The field this week will again be set at around 156 golfers. The cut line will move back to Friday (top 65 and ties play the weekend), 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 setup this week will vary dramatically from the first three events as well. While Torrey North is slightly easier, Torrey Pines South is one of the toughest courses the players see all season and there will be far fewer birdie opportunities for the players. The change from Bermuda to Poa greens is also significant. As for which of the top players are attending, the top three in betting odds this week are Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa. Last week’s shock winner Nick Dunlap, withdrew early in the week.
As a reminder, the event this year will once again feature a Wednesday (January 24th) start. The idea is to finish on Saturday to avoid Conference Championship Sunday in the NFL.
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 are 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. In 2022, despite relatively calm conditions, it played as the seventh-toughest on the PGA TOUR and +.534 above par. Last season, the winner came home at just 13-under par, the lowest winning score in over four years. Players may be getting bigger and stronger but Torrey Pines South is still a challenge for the modern pro.
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 longer 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. In 2022, 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. Last year, four of the top finishers gained over 2.0 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. While you don’t need to use putting splits exclusively to make picks this week, using strong Poa putting history as a tiebreaker when making 1v1 or 2v2 decisions often pays dividends this week.
2024 Weather: The early week forecast is for rain so the venue is likely to play long and wet on Wednesday. Cool weather will be a feature this year as well with morning lows in the 50-54 F range and it is almost certain this combination of weather will make the course play longer than usual. Highs are only set to reach about 60F most of the week, although there is supposed to be some afternoon sun starting Friday. The wind isn’t supposed to be too brutal although you could see gusts in the 10mph range starting Friday afternoon. These conditions should favor the pure ball-strikers and off-the-tee maestros as their advantage on this tougher course will only be emphasized by the tougher conditions. For stacking purposes, Friday afternoon may be the wave to avoid as it has slightly higher winds scheduled compared to Thursday, and players may also get more receptive greens in the A.M. that day as well.
Last 5 winners
2023—Max Homa -13 (over Keegan Bradley -11)
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)
- Recent form does not seem to be a huge deal at this event (at least for the winners), as only three of the last 10 winners had recorded a top-10 performance in the new year before winning here (Homa in 2023, Jason Day in 2015 and Brandt Snedeker in 2016).
- Nine of the last 13 winners had a South/North draw — meaning they played the South course on Thursday and the North on Friday. HOWEVER, four of the last five winners (2019-2023) have started on the North course.
- Nine of the past 10 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
Max Homa - 13 under par (started on North Course)
2023 lead-in form (T3-T23-T20-win-T5) - played Sentry and finished T3, didn’t play Sony or Amex.
- Two of the last four 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 (2022) also had a terrific week putting and was one of the top players from 15 feet and closer 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.
- Homa was also fantastic on approach last year and was able to win by multiple strokes thanks to a hot putter as well.
- 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. Four of the top-10 players at this venue last season gained over 2.0 strokes off the tee for the week.
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 compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Justin Rose $8,300 and +4500
- Daniel Berger $8,100 and +5500
- Adrian Meronk $8,200 and +4500
- All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jason Day ($9,500; 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. He’s finished top 10 here the last two seasons and has started 2023 looking healthy with a couple of decent efforts.
2. Tony Finau ($9,300; best finish: T4-2017, T6-2018): Finau ranks first this week in Strokes Gained: Total stats at Torrey Pines the last five years. He’s now landed finishes of T9 or better at this event in five of his last seven 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.
3. Luke List ($7,800; best finish: 2022-win, T12-2018): List had played well at Torrey Pines before winning the event in 2022. The veteran has now made the cut in each of his last five appearances at this event. He’s an elite ball striker with plenty of distance so it's not shocking he generally outperforms at Torrey.
4. Max Homa ($10,100; best finish: win-2023): Homa dominated at this event last season and has been a horse to back on this portion of the PGA calendar every year. Even before last season he’d landed two top-20 finishes at Torrey and has now won three times (on three different venues) on the West Coast.
5. Hideki Matsuyama ($8,500; best finish: T3-2019, T9-2023): Matsuyama has never won on Torrey but certainly his elite long irons play well to this kind of venue. He’s five for five in terms of made cuts at this event (an achievement in itself considering how often top names MC at this venue) and has two top 10s at the Farmers since 2018.
Top Recent Form
1. Eric Cole ($9,000, Recent finishes: T21-T14): Another week, another Eric Cole close-call. Cole is producing birdie chances and birdies in general at a high rate and seems likely to break through soon.
