The field this week will again be set at around 156 golfers. The cut line will move back to Friday, but we do have a two-course rotation in play. Players will tee it up once on Torrey South and once on Torrey North between Thursday and Friday, then switch over strictly to the South Course this weekend. The North Course always plays significantly easier than the South, so scores between the two will differ drastically, on most days.
The play this week will vary dramatically from the first three weeks. Torrey Pines is one of the toughest courses the players see all season and there will be far fewer birdie opportunities and far more double bogies or worse. Jon Rahm, a two-time winner at Torrey Pines and winner of back-to-back starts now on the PGA TOUR, is in the field. Last year’s runner-up Will Zalatoris is also playing as is Jason Day — who won this event in 2015 and 2018.
This year, the event will feature a Wednesday start. The idea is to finish on Saturday to avoid Conference Championship Sunday in the NFL.
Player injuries to keep track of and note this week include: Xander Schauffele (back) and Hideki Matsuyama (undisclosed). Schauffele looks healthy after a T3 last week, but Matsuyama has had lingering issues since the beginning of last season and hasn’t posted a top-10 finish since last year’s US Open.
Torrey Pines—San Diego, California
South (home course) 7600-7700 yards, par 72
North 7200-7300 yards, par 72
As mentioned above, two courses are in play over the first two days of the event. As for how the venues set up, Torrey Pines South is a completely different challenge than what the players will have been exposed to so far this year. It’s consistently ranked as one of the hardest courses on the PGA TOUR and yields one of the lowest birdie-or-better percentages every season. Last year, despite relatively calm conditions, it played as the seventh-toughest on the PGA TOUR and +.534 above par.
Torrey North will play much easier than the South. It plays 400 yards shorter and also uses newly renovated bentgrass greens which are easier to putt on. The greens at Torrey South are some of the toughest on the PGA TOUR so don’t be shocked when you see some players struggle on the South but light it up on the greens at the North Course.
The North course features four reachable par 5s, and you’ll almost certainly need a good under-par round from your players there if they are going to advance to the weekend. On the South course, scoring well on the par 5s is also important, as the venue features seven par 4s over 450 yards, which are all very difficult to play.
As a result of the long par 4s — and lengthy par 5s — we’ll see far more approaches from 175-200 yards and >200 yards, putting a large emphasis on good mid to long iron play. Setting yourself up well off the tee then is also paramount and players with good strokes gained off the tee metrics often thrive at Torrey Pines. Last season, seven of the top-10 players gained over one stroke OTT for the week and in 2021 every single player in the top 10 for the event gained strokes OTT.
The players will also be putting on poa annua greens (on the South course anyway, the North is now Bentgrass), which can be very difficult to maneuver. Three-putt percentages often spike this week and three-putt avoidance will be crucial to success, along with good efficiency from putts 15 feet and in. A few of the other courses on the West Coast swing also feature poa on the greens (Pebble Beach and Riviera) and many of the players this week will be more comfortable than others on this surface.
2023 Weather: The weather is something to keep an eye on and could create a significant wave advantage. Thursday afternoon (day two) has constant winds of 20-22 mph forming around or just after noon with gusts reaching 25-30 mph as well. That’s a big increase from the morning on Thursday where winds are slated to be around 8-12 mph. Day one (Wednesday) also looks much nicer with winds starting around 5 mph for the A.M. and not increasing much in the afternoon (9-12 mph). Day two-morning starters will be worth a hard look and should be weighted more heavily if this forecast holds.
Last 5 winners
2022—Luke List -15 (over Will Zalatoris playoff)
2021—Patrick Reed -14 (over Xander Schauffle -9)
2020—Marc Leishman -15 (over Jon Rahm -14)
2019—Justin Rose -21 (over Adam Scott -19)
2018—Jason Day -10 (over Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer playoff)
- Recent form does not seem to be a huge deal at this event (at least for the winners), as only two of the last nine winners had recorded a top-10 performance in the new year before winning here (Jason Day in 2015 and Brandt Snedeker in 2016).
