2023 Farmers Insurance Open Odds: Picks for Tony Finau, Jason Day, More
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.
- Jon Rahm is a massive favorite atop the Farmers Insurance Open odds board.
- Jason Sobel is looking slightly below Rahm for his outright pick at Torrey Pines.
- Check out Sobel's Farmers Insurance Open picks below.
Click arrow to expand 2023 Sony Open odds via bet365
|Si Woo Kim||+2800|
|Seung Yul Noh||+30000|
|Paul Haley II||+40000|
Before we dive into the preview, a quick reminder in regards to making your Farmers Insurance Open picks this week:
It starts on Wednesday.
That’s right. Once again, in a crafty move to avoid a final-round overlap with the NFL’s conference championship games, the opening round will begin Wednesday, not Thursday.
This means that if you’d like to make pre-tournament wagers or create DFS lineups or submit an OAD selection, it all must be done by the first tee time on Wednesday.
That’s Wednesday. Not Thursday. Wednesday.
Consider yourself sufficiently warned.
Now on to the good stuff — and by good stuff, I mean Jon Rahm. Which leads to another reminder: He’s pretty decent at this golf thing.
I often write about the sweet spot of an intersection when a player’s robust course history directly converges with strong form, but perhaps not since the days of Tiger Woods’ prime at one of his favorite haunts have we witnessed such a convergence as the one we have this week.
When odds were released Monday morning, Rahm was right around +400 at most books – a little shorter in some, a little longer in others.
That’s not quite the -110 that Tiger was priced at for the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is – as far as my research has been able to discern – the shortest number he ever had at an individual event and literally a pick ‘em between him and the field. (And yes, he won that week.)
It is, however, a nod to just how dominant Rahm has looked recently, with four wins, six top-fives and seven top-10s in his last seven worldwide starts, including his triumph at The American Express on Sunday afternoon.
According to the archives at golfodds.com, we’ve already witnessed non-Rahm favorites of 6/1 (Scottie Scheffler at the Cadence Bank Houston Open), 7/1 (Rory McIlroy at the CJ Cup) and 8/1 (Patrick Cantlay at the Shriners Children’s Open) during the current PGA Tour season. While Rahm’s number is rarefied air, it’s not as rare as you might believe in professional events.
Just last month, Cameron Smith opened at 7/2 for the Australian PGA Championship (which he won), then was shortened to 5/2 for the following week’s Australian Open (which he didn’t).
In the case of these uncommonly short favorites, we must continuously ask ourselves this question: To chase or not to chase? It’s easy enough to dismiss any thoughts of betting a player with these types of odds until we consider why he’s been saddled with this number.
The implied probability for a Rahm victory is somewhere in the 18-20 percent range, depending on which odds we use, and it can be argued that a 1-in-5 chance of another Rahm title actually seems low. In six career starts at the Farmers, he owns a win and five top-seven results – and that doesn’t even include his 2021 U.S. Open victory, right here on the South Course at Torrey Pines.
Throughout last week’s preview coverage — on my radio show and podcasts — I mentioned that every lengthy breakdown could be rendered moot by simply taking all the money you were going to play on a few outright longshots, props, FRLs and anything else, and just throwing it all on Rahm instead.
Sometimes paralysis by analysis can kill a practice-range session; other times it can break a betting card.
You’ll undoubtedly want some investment, somewhere, on Rahm this week. As an outright play? Even with the win probability, this number is too short for me, though a stumble out of the gates on Wednesday could make him a more palatable play after he starts.
As a DFS anchor? For cash games, you might need him just to cancel out the competition; for GPPs, play the contrarian game with some trepidation. As an OAD selection? This might be my favorite investment. I know some of you are “saving” Rahm for a major and don’t want to “burn” him too early, but you’ll rarely have an opportunity this close to a sure thing. Take him here and hope your fellow poolsters want to wait.
With all of that said, I’m going to leave Rahm out of my picks below.
It’s not because I don’t like him this week – it’s impossible to not like him here – but because it doesn’t do either of us any good for me to tell you something you already know.
Instead, I’m going to treat this week like we’re going into a final round, and the leader is up 10 strokes, essentially an “anyone but…” type of board.
Let’s get to everyone else in this week’s field, starting with the next player on the board – a guy who’s bound to win this tourney at some point.
Outright Winner (Short Odds)
One player to win the tournament.
