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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS Course History - Farmers Insurance Open

Welcome back RotoBaller PGA family! 2021 is rolling right along, as Si Woo Kim emerged with a victory from a jam-packed leaderboard at the American Express. Kim fought off a late charge from Patrick Cantlay to capture his third PGA Tour win...and second on a Peter Dye-designed golf course.

We continue on the "West Coast Swing" this week with a visit to beautiful Torrey Pines, the host of the 2021 U.S. Open. This is always a fun tournament on a terrific golf course. Let's tee it up!

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

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Farmers Insurance Open Overview

Yes, the PGA Tour has been underway in 2021 for almost a month, but this week is the first time this year that things truly feel substantial. With a couple of events in Hawaii and the traditional pro-am atmosphere in La Quinta, the highly-competitive environment of the Farmers just feels different. That's especially true this year, as Torrey Pines is set to host the 2021 U.S. Open, meaning we - and the players in the field - will get a sneak peek at the course that will decide our national champion later this year.

While the Farmers always boasts a strong field and that is once again the case this year, with Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, and Brooks Koepka all set to be in attendance this week. 2020 Farmers Open champion Marc Leishman will be back to defend his title. He'll have to not only contend with some of the game's established stars, but will attempt to fend off some of the game's best young talent in players like Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, and Will Zalatoris.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!


The Course: Torrey Pines

South Course: Par 72 - 7,765 Yards, Greens: Poa Annua, Designed By: William Bell

North Course: Par 72 - 7,258, Greens: Bent w/ Poa, Designed By: William Bell

While nothing like last week's American Express, we are again faced with rotating courses this week. Over the first two rounds, players will play once on Torrey Pines South and once on Torrey Pines North. Those that make the cut will finish out the weekend on the South course, the more famous and difficult of the two.

The South course hosted the 2008 U.S. Open and is slated to host the 2021 U.S. Open later this year, if that gives you any indication as to its quality. The two courses are vastly different with the North playing much easier than the difficult South.

Players will need to take advantage of their round on the North and survive the South in order to play on the weekend. The cut line is often around even or a few shots over par. Players that make the cut will play both weekend rounds on the South course and it can be brutal. It is long and mean, with thick rough. The South course will test every facet of a player's tee-to-green game. This will send me toward targeting players with complete games rather than a specific strength with an emphasis on golfers that have a history of performing well on tough courses.

For an in-depth breakdown of this week's course, check out RotoBaller's PGA Premium Course Breakdown by Josh Bennett!


Recent Champions & Winning Scores

  • 2020: Marc Leishman (-15)
  • 2019: Justin Rose (-21)
  • 2018: Jason Day (-10) *Playoff
  • 2017: Jon Rahm (-13)
  • 2016: Brandt Snedeker (-6)


Notes From Last Year's Farmer's Insurance Open

  • Marc Leishman struggled off the tee, but rode sharp iron play and a white-hot putter to a final-round 65 en route to victory.
  • Leishman gained eight strokes putting in last year's Farmers, his best putting week since the 2018 Byron Nelson.
  • Bubba Watson and Tom Hoge led the field in SG: T2G (+8.2)
  • Rory McIlroy made his second career start in the Farmers. He's logged top-five finishes in each.


The Horse

Rory McIlroy

DraftKings: $11,000

Notable Course History: T3 (2020), T5 ('19)

There are lots of players with great course history this week, but the Horse honor goes to Rory McIlroy, a player that's only teed it up at Torrey Pines twice in his career, but has logged top-five finishes in both of those starts. In addition to the elite track record at Torrey, it feels as though we're catching McIlroy headed in the right direction after a strong outing in Abu Dhabi last week.

Perhaps no one on the PGA Tour was more negatively impacted by the COVID-19 layoff than Rory, a player that entered 2020 in blistering form. However, he struggled mightily once golf resumed, going almost three months without a top-10 finish. McIlroy appeared to find his footing as 2020 wrapped up though, posting a top-10 at the U.S. Open and a top-five at the Masters. Yes, they were "backdoor" finishes, but encouraging nonetheless, as was his third-place outing last week in Abu Dhabi.

McIlroy's talent is so transcendent that his results (i.e., lack of wins) can sometimes get frustrating for golf fans. It's been over a year since his last victory at the WGC-HSBC and it feels as though there's a title coming soon for McIlroy. This beastly Torrey layout presents a great opportunity for him.


The Ponies

Jon Rahm

DraftKings: $11,300
FanDuel: $12,100

Notable Course History: 2nd ('20), T5 ('19), T29 ('18), Win ('17)

I'd be remiss if I didn't at least touch on Jon Rahm this week. The Spaniard has been a bull at Torrey Pines throughout his career, winning the 2017 Farmers and posting additional top-five finishes in each of the last two years. His 41.61 Strokes Gained: Total at the Farmers places him second in this field.

