The next stop of the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing is Farmers Insurance Open, and it starts this Thursday from the Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, San Diego.
The tournament that started as the San Diego Open in 1927 is now on its 63rd edition and offers a total purse of $6.1 million with a winner’s share of $1.08 million.
Last year, Brandt Snedeker won the tournament even when he thought he had no chance when he walked off the 18th hole on Sunday.
Then, in an epic meltdown, the leader Kyle Stanley three-putted from 45 feet for a triple bogey on the final hole and subsequently lost on the second playoff hole when he missed his five-foot par-putt as it caught the right edge of the cup.
This year, Snedeker is back to defend his title, but the two biggest names in American golf, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, will headline a field that promises a quality-filled tournament with highlights like fireworks worthy of a fourth of July celebration.
Woods has won this tournament a record six times, and will start his PGA season trying to leave behind a nightmare weekend at Abu Dhabi that saw him get a two-stroke embedded-ball penalty and miss the cut.
Mickelson on the other hand, will be looking to put behind him, a week where he had to get an early tee time on the Uncle Sam tax course. Hopefully he can concentrate on the tournament he has won three times and give us the show we are used to seeing from him.
Besides Woods and Mickelson, the field also has quality depth with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, defending champion Brandt Snedeker, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler.
Johnson has been on the news for his on and off the course news. He is dating Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s daughter Paulina, withdrew on Friday after nine holes at the Sony Open because of the flu, and was coming off a four-shot win at the Tournament of Champions.
He will be playing three rounds at the big-hitter-friendly confines of the South Course, which suits his style perfectly. He could very well make it two-for-three to start the year.
Snedeker won last year and had his breakthrough year when he won the season-ending Tour Championship and the season-long FedEx Cup Playoff for a $10 million bonus, thus securing a spot on the Ryder Cup team.
He is back to defend his title and his history here at Torrey Pines, where he has been very successful. He finished in the top 10 each of the last three years—including his win last year—a runner-up in 2010, and a T3 in 2007.
Watson won The Masters last year and peaked at No. 8 in the Official Golf World Rankings. He is down to ninth, but has been picking up the pace with four Top Five finishes in his last five tournaments. A big bomber like him will be feeling like fish in water at Torrey Pines’ South Course.
Bradley had finished in second and tied for fourth place before his T49 last weekend at the Sony Open. He is a streaky player and another hitter with enough power to feel comfortable at Torrey Pines that could be challenging for the win on Sunday.
Watney won the CIMB Classic and followed it up with Top 16 finishes in his next three tournaments. Last year he was on a similar track and finished T60, good news for him is he has a good record prior to last year here at Torrey pines.
Mahan is a player that when he is on he is a world beater, but when he is not, he can look like an amateur club player. He had a couple of Top 10s and then had two Top 30 finishes. If his streaky nature holds true, he is due for a good weekend; good news are he has finished sixth the past two years here.
Fowler feels at home here and has finished fifth, 20th and 13th in this event. His game certainly looks to fit the course and has seen a steady improvement lately with T4 and T6 finishes in his past two tournaments.
He has been improving from an injury which held him back after he won at Quail Hollow last year and could very well keep his hot clubs this weekend.
Stanley is back to the scene of his epic meltdown. His hot start last year continued the next weekend, when he won the Waste Management Phoenix Open. But since then he has not registered a single Top 15 finish, missing the cut 11 times including the Humana Challenge last weekend.
Other notables playing this weekend will be Vijay Singh, Bill Haas, Jason Day and Charles Howell.
Tee Times and Featured Threesomes
The first players to tee off on Thursday and Friday on both the North and South Courses will do so at 12:00 noon ET. The last groups will begin their rounds at 2:00 pm ET.
Here are the featured groups and their tee times for the first two rounds, along with the course they will be playing in:
- Tiger Woods, Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler - Thursday at 1:30 pm ET on Torrey Pines' South Course and 12:20 pm ET on the North Course on Friday.
- Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker - Thursday at 12:30 pm ET on Torrey Pines' North Course and 1:30 pm ET on the South Course on Friday.
- Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Vijay Singh - Thursday at 12:20 pm ET on Torrey Pines' North Course and 1:20 pm ET on the South Course on Friday.
- Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas and Kyle Stanley - Thursday at 1:40 pm ET on Torrey Pines' South Course and 12:30 pm ET on the North Course on Friday.
- Jason Day, Ryo Ishikawa and Nicolas Colasaerts – Thursday at 12:10 pm ET on Torrey Pines' North Course and 1:10 pm ET on the South Course on Friday.
For a full listing of all the tee times, click here.
The Torrey Pines Golf Club provides challenging courses with great scenery, thanks to being located on a beautiful setting along the cliffs bordering the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla.
Torrey Pines has served as the host of the tournament since 1968, and it has two famed courses, the North and the South.
The format of the tournament calls for the players to be split during the first two rounds on both courses, meaning that each player will play at least one round on the North course.
During the weekend, the players that make the cut will play both days on the South course. Both courses play at Par-72. The South is 7,698 yards and the North is 7,045 yards in length, but this year they will play 7,569 and 6,874 respectively.
The North course is less difficult that the South and it shows as the longest of the four Par-5’s is the ninth hole at 547 yards. It also has two Par-3 holes—No. 3 and No. 17—under 200 yards (184 and 171).
The South course can eat player’s hopes on the back-nine. Especially the Par-5 13th hole, it lowers in elevation before rising up to a green surrounded by bunkers on a hill. It looks like a bunker castle.
This hole follows the 12th that is the longest Par-4 at 504 yards, so is a stretch of two very demanding holes.
The 13th and the ninth are the longest holes on the course at 614 and 613 yards respectively. The shortest holes are the eight at 176 yards and the third hole at 198 yards.
TV: Thursday-Friday 3:00-7:00 pm ET (Golf Channel), Saturday-Sunday 1:00-2:30 pm ET (Golf Channel) and 3:00-6:00 pm ET (CBS).
SiriusXM PGA TOUR RADIO: Thursday-Friday 1:00-7:00 pm ET, Saturday 12 Noon-6:00 pm ET and Sunday 1:00-7:00 pm ET.