Before I get to this week’s preview of the Farmers Insurance Open at storied Torrey Pines outside of San Diego as well as Phil Mickelson sticking his foot in his mouth, let’s recap my predictions from last week’s European Tour event in Abu Dhabi.
For golf fans, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship was a dud because both world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and No. 2 Tiger Woods, who played together the first two rounds, missed the cut in their season debuts. McIlroy missing the cut isn’t a huge deal as he tends to do that once in a while. But it’s news for Tiger. Since turning pro in 1996, Woods has played in a total of 301 PGA Tour and European Tour events. He has missed the cut in just nine PGA Tour events, and last week was his first MC on the European Tour. It was the first time both McIlroy and Woods missed the cut in the same tournament.
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The good news is that I didn’t like either McIlroy or Tiger to win. I recommended “no” on Tiger (-170) to finish in the Top 5 but did recommend McIlroy to. Other I also hit on Jason Dufner missing out at -750. I missed on “yes” for Martin Kaymer, who finished T6, and no on Justin Rose, who was the co-runner-up. I also hit on Rose (-110) head-to-head against Kaymer (-120). My two value picks to win were Italy’s Matteo Manassero at 40/1 and Sweden’s Peter Hanson at 25/1. Manassero finished T23 and Hanson T9. Relative unknown Welshman Jamie Donaldson won the event.
As for this week, it’s the first time that Tiger and Lefty will compete in the same 2013 tournament, and both players have tremendous records at Torrey Pines – it’s probably both players’ favorite track outside of Augusta and Pebble Beach. Tiger, of course, won his last major at Torrey, taking the 2008 U.S. Open in epic fashion over Rocco Mediate. Woods’ life has changed just a bit since then.
Mickelson, meanwhile, had the gall to complain about his tax bracket this week, saying it was upwards of 60 percent. This from a guy who makes $45 million or so a year including endorsements. Needless to say, Lefty’s comments were not well received by the public, and he did apologize. But it almost sounded like Mickelson might retire soon. A huge majority of pro golfers live in Florida, including Tiger, where there are no state taxes. Lefty lives in San Diego, and California's current tax rate is 13.3 percent. Mickelson is set to make more detailed comments about his future plans on Wednesday.
Last year’s Farmers Insurance Open was one of the most memorable finishes of the year. Brandt Snedeker won it when leader Kyle Stanley imploded on the 72nd hole. Stanley had a three-shot lead over Snedeker and was just 77 yards from the pin for his third shot on the par-5 18th. But Stanley put too much backspin on the ball, and it rolled into the water hazard. He then three-putted from 45 feet for a triple-bogey. Snedeker, who already had been resigned to second place, then would beat Stanley on the second playoff hole. Stanley was in tears in post-round interviews. Karma was on Stanley’s side, however. He won the next week in Phoenix for his first career victory.
This tournament is played over the North and South courses, both par 72s. Every player in the field will play the North Course once before the 36-hole cut. Then the South, one of the longest courses on Tour, is used for the final two rounds. The North is the easier track, so it’s important to shoot a low round there.
PGA Tour Picks and Odds: Farmers Insurance Open Favorites
Tiger is the +600 favorite on Bovada, and by past results should be. He has an incredible 11 Top-10 finishes in 12 trips to this tournament with six victories. I don’t really worry about his game from last week with all the travel, and that is was simply a cash grab. But Tiger has played this tournament only once in the past four years and finished T44 in 2011.
Snedeker and Dustin Johnson are 14/1. Snedeker, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, started last year’s final round a whopping seven shots back before chasing down Stanley. Snedeker has been good here, with three other Top-10 results on top of last year’s win. Snedeker has been solid this year with a third-place finish and a T23 last week. Johnson won the season-opening Hyundai event but withdrew after nine holes the following week at the Sony – no surprise considering the Hyundai ended on a Tuesday. Johnson said he had the flu. He has just one Top-10 finish in five trips to this event.
Mickelson (16/1) and Bubba Watson (18/1) round out the favorites. Lefty has won this event three times but missed the cut a year ago. Mickelson started last week slow at the Humana but shot 17-under the final three rounds to finish T37. Bubba won this tournament in 2011 (Lefty was runner-up) and finished T13 a year ago. Watson hasn’t played since finishing T4 at the Hyundai.
PGA Tour Picks: Farmers Insurance Open Predictions
On the Top-5 props, I do like Tiger (+135) to contend, as well as Snedeker (-275). I say no on Mickelson (-450), Watson (-400) and Johnson (-400).
I really like Nick Watney to possibly win at 20/1. He missed the cut last year but had three straight Top-10 finishes before that, including a win in 2009. Watney hasn’t played since a T13 at the Hyundai. It would be fitting for Stanley (100/1) to win, but he hasn’t played well in three events this year.
The pick is Rickie Fowler at 33/1. He also hasn’t played since the Hyundai, where he was T6. He has been under par in 10 of 12 career rounds in this tournament, finishing inside the Top 20 in all three appearances with a best of T5.
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