Here we go. PGA Tour is kicking it into high gear here on the Cali Swing. Last week PGA West surprisingly had a stronger field than this one, but we're shifting to a beloved golf course here. Torrey Pines is one of the best stops at Tour, and the longest one at that. Iconic course, iconic views, and plenty of iconic moments over the years.
Last year the PGA Tour made the brilliant decision to move the tournament from the traditional Thurs-Sun setup to Wednesday to Saturday. Year after year this great tournament went up against the NFL playoffs and the ratings suffered. It's a premier tournament, why not put the finish in a spot where everyone can watch it? And for us cube monkeys it gives us an extra day of golf in the trenches. Cannot underestimate the way PGA Tour Live has gotten me through some slow weekdays in the cubes. It was a big hit last year and they're at it again in 2023.
In 2022, it was Luke List edging out Will Zalatoris in a playoff after Will Z had his first PGA Tour victory yet again slip right out of his fingers. He had the tournament right there in front of him the whole way on
Sunday Saturday but just couldn't make a putt when he needed to, parring the last 12 holes. Not too different from Rory at the Old Course last year tbh. Most brutal of all was that he had the look on the 72nd hole to win it outright and it just slipped by on the low side.
The playoff between List and Zalatoris created incredible drama as both blocked their tee shots into the same exact spot in the right bunker.
Will was considered away and List had to mark his ball just to allow Will to splash his out. Both laid up to about 130 yards, which is where List hit the biggest shot of his life
Zalatoris left himself a similar putt as the one he had in regulation and missed it yet again. Ballgame, and Luke List's first career PGA Tour victory after years toiling away on Tour. One of the better feel-good stories of the year and thankfully Will got his later in the year.
Last year's leaderboard and recent winners:
Torrey Pines South
Torrey Pines North
This tournament will be played on two courses on Wednesday and Thursday - Torrey Pines North and Torrey Pines South. The final 36 holes are on South after the 65 player (plus ties) cut. I won't get into the North course too much because it's only 25% of the tournament and will rarely be on TV anyway.
The South is course is all about distance. In fact, at over 7,700 yards it is the longest stop on the entire PGA Tour. There are a few exceptions over the years (like Brandt Snedeker winning this tournament twice and Patrick Reed scrambling/putting his balls off 2 years ago) but by all intents and purposes this course is a bomber's paradise. Hell, the 2004 edition is where John Daly earned his 5th and final PGA Tour win. If you're into the gambles or building a DFS team, you might want to start by targeting guys near the top of the driving distance and Strokes Gained: Driving leaderboards. You've got four par 5's to attack, and six par 4's measuring over 450 yards. You're going to be facing an uphill battle here if you're not knocking it well past 300 yards off the tee.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the poa annua greens, which is typical of courses on the West Coast swing. These greens are notorious for getting bumpier as the day gets longer and more and more footprints and pitchmarks eat up the green, so that can turn things sideways down the stretch on Saturday. Putting on poa has sometimes been described as a game of plinko. Sometimes putting is just up to the golf gods (or at least that's what I tell myself) and it's safe to wonder whether they simply weren't on Will Z's side last year.
Best Hole - 3rd hole Par 3, 201 yards
The 3rd hole at the South Course is the signature par 3 at Torrey Pines. If it weren't for the 7th at Pebble Beach, it'd probably be the most iconic par 3 on the entire West Coast. It's a downhill tee shot with a mid-iron with a deep bunker protecting the front of the green and nothing but trouble long. Distance control is absolutely crucial with this one. View of the Pacific ain't bad either. The 18th is a great par 5 with water protecting the green that makes for great drama, but this simply must be the pick.
Weather and TV Coverage
Torrey is always one of the big time sweater/QZ tournaments every year. Late January, marine layer, and high's in the mid 60's will do that. Morning fog is always a risk to delay tee time starts, which always stinks.
This tournament is annually the first tournament that CBS broadcasts every year. That means we get our first look at some of the new wrinkles we'll see on broadcasts for the rest of the year. In recent years we've had a new producer join the fold, which gave us some awesome improvements. Better translucent leaderboard in the bottom right of the screen, more shot tracers, and more drone shots. Excited to see what they have in store for us this year.
