PGA Tour Picks: Farmers Insurance Open Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/22/2014
You can't argue that Patrick Reed didn't deserve his second career PGA Tour title last week at Humana Challenge. Reed broke the Tour record for relation to par for the first 54 holes, finishing at 27 under Saturday to take a seven-stroke lead into the final round. The previous mark was 25 under, last shot by Steve Stricker in the 2010 John Deere Classic; Pat Perez also had a 25 under at this tournament in 2009. Stricker still holds the stroke record of 188 through 54 set on a par-71.
I didn't know too much about Reed but did remember he won last year's Wyndham Championship. His 2013-14 wraparound season didn't start well with a missed cut at the Frys.com Open and then a W/D at the Shriners, but he's been better ever since: a T40 at the CIMB Classic, a T16 at the Tournament of Champions and then last week's win. Ryan Palmer finished second at 26 under after he shot a final-round 63 to Reed's 71. Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard finished third at 25 under -- Johnson, arguably the hottest player on the planet right now, announced he was now taking a month off. World No. 2 Adam Scott is also on a break.
I most certainly didn't predict Reed last week. I took Bill Haas at 25/1, and the 2010 winner of the Humana Challenge finished a solid T6 with a worst round of 67. So I hit on him at +200 on a Top-10 finish. I hit on Johnson at even-money. Head-to-head, Keegan Bradley paid off for me at -110 with his T18 to easily beat Brandt Snedeker (-120). I also got Kevin Na at -130 over Perez (even). Jonas Blixt disappointed me with a missed cut after I projected him as the top European finisher.
So despite missing Johnson and Scott, in some ways golf season really begins this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. I say that because both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson -- who, let's be honest, still drive the popularity of golf in this country -- make their 2014 PGA Tour debuts. Torrey Pines is probably the favorite course of both Woods and Mickelson outside of Augusta. Of course, it hosted the epic 2008 U.S. Open, the site of Woods' last major win. That was played all on the South Course, which is a 7,698-yard monster. It was the longest course ever to host a major. Players also will play the North Course (just 7,045 yards) in one of the first two rounds before the cut. Generally the South is about three strokes harder.
Woods is the defending champion as he dominated last year on the way to a four-shot win. He was up by eight with five holes to play on Sunday until he started spraying the ball on the final few holes. It was still his 23rd win by at least four shots, which is amazing. Tiger has won on this course eight times; seven in this tournament and that U.S. Open. So a win would set the Tour record for victories at a course, currently held by .... Woods. He has won eight times at Bay Hill and Firestone. Mickelson has "only" three wins at this course and not since 2001.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Farmers Insurance Open Favorites
Of course, Tiger is the big Bovada favorite at 9/4. And why not? In 13 starts at this tournament, he has a total of three rounds over par. This will be the seventh time he has opened his PGA Tour season at Torrey, and he won five of the previous six with a combined score of 75 under. Tiger loves this course because he crushes the par 5s. In his career at the Farmers, he is 135 under on the par 5s, which is just stupid. As usual with Tiger, it will all come down to putting because he's going to have a ton of birdie (and eagle) chances.
Lefty might be a big jet-lagged. He played in Abu Dhabi last week on the European Tour and was in contention until a triple-bogey 7 on his 13th hole Sunday. He finished tied for second. Mickelson hasn't been great at this tournament since a runner-up three years ago. He was 51st last year and missed the cut the year before. His stroke average of 70.43 in the past four years at Torrey isn't even in the Top 10. Lefty has 10 Top-10 finishes in 24 career Farmers Insurance Open starts.
Snedeker (18/1), Haas (22/1) and Jason Day (25/1) round out the favorites. Snedeker has been so-so this year with a T11 in the Tournament of Champions and then a T58 last week. He has been great here of late, with two runner-ups, a ninth and a victory in 2012. Snedeker's 69.06 stroke average the past four years at Torrey is No. 1. Haas also has been good here with three straight finishes of at least ninth. Day has largely been great on the PGA Tour but hasn't won since 2010. He played well in his native Australia over the winter (summer there). Day was T9 at the 2013 Farmers.
PGA Tour Picks: Famers Insurance Open Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I do like Tiger even at an obscene -500. I also lean Bubba Watson (+250) despite some recent struggles (he won here in 2011) and Hunter Mahan (+350). Heat-to-head, take Woods (-230) over Mickelson (+175), Mahan (-125) over Lee Westwood (-105), Rickie Fowler (-115) over Nick Watney (-115) and Bradley (-115) over Jordan Spieth (-115). I like Nicolas Colsaerts at 8/1 to be the top European.
Don't expect a non-American to win, however. The only to do so since this event moved to Torrey in 1968 is Jose Maria Olazabal. I do think Fowler (40/1) contends this week in his hometown, and it's definitely worth a few dollars on that price. Fowler hasn't finished worse than 20 in his four pro trips here. He didn't have a Top-10 prop or I would have jumped there. But Woods takes down Torrey again.
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