2023 Farmers Insurance Open Picks: Day, Rose Among Best Course Fits

2023 Farmers Insurance Open Picks: Day, Rose Among Best Course Fits article feature image

Donald Miralle/Getty Images. Pictured: Jason Day.

The PGA TOUR season ramps up this week as we head to historic Torrey Pines Golf Course for the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open.

To many, this event marks the true start of the PGA TOUR season as it draws big names and a difficult test, which is something golf fans have been craving after three weeks of low scoring events.

The event will be played from Wednesday through Saturday this week for the second consecutive year to avoid going against the NFL conference championship games so golf fans can enjoy both sports.

Torrey Pines Golf Club (South) is a par-72 measuring 7,765 yards. Golfers will play three rounds on the South Course and one round on the North Course.

The South Course is the far more difficult of the two and features Poa Annua greens. The North Course is 7,258 yards and features Bentgrass greens.

The 2023 Farmers Insurance Open field is a full-field event comprised of 156 golfers. The field is fairly strong and will include Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa and Sungjae Im.

We've back tested past tournaments at Torrey Pines to see which metrics matter this week.

Past Winners at The Farmers Insurance Open

  • 2022: Luke List (-15)
  • 2021: Patrick Reed (-14)
  • 2020: Marc Leishman (-15)
  • 2019: Justin Rose (-21)
  • 2018: Jason Day (-10)
  • 2017: Jon Rahm (-13)
  • 2016: Brandt Snedeker (-6)
  • 2015: Jason Day (-9)

Let's take a look at several metrics for Torrey Pines to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

Hitting greens will be important due to the difficult around the green areas at Torrey Pines. Strokes Gained: Approach has been the most indicative statistic of top-10 finishers at the course historically.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Si Woo Kim (+25.1) (+4000)
  2. Xander Schauffele (+17.8) (+1100)
  3. Jason Day (+16.7) (+2500)
  4. Mark Hubbard (+16.1) (+10000)
  5. Collin Morikawa (+15.6) (+1800)

Driving Distance

Torrey Pines is a long course, and distance will absolutely be a major factor. Average driving distance is a far greater factor here than your average TOUR event, while driving accuracy is a lesser factor. We are most definitely looking at a bomber's track this week.

Driving Distance per round in past 24 rounds:

  1. Brandon Matthews (+22.4) (+100000)
  2. Cameron Champ (+19.4) (+18000)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+18.7) (+7000)
  4. Thomas Detry (+16.4) (+11000)
  5. Trey Mullinax (+15.7) (+18000)
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Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa)

We typically see a lot of golfers play well in this area year after year. One determining factor in the consistent results is whether or not golfers prefer the Poa out West to other surfaces.

Great Poa putters typically play very well in California.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa) in past 24 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+19.6) (+1100)
  2. Mark Hubbard (+18.2) (+10000)
  3. Zac Blair (+18.0) (+50000)
  4. Jon Rahm (+16.8) (+450)
  5. Wyndham Clark (+16.6) (+7000)

Par 4: 450-500 Yards

Torrey Pines has a total of six par 4s between 450 and 500 yards on the South Course. To play well this week, golfers will need to outplay the field on these particular holes.

Total Par 4: 450-500 in past 24 rounds

  1. Maverick McNealy (+27.4) (+3500)
  2. Tony Finau (+12.8) (+1100)
  3. Ben Taylor (+12.5) (+15000)
  4. Davis Riley (+12.5) (+11000)
  5. Hayden Buckley (+11.8) (+9000)

Par 5: 550-600 Yards

With all four par 5s at the Torrey Pines South Course measuring between 550 and 600 yards, the long hitters will have a major advantage. The course can play difficult, so it's an absolute must to take care of the par 5s and make birdies.

