PGA Tour Picks: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tom LaMarre

The 68th playing of what is now the Farmers Insurance Open might boast the strongest field yet in the 2019-20 PGA Tour season, and the most eyes will be on the player who has the best record in the history of Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla.

Tiger Woods, who turned 44 on Dec. 30, announced on Twitter on Jan. 9 that he will make his first start of the new year in the tournament he has won seven times, and where he also captured the 2008 U.S. Open in an epic 19-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate.

The tournament, which is contested over the South and North Courses at Torrey Pines for three rounds and only the South on Sunday, was first played in 1952 as the San Diego Open.

“Excited for this (year) to begin at the Farmers Insurance Open and TGR Live Events’ Genesis Invitational, our first year as an invitational,” Woods wrote in his Tweet. “See you soon West Coast.”

Following two weeks off, Woods will play again in the Genesis Invitational that benefits his TGR Foundation at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. Surprisingly, even though he grew up not far away in Cypress, he has never won the Los Angeles-area tournament.

Woods played very well when we last saw him, going 3-0 last month as playing captain of the victorious United States Team in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.

That came after he tied Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record of 82 victories on the PGA Tour by winning the Zozo Championship in Japan at the end of October.

“The fact that Tiger will have his first opportunity to set the all-time record for PGA Tour wins at the Farmers Insurance Open is truly fitting,” said Marty Gorsich, Chief Executive Officer of the Century Club of San Diego, which operates the Farmers Insurance Open.

“Tiger has had such remarkable success here, dating back to his eighth career victory when he won this tournament for the first time in 1999. What he has done since returning from his back injuries has been great for the game of golf, and we are excited to welcome him back for a fourth consecutive year.”

Woods, who won the Farmers four straight times from 2005-08 and claimed his last title at Torrey Pines in 2013, also captured his 15th major title last year by winning the Masters, which recently was selected as Associated Press 2019 Sports Story of the Year.

Among those in the field along with the sixth-ranked Woods will be defending champion and eighth-ranked Justin Rose of England, second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (pictured), third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, and hometown hero and ninth-ranked Xander Schauffele of San Diego State.

Also playing are local favorite Phil Mickelson, who has won three times at Torrey Pines, Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, two-time Farmers winner Jason Day of Australia, U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Marc Leishman of Australia, Francesco Molinari of Italy, Cameron Smith of Australia, Jordan Spieth, Sungjae Im of South Korea, two-time tournament champion Brandt Snedeker and Tony Finau.

Despite all that star power, the biggest galleries will be following Woods, especially if he is in contention for No. 83.


  1. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – The second-ranked player in the world starts the new year after claming the FedEx Cup last season, winning the Wells Fargo, Honda, Tour Championship and the WGC-HSBC Champions in a playoff over Xander Schauffele in 2019. Made his first start in the Farmers last year and tied for fifth.
  2. Jon Rahm, Spain – The third-ranked player in the world won the Farmers by three strokes in 2017, in addition to finishing in a tie for fifth last year after leading following a first-round 62. Won the European Player of the Year Award last season after capturing the Irish Open, the Open de Espana and the DP World Tour Championship—Dubai.
  3. Tiger Woods, United States – In addition to winning eight times at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods has five top-10 finishes in the Farmers, but his best result since he last won in 2013 was a tie for 20th last year. He is coming in off a 3-0 record in the Presidents Cup and his 82nd PGA Tour victory in the Zozo Championship.
  4. Xander Schauffele, United States – The local favorite from La Jolla and San Diego State missed the cut in his first three starts in his hometown event, before tying for 25th last year. Lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas in his title defense at Sentry Tournament of Champions three weeks ago, and beat Adam Scott in singles to go 3-2 in Presidents Cup.
  5. Justin Rose, England – The Farmers defending champion warmed up for his return to Torrey Pines with a runner-up finish behind Matt Kuchar on Sunday in the Singapore Open on the Asian Tour. Rose claimed his 24th pro title by beating Adam Scott by two shots in the Farmers last year, after tying for fourth in 2017 and tying for eighth in 2018.
  6. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan – Posted his best finish in six starts in the Farmers last year with a tie for third, after tying for 12th the year before. Matsuyama was second to Tiger Woods in the Zozo, tied for 11th in the WGC-HSBC Champions and tied for 12th in the Sony after going 2-1-1 in the Presidents Cup, halving his singles match with Tony Finau.
  7. Jason Day, Australia – A two-time winner of the Farmers, claiming the title in 2015 and 2018, Day has three other top-10 finishes at Torrey Pines, including a tie for second in 2014. He captured the Japan Skins Game and tied for 22nd in the Zozo Championship in November, but withdrew from the Presidents Cup in Australia due to a back injury.
  8. Tony Finau, United States – Finished fifth in the Hong Kong Open and tied for 14th in The American Express, shooting 62 in round two, the last two weeks after going 0-1-3 in the Presidents Cup. Finau has finished in the top 25 in the Farmers in all five of his starts, including a tie for fourth, a tie for sixth and a tie for 13th the last three years.
  9. Patrick Reed, United States – After beating C.T. Pan of Taiwan in singles to go 1-3 in the Presidents Cup, Reed lost to Justin Thomas in a playoff in the Sentry TOC, but then missed the cut in the Sony Open in Hawaii. He recorded his best finish in four starts in the Farmers last year, when he tied for 13th after posting a tie for 23rd the year before.
  10. Marc Leishman, Australia – The four-time winner on the PGA Tour was close twice in the Farmers, tying for second in 2010 and 2014 among his four top-10 finishes at Torrey Pines. Tied for third in the Safeway and comes off a tie for 22nd in the Sony Open in Hawaii after going 1-2-2 in the Presidents Cup, halving in singles with Rickie Fowler.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Phil Mickelson, United States; Francesco Molinari, Italy; Cameron Smith, Australia; Gary Woodland, United States; Sungjae Im, South Korea; Jordan Spieth, United States; Rickie Fowler, United States; Brandt Snedeker, United States; Collin Morikawa, United States.


  1. Scottie Scheffler, United States – Two-time winner on 2019 Korn Ferry Tour posted third top-5 finish in last four starts with a solo third on Sunday in The American Express.
  2. Tom Hoge, United States – Two-time winner on lower tours finished T-6 in The American Express and T-12 in Sony the last two weeks. Posted a T-12 in 2018 Farmers.
  3. Sepp Straka, Austria – In addition to seven missed cuts this season, Straka has T-4s in the Houston Open and last week in The American Express. T-13 last year in the Farmers.
  4. Cameron Davis, Australia – The 2017 Australian Open champ finished T-9 in Sony Open and T-29 in The American Express, when two late bogeys cost him a top-20 result.
  5. Matthew NeSmith, United States – After being No. 1 in 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Finals 25, has a T-18 in Shriners, a T-14 in RSM Classic and a T-17 in The American Express.

For first-round tee times, visit

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