Tony Finau (+1200)
I don’t blame you for scrolling past that long-winded intro and getting right to the selections, but you might have missed a not-so-insignificant approach above. I’m not fading Rahm here; I’m simply skipping over him to offer some other options.
I think I’ve picked Finau here for the past half-dozen years, as the South Course theoretically suits his game perfectly. He’s responded with seven top-25s in eight starts and four results of sixth or better. Now that he’s seemingly figured out the key to closing out title contentions, it’d be bad karma to finally drop him from the card.
That said, I hate this number. In a non-Rahm field, I wouldn’t mind it as much, but you’ve gotta like Finau here as much as I have over the years to play these odds.
I’ll also offer the advice that any non-Rahm outright this week should be played as an each-way – or, if not available, complemented with top-5/10 props, just to assuage another Rahm triumph.
Outright Winner (Long Odds)
One player to win the tournament.
Hayden Buckley (+13000)
Editor’s Note: If you want to bet on Buckley to win outright, do so relatively quickly as his odds have moved from +13000 at open to around +7000 at most books, but he can still be found around +10000.
I get it: This feels like we’re simply chasing Buckley after his near-victory at the Sony Open two weeks ago. And in a way, we are. I expected him to be some 50 points shorter than this opening number, based on that recent contention alone, so there’s a chance to play a guy with longer odds who’s obviously in form.
This is also a venue which should suit Buckley’s game even better than Waialae. Torrey Pines – and especially the South Course over the North, which will be played by each competitor just once this week – is a brutally difficult driving track, so my picks are littered with those who are some of the best off the tee. Buckley ranked 13th in this statistic last season and is already third this season. It feels like the oddsmakers are chalking up his recent runner-up as a fluke, but there are a few good reasons to go chasing it here.
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Max Homa (+2500)
His career record at this event shows four missed cuts in six starts, but three of those came before he was MAX HOMA, social media superstar, media darling and closer of tournaments. If you’re a golf publication and haven’t featured Homa as a recent cover story, you’re apparently doing it wrong, as his innocent roast-my-swing replies have turned him into one of the game’s more sought-after personalities.
He’s posted top-20 finishes in two of the last three years at this one and, as mentioned, tends to win whenever he contends, so there’s some rationale behind jumping on him during his favored West Coast Swing.
Sahith Theegala (+5000)
Yeah, yeah. It wouldn’t be one of my weekly previews if I didn’t somewhere bang the drum for Sahith again. Last week’s T54 was very disappointing, but there are signs in his young career that Theegala might enjoy a tougher test than the birdie-fest we had in the desert.
I still want to find a few spots to play him on the West Coast, and while I’m still driving this bandwagon, I’ll admit that I might be tapping the gas pedal ever so slightly right now.
Kurt Kitayama (+8000)
This is a top-heavy field no matter how you slice it. Without being elevated to one of the PGA Tour’s designated events, the Famers is left with five of the world’s top 10 (really good!) and eight of the top 20 (not bad!), but just 12 of the top 50 (uh-oh!).
At 43rd, Kitayama is one of those top-50 guys – and as I’ve written previously, that ranking is largely based on his propensity to offer a massive ceiling, finishing top-three on four separate occasions last year. I’ve heard he’s hitting it longer than ever, which helps on this property. If you’re eschewing the superstars here, this is a selection that makes some sense.
One player to finish in the top five
Jason Day and Justin Rose
I’m putting these guys together here just because it feels like they’ve taken the same journey to this point. A pair of former world No. 1 players, each of whom lost a little luster from their games, both seemingly on the right path to regaining some of that old mojo. Day and Rose finished 18th and 26th, respectively, at The AmEx last week, but that was just the appetizer for a couple of guys who have feasted at Torrey.
Day has won here twice and owns two other top-three finishes, including last year, when he was tied for the 54-hole lead, but a final-round 72 left him one stroke out of the playoff. Rose won here in 2019 and has three other top-10s in his last five starts at Farmers. This comes after not finishing better than 22nd in his first seven appearances, meaning he’s either found a greater appreciation for this venue or he’s finally figured it out.
One player to finish in the top 10
Is this the new top-10 auto-play? Your current leader in the Rookie of the Year race, Montgomery added a PGA Tour-leading fourth top-10 to his profile last week, a number which is only surprising in that it isn’t more, as he owns four other results in the top 15.
Unlike most PGA Tour venues, where we’re essentially guessing that the rookie will have his best stuff, we have a little history at this one, as he finished T11 last year while being a Korn Ferry regular. Here’s guessing he’s at least one leaderboard notch better one year later.
