The Farmers Insurance Open often marks the beginning of the real meat of the daily fantasy golf season as we move away from the easier, laid-back opening venues and into the heart of the West Coast swing. Torrey Pines South is always one of the toughest courses the players encounter on the regular PGA calendar, and this year it has some added importance, as the course will also be hosting the 2021 U.S. Open as well. The sprawling seaside par 72 carries a lot of bite with thicker kikuyu rough and bumpy, fast poa greens that often act as a shock to the system for the players who opened their season on the well-manicured Bermuda venues. That in mind, let’s start to get into some of the daily fantasy golf picks for DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Farmers Insurance Open is also played on Torrey Pines North for at least one of the first two days as players rotate between the North and South courses prior to the cut. The North is newly renovated but still much more forgiving, and players who intend to compete this week will almost certainly need a solid under-par round there to get themselves into contention on the weekend. Strokes gained off the tee and tee to green can and should be emphasized here, although if you’re looking to up the variance in GPPs, looking at players with solid poa putting stats can be helpful as well.
Torrey Pines Stats and Info
- Most popular basket of approach shots from previous events from Torrey Pines are from over 200 yards, so lots of longer iron shots will be in play this week.
- Hard-to-hit fairways (driving accuracy 8-10% lower than normal) and slightly tougher to hit greens as well; when added with length of course (par 72, 7,697 yards), it makes for big emphasis on ball striking.
- Bogey avoidance is crucial, and driving distance among top players is generally a couple yards higher than tour average (aka players will hit tons of drivers this week).
The greens at Torrey South are poa. They’re some of the most finicky greens on tour, and typically we see some of the highest three-putt percentages here of any venue on tour. Here’s a more general look at some of the best and worst poa putters in the field, relative to their strokes gained on other surfaces. Use caution with these in your fantasy golf picks; they aren’t the be-all, end-all, but they make for a nice tiebreaker.
Positive Poa Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds
- Louis Oosthuizen: +25 strokes on poa, +6 on all other surfaces
- Cameron Smith: +27 on poa, +7 on all other surfaces
- Hideki Matsuyama: +6 on poa, -38 on all other surfaces
*+ equals total strokes gained | – equals strokes lost
Negative Poa Putting Splits, Last 50 Rounds
- Cameron Davis: -3 on poa, +15 on all other surfaces
- Francesco Molinari: -28 on poa, -11 on all other surfaces
- Rickie Fowler: -3 on poa, +5 on all other surfaces
DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf Picks: Farmers Insurance Open
Hideki Matsuyama: Grades: A, Values: B
Matsuyama started his season with a brief holiday at the Tournament of Champions, where he challenged for last place at the no-cut/auto paycheck opener, but he rebounded in short order with a fantastic ball-striking week at the Sony. Matsuyama gained 6.1 on his approaches alone in Honolulu, and while his putter failed him miserably there, there is reason for some optimism that the flat stick could show up for him this week. Poa greens have been the cure for Matsuyama’s putting woes of late, as he has gained over 6.0 strokes putting on the surface over the last 50 rounds on poa. Moreover, some of that success has come at this week’s venue, where he’s now finished 12th and third in two of the past three seasons.
Matsuyama comes in with solid long-term form too, as he ranks fifth in strokes gained tee to green and fourth in strokes gained around the green over the last 50 rounds. He also rates out highly on Awesemo. Matsuyama has the highest-projected point total of any player under $9,700 this week and also has the second-best value score in the model of anyone $9,000 and above on DraftKings. He was close a couple times at the end of 2020, and the confidence seems to be building here. I wouldn’t mind building lineups around him at all this week.
- Has gained strokes on his approaches in nine of his last 11 starts; fifth in strokes gained tee to green over last 50 rounds
- Has made the cut at Torrey Pines four years running now and has gained strokes putting on the greens here in three of the past four seasons
Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 14.8% | FanDuel: 10.0%
Jason Day: Grades: B, A Values: B
Day also rates as a strong play in the model this week, and it’s a little perplexing why he isn’t higher up in the ownership projections. Perhaps DFS players just don’t want to deal with the volatility here, as Day has missed three cuts in his last six starts. However, volatility works both ways. He got himself in the final group at Houston (ultimately finishing seventh there) and was also a solid 12th in his last start of 2020 at the RSM Classic. Day put together spurts of dominance at the end of 2020, and even though it didn’t pay off with a win, the fact he played longer stretches without injury or dramatic regression should be taken very positively for his chances this week.
A two-time winner at this venue, Day is also one of the most consistent poa putters in the history of the game, ranking third over the last 50 rounds in strokes gained putting on this surface. The site likes him as much as I do too, as he carries the best value score and points projection of any player in the $8,000 range this week on Awesemo. The floor here isn’t great (admittedly), but the upside is, and with the Awesemo ownership projections spitting out low numbers, Day’s a great mid-tier value in the large-field GPPs this week.
- Finished 12th or better in six of his last 12 starts on tour
- Has gained strokes off the tee in eight of his last 10 starts and ranks out third in this field in strokes gained putting on poa greens over last 50 rounds
Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 9.9% | FanDuel: 7.8%
Low-Owned Daily Fantasy Golf Picks/GPP Flier
Golf is a fickle game, and Koepka was making a solid run at getting to the weekend after a terrible start last week when one stray tee shot led to a triple-bogey that he couldn’t recover from. I wouldn’t judge Koepka too harshly by his missed cut at the fiddly resort courses in play last week, but I would pay attention to the fact that he managed seven birdies in his second round there. Koepka’s approaches still need a little fine tuning ,but his off-tee game still looks close to full power, and his touch on and around the greens doesn’t look like it has wilted much. The venue in play this week is the real draw here, though, as Koepka has been in contention in each of the last two West Coast majors (Pebble Beach and TPC Harding park). The big expansive Farmers Insurance Open means he should be able to build some confidence here with his best club, which is still the driver.
Koepka may have missed two cuts in a row now, but let’s not forget that he has two top-10 finishes in his last four starts dating back to last season, and both of those top-10s came at driver-heavy venues in Houston and Augusta. Koepka was overpriced and outmatched at the event last week, but he is now looking somewhat cheap considering the U.S. Open-style venue in play, where he has done his best work for DFS players over the past four years.
Projected PGA DFS ownership: DraftKings: 4.9%
DraftKings Top Three Under 5%
Alex Noren ($7,400)
Noren was the playoff loser here in 2018, and while he’s not a massive hitter, he has shown the ability to navigate U.S. Open-style greens at an elite level. He comes in off a week where he was striking the ball well (but couldn’t sink a putt) on the Bermuda greens at TPC Stadium. He is high variance due to his over-reliance on the putter, but if he figures the greens out early, a big DraftKings week could be had by him here.
Wyndham Clark ($6,800)
Clark is a big hitter whose tee ball and ability to navigate tricky greens should play well at Torrey over time. He has been striking the ball better of late and been very sharp around the greens, gaining strokes around the green in seven of his last eight starts. A 35th in his debut here in 2019 is a good indicator that he’ll be a decent value at these levels for this event long term.
Luke List ($6,800)
List is coming off a good ball-striking week at the American Express, where he ranked third in greens in regulation and gained over 4.0 strokes with his irons. He has made the cut here in each of the last three seasons even when not striking it the best, and the expansive layout clearly fits his power game quite well. A higher-scoring week suits him just fine for DFS purposes too, as he should still give you more birdie/eagle opportunities than average players here given the four par 5’s.
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