming in the 2008 US Open. He hit the jackpot by winning last year's FedEx Cup after taking victory in the Tour Championship and, at number eight in the world, is the second highest ranked player in the field here. "The golf course is in great shape, and my game feels really good," he said in Tuesday's press conference.
2013 form: 23-3
Course form: 1-9-2-42
California form: 23-17-1-8
World ranking: 8
Phil Mickelson (16/1): This is a home game for the San Diegan-based left-hander and he's returned the love to the numerous Phil fans with a host of big performances here. including three wins. They were back-to-back victories in 2000 and 2001 and, more recently, a second place two years ago. Although he was fretting about taxes last week (messily, he then issued an apology for mentioning it in the first place), Mickelson shot 67-66-66 in the final 54 holes at the Humana Challenge in an event which was clearly his warm-up for the coming season. Expect him to kick on here in a tournament he relishes as much as anyone.
2013 form: 37
Course form: MC-2-19-42
California form: 37-65-2-1
World ranking: 22
Nick Watney (22/1): Another former winner here which means five of the top six in the betting are all past champions of this event. Watney's win came in 2009 and since then he's finished ninth in 2010 and sixth in 2011 so yet again he scores high points for course form. After winning $5m in 2011 to finish third on the US Money List, he didn't hit the same heights in 2012 although he ended it well with victories in the Barclays and the non-official CIMB Classic in Malaysia. His only start of 2013 produced a 13th place out of 30 in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. A native Californian, as are so many past winners here, he knows these Poa annua greens extremely well and his results here prove it.
2013 form: 13
Course form: 60-6-9-1
California form: 21-34-40-60
World ranking: 21
Rickie Fowler (25/1): Fowler made the cut in the US Open here when still a teenager while he also placed fifth in his rookie season of 2010. Those two performances along with top 20s the last two years suggest he's another likely California-based winner of this event. Last year Fowler said: "It's always nice to play here in San Diego. It is the closest tournament to where I grew up. I have a lot of friends and family to come out." That local knowledge will stand him in good stead and his breakthough first win in last year's prestigious Wells Fargo Championship shows what he's capable of. He kicked off the year with a sixth in Hawaii although he admitted he's still not 100% fit after suffering back problems in the second half of 2012.
2013 form: 6
Course form: 13-20-5-60
California form: 41-62-MC-13
World ranking: 34
Best of the rest
Charles Howell (25/1): CHIII is rewarding his each-way backers but driving them mad at the same time as he continually gets himself into position without being able to cross the line. On another level though, he's finished second and third in his two starts this year and shot closing rounds of 64 and 66 so it's not as if he's folding on the final day. Adding to his excellent current form is some great course form which, surprise, surprise, shows two second places but no wins.
Keegan Bradley (28/1): The 2011 USPGA champion has banked a pair of top 25s in his two appearances here and goes well on big layouts like these. Loves to mix it with the big guns and started the season well with a fourth place in the season-opener in Hawaii. His last eight appearances in California have produced a second, a third, a seventh and three other top 25s.
Kyle Stanley (100/1): After his should-have-won performance last year, Stanley will surely have mixed emotions on his return. But let's not forget that for 71 holes the golfing world was drooling over his display and he was being touted as a future superstar. A switch to Nike hasn't paid off yet and he's been poor in the first three events of 2013 but this is a likely starting point for him to shine again.
Keegan Bradley is a major champion, a WGC winner and a Ryder Cup star and yet continues to be underrated.
So, at 28/1, he looks a value bet to take victory
He's had two decent knocks around here and putts well on these Poa annua greens as shown by his top spot in the Putting Average stats on similar surfaces at Riviera last year when he finished runner-up.
Tiger's comment that the South course is playing firm and fast also alerts me to Bradley as it was in those conditions that he won the 2011 USPGA on another long track at Atlanta Athletic Club.
He's got a strong record in California and a fourth place in the season-opener in Hawaii shows he's in good nick.
The competitive juices we saw in abundance at the Ryder Cup will be flowing with so many big names in the field and I expect Bradley to really rise to the occasion.
We've already collected on Dustin Johnson this year (a 14/1 winner of the Hyundai) but there's good reason to believe that the big-hitting American, who went undefeated in the Ryder Cup, can do us another favour.
DJ loves to play coastal tracks and Torrey Pines South is a great fit for him as he proved when third in this event two years ago.
He's the only player in the top six in the betting who hasn't won here before so, in a tournament at which the trophy tends to be shared around (only Tiger breaks that rule), maybe it's Johnson's turn.
This could be a massive year for the already seven-time Tour winner and he can make it two wins in three starts.
3pts e.w. Dustin Johnson at 12/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
2pts e.w. Keegan Bradley at 28/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)