Written 22nd January 2020
Farmers Insurance Open Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
The Farmers Insurance Open is one of the strongest events on the PGA Tour, and as ever attracts one of the deepest and most formidable fields of the year as the players head to the Monterrey Peninsula and the gem that is Torey Pines. Played over two courses, each player gets one round on the North Course over the first two days, and plays their other three rounds over the South course; home to several US Opens including Tiger Woods famous win here in 2008. This is a venue where Tiger has won seven times.
The South Course, Torey Pines, Southern California, USA. 7,700 Yards, Par 72.
The South Course at Torey Pines is one of the finest courses in the USA and, as the honour roll shows, has hosted some of the greatest champions in golf. opened in 1957, and on a clifftop overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the South Course was redesigned by Reese Jones back in 2001 who lengthened it to the brutally difficult 7,700 yard beast that it is today. A proper all round test of golf, the South requires the players to hit the ball straight from the tee, shape it both ways and punishes, severely in many cases, any bad shots. From the tee, bigger hitters are at an advantage purely due to the length of the course and the fact that long drives make the course more manageable. There is, however, no substitute for accuracy and errant drives will find the thick rough and dangerously placed fairway bunkering that is especially prevalent over the back nine holes.
The greens on the South Course are not vastly different to those on the North, and are not where it really shows its teeth. They are large, fast, and slopey poa annua that can pick up spike marks and become more challenging to putt on through the afternoon. The greenside bunkering is strong, and the rough around the greens is deep. If players are approaching from the rough, or even from the wrong side of the fairway, they are well advised to be conservative. Double bogeys or worse are not uncommon here, and such a stiff test of golf invariably produces a high calibre winner.
The North Course, Torey Pines, Southern California, USA. 7,250 Yards, Par 72.
At some 450 yards shorter, the North is the easier of the two courses on the Torey Pines estate and typically plays two shots lower than the South. Driving is again at a premium, although less so given the length, but wayward shots are often punished and the field cannot afford any drop in concentration, as Torey North is still far more challenging than the courses that they play most weeks. One piece of respite lies in two very birdieable par 5s. The greens are also slightly larger and therefore more forgiving, but it is still vital that the players do not miss them on the wrong side.
The winner this week will need to drive the ball exceptionally well and experience of putting on poa annua greens is a big advantage. Course form is relevant here ,and winners names have begun with a J for six of the last seven years!
Last Five Winners
The Market Leaders
Rory McIlroy (6/1) has, somewhat surprisingly, only played the Farmers Insurance once in his career. Given that the course is so challenging and that Mcilroy excels at the tougher venues it's sensible to presume that he would have made adding this prestigious title to his slowly expanding list would have been a slightly higher priority for him. Perhaps the fact that it is so early in the year and clashes with big and lucrative events in the Middle East hasn't helped, but Rory made a strong impression on his debut when finishing 5th last year, and he definitely has the game for Torey. Last year he opened with a 71 on the South before a 65 on the North and back to back 69s over the weekend for a strong result, and he finished last year well with a win at the WGC HSBC Champions and a 4th place in the European Tour finale. That said, the price seems extraordinarily short in this quality of field and, although Rory can never be ruled out, his price this week just serves to add more value to the rest further down the market.
John Rahm (15/2) won a dramatic reversal on his debut here in 2017 and followed that with a tied 5th place alongside Rory last year despite opening with a stunning 62 on the North Course. Rahm is another all round great golfer, and he reinforced that by taking the Race to Dubai with his clinical victory ahead of McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship at the start of December. There are no obvious weaknesses to Rahm's game, and a strong case should be made that he should come into this week shorter than Rory. He opened his PGA Tour season at Kapalua three weeks ago and slipped to a slightly disappointing 10th placed finish in a reduced field so he will be keen to improve on that showing, and he is more than capable of doing so. The venue is a great fit but it is hard to argue that there is much value in the price of 15/2
Tiger Woods (10/1) seventh and most recent win at Torey came back in 2013, but he has largely struggled here since then with three missed cuts and no top 20 finishes in his five appearances. Although still an above average hitter on the Tour, Woods has struggled to match the length of some of his competitors, and as importantly is severely handicapped; particularly when playing from the thick rough on the South Course which, with his generally poor driving statistics, has not been unusual. He is not a bet for me this week, though I expect a strong year for Woods. Justin Rose (16/1) was the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s last year on the way to his first ever title in California. Rose ahad been inside the top 10 for both of the previous seasons, and arrives in largely mixed form with a 5th place in Albany his most recent showing. He also seems a little on the short side. Xander Schauffele's (16/1) record at Torey leaves much to be desired with three missed cuts before a 25th placed finish last year. He does, however, arrive in great form with two second places and a 10th in his last three events, and I am happy to overlook that largely poor record for a player of Xander's quality, although he won't be a selection of mine this week with seemingly better value elsewhere.
It is nearly ten years since Ryan Palmer's last solo professional win at the Sony Open in Hawaii, however he did take the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in partnership with John Rahm last season, and this season has begun impressively with a 17th place followed by a 4th at the two Tour events in Hawaii. In those events, Palmer controlled his game exceptionally well, and it was the performance at the challenging and wind swept Waialae course that really caught my eye and has led to him being my main selection this week. Palmer's long game is very strong and made for tough venue slike Torey Pines where he had barely played throughout his long career until two years ago when he lost to Jason Day in a three man playoff with him and Alex Noren before a 13th place finish last year where only a poor third round 75 prevented him from challenging for the title once again on Sunday afternoon. Palmer arrives in far hotter form than either of those years and with question marks over the top six in the market i feel there is real value in the 42 year old American. I will be having 2 points e/w at 50/1.
Keegan Bradley nearly landed us one of our best results towards the end of last year when he finished agonisingly close to landing the Travelers Championship, only to be edged out by Chez Reavie at River Highlands in August. Since then, Keegan has continued on an upward curve, and the man who won a famously brutal PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club loves nothing more than a stiff challenge, and Torey Pines never fails to provide that. Bradley has excelled here over the past couple of years with back to back top 5 finishes before finishing outside the top thirty in last year's unusually low scoring event. With conditions set to blow and test the field once more, Bradley has an excellent opportunity to once again get into contention here. His game has looked solid at the end of last year, and he produced another top 10 on his 220 debut in Hawaii where conditions were equally as challenging as what is forecast this week. Everything is set up for Bradley to have areal run at the title this week and i recommend backing the big hitting American with 1 point e/w at 70/1.
Tom Hoge is a steadily improving Tour player with a mixed record at Torey Pines but who, for me, comes here in the form of his life and primed to contend. Hoge has visited here four times, missing three cuts, but showing his qualities in 2018 when he finished five shots behind Jason Day in 12th place. That was a tough year for scoring, and I expect similar this year; allowing Hoge's supreme long game to give an edge on a large number of the field. This is Tom's third consecutive event, and he has finished 12th and 6th last week at the American Express so he really does arrive in good nick, and might be able to steal a march on some of the lower priced players who have chosen to make this their first event of 2020. Hoge's slightly poor putting should be less impacted on the poa annua greens, and if he can go low on the North Course (he finished last week 18 under par, and is very capable of doing so), then he could make this price look very silly. We have already had returns on one 125/1 player in the US this year, and i am confident that Tom can repeat that for us with 1 point e/w at 125/1
Following a rolling profit of 463 points in 2019, i am looking for an even better 2020. Each week I will pick between 2 to 4 selections at each event on the European and PGA Tours, and suggest a suitable staking plan.
European Tour: -17 Points
PGA Tour: +62 Points
Total: + 45
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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