Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, January 23 at 2:45 PM EST.
Cutoff time for this event is January 24th at 9:00 AM EST.
The Farmer's Insurance Open - at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California
When football season ends, the PGA season begins for us and this will now be our third year (on site) of wagering on PGA events. In year one, we got spoiled by picking five winners at odds of 50-1 or greater but got humbled last year with zero outright winners. This year we hope to land somewhere in between but the the profits will lay within the head-to-head matchups. The “to win outright bets” are well researched and we certainly have confidence in but they will be loaded up with “longshots” because of the tremendous value they hold. We rarely pick anyone under 30-1 to win outright.
The iconic Torrey Pines is on host duties this week, as it has been for this tournament since 1968. The event is played over two courses: the imaginatively-named North and South. These were originally designed by Billy Bell Jr, and the players tackle both on rotation on Thursday and Friday before the South Course takes sole responsibility for the weekend.
The South track enjoyed a host of renovations courtesy of Rees-Jones in 2001, and today plays at a lengthy 7,698 yards for its Par 72. It is long, and with narrow fairways can become something of a grind for the players – it hosted the 2008 US Open, and the winning mark for this event has ranged from -6 to -13 in the past three years. There are lots of bunkers and thick rough, although at least the Poa Annua greens are a decent size.
The North course is a tad easier – the two lowest rounds last year, 64 by Jason Day and 65 from Tony Finau, were recorded here, and the shorter length of 7,258 yards plays its part in that. The greens were switched to Bentgrass prior to the 2017 edition and they ran much faster; as speedy as 12.5 on the stimp, in fact. On average, the North layout plays at roughly two strokes easier than the South, so firing in a low round here is essential. Incidentally, each of the last eight winners played the South Course on Thursday, so that might be an angle worth following. Otherwise, we’re looking at classy operators able to grind out a score, rather than take a course apart.
Unless otherwise stated, the following bets to win outright will be placed at BET365 because of their cash-out option during the event:
To Win outright:
J.J. Spaun 100-1
The 28-year-old has played a lot of golf at Torrey Pines as a Cali native, and his results here of T23 and T9 confirm the fact he is comfy at the layout. It’s hard not to like his current form either, with T10 at the CJ Cup, T15 at Shriners and T3 at the Mayakoba Classic within his last trio of outings. Spaun was fairly disappointing at the Desert Classic, but really you can perhaps forgive a man for not showing his best at a chaotic split course, pro-am type affair. In normal stroke play, Spaun has been on fire of late. Overall, Spaun ranks 26th ON TOUR in Shots Gained: Approach, and 31st ON TOUR in Greens in regulation (Risking 0.2 units to win 20 units).
Anders Albertson 150-1
When we think of Web.com Tour graduates, we probably think of the archetypal super-fit stud who hits it miles off the tee and bullies Par 5’s into submission. Anders Albertson does things a little bit differently, and his precise game should stand him in good stead at tougher tests like Torrey Pines. The 25-year-old ranks 26th for Shots Gained (SG): Tee-to-Green so far this season, with a ranking of 12th for SG: Approach and a suitably high Greens in Regulation (GIR) count as a result. He’s a young man for whom the quicker PGA TOUR greens remain a tough test, but this rookie season is a learning curve for a player who already ranks inside the top-50 for one of the game’s key data metrics: Par 4 Birdie or Better Leaders. Keep your eyes on this rookie and don’t miss him when odds are 100-1 or better (Risking 0.2 units to win 30 units).
Daniel Berger 70-1
It’s strange that at the age of 25, Daniel Berger is considered something of a forgotten man on Tour. A two-time PGA TOUR winner, he’s also lost in two other play-offs and finished in the top-10 of a Masters and a US Open. It’s pretty strong going for such a young talent lost in the shadows of Spieth, Thomas, Rahm, Rose Schauffele and company. Perhaps a new year will bring new perspective for a young man once tipped as the US’ premier young golfer, and four rounds in the 60s at the Desert Classic last week – while not mind blowing – is certainly a decent place to start and let’s not ignore that was Berger’s first start of the year. Daniel Berger is a great golfer that is capable of winning any event and at odds of 70-1, he’s almost a must play because he’ll win one of the next 70 events he plays in. It could be this one (Risking 0.2 units to win 14 units).
Sungjae Im 60-1
The Korean has shown a fondness for golf on the West Coast, and whether that’s a coincidence or a sign of something more concrete we’ll have to wait and see. Im finished T4 at the Safeway Open (Napa Valley), T15 at the Shriners (Summerlin) and then T12 at last week’s Desert Classic in La Quinta. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised: the 20-year-old won twice on the Web.com Tour last season, with one of those victories coming in Portland, Oregon. As an excellent driver (he ranks 17th for Total Driving) who has shown form on Poa Annua, there is surely plenty of upside in backing him. Some of Im’s key stats show that he ranks 7th ON TOUR in Total Driving, 34th ON TOUR in Par 4 Scoring Average and 25th in Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders (Risking 0.2 units to win 12 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for The FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUPS below are for 72 holes:
#7030 Abraham Ancer +104 over Hideki Matsuyama
There is something of an X Factor about the game of Abraham Ancer, and only time will tell if he is a major champion in waiting, as many suspect. For now, the Mexican can reflect on a year in which he has won a decent title – the Australian Open – and established himself as a key player on the PGA TOUR. Go back a year and this event yielded Ancer’s first top-20 of 2018; although there were plenty more to come. In fact, he’s banked a quartet of PGA TOUR top-five finishes in the past six months alone, and a T18 effort at the Desert Classic last week promised so much more given his round scores of 66-67-73-66.
