PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: Farmers Insurance Open
by Alan Matthews - 1/25/2012
If you are a golf bettor, this weekend is easily the best of the early season so far. That’s because the top European Tour event thus far is in the Middle East for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, while the PGA Tour has a good field at historic Torrey Pines in San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open.
Abu Dhabi marks the 2012 debut of Tiger Woods, who says he’s healthier than he has been in years. If you are wondering why Tiger is traveling across the world to debut instead of playing one of his favorite Torrey Pines courses (where he has dominated with seven wins), it’s simple: money. Reports are that Tiger is guaranteed an appearance fee of $1.7 million to as high as $2.7 million. At least Tiger didn’t say it wasn’t all about the money – he admitted as much. The PGA Tour forbids appearance fees.
By the way, being as this is Tiger’s first tournament, there’s also a solid prop at Bovada where you can bet the ‘over/under’ of Tiger’s tournament wins this season. That is listed at three, with both the over and under at -120. Obviously, Woods hasn’t won an official PGA Tour event in the past two years, but this doesn’t say “official PGA Tour event.” Thus I presume any European Tour win would qualify (but probably not a silly season event like the Chevron World Challenge that Tiger won in December). I still have to go under here. It’s extremely difficult to win multiple times in a season. I have little doubt Tiger gets at least one win. However, I don’t think it’s this week.
Woods isn’t the favorite in Abu Dhabi, going off at 7/1 on Bovada for the event that tees off late tonight U.S. time. Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy are the 13/2 favorites. Lee Westwood and Luke Donald (12/1) round out the Top 5 at Bovada. I like Kaymer, by the way. He always plays well in the desert.
Obviously, the European event is top-heavy with the world’s top four players in Donald, Westwood, McIlroy and Kaymer – Tiger starts the year No. 25.
The Farmers Insurance Open, the first PGA Tour event of the year to be shown on network television (CBS on the weekend), has only one Top-10 player in Dustin Johnson. And he’s not 100 percent. Johnson pulled out of last week’s Humana Challenge, but the good news, I suppose, is that he said soreness in his lower back prompted his WD, not the right knee he had surgery on in November.
Overall, 16 of the Top 50 in the world are in the field, including Phil Mickelson making his second start in a row. Bubba Watson is back to defend last year’s title. Watson won the first of his two 2011 titles here, birdieing the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Mickelson.
Golf Odds: Farmers Insurance Open Favorites
The first two rounds are played on the South and North courses at Torrey Pines. After the 36-hole cut the final rounds are played on the South course, which was the longest course on Tour last year at nearly 7,700 yards.
Lefty is the co-favorite this week at 14/1 with Nick Watney. This is probably his favorite course as well. Mickelson has won this tournament three times -- in 1993 (his first pro win), 2000 and 2001. He's come close a number of other times with two second-place finishes (including last year) and 10 Top-10 finishes overall. In 70 rounds at the event since 1993, Lefty has gone under par 54 times. And he also played well on the weekend last week at the Humana after a slow start.
Watney, the only other Top-15 player in the field, was the 2009 winner here and has four Top-10 finishes in his past five trips to this tournament, including a T-6 a year ago. Watney finished T-12 in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in his only PGA Tour event so far this year.
Hunter Mahan (18/1), Brandt Snedeker (20/1) and Ben Crane (25/1) round out the Top-5 favorites. I’m not a big backer of Mahan this week. He makes his 2012 debut and has just one Top-10 finish in eight tries at this tournament, a T-6 last year.
Snedeker debuted strong last week with a T-8 at the Humana. And he has three Top-10s in five starts at the Farmers, including the last two. He also holds the co-course record of 61 on the South.
Crane has started 2012 with a pair of Top-10s and was the co-leader halfway through last week. He won here in 2010 and has four other Top-25s in seven career appearances.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Farmers Insurance Open Predictions
My picks haven’t been great yet – at least my two top choices last week, Bill Haas and Brian Gay, made the cut but weren’t close to winning. Mark Wilson did win the Humana but isn’t playing this week.
Watson is 28/1 to repeat. Last year he played his final 10 holes in 4-under on the way to shooting 67 and a 16 under total, one better than Mickelson. Johnson (28/1) finished three back of Watson a year ago for third. If he were healthy, he would be my pick this week. I am not convinced that’s the case.
I might also risk some money on Ernie Els (33/1) as he has finished in the Top 6 in his previous two trips here. And Els nearly won the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa last weekend, but that’s a long trip to California.
If you want a real long shot consider Marc Leishman at 66/1. The Aussie has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but Torrey seems to suit him. He was T-9 last year and T-2 the year before.
But I’m going with Camilo Villegas at 33/1 to win. Villegas started finding his game at the end of last year and shared the 18-hole lead a week ago before finishing T-19. He finished T-13 at Torrey Pines in 2008 and T-3 in 2009.