Golf Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open

Golf Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open article feature image

Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Marc Leishman

The PGA Tour heads to Torrey Pines this weekend for the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open. This is the first tournament of the year for Tiger Woods, who has won seven times at this course.

Tiger can be found around in the 16-1 range and most books have him as the fifth-favorite. At the top of the board is the defending champion, Jon Rahm, who is as short as 8-1.

Our golf experts each picked their favorite bet from first-round leader to matchup props to a Tiger fade, we have it all covered.

Jason Sobel: Leishman +2900 First-Round Leader

As a general rule, I don’t love first-round leader bets.

They’re way too random. Anyone can get hot for 18 holes and take a Thursday overnight lead.

But … I also understand the allure of this whole gambling thing – and so, yes, I’m guilty of often playing a few first-round leader bets even when I know they’re akin to buying scratch-off tickets.

And here’s another but … I can see value in making this bet at Torrey.

First off, with half the field starting their week on the easier North Course, we’ve already eliminated the other half.

Secondly, the last two first-round leaders here have been studs: Tony Finau last year and Justin Rose the year before.

And lastly, as is usually the case with first-round bets, we should favor a player with an early Thursday tee time, when the greens are still soft and the wind hasn’t started swirling yet.

Now we’re cooking. By the process of elimination, we’ve got this bet narrowed down to a big-name player with an early tee time on the North Course.

Rose and Rahm are obvious plays here, but maybe a bit too obvious. I also like Pan, Grillo and Bradley, each of whom fit these parameters.

My pick, though, is Marc Leishman, who offers a decent price at +2900 and has posted 68 or better in the opening round in four of his last five starts.

I’m still not sure this isn’t a losing bet, but at least we’re using some deductive reasoning skills to move the odds in our favor.

Justin Bailey: Patrick Cantlay over Charles Howell III (-125 @ MyBookie)

Over the past 75 weeks, Cantlay leads Howell in every key metric that I am looking at this week at Torrey Pines.

  • Adjusted Round Score: 68.3 vs. 69.3
  • Greens in Regulation: 71.4% vs. 69.5%
  • Driving Distance: 304 vs. 299
  • Birdies per tournament: 15.0 vs. 13.4
  • Par-4 scoring: -1.3 adjusted strokes vs. -0.1
  • Par-5 scoring: -4.7 adjusted strokes vs. -4.3

Additionally, at most sportsbooks, Cantlay has better odds than Howell to win outright, along with finishing the top 5 and top 20.

Bryan Mears: Justin Rose (-130) over Jason Day

Really, my favorite way to bet this week is to fade Jason Day and Jordan Spieth as much as possible. Recent play metrics backtested incredibly well here (way more than a typical week), which suggests Torrey Pines is not a get-right spot, as Peter mentions below.

The two top players in the worst form are Day and Spieth, especially the latter, who has missed his last two cuts and also comes with poor history on this course. I’ll be taking the other side of a bunch of their head-to-head matchups.

Peter Jennings: Alex Noren (-105) over Jordan Spieth

Sobel, Sleeze and I all said on the podcast that Noren over Spieth is a good matchup bet this week. Torrey Pines is not the course to “find your game” and Spieth clearly isn’t right. Make sure to shop for the best price. Noren is -102 on pinnacle but -112 on Bookmaker in the same matchup vs Spieth.

Sleeze: Tiger to finish worse than 18th (-115)

Am I crazy for liking this prop bet? Or am I crazy like a fox? We all know that historically Tiger has had more success at Torrey Pines than any player on the planet, which is why this bet may seem out of place.

However, after talking with some players on-site, I’ve been told that the rough is as penal as they’ve ever ever seen it. The winner is going to be someone who drives the ball long, but also straight. Tiger only fills one of those criteria.

Combine Tiger’s accuracy woes with the strength of this field, the fact that it’s his first event of the year, and his less-than-perfect health this week, and I think a top 20 for Tiger is a tall task. I’m taking the other side.

Josh Perry: Tony Finau to Top 20 -130 (MyBookie)

If there was ever a course built for Tony Finau, it’s Torrey Pines. Super long, driver heavy, poa/bent-grass greens — basically everything that caters to a high Finau finish. It’s not surprise he’s never finished outside the top 25 here. His only time without a top 20 was his rookie year when he took 24th.

He’s been near contention the last two years as well, taking 4th and 6th. It’s his first tournament of the year, so it might take him a round to get going. But I can’t think of a better spot than here for Finau to pop up on the leaderboard.