Matuyama has recorded a pair of top 20s here, including a T12 last year, but that occurred immediately before he was dinged by the wrist injury. He’s only played one event this year, the Sony Open in Hawaii two weeks ago, where he finished T51. Matsuyama will very likely be heard from again but he’s not warmed up yet while AA has (Risking 2 units to win 2.08 units).
#7047 Xander Schauffele +103 over Rickie Fowler
Xander Schauffele is a San Diego native that grew up here, played high school events here and went to college here. He started watching PGA TOUR golf here also. However, he has not played well at this event and because of that, we get him at a real bargain. In fact, Schauffele has missed the cut here three times in three attempts. Schauffele feels his three Farmers Insurance Open appearances have been laced with a bit more pressure than they should have been. He has spent a huge chunk of his preparation in the past trying to say hi to as many of his friends and acquaintances as possible. This time around, Schauffele insists he’ll be away from the property more and feed into his more comfortable “recluse” type existence. This is your FedEx Cup leader and one of the best on Tour so we’re not going to put emphasis on course form in his professional career here. Schauffele has played this course dozens of times and knows it well. He became a pro playing this course and now he’ll leave out the distractions and focus on golf.
Talk about “course form” --- what about Rickie Fowler? Whether he was traveling from the other side of the planet or arriving after a two-week break, Torrey Pines has given him fits in the last five years. His only cut made in that span was a forgettable T61 in 2015. And now, he's launching his 2019 schedule with a new ball. The combination of concerns begs for a fade and we’re on it (Risking 2.18 units to win 2).
#7009 J.B. Holmes +119 over Branden Grace
When a player like J.B. Holmes has course form reading 4-33-6-2, you know what the challenge ahead will be: smoke it long off the tee and make some putts. He lost in a four-way play-off here to Jason Day in 2015, and there are few in the field who can boast as many sub-70 rounds as the Kentuckian at Torrey Pines. Holmes started the season with solo ninth at the Safeway Open, and you just know he will relish a return to one of his favorite courses on the circuit.
First-timers to Torrey Pines is a big risk and it is one of those weeks where course history does hold greater than normal relevance. Give a massive edge to Holmes in that regard, as Grace is another South African of note making his first appearance. Grace is very simply much better on shorter courses (par 70s or 71s) no matter what his form is upon arrival. We’ll be fu**ing pissed if we lose this wager because it is the right one with so much great value (Risking 2 units to win 2.38 units).
#7022 Ryan Palmer -116 over Charl Schwartzel
The only way we lose this wager is if Ryan Palmer gets the flu. Palmer is 42-years old and past his prime but that doesn’t mean he can’t bring it. This is a pro that now carefully selects each event. He’ll only play about 20-23 events a year now so if he chooses it, he likes it. Palmer finished second at this event last year (lost in a three player playoff) and he’s a bit under the radar because he’s not done much lately but let’s give the man a break. Last season around this exact same time, Palmer was fresh off a T20 at the CareerBuilder Challenge that fulfilled the terms of his medical extension, His wife also was battling breast cancer but as we head into 2019, this is a stress free Palmer that finished up last year in decent form and is raring to go.
Meanwhile, Charl Schwartzel is finished. We have no idea why he’s even playing this week when he has no chance whatsoever. Schwartzel has fulfilled all of his golf dreams with that Master’s win years ago and now seems like he’s mostly going through the motions. He has one top-40 finish in his last seven starts worldwide. Three resulted in a missed cut, including his last two and now he's making his debut at Torrey Pines. How can we not make this wager? (Risking 2.32 units to win 2).
4 players to win outright at 0.2 units each = -0.8 units
Abraham Ancer +104 over Hideki Matsuyama = -2 units
Ryan Palmer -116 over Charl Schwartzel = + 2 units
J.B. Holmes +119 over Branden Grace = - 2 units
Xander Schauffele +103 over Rickie Fowler = +2.06 units
Therefore 4.8 units in losses - 4.06 units in win = a total net loss for this event of 0.74 units
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports
They offer win-only odds in the outrights and for the PGA, European, Champions and LPGA Tours only, but they make up for this in terms of value in their matchups. They consistently offer unique tournament matchups for the PGA which at 10-20 cent lines and no ties are the best on offer in the business.
Farmer's Insurance Open (Risking 9.3 units - To Win: 0.00)