Last week: Consecutive bad beats as Sam Burns (+2800) finds the water on the 71st hole to lose to amateur Nick Dunlap. The week before it was Ben An (+4000) missing a five-foot putt in a playoff.
This week, the California Swing moves to La Jolla for The Farmers Insurance Open at famed Torrey Pines where the tournament is played over two courses, The North Course and The South Course.
Players will have to take advantage of the easier North Course as the South Course, depending on the weather and set up, can be a real bear. Driving accuracy and putting success on tricky Poa greens will be key.
The favorites this week include the usual local California names including Xander Schauffele (+900), Max Homa (+1100), and Patrick Cantlay (+1200). I expect all of them to contend, but I’ll be backing longer shots and some local sleepers in my lucky seven (plus two).
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The Farmers Insurance Open Picks
Tony Finau (+2500)
Form: I’m backing Finau for the third time this year, and he’s my pick to win this week. He began the year with at T38 and last week finished T25 at -19.
Horse for course: Finau has a long history of success here. He has four top-five finishes and a top 10 with his best being a second in 2021.
Stats: So far this year, Finau ranks 18th in greens in regulation (GIR) and is third in putting average. Finau can still bomb it off the tee and ranks fifth in driving average.
Local Ties: Finau plays well on the West Coast. He is a West Coaster out of Utah.
Odds: Last week, he was +3300 and I suspect his weekly odds will continue to fall on this West Coast Swing.
Jason Day (+2500)
Form: Last week, Day finished T34 and has a respectable T10 at The Sentry three weeks ago. He finished 2023 strong with a win at the Grant Thornton Invitational (with Lydia Ko) and a t11 at the Hero World Challenge.
Horse for course: If you thought Finau’s tournament record was good, take a look at Day’s. He has won twice has two other top fives, and a tie for ninth. He should be on everyone’s card.
Stats: In 2024, Day ranks 12th in GIR, 13th in scrambling, sixth in putting average and 12th in scoring average.
Local Ties: Day lives in Ohio and is originally from Australia, Day has no ties to the West Coast, but he did have a pretty successful swing out West finishing with four top 20s in four events including two top 10s.
Odds: Considering his success in this tournament, these are pretty favorable odds.
Keegan Bradley (+3000)
Form: Last week DNP. Two weeks ago, Bradley lost in a playoff to Grayson Murray at the Sony in Hawaii. He began the year with a T45 at The Sentry.
Horse for course: Bradley has a handful of good results here. Last year, he finished second and has three other top seven finishes.
Stats: Bradley has some good all-around stats this year. He’s 13th in strokes gained on approaches to the green, 10th in driving efficiency, 10th in total birdies, and 25th in strokes gained tee-to-green.
Local Ties: Bradley is a pure East Coaster who grew up in Vermont, went to school in New York, and lives in Florida.
Odds: Very good odds here when you consider he arguably should have won two weeks ago and has a very good track record here.
Sahith Theegala (+3300)
Form: Last week DNP. It’s been up and down for Theegala missing the cut two weeks ago and finishing second at the Sentry in the year’s first tournament.
Horse for course: Theegala has two starts here including a solid tie for fourth last year and a t25 in 2022.
Stats: Theegala ranks 16th in GIR, seventh in putting average, 18th in scoring average, seventh in putting average, and 24th in strokes gained tee-to-green.
Local Ties: Theegala is a local SoCal guy who went to Pepperdine University.
Odds: I would expect these odds to come down as the West Coast Swing progresses.
Justin Rose (+5000)
Form: Last week DNP. Rose has not shown much form thus far. Two weeks ago, he finished T57 at The Sony and finished T40 at The Sentry.
Horse for course: Here’s where Rose gets the lean from me. He won here in 2019 and has three other top 10s. Last year he finished T18.
Stats: Not much to show for 2024 in his two tournaments, but if I look at 2023, Rose ranked 17th in strokes gained on approaching the green, 13th in overall putting average and 13th in putts per round. He finished first in putting from 20-25 feet.
Local Ties: We all know Rosie is from across the pond, but the guy plays well on championship courses.
Odds: Definitely in the longshot category based on his recent form but good pot odds considering his success here.
Will Zalatoris (+5000)
Form: There was a ton of hype and buzz for Zalatoris’ return to the tour at The Sony, but he missed the cut. He showed some form last week finishing 18 under in a tie for 34th.
Horse for course: Zalatoris has played the event three times. He missed the cut last year but finished solo second in 2022 and tied for seventh in 2021.
Stats: Like Rose, there’s not much to show for his six rounds this year. Going back to his last full season, Zalatoris is known for his ball striking. In 2022, he ranked first in strokes gained tee-to-green, first in strokes gained approaching the green, 13th in driving distance, eighth in GIR and surprisingly was 21st in putting average.
Local Ties: Known for his Texan ties, Willie Z was originally from California.
Odds: Sneaky good odds here. This is probably the last week you’ll see odds this high for him.
Luke List (+6600)
Form: Last week DNP. List started the year well shooting 21 under at the Sentry for a T22 but only managed a T66 at The Sony two weeks ago.
Horse for course: List has a sneaky good record here. He won the event in 2022 and finished T10 in 2021. He also had a T12 in 2018.
Stats: Not much to show in 2024. List ranks 29th in strokes gained approaching the green. Known for his long drives, List ranked ninth in strokes gained off-the-tee in 2023, fourth in driving distance-all drives, and 10th in GIR,
Local Ties: Although originally from Washington, List went to Vanderbilt U. in Nashville and currently lives in Georgia.
Odds: Once again, these are good longshot/sleeper odds considering his success here.
Last Man Out
Patrick Rodgers (+6600)
(Long)shot in the Dark Picks
Michael Kim (+9000)
This is definitely a local ties pick. Kim went to Torrey Pines High and has played both courses. You can’t get any more local than that. His best finish here is a t23 in 2019. Kim comes to the Farmers in good form shooting 25 under and finishing tied for sixth.
Brandt Snedeker (+40000); (+2800) Top 10; (+1200) Top 20
Don’t laugh. I’ve been scouting him since he came back last year, and like Rickie Fowler and Lucas Glover, I think he will sneak in a win this year.
Perhaps it is too early to pick him, but given his track record here and these odds, it's worth the proverbial shot in the dark. Snedeker has two wins here plus a T3 and a T9. He may not win, but I think he can crack the top 20.
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.