The PGA Tour doesn’t include the Farmers Insurance Open as one of its new elevated events with outsized purses, but this still feels like one of the premier tournaments on the calendar.
Half of the top 10 from the Official World Golf Ranking and 13 of the top 50 will be in attendance this week in La Jolla, California.
Famed public venue Torrey Pines is the site of the action with the North and South courses in play. Players play one of the first two rounds on the North and will play the South once, as well as twice on the weekend, if they make the 36-hole cut from 156 players to top 65 and ties.
The North course measures 7,258 yards. It underwent a Tom Weiskopf renovation in 2016 that replaced every green and provides a more challenging test. But not that challenging for the pros. It yields an under-par scoring average compared to the South which is significantly over-par.
Torrey Pines’ South course is the longest PGA Tour stop.
It measures 7,765 yards. There’s no elevation to inflate distance, so this is a true bomber’s layout.
All four par-5s are over 560 yards, half of the 12 par-4s are over 450, and three par-3s are over 200.
It’s one of those courses that fit the cliche of “it all being right in front of you” as there’s not a lot of nuance in strategy.
Strokes gained off the tee will be an obvious stat to keep in mind. Among those who are driving well, it will come down to a putting contest. Look for those who play well on poa annua, a common West Coast grass, to succeed.
How thick the rough is and how the seaside breeze blows dictates scoring. Recent winning scores range from Brandt Snedeker grinding out 6-under for his second Farmers Insurance Open title to Justin Rose capitalizing on benign conditions to win at 21-under in 2019.
This week’s forecast predicts temperatures in the 40s-60s Fahrenheit with dry conditions and moderate winds. It won’t take an all-time grinder performance to win as we’ve seen in years past, but it’s not paradise, either.
Without further ado, here’s this week’s top 10:
OWGR: 25th, FedEx Cup: 6th,
Keegan Bradley is already a winner in the 2022-23 PGA Tour season and arrives to a venue that’s treated him well over the years.
Starting with the victory, the St. John’s alum took the top prize last fall at the ZOZO Championship where he cashed in a one-shot victory in Japan.
Bradley credited some of his success to a diet that helped him lose 30 pounds over five months. He had teased us with low rounds and high finishes over the past few years, but some more stamina helped Bradley win for the first time on the PGA Tour in more than four years.
It was his fifth career victory and second top-five of the 2022-23 season. Bradley took T-5th two weeks before the ZOZO at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
He comes to La Jolla off of a week of rest following a missed cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii. It was his first MC since August.
The Vermont native has looked comfortable on the opposite coast.
Bradley’s made nine of 11 cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open.
He’s finished T-41st or better all 10 times and recorded back-to-back top-fives in 2017 and 2018.
In ‘17, Bradley posted his top Farmers finish with T-4th. He opened with 3-under 69 at the North course and ended with 3-under 69, 74, and 67 on the South. The 67 vaulted him 20 spots up the leaderboard and left him one shot out of second place.
The next year, Bradley achieved the difficult feat of posting four rounds in red figures. He shot 69 Friday at the North and posted 70, 71, and 70 on the South.
This will be his first trip to Torrey Pines since 2020. That year, he took T-16th thanks to 66 Thursday at the North and 72-73-70 on the South.
“Well, I really like that you can hit driver on every hole, which is very rare,” Bradley was transcribed by Tee Scripts in 2020. “So basically going to hit driver on every hole but par 3s and I like that. It’s nice, deep rough.”
The 36-year-old quietly ranked 21st on the PGA Tour last season in total strokes gained per round (1.053). Bradley was 23rd in SG tee to green (.986) and was in the positive in every SG category.
He was also 44th in driving distance (307.5).