Tiger 2008 US Open Highlights
Tiger is Mr. Torrey. He's Mr. A Lot Of Places, but you can't see Torrey and not think about Tiger. 8 wins at one course will do that.
If you've got 45 minutes, enjoy.
Tiger's got a goddamn forest up on his mantle with these things
Torrey Pines and Cypress trees are an iconic duo, and a beautiful one at that. That's what they're going for with this trophy and they nailed it. I've always said that a good trophy is one that captures the taste of the week, and this trophy does that superfluously. Big points for that. With that said it is also, quite simply, a tree. And not a very big one at that. Still gonna give it a 7/10.
Jon Rahm is a heaaaaavy favorite this week at +350 at the Barstool Sportsbook after winning his first two starts of the year. Guy won the ToC and last week's American Express at a ridiculous -27 in both tournaments. Rory hasn't gotten off the couch yet this year so it feels a little unfair to say he's been knocked off his perch but if somebody asks me who the best golfer in the world is right now, I'm saying Rahm. Don't care what the OWGR says. 4 wins in his last 6 starts worldwide (Euro Tour Championship and Spanish Open are the other two) is dominant stuff and I'd say the fact he's only #3 in the world is more of a reflection on the OWGR system than Rahm.
Paired with his recent form is the fact that Torrey Pines is Rahm's domain. His first PGA Tour win in this tournament in 2017 was his coming out party and he earned his first major victory here at the US Open in 2021. He's filled it up with great finishes in his other years too. Starting with that first win, he's gone W, T-29, T-5, solo 2nd, T-7, US Open W, and T-3 last year after missing the playoff by a single shot.
Yeah, him and Torrey get along.
With that said, I cannot stand betting outrights that short so we are going to fade fade fade and pray for the best.
Justin Thomas jumps out to me as a guy who is too long at +1400 on that betting board, even if he hasn't had a high finish yet here. He didn't really even make this a part of his schedule until last year, when he finished T-20. He did finish T-10 here in 2014 when he wasn't even a member of the Tour yet and followed that up with a MC in 2015. He also finished T-19 in the 2021 US Open, which is respectable but isn't opening any eyeballs either. But I love his game too much to pass him up at that price against a mid field. Justin Thomas +1400 it is.
Jason Day To Win +2000/Top 10 +225 - Two-time winner here also finished a shot outside the playoff last year with Rahm. He's also Top 10'd here 6 out of 10 times since becoming a full-time Tour member. J-Day's been playing some sneaky decent golf recently, registering Top 25's in 5 of his 7 events so far this year too. This price has also seen a lot of steam since opening at +2800.
Taylor Montgomery To Win +2800/Top 10 +275 - Had him last week at the AmEx and he made a run at it before imploding on the island 17th. Still cashed a Top 10 +400 ticket when he finished solo 5th. That makes 8 Top 15's in 9 events played this year. Guy is on fire.
Sahith Theegala To Win +5000/Top 10 +400 - Still sniffing around leaderboards. Course seems like a fit. Maybe this is the one.
Keegan Bradley To Win +6600/Top 10 +500 - Historically long hitter and poor putter where I think the poa annua might mitigate his putting versus the rest of the field. Ok history here with 6 Top 25's in 11 starts. Sneaky 6th in the current FEC standings after winning the Zozo in October.
JB Holmes Top 30 +550/Top 40 +350 - Throwing a bomb here. Talk about a guy who has fallen off the map. Dude has plummeted all the way to 1,765th in the world. Has stunningly played this event 16 times, with 3 top 10's, all in his last 7 appearances.
Brandon Matthews Top 30 +550/Top 40 +350 - Another bomb here, in more way than one. Matthews bombed his way through the Korn Ferry Tour to earn his Tour card, but has had basically nothing to show for his first 9 starts as a card holder. But he's also averaging 320 yards off the tee and that's a weapon here. Maybe this is the one that turns it around for him?
Birdie on 72nd hole by winner Yes +125 - Hit this last year, gonna hit it again. Par 5 with a funnel pin? Yes please.
That's what I got this week. Enjoy Torrey Pines.