PGA Tour Picks: Farmers Insurance Open Odds and Expert Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 2/4/2015
It was a great day of golf as a warm-up to a spectacular Super Bowl in the greater Phoenix area last Sunday as American Brooks Koepka pulled away late at the Phoenix Open for his first PGA Tour win. It was actually his sixth pro win since leaving an All-American career at Florida State behind around three years ago, but the others were in Europe (four on European Challenge Tour, one European Tour win back in November).
Koepka started his final round at TPC Scottsdale three shots behind 54-hole leader Martin Laird but shot a final-round 66 to finish at 15-under 269. Koepka's eagle on the par-5 15th hole gave Koepka a share of the lead and all the other contenders managed to blow their chance to win or at least force a playoff. The last of those was Hideki Matsuyama, one of five guys who had a share of the lead over the tournament's final hour. He had an 18-foot putt on No. 18 to force a playoff but missed. Matsuyama has three top-three finishes in seven starts this season.
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Bubba Watson and Ryan Palmer parred their final three holes and joined Matsuyama in a tie for second. Laird, tied for the lead with two holes to go, really imploded at the end, bogeying No. 17 and doubling No. 18. He finished T5 at 12 under. Koepka is up to No. 19 in the world rankings and he has finished in the Top 10 in all three of his Tour starts this season. He has yet to shoot an over-round par.
With all due respect to Koepka, the biggest news last week was Tiger Woods shooting a second-round 82, a career high, and missing the cut. It was only the second time in his professional career that Woods failed to break 80. The missed cut was just the 13th time worldwide that he failed to qualify for the final 36 holes, and he finished last (tied with Michael Hooper for the first time in his career). Phil Mickelson, my choice to win, also missed the cut. It was only the second time (last 2012) both he and Tiger did in the same event.
So while my pick of Mickelson winning was a bomb, I did recommend taking Tiger to miss the cut at +185. I also hit on Watson at +120 for a Top-10 finish and on Watson head-to-head at -115 over Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar at -115 over Rickie Fowler and Bill Haas, who was the last man to make the cut, at -115 over Tiger.
This week it's back for California and iconic Torrey Pines outside San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open. This is arguably the favorite non-major course of both Tiger and Mickelson. It's where Woods won his last major, the 2008 U.S. Open in that epic 19-hole Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate. Tiger has nine total wins on this course and Lefty three. Three of the four rounds are on the South Course, which is the one everyone knows. All players will play one of their first two rounds on the much shorter North Course. A total of 13 of the world's Top 25 are set to play and we get our first 2015 look at No. 5 Justin Rose of England. Tiger, by the way, is down to No. 56 in the world. He hasn't been lower than 58th since winning his first-ever pro title in 1996. The last time Woods was out of the Top 50 was Nov. 27, 2011.
Last year, Scott Stallings shot a final-round 68 to win by a shot over K.J. Choi, Graham DeLaet, Jason Day, Pat Perez and Marc Leishman. Stallings was in a five-way tie for the lead on his 72nd hole and he birdied it. No one could catch him. Woods was cut Saturday last year and Mickelson pulled out after Round 2 due to back troubles.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Farmers Insurance Open Favorites
Jordan Spieth is the 11/1 favorite this week at Bovada. He was the 36-hole leader here last year but then faded on the weekend to a T19. He played well last week with a T7 in Scottsdale.
Day is next at 14/1 with Jimmy Walker. Day hasn't played since doing pretty well in the two Hawaii tournaments to open 2015. He had that runner-up here last year and a T9 in 2013. Walker hasn't played since he lapped the field with a nine-shot win at the Sony Open, which followed a runner-up at the Hyundai in Hawaii. He missed the cut here in 2014 but had Top 10s the previous two years.
Matsuyama (20/1), Rose and Rickie Fowler (both 22/1) round out the favorites. If you are wondering, Mickelson is 28/1 and Tiger 30/1, and I can't remember ever seeing Woods with those long odds. Some Vegas books actually opened him at 50/1 this week. Tiger has not finished in the top 20 in any of his past nine events.
PGA Tour Picks: Farmers Insurance Open Expert Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I like Walker at +125, Day at +125, Fowler at +200 and Brandt Snedeker at +200. You can get Woods to make the cut at -155, and I do think he makes it this week. Maybe roll the dice on a Top-20 finish at +175. Lefty too at +120.
Head-to-head, go with Walker (-105) over Spieth (-125), Fowler (-115) over Rose (-115), Chris Kirk (+105) over Dustin Johnson (-135), Tiger at +135 over Gary Woodland (-200) and Mickelson (-115) over Koepka (-115). I favor Marc Leishman (yes over Day) as the top Aussie at 10/3 and Laird at 13/2 as the top European.
Leishman is interesting value to win at 40/1. That runner-up last year was his second career here and he also has had a T9. Johnson is 40/1 as well in his first tournament in months off a reported drug suspension, but I'm guessing he will be rusty. My pick to win is Snedeker at 25/1. He had his third Top-10 this season last week and won here in 2012 while finishing second in 2013 and 2010. Snedeker struggled last season but appears to have his game back.
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