Par 5: 550-600 in past 24 rounds:

  1. Alex Smalley (+12.3) (+8000)
  2. Charley Hoffman (+12.0) (+25000)
  3. Stephen Jaeger (+9.6) (+13000)
  4. Cameron Champ (+9.3) (+18000)
  5. Keegan Bradley (+8.1) (+6000)

Statistical Model

Below, I've reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

Note: Last year Luke List (+7000) was sixth in the model and won the event.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (28%), Driving Distance (22%), Par 4: 450-500 (16%), Par 5: 550-600 (16%) and SG: Putting POA (18%).

  1. Xander Schauffele (+1100)
  2. Tony Finau (+1100)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+7000)
  4. Jason Day (+2500)
  5. Will Zalatoris (+1800)
  6. Ben Griffin (+15000)
  7. Hayden Buckley (+9000)
  8. Alex Smalley (+8000)
  9. Charley Hoffman (+25000)
  10. Sungjae Im (+2000)

2022 Farmers Insurance Open Picks

Jason Day +2500 (DraftKings)

Betting Jason Day at the Farmers Insurance Open has started to become an annual tradition for me, and last year he almost pulled it off. He eventually finished in third place, only one shot out of the playoff between Zalatoris and List.

A great case could be made in favor of Torrey Pines being the course where Day has played the best golf throughout his impressive career. He won at the course in both 2015 and 2018. In addition to his two wins, he has four top-10 finishes at Torrey Pines. In his past 36 rounds, Day trails only Jon Rahm in Strokes Gained: Total at the course.

The former No. 1 player in the world is finally starting to string together some consistent good health and seems to be in the best physical shape we've seen in quite some time. Last week, we saw the 35-year-old play well in his first start of the season. He finished in a tie for 18th place and gained 3.0 strokes on the field from tee to green in his two rounds at the Stadium Course. 

I think Day is in for a resurgent season in 2023, and a win at his favorite track early in the season would be a big step on his way to returning to being one of the world's top players.

Hideki Matsuyama +4000 (PointsBet)

In an event where a lot of the value on the betting board has seemingly dissipated, the odds for Hideki Matsuyama this week seem more than fair. It's been up-and-down for the Japanese star of late, but he flashed some strong iron play at the Sony Open in his most recent start. He gained 5.9 strokes on approach, which was the most he's gained in an event since May of 2022. He struggled with the putter, but that's nothing new for Matsuyama.

The 30-year-old has had some success at Torrey Pines throughout his career and finished third at the course in 2019 and 12th in 2018. If Rahm is up at the top this week once again, Matsuyama is one of the few players in the field who I feel has the ceiling ball striking potential to take him down.

Justin Rose +5500 (DraftKings)

While we're on the theme of veterans who love Torrey Pines, Justin Rose also fits the bill. The Englishman was also in the mix last year at the event, finishing two shots behind the eventual playoff participants. In his past 36 rounds, Rose ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Total at the course. He won the event in 2019 and had a top-10 finish in his three previous starts prior to the win.

Rose made his season debut last week at PGA West and played well. He finished in a tie for 26th and gained 1.6 strokes ball striking in his two rounds at the Stadium Course. With a warmup event in the books, Rose should have shaken off the rust of the offseason just in time to contend at one of his favorite tracks.

The scoring shouldn't get out of hand this week, which is a good thing for the 42-year-old. Rose should hang tough and make clutch putts if he gets into the mix on the weekend at Torrey Pines.

Brendan Steele +13000

Brendan Steele is playing some quality golf to start his season. I never expected him to keep up in a birdie-fest last week at PGA West, but his ball striking numbers were impressive. He gained 2.6 strokes off the tee and 5.5 strokes on approach in only two rounds at the Stadium Course. He typically struggles with the putter, but if he is hitting it that well from tee to green at Torrey Pines, there's no doubt that he can play his way into contention.

Steele is a golfer who is long and straight off the tee and is a great long iron player. In his past 36 rounds, the 39-year-old ranks third in the field in proximity from 200+ yards, something that will be critical at the South Course. Last year, we saw a ball striker who struggles with the putter emerge victorious in the event. I think Steele is a guy who could challenge to do the same.

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