While Rahm's course history and talent level are elite, he doesn't come into this week without some question marks. He was forced to WD from last week's AmEx...some sources say due to a weightlifting injury, while some speculate that his travel to a Spanish soccer match made teeing it up impossible...either way, this will be Rahm's first action since a T7 at the Sentry.

In addition to the mini-layoff, Rahm is also breaking in a new set of clubs after signing an equipment deal with Callaway at the beginning of 2021. There seemed to be no issues at Kapalua, as he gained 4.3 strokes T2G, though he did lose fractions of a stroke to the field on Approach. All in all, it's tough to ignore Rahm's record on this golf course and there is unquestionably tournament-winning upside that comes with rostering him.

Tony Finau

DraftKings: $10,700
FanDuel: $11,300

Notable Course History: T6 ('20), T13 ('19), T6 ('18), T4 ('17)

Tony has an elite track record at Torrey, posting three finishes inside the top-six over his last four Farmers starts. However, I'm currently mad at Tony for failing to close yet again at the AmEx. He's an unbelievably-consistent player, but can we justify spending this much when there's so much less win equity that comes with him when compared to Rory or Rahm? Like Forrest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that".


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Bubba Watson

DraftKings: $8,800
FanDuel: $10,100

Notable Course History: T6 ('19), T23 ('14), T13 ('12), Win ('11)

Last seen disappointing hopeful DFS players at the Masters, Bubba is set to make his first start of 2021 this week at Torrey Pines. The mercurial lefty has been very successful in his previous trips to the legendary San Diego layout, recording a win and three top-seven finishes over his nine career Farmers starts. Though it also says a lot about Bubba's headspace that there's a five-year gap between starts (didn't play between 2015-19) on a course where he's found so much success.

Let’s rewind back to that underwhelming missed cut at the Masters in November...Watson’s performance can be characterized as disappointing due to just how great he’d been in the lead-up to the Masters. Bubba headed to Augusta on the heels of back-to-back top-10s at the CJ Cup and ZOZO Championship. Before the disastrous Masters performance, he was playing his best golf in years. If we stretch back our statistical window to the last 24 rounds, Watson ranks first in this week’s Farmers field in both SG: T2G & Ball Striking, second in SG: OTT, and fifth in SG: Approach. 

This feels like an “out of sight, out of mind” opportunity to catch Bubba, as it’s possible many DFS players will forget just how sharp he looked down the stretch last year. Yes, the multi-month competitive layoff is a concern, but Watson posted a T6 in last year’s Farmers despite coming off a similarly-long break and has historically demonstrated the ability to play well on “Bubba Tracks” under any circumstances.

Marc Leishman

DraftKings: $8,700
FanDuel: $10,400

Notable Course History: Win ('20), T8 ('18), T2 ('14), 2nd ('10)

After a stretch of disastrous post-restart play last year, Marc Leishman has recently flashed some signs that he’s ready to return to the form that helped him capture the 2020 edition of the Farmers Insurance Open. I’ve been bullish on the Aussie’s potential to bounce-back this year and he’s looked right on track in his two 2021 starts, posting encouraging Approach numbers at the Sentry ToC and logging a T4 at the Sony Open while leading the field in Strokes Gained: Total. 

Leishman is rounding back into form at the perfect time, as he heads to a Torrey Pines layout on which he not only won last year, but has also posted a pair of runner-up finishes with two additional top-10s over 12 career starts.

Jason Day

DraftKings: $8,600
FanDuel: $10,300

Notable Course History: T16 ('20), T5 ('19), Win ('18), Win ('15), T2 ('14)

Trying to predict Jason Day over the last couple of years has been something of a fool’s errand. Plagued by injuries and off the course issues - as well as recent caddie, coach, and equipment changes - Day somehow possesses both top-five-in-the-world talent and old-man-playing-in-a-pickup-basketball-game fragility simultaneously. 

The Aussie’s Farmers record is an interesting microcosm of his career as a whole...two wins, two top-fives, and two missed cuts in his last eight Farmers starts. So while Day is perhaps just as likely to WD as win this week, the volatility might be worth embracing in GPPs due to his potential ability to navigate this very long and difficult golf course.


Win Big With RotoBaller

Golf is back, and it's time for you to win big with RotoBaller! Our PGA DFS Premium Package features several savvy analysts and proven DFS winners.

Our very own Joe Nicely recently took down a big DraftKings DFS tournament for the Travelers Championship. And as an encore, RotoBaller subscriber @tenndolly2 won $100K on FanDuel with the help of Joe and the rest of our Premium PGA team: Between all the incredible Premium PGA DFS content and tools we put out each week, and our Premium Slack Community where we chat with our subscribers before lineups lock, RotoBaller PGA subscribers are armed with the tools, analysis, and advice to win big.

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