One player to finish in the top 20
Speaking of rookies, Smalley sort of fell through the cracks with so many other freshmen – Cameron Young, Davis Riley, Mito Pereira and Sahith Theegala among them – playing so well last season.
He’s been tremendously consistent in his young PGA Tour career so far and is fresh off an encouraging ball-striking week, finishing third in strokes gained tee to green among those who played two measured rounds and first in approach shots. That led to a T22 result as his putting and wedge game were neutral, but a tougher setup should mean more of a focus on the bigger clubs.
One player to finish in the top 30
Even though he’s a 13-year pro and has won on tours around the world, I’ve had a difficult time pinpointing exactly where this PGA Tour rookie will play his best golf. Despite being one of the longer drivers of the ball around, he might very well wind up being a guy – sort of in the Gary Woodland mold – whose length is more of an advantage on shorter golf courses than longer ones.
I’ll take a chance that the big stick alone can move him up the leaderboard this week, as his rank of 19th in driving distance should have an impact.
One player to finish in the top 40
It feels like every time we expect Suh to pop, it doesn’t happen. He was one of the Fab Four who turned pro in the summer of 2019 but quickly fell behind Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff. Then he was one of the most heralded players promoted from the Korn Ferry Tour for this season, but he proceeded to MC in his first three starts.
Suh still has just one top-40 finish in nine starts, rendering this play riskier than most top-40s, but he’s started showing signs of improvement, and he’s a guy I’ll want to target on the West Coast a few times over the next month-and-a-half.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
One more time for the scrollers: If you’re leaving Rahm out of your lineup this week, know that it’s a contrarian play which could implode. You’ll be using up a lot of capital, but pairing the favorite with Zalatoris offers a strong 1-2 punch.
Last year’s runner-up in a playoff did so despite a putting stroke which suggested he shouldn’t be anywhere close to the winner’s circle, but such worries over Zalatoris’ flatstick have faded away since then, as he’s worked to improve greatly on the greens.
Similarly, any worries over a lingering back injury which cut short his 2022 campaign should be withdrawn, as well, as he’s posted results of T-11 and T-36 in what have essentially been a couple of spring training starts so far this year.
A medium-priced option for DFS lineups
I really liked the fight we witnessed in Steele last week, as he was hovering outside the cutline through two rounds, only to post scores of 64-66 at PGA West on the weekend to finish a respectable T32. In 10 starts at Torrey, he’s never finished better than a T17 in his first of those appearances, but his strong skillset off the tee should correlate to being a valuable DFS play.
A lower-priced option for DFS lineups
Very quietly, this 24-year-old rookie has been extremely solid in his debut season, already posting four top-25 finishes in nine starts. It’s not difficult to understand his strong suit, just as it’s not difficult to understand where I’m seeking players. He’s currently second in strokes gained off the tee, behind only Rahm, whom he missed by a year at Arizona State.
If everyone is going to chase the same players at the top of their lineups, you’d better differentiate at the bottom, and I believe Yu offers great value this week.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Just like last week – and next week – players will start here on multiple courses, so keep an eye on what your book offers. (If it doesn’t separate those on the South and North courses, hammer the latter.) As usual, I’m writing this preview before tee times have been released, so I don’t know where Bradley will start his week, but I do like his chances of going low.
In 11 previous starts at this event, he’s never failed to break par in his opening round. Despite being 79th in first-round scoring average last season and 95th this season, Bradley has earned a reputation over the years as a fast starter, which could lead to a low Thursday once again.
One player who should beat comparable players.
Jhonattan Vegas (+20000)
I’ve said it plenty of times before: If you knew the golf swing, but not the golfers, and watched a few days of range practice this week, you’d likely come away with the idea that Vegas is one of the better players around. Not that he hasn’t been a fine player for a long time, with three PGA Tour victories to his credit, but I still think that at age 38, he could enjoy the kind of late-career surge that we’ve seen from other players in recent years.
With eight made cuts, including four top-40s, in 12 career starts at Torrey, he might not offer value as an outright this week, but he certainly works for matchups against similarly priced triple-digit plays.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value
Cam Davis (+5500), Taylor Pendrith (+6500), J.J. Spaun (+7500), Thomas Detry (+8000), Scott Stallings (+10000), Ryan Palmer (+11000), Joseph Bramlett (+25000)