There is a long history at Torrey Pines for this event. The field will play one round on the North Course and one round on the South Course on Thursday and Friday. The weekend will be played exclusively on the much longer, much more difficult South course. Torrey Pines North had a redesign since the last time this tournament was played, but since there’s only one round there we can put less weight into it. The South course, however, has an incredible amount of data from previous years. Player selection should be centered around distance, strokes gained off the tee, and Par 5 scoring if history is any indication.
Clear Studs ($9K+)
If you want to pay up for any of the Top 3 priced golfers, you’re going to need to find value. Jason Day ($11,400), Hideki Matsuyama ($11,200), and Dustin Johnson ($11,100) are all extremely pricey this week. If I had to leave off one, I’m dropping Matsuyama. His driving distance and Par 5 scoring is far inferior to Day and Johnson. Day has the advantage in Par 5 scoring, while DJ is longer off the tee.
As we move through the $9,000 to $11,000 range, there isn’t a ton of players that pique my interest for one reason or another. Brooks Koepka ($9,900) is interesting because of his length, but he’ll be relatively heavily owned. Jimmy Walker is in consideration because of his Par 5 scoring but he doesn’t quite have the distance of some of the other favorites. Brandt Snedeker has had success at this course but it’s a bit of a paradox given how his game and this course do not truly mesh.
Mid-Range Guys ($7k-$9k)
Hudson Swafford ($7,500), Brendan Steele ($8,000), and JB Holmes ($8,200) all benefit from a bit of a pricing mismatch relative to their Vegas odds. Swafford will see a bump in ownership because of his win last week in La Quinta which may take him out of consideration for me. JB Holmes is a well-known bomber that could see some success this weekend. There isn’t a premium on accuracy this week, but when Holmes loses it off the tee it isn’t pretty. I prefer Steele out of the three names mentioned. He has reasonable distance compared to others in this range and he scores relatively well on Par 5s historically.
Gary Woodland ($8,600) is my cash lock of the week. He’s made the each of the last 4 years including 2 Top-20 finishes. Tony Finau ($7,700) is interesting at this price as well. Finau is long off the tee (312 yard average in 2016), and has one of the best Par 5 Scoring histories in this range. Charles Howell III ($7,300) is also in consideration in this range. His worst finish in his last 5 starts is T15. Howell’s game fits the course and he is playing very well recently.
Value Guys (Sub-$7K)
Scott Stallings ($6,800) has 3 top-25 finishes since 2014 including a victory and a runner-up finish. He played well last week and fits this course well given his history. There seems to be a theme of a good play at $6,800 each week, Stallings is that guy in the Farmers Insurance Open. At $100 more, Smylie Kaufman ($6,900) is in consideration for me as well. He bombs the ball of the tee and scores on Par 5s just about as well as anyone in this range. Robert Garrigus ($6,200) also caught my attention. He’s barely above the minimum salary this week with the 104th highest salary. According to Vegas, he has the 47th best chance to finish in the Top-10 this week.