January 23, 2024, 3:21 pm
The PGA Tour concluded the cream-puff birdie bonanza portion of the schedule to begin the season as we welcome a tough test at the legendary Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open. With a Wednesday start this week to avoid NFL Championship Sunday, we move on quickly from the American Express. We do have to deal with another course rotation this week, but it is limited to two, the North Course and the South Course. We return to the regular cut after 36 holes after each golfer played each course one time and then the remaining top 65 and ties will conclude the final two days of the tournament at the South Course.
The South Course plays significantly harder than the North Course so keep that in mind if you are playing showdown or if you are looking to stack starting courses for your week-long lineups.
One other note this week is that the San Diego area has seen a higher frequency of rain recently, especially on Monday, which should make these courses play even longer than the scorecard suggests and could mean for thicker, more difficult shots out of the rough.
I will be keeping an eye on the weather as we get closer to lineup lock, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (X) @mlafem10 where I post additional information and am always available for questions that you might have.
Switching it up a little and going to make this section a little more digestible than a couple paragraphs. Here are the key things to know about each of the courses.
-Longest course on tour and one of the toughest tests the players will face all year. Averages over par scoring annually.
-Narrow fairways leads to a lot of approach shots out of the rough. Looking for golfers who can bomb it and hit their middle to long irons well.
-4” penal rough that will only play tougher due to the heavy rain the course saw to begin the week.
-Small greens with pure Poa annua greens. Tricky surface and the South Course ranks as the toughest place to putt (especially under 5 feet).
-Considerably easier than the South Course, playing nearly two strokes under par on average. Players will need to take advantage of their round on this course.
-No water and hardly any bunkers to speak of. While the rough is also 4”, the fairways are wider on the North Course.
-Slower greens that are larger than the South Course and are also a completely different surface with Bentgrass surfaces.
Here is a look at the South Course:
I was worried when the schedule came out that this tournament might slip in terms of drawing power for top names with two Signature Events on the horizon, but I was pleasantly surprised. A bevy of big names like Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, Colin Morikawa, Sahith Theegala, Tony Finau and Jason Day are in the field.
Open qualifications are not completed as of this writing due to the weather in the area on Monday delaying things. Justin Thomas and last week’s shocking champion, Nick Dunlap have withdrawn from the tournament.
Here are some the key stats I am considering when building my lineups this week.
- SG: Approach– Iron play is always on this list and forever will be. Elite iron play has shown to be a consistent route to the top at Torrey Pines.
- Driving Distance- Especially with the weather the area has gotten to begin the week, the course is going to play even longer than it already is. A big bonus goes to those who are not only long off the tee, but accurate as well.
- SG: ARG– Long approach shots (often times out of the rough) into small greens causes a lower-than-average green in regulation percentage at the South Course. Scrambling/ around the green play as well as strong Poa putting is another route to victory here.
- Par 5 Scoring- Especially on the North Course, but on the South Course as well, players are going to have to take advantage of their par 5 opportunities.
- Proximity 175+-Nearly half of approach shots comes from this distance at the South Course. If you want to dig in the weeds deeper, check out these proximity numbers from the rough as well.
DFS Top Tier Play
Last week everyone wanted to play Cantlay and Xander got squeezed. This week, there is a similar dynamic brewing as Cantlay appears to be getting squeezed between Morikawa, Xander and Homa. Listen, if you are building multiple lineups, I would be sure to get exposure to all of them because they are all great course fits and make a lot of sense, but if I am playing the ownership game, give me Cantlay. It’s not even just the ownership game, Cantlay ranks number one in my model this week, due to his superior driving which is above average in distance and deadly accurate as well. Cantlay also possesses some of the best iron play in the field, especially with his long irons. In fact, his long iron play gets better from out of the rough compared to out of the fairway, which I found interesting. I suspect Cantlay should be comfortable on these greens having grown up in California and gone to school at UCLA and Poa can be a learning curve if you haven’t putted on them before. I like Cantlay to bounce back after burning people last week with a poor Sunday to finish outside the top 50 at the American Express.
Others Considered: Max Homa ($10,100), Tony Finau ($9,300)
DFS Mid Tier Play
I love targeting Theegala in California. Something about being in his home state gives him an extra level of comfort. Theegala was able to capture that elusive first PGA Tour title in the fall in Napa at the Fortinet and showed out with a strong T4 finish at this event last year. The driving can be a bit erratic from Sahith and the irons can be inconsistent, but when he gets hot, he can be blistering hot with the irons. What really draws me to Theegala in this spot is his touch around the green. There will be some weeks were it’s just not there and he can get into trouble that way, but as of late, his around the green play has been impeccable as he ranks first in the field in that department over the last 12 months. Theegala will come with some ownership, as he is a generally pretty popular play, but I don’t mind eating into that ownership after getting different with our Cantlay start. I like shooting for upside and the explosive nature that Theegala has to his game.
Others Considered: Keegan Bradley ($8,900), Stephan Jaeger ($7,800)
DFS Value Play
I’ve long been a believer in Eckroat and think a win is coming for him in the 2024 season. Probably not at this event, but I do think there is a lot to his game that sets up well here. He is an exceptional long iron player and driver of the golf ball. While he is not a “bomber” he does often find himself in good position of the tee. Eckroat is 0 for 2 in this event in his young career, but that is not enough to deter me. What I value more is that he has seen the course a couple times and has experience putting on these surfaces, where he gained over 3 strokes to the field last time around, it was the rest of his game that let him down. I think Eckroat is a better player than he was at this time last year and the consistency with him is improving as he has made five consecutive cuts, including three top 25 finishes in that span. A big reason for that is he appears to be out of the swoon he has in to end last year with his approach play. Eckroat gained over a stroke to the field in that department last week, and I look for his to continue his upswing in iron play and convert that into a strong performance this week.
Others Considered: Gary Woodland ($7,000), Sam Ryder ($7,200)
Sahith Theegala +3300
Keegan Bradley +3300
Harris English +5000
Position Player Name DK Salary G Patrick Cantlay $10,500 G Sahith Theegala $8,700 G Austin Eckroat $7,100 G G G REMAINING BUDGET REMAINING BUDGET: $23,700 FOR 3 GOLFERS