2. Xander Schauffele ($10,600, Recent finishes: T3-T10): Schauffele was impressive last week, grinding out four solid rounds on his way to a top-five finish. He’s third in SG: PUTT and APP stats over the last 50 rounds.
3. Ben Griffin ($7,700, Recent finishes: T9-T30): Griffin landed a top 10 last week, his second over his last three starts. Overall, he’s second in SG: Total stats over the last six events.
4. Austin Eckroat ($7,100, Recent finishes: T25-T42-T8): Eckroat keeps playing very solid golf. He’s gained multiple strokes off the tee over his last couple of starts which should help him on this week’s longer setup.
5. Michael Kim ($7,300, Recent finishes: T6-T42): Kim has struck it well to start the season. The former John Deere winner also ranked 12th in SG: Putting last week.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Day and Finau, boring but reliable
It’s hard to argue with the track records of Jason Day ($9,500) or Tony Finau ($9,300) this week. Both men have been top 20 machines at this venue and rarely disappoint with missed cuts. With both of their salaries under 10k you certainly start lineup building by using both, and then even opt to use a third high-end player — for a stars and scrubs approach to this. It’s not a poor idea to get as many big names in as possible this week given this event has a higher-than-normal attrition rate (from a cut perspective) and having the winner could allow 4/6 lineups to cash. Under those two initial names, Harris English ($8,800) is another player who sticks out with great course history, as does Luke List ($7,800). If you need cheaper, the solid recent form of Austin Eckroat ($7,100) makes him appealing as well.
Tournaments: Lowry a potential buy-low candidate
Irishman Shane Lowry ($7,800) didn’t do much at the American Express but he’s been great over his career at US Open-style venues and has played this west coast swing a lot during his career. Lowry landed a T7 at this event in 2015 and has made the cut at Torrey Pines in three of four appearances at the Farmers. Further down, Ryan Fox ($7,500) is a big hitter who could surprise at this style of venue, and the West Coast record of names like Maverick McNealy ($6,900) and Cameron Champ ($6,800 - see below) make them appealing GPP targets as well.
MY PICK: Collin Morikawa ($10,200)
I have no problem sticking with Collin Morikawa this week. He ranks second in strokes gained tee to green stats over the last 50 rounds, first in approach stats, and has finished 6th or better in four of his last seven starts. The around-the-green and putting is always a concern but this week’s test isn’t a resort-style setup, it’s the longer, major-championship calibre Torrey Pines which tends to reward great ball-striking more often than not.
Also, if we’re going to see Morikawa pop with an above-average putting week there is a great chance it happens on this west coast swing. While he’s lost -10.0 strokes putting over his last 50 rounds of play he’s gained 1.6 strokes putting over his last 39 recorded rounds on Poa greens. Looking at his career results on the West Coast — which include a win at TPC Harding Park (PGA Champ 2020), two top fives at Torrey Pines (2022 Farmers and 2021 US Open), and a T6 last season at Riviera (Genesis Open) — and it’s not shocking to hear that he’s more comfortable on the types of Poa greens that players always encounter at Torrey.
Ultimately, until Morikawa starts consistently getting priced above names like Patrick Cantlay ($10,500) and Xander Schauffele ($10,600) I think there is good merit to just blindly playing him in DFS. For betting, he’s also someone I'd feel comfortable taking in the outright market at +1000 or better this week on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
MY SLEEPER: Cameron Champ ($6,800)
Champ hasn’t started the season well, missing cuts at the Sony Open and the American Express. A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Champ has never been known for his consistency, so a couple of bad outings aren't necessarily a huge cause for concern. One positive from his start thus far is the 4.4 strokes he gained off the tee at the Sony Open. While Champ’s driving ability isn’t necessarily a huge factor at a tighter setup like Waialae it can produce much bigger gains for him at a place like Torrey Pines, where he finished 16th back in 2020. It’s also usually a good indicator of confidence for Champ and when he’s driving it well a good result often isn’t very far off.
For his career, Champ is 3 for 5 in made cuts at this event and he also produced one of his best major championship finishes on the West Coast, landing a T10 back in 2020 at TPC Harding Park — a venue that compares well with Torrey Pines in a lot of ways. It’s always hard to say which direction Champ is headed, but, if we look back to his fall results, the top 10 he put in at the Sanderson and the five made cuts in a row he recorded in October and November is an encouraging sign that perhaps his top game isn’t far off.
While he’s not someone you need a ton of exposure to he certainly rates out as a nice upside play in bigger field GPPs and a player to look in the top 10 and 20 markets this week on DraftKings Sportsbook — where he’s currently set at +1400 and +600 respectively.
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All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook, lines and odds subject to change.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.