Don’t worry, the Wednesday start for the Farmers Insurance Open snuck up on many of us, but we haven’t forgotten the loyal readers looking for some betting insight on the PGA Tour.
It’s a unique set up at Torrey Pines with the entire field getting a crack at both the tough South and the easier North course through the opening rounds but the cut is now made and the final flourish sticks to the South.
Through 36 holes so far it is rank outsider Sam Ryder, in search of his first Tour win, who has blitzed ahead with rounds of 64-68 to be 12-under, three clear of Brendan Steele (-9) and five ahead of third placed Tano Goya (-7).
So potentially diabolical is the South Course (the scoring average in the second round as wind whipped up was 75.859) that it has yielded a low of 66 and a high of 85 over the two rounds.
While the winds shouldn’t be as damaging over the final two rounds, it’s becoming clear that if you don’t put the ball in play off the tee, or find the green on approach, you’re putting your life in the hands of the lie gods.
Leader Sam Ryder is now the 7/2 favourite, Brendan Steele is 7/1 three shots back in second, heavy pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm is also 7/1 sitting in a tie for 14th at four under, eight back while California native Max Homa is 15/2 sitting in a tie for fourth at six under.
This is Ryder’s sixth attempt at the Farmers Insurance Open with a personal best T10 in 2021. A year ago, he opened with an 80 on the South Course. His second round 68 this year is his personal best round on the layout. Ryder ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach this week and is seventh in putting.
Steele is playing his 11th Farmers Insurance Open but never bettered his T17 on debut in 2011. His scoring average in the final two rounds of the tournament is 72.575. In other words, over par.
His success so far this year has been built on leading the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, sitting 10th on approach and ranking sixth in putting. The putter is the key to continued highlights as while he ranks admirably off the tee and on approach this season, he ranks 187th in putting. Any regression to those levels will spell danger.
Rahm won on debut in 2017, was T29 the following year, but finished T5-2-T7-T3 since. Oh, he also sandwiched in a win at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines just for good measure. It’s not a surprise to see him high on the betting boards despite sitting eight back.
Rahm has won his last two PGA Tour starts and four of his last seven worldwide. He’s ranked 13th off the tee but has been average everywhere else. It’s likely his groove returns on the weekend. Expect him to at very least scare the top of the leaderboard.
Homa is trying to grab another win in California to go with his two Fortinet Championships and his Genesis Invitational. Sitting nicely poised in fourth place he’s ranked second in SG: Approach and 14th in putting. Interestingly he’s missed four cuts in six previous tries at the Farmers Insurance Open but was T9 in 2020.
Those considered by bet365 as the most likely chasers are Taylor Montgomery (10/1), Collin Morikawa (11/1), Sahith Theegala (14/1), and Jason Day (16/1). Should you consider them contenders?
PGA Tour rookie Montgomery sits T4, six back. He was T11 as a sponsor invite a year ago at Torrey Pines, the same venue where he made the cut in the 2021 U.S. Open as a qualifier. He is the clear pacesetter in Rookie of the Year candidates with eight top-15 finishes on TOUR this season already. The majority of his strokes gained through two rounds this week are via approach and putting.
Morikawa is looking to rebound from his epic collapse to Rahm at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He is currently T10 at 5-under and ranks third in SG: Off-the-Tee and Approach. Worryingly, he lost almost two shots to the field putting but the bumpy poa greens see more misses than makes from most. His only previous result at the Farmers was T21 in 2020 but he was T4 in the U.S. Open at Torrey in 2021.
Young gun Theegala was T25 in his debut a year ago and now sits T4 at 6-under through two rounds. His short game around the greens has kept him in it, including a filthy good flop shot on Thursday from deep rough. With minor improvements off the tee in the final two rounds he could surprise.
Day is a Torrey Pines specialist having won the event twice in 2015 and 2018. He also has a runner up, a third and a fifth-place finish in the past. At T10 and five-under he is an interesting prospect, but ONLY if he lifts his approach game. Day ranks third in SG: Putting, seventh in SG: Off-the-Tee and 17th in SG: Around-the-Green so far but lost almost a stroke to the average to rank 65th in SG: Approach. That won’t cut it if he wants to make a charge. The good news is Day ranks 10th this season on Approach, so it’s there if he finds it.
Now we are left with the rest. As the odds grow is there anyone who could make a run through the pack for a big payday?
The highest on the leaderboard are Tano Goya (50/1) at 7-under and Sam Stevens (66/1), Vincent Norrman (50/1), and Brent Grant (125/1) at six-under. But I have nothing to suggest they will pressure for a first Tour win.
Instead, one must expect miracles from proven Tour winners like Sungjae Im (66/1) and Justin Thomas (50/1) who sit 10 back but tied 24th.
Thomas has the talent, but not the record of success at Torrey Pines to have huge faith. He couldn’t buy a fairway on the easier North Course in the second round.
Im had a diabolical second round on the North, shooting 74. But he was one of the better performers on the South in the opening round with a 68. His precision iron play will need to be near perfect but… you’re saying there’s a chance.