- Nine of the last 12 winners had a South/North draw — meaning they played the South course on Thursday and the North on Friday. Between 2019-21 the three winners all started on the North course.
- Eight of the past nine winners (the exception being Jason Day in 2018) had made at least one professional start in the calendar year before winning.
Winners Stats and Course Highlights
Luke List - 15 under par
2022 lead-in form (T22-T10-T11 - played the week prior to the Amex and finished T22)
- Two of the last three winners (Reed and Leishman) rode insanely hot putters to win. Reed gained less than +2.0 ball-striking for the week but was +8.4 ATG/Putting for the week combined. Leishman did gain over 3.0 strokes on approach in 2020 which is very typical for winners at Torrey.
- List also had a terrific week putting and was one of the top players from 15 feet and in, in strokes gained putting.
- He also gained 5.4 strokes on approach which was the fourth-best mark in that category for the week. List also ranked top 10 in proximity gained from 150-175 yards and 175-200 yards.
- This is still a venue where you want to emphasize distance and consistency off the tee, as the longer par 5s are where scoring needs to be done. Seven of the top-10 players at this venue last season gained over a stroke off the tee.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Justin Rose $8,100 and +5500
- Keegan Bradley $8,300 and +6000
- Adam Hadwin $8,200 and +7500
- All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jon Rahm ($11,600; best finishes: 2017-win, second-2020): Rahm has become the Final Boss of Torrey Pines, and he’s a tough one to face at that. He has five top-10 finishes and a win at this event over the last six years and won the 2021 U.S. Open, which Torrey Pines hosted. Having won now four times in his last six starts, fading him this week looks like a tough proposition at best.
2. Jason Day ($8,800; best finish: win – 2018, 2015): Despite being marred by perpetual poor form and injuries the last few years, Day has maintained a solid record at Torrey Pines. He’s posted two wins and seven top-10 finishes at Torrey over his career. His T3 finish at this event last season came without any recent form to go off of, and this year he looks much healthier — having posted five top-25 finishes in his last six starts.
3. Tony Finau ($10,500; best finish: T4-2017, T6-2018): Finau ranks just behind Rahm in terms of Strokes Gained: Total stats at Torrey Pines the last five years and has landed T6 or better placings at this event in four of his last six trips to Torrey as well. Finau’s a great iron player and his improved putting over the last few seasons makes him a leading contender once again in 2023.
4. Luke List ($8,000; best finish: 2022-win, T12-2018): List had played well at Torrey Pines prior to winning the event last season. The veteran posted a T12 at this event in 2018 and a T10 in 2021. He’s an elite ball striker with plenty of distance, whose putter still keeps him from winning most weeks. The shift in venue type makes an attractive upside option for GPPs at 8k flat.
5. Ryan Palmer ($7,500; best finish: T2-2020, T2-2018): Palmer ranks a surprising second in strokes gained total stats at this venue over the past five seasons. He’s finished T16 or better at Torrey in each of the past five years and lost in a three-way playoff at this event in 2018. At 46, he doesn't have the upside he used but it’s hard to argue with his consistency at this event.
Top Recent Form
1. Jon Rahm ($10,600, Recent finishes: win-win): Rahm has achieved the rare double this week of topping the recent form and course history rankings. He’s won four times in six starts and at +450 to win on the DraftKings Sportsbook, is one of the shortest event favorites we’ve seen in years on the PGA TOUR.
2. Taylor Montgomery ($9,200, Recent finishes: T5-T12): Montgomery’s putting prowess is hitting god-like levels. He’s gained over 3.0 strokes putting now in six of his last eight measured rounds and landed his eighth top 15 finish in nine starts last week.
3. Ben Griffin ($7,300, Recent finishes: T32-T12): Griffin has made the cut now in seven straight starts and ranks sixth in strokes gained total stats over the last six events. He’s very consistent with his irons and putting extremely well — keep an eye on that club in case it cools off.
