2021 Farmers Insurance Open Buys Fades: Looking Back and Ahead Using Strokes Gained Data
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.
It was a great battle down the stretch at The American Express as Patrick Cantlay fired an unbelievable 11-under 61 in the final round to take the clubhouse lead. In the end, though, it was Si Woo Kim’s tournament. The young South Korean made putt after putt to remain at the top of the leaderboard before finally overtaking Cantlay with an 19-foot birdie putt on his 71st hole. He would go on to par the 72nd to secure his third TOUR win.
The next stop of the West Coast Swing will come at the scene of this year’s US Open, as the Torrey Pines hosts the Farmers Insurance Open before it also houses the 2021 U.S. Open. Several of the top players in the world will get a look at the major site this week, including Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy.
There will also be a number of players, including Kim, who will make the trip a couple hours southwest to the tournament site just north of San Diego. We know the champion had a great week, so let’s focus on a few others that stand out from a strokes gained perspective heading into the Farmers.
3 Buys for the Farmers Insurance Open
Last week in this same article we highlighted the success and great recent play of Cameron Davis. It paid off nicely with his third-place finish, and I’m going back to the well.
Davis was one poor ball striking round on Friday away from really making a run at the win in La Quinta. He played the weekend in 14-under, including a bogey-free 64 on Sunday. The Australian averaged 2.25 strokes gained per round tee-to-green on the week, despite losing 1.92 strokes in the category on Friday. He was certainly able to find something over the weekend as he gained nearly eight strokes on approach over his final 36 holes, and finished the week fourth in the field with his irons.
I’m looking for him to continue his hot play this week at Torrey Pines, where he has made three straight cuts.
Tony Finau fell short of the win once again, as he simply couldn’t keep pace with Kim and Cantlay down the stretch. He didn’t play poorly, but rather he got beat by a couple of guys that played some fantastic golf on Sunday.
One could argue that Torrey Pines better fits Finau’s game than the Stadium Course at The American Express because he can utilize his length more to his advantage. He has shown that to be the case with his results at the Farmers where he has top-18 finishes in each of his last five trips, including three top-sixes.
Finau will roll into San Diego following a great performance where he gained more than nine strokes tee-to-green on the field at PGA West, including 8.2 strokes gained ball striking. Finau will come into the week in great form and looking to build off of some great success both at Torrey Pines and with his recent play.
One of the shining lights of the week at The American Express came in the form of Rickie Fowler. He finally showed some good form as he was able to turn his game around after an over-par first round on Thursday and finish in a tie for 21st.
Fowler played his final 54 holes at 12-under, with ball striking that improved with each round. He really dialed it in tee-to-green on Sunday, gaining 3.53 strokes on the field on his way to a 4-under 66.
This is an important step in the right direction for Fowler, as he is currently on the outside looking in for qualifying for this year’s Masters and really looked lost with his game to close out the Fall Swing. He will look to carry this positive momentum into next week.