The tour heads to one of its most historic courses this week as Torrey Pines will host a very solid field at the Farmers Insurance Open. The defending champion is Jon Rahm, who shot a final round 65 last year, which included a 65 foot eagle on 18. Interestingly, if Rahm can emerge victorious at Torrey, he will earn the Number 1 ranking in the world overtaking Dustin Johnson, who is not playing this week. Rahm was a winner last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs and will be in major factor in the majors this season. The Masters and the Open Championship look like real possibilities for the 23 year old Spaniard. He's a talented, clutch player and a fierce competitor.
Another major storyline, the most talked about storyline this week, is the return of Tiger Woods who last played competitive golf at the Farmers last January. Woods had spinal fusion surgery on his back last year, but the 7 time winner of the Farmers and the 2008 victor at the U.S. Open at Torrey will be teeing it up in hopes of accomplishing more success this season than he's seen in the past 4 years. He was player of the year in 2013 winning 5 tournaments, but the 14 time major winner has been hamstrung by injuries over the past 4 years. His last major title was here in 2008, when he put on a putting clinic to defeat Rocco Mediate in a 19 hole playoff on a Monday at the U.S. Open at Torrey. Will be very interesting to see how the 42 year old from Cypress, California holds up, and if he is in contention when the weekend gets here. It'll be tough his first time back, but it will be pretty fascinating to see him back competing. He's recorded 79 wins on tour, 2nd only to Sam Snead's 82 victories. That's some sensational stuff. I'm sure he wants to break that record along with capturing more majors.
Torrey PInes South Course is a 7,698 yard, par 72 layout. The key holes to me are No.13, a 614 yard, par 5 that calls for a drive of 240 yards to carry the canyon and the Pacific on the left. Would be tougher for amateurs, but not a problem for these guys. To go for it in 2, the player will need to carry his ball 260 yards as the green is protected by bunkers and rough in the front. There is some thick rough at Torrey, so that'll mean Tiger will have to navigate it at times. His back will be tested if he's not accurate with his driver. The greens are Poa Annua, which can be difficult to read and will challenge the players' putting acumen. No. 18 is a 570 yard, par 5 and leads to some heroics like Rahm's putt last year, and the memorable 50 foot eagle putt Woods converted in the 2008 Open on Saturday. He also sank an 8 footer on Sunday to get into a playoff with Mediate. He put on a putting masterpiece. The rest of his game was pretty darn sharp too.
The weather looks very good. Sunny, high tomorrow 63, wind 7 to 12 MPH; Friday, sunny, 64, wind 7-12 MPH; Saturday, sunny, 71, wind 6-12; and Sunday, sunny, 78, wind 6-10. Conditions look ideal for scoring, though the wind can be tricky on many holes.
The Golf Channel and CBS will televise. Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 2-6 PM CT; Saturday, Golf, 1-2:30 PM CT; CBS 3-6 PM CT; Sunday: 12-1:30 PM CT; CBS, 2-5:30 PM CT.
The 37 year old from Nashvegas and Vanderbilt University has always played well here. He's won here in 2012 and 2016, and was tied for the 54 hole lead last year, only to shoot a 73 and finish T-9th. I like Brandt's chances.
I was tempted to pick the Spaniard, but with all the talk about him being No.1 if he wins, there may be too much noise going on for him to close it out. But he's in contention wheneve he competes.
The rookie of the year last year, Schauffele, the 24 year old San Diego native, won the Greenbriar Classic and the Tour Championship last year though he was overshadowed in his Tour Championship victory by Justin Thomas winning the Fed Ex Cup. But that's fantastic stuff. He's quite a player and playing on his home turf.
The 28 year old Valdosta, Georgia native and Georgia Bulldog finished tied for 11th last week at the CareerBuilder shooting 66 on Sunday. He tied for 14th here last year. He's an excellent player, and it's time for him to get a breakthrough victory. He has won at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic in 2013, and at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico also in 2013, but I'm sure he'd like to capture a memorable one in San Diego.
He's been in the hunt from the end of last year into this season. The 31 year old Savannah, Georgia native and former Georgia Bulldog won the 2014 John Deere Classic and won last year at the Wells Fargo Championship edging out Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez. He finished tied for 9th here last year. He was in heavy contention last year at the U.S, Open, though Brooks Koepka went ballistic on Sunday and won going away. Harmon did finish tied for 2nd with Hideki Matsuyama. Very good player and excellent competitor. Not the longest guy, but hits it 290, 300 hundred, and has a super short game.
I don't see Tiger Woods as a contender for the title. He could play well because he really loves this course and has excelled at Torrey, but he's not played enough to contend. If he makes the cut, that's progress.
Phil Mickelson is playing too. This will be the 47 year old San Diego native's 29th start at the Farmers. He's won 3 times at Torrey Pines, but his best finish since 2001 was a runner-up to Ben Crane in 2010. Still think Phil will play well. He's still got excellent talent and can still compete at a high level. He's a 5 time major winner and has won 42 times on the PGA Tour, 9th best.
I think this guy is ready to breakthrough again this season. Going with the Savannah, GA. native and Georgia Dawg to get an early victory on the tour and set himself up for a very good season.
Defending champion: Sergio Garcia
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, New York
Defending champion: Brooks Koepka
The Open Championship
Carnoustie Golf Club, Angus, Scotland
Defending champion: Jordan Spieth
Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis
Defending champion: Justin Thomas
The 2018 Ryder Cup
Le Golf National, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, September 28th-30th.
U.S. defending. Won at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, September 30th-Oct. 2nd, 2016.