4. Si Woo Kim ($8,900, Recent finishes: T22-win): Kim followed up his win at the Sony Open with a T22 placing at the Amex. The venue this week doesn't favor him nearly as much but he’s doing a lot of things well and showing high-end form in many facets of the game.
5. Stephan Jaeger ($7,200, Recent finishes: T36-T28): Jaeger deserves a shout out for how consistent he’s been since the start of the fall. He’s made the cut in 11 of his last 12 events and has shown improvement off the tee to start 2023.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Homa, a solid upper tier value
Rahm ($11.600) isn’t easy to fit in but there’s also a very clear gap in performance now between himself and the next level of players in pricing. Further down off Rahm, we can still use players like Max Homa ($9,100) as a first or second man in lineups given his cheaper salary. Jason Day ($8,800) also offers good value if you want to leave Rahm out and go for a more balanced approach. Homa’s upside on the west coast has been proven multiple times and he looks like a great source of value given that he’s outperformed numerous players above him in pricing — both in the short and long term. Other players to consider for this format include Sungjae Im ($9,300), Justin Rose ($8,100) and Emiliano Grillo ($7,300).
Tournaments: Low-owned Finau worth chasing
Finau’s price tag ($10,500) will likely keep a lot of players off him this week, creating a solid leverage opportunity in GPPs. He’s played well to start the season, posting T7 and T16 finishes in his first two starts of 2023. Despite that, he’s a victim of his own success as that’s made him the second-highest salaried player in the field. With multiple top-six finishes at this event and a perfect setup for a player who is one of the best from 200 yards and out, he’s worth building around in large-field GPP lineups. Further down, west coast native Kurt Kitayama ($7,600) and Justin Suh ($7,100 - see below) also offer some appeal as lower-owned GPP targets. In that same level, Davis Riley ($7,500) and Matthew NeSmith ($7,100) also look underpriced coming off a couple of mediocre weeks. NeSmith is of particular interest as he played well in rounds two and three at the Amex and has made the cut at Torrey in three straight appearances.
MY PICK: Sahith Theegala ($8,700)
This is a tough week for picking players. We have two courses in play and a top player who looks nearly unbeatable at this point. Theegala is someone who has shown he’s not afraid of bigger moments and nearly defeated some of the top players in the world when he posted top-three finishes at both the WMPO and the Travelers in 2022. The breakthrough win should come for him soon and the venue this week may be a good spot for him to pop up in contention once again.
The 25-year-old has shown a favor towards some longer courses, posting a T5 at Muirfield Village in his second start at the course and a third place at TPC Scottsdale last year around this time as well. He handled Torrey Pines quite well in his first go-round as a pro — notably shooting a round of 68 on the South Course in round two — and like many of the younger players in the field, has experience playing the venue as an amateur. He’s ranked top 20 in three-putt avoidance over his last 50 rounds and gained four strokes putting the last time he was on Poa greens at the Fortinet Championship in September.
For a player who nearly broke through multiple times last season, he’s available at very reasonable +4500 odds on the DraftKings Sportsbook and should be a solid upside play in DFS this week at just $8,700 as well.
MY SLEEPER: Justin Suh ($7,100)
Suh isn’t the prototypical bomber we like to target at Torrey Pines but he does have some other factors in his favor this week. The American grew up playing golf on the west coast and is very familiar with Torrey Pines — by his own words he’s played there 20+ times — and experience never hurts, especially on a tougher course. Suh also enters this week having made the cut in six straight PGA TOUR events, which represents his longest-made cut streak by a long shot.
There’s no doubt that the once highly-rated college player is slowly starting to find his groove and given his former status as the number one amateur player in the world, better results should start to follow him soon. From a performance perspective, he’s been consistent off the tee in his last two starts and also ranks out well in some key approach stats, sitting at 18th in proximity from >200 yards or more over the last 50 rounds.
Suh putted well last week at the American Express and gained 4.3 strokes putting on these greens last season. If his irons bounce back, he certainly has the ability to push for a top 20 or better placing on this familiar venue, making him a great contrarian play to chase in larger field GPPs.
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