2011 PGA Farmer’s Insurance Open, Torrey Pines Golf Club, North and South Courses, La Jolla, CA
Thursday, January 27-Sunday, January 30, 2011, TV: Golf Channel, CBS
Defending Champion: Ben Crane
The big news at Torrey Pines this week is both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson make their season debut in the Farmer’s Insurance Open. Tiger loves this course and has won this event many times in his career, including 4 times in a row from 2005-08. He won the 2008 U.S. Open here. Golf fans will will remember the legendary gutsy performance where Tiger beat Rocco Mediate in an epic 19-hole playoff on basically one leg. It was revealed later he had a torn ACL. Ironically, Tiger is paired with Mediate for the first two rounds of this event in 2011. Who would have thought that Tiger wouldn’t have won another major since then. He missed the rest of 2008, and the early part of 2009. Then in late 2009 he had his much publicized personal problems, which cost him 2010. Tiger hasn’t played this event since 2008. He showed flashes of the old Tiger last year but wasn’t able to put it together for four straight rounds. He has completely overhauled his swing, and hired a new swing instructor. Tiger began to play a lot better after his divorce became final and there is no doubt Tiger will play a lot better this year. It might be too much to ask of even Tiger to win in his season debut, though it would be foolish to count him out. He is an 11-4 favorite according to our friends at Bodog. A better bet is either Tiger to finish in the Top 10 at -400 or in a match-up with Mickelson. Tiger is a -225 favorite against his rival. In that wager, Tiger only has to finish ahead of Mickelson, no matter where they place.
Phil Mickelson has won this event 3 times but hasn’t won here since 2001. Though Mickelson did win the Masters last year, he struggled almost as much as Tiger did. Mickelson had 6 top ten finishes to Woods’ 2 top tens. Mickelson had his own personal problems with both his wife and mother getting breast cancer last year. Mickelson finished tied for 19th at this event last year. Mickelson is the second choice according to Bodog at 14/1. He could win but I don’t think he is playing well enough either to, especially making his season debut. I don’t even think he will make the top ten. A no wager is -175 on that prop. You can also bet Mickleson head to head against Dustin Johnson. Mickelson is a slight -120 favorite. I like Johnson in that prop.
One thing to remember is the Farmer’s Insurance Open is played on two courses, the Torrey Pines North and South courses. Each player will play one of the first two rounds on each course. The final two rounds will be played on the South. The South Course is much more difficult . It can be stretched to 7,698 yards, and was ranked the 16th most difficult of all PGA courses last year. it is also ranked as the 7th most difficult hole for putting, and 11th for scrambling. You have to be accurate around the greens or you will pay. The North course is 700 yards shorter and was ranked the ninth easiest course last year. Although the North Course does have narrower fairways and makes it more difficult to hit the fairway. Golfers need to take advantage of their one shot at the North Course as scores will be much lower than on the treacherous South Course.
Here are some of the other contenders and their odds. Dustin Johnson (16/1), Nick Watney, 20/1, Rickie Fowler (22/1), Charles Howell III (25/1), Bill Haas (33/1), Ben Crane (35/1), Hunter Mahan (35/1), Anthony Kim (33/1), Justin Rose (40/1), Robert Allenby (40/1), and the field is 5/1. For the complete list of odds go to bodog.com.
This is the fourth event of the year on the PGA Tour. The three winners have been Jonathan Byrd, Mark Wilson, and Jhonattan Vegas. Wilson and Vegas were both listed in the field and Byrd would have been had their not been only 32 golfers in the field. A field wager is this event is worth a play, but I think Bill Haas has what it takes to win here. He doesn’t have a top 10 finish in 5 tries here at Torrey Pines, but he played the last three rounds at last week’s Bob Hope Classic at -20, including a 62 on Saturday. He is leading the PGA tour in all-around play this young season, and is my pick to win this week.
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