The Tour moves to the coast this week, as the pros hit the best muni courses on the circuit – the North and South courses at Torrey Pines in "the greatest city in the history of mankind" (a fact according to Ron Burgandy). This is a stark contrast to the star-studded field for the HSBC in Abu Dhabi, where the big dogs (Tiger is back! Tiger is back!) are paid to play on the Euro Tour. Either way, the good news is that there’s plenty of great golf on this weekend. Without further ado, here’s the ’10-Fer’ your money this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, where we're not necessarily picking the most obvious players, but 10 to consider:
10. Geoff Ogilvy | His best finish in this event is 67th, but I’m much more focused on the end of 2011, where his swing and game looked refreshed, he had two high finishes and played well in Presidents Cup (he defeated Bill Haas in singles play). He’s had a bizarre series of injuries that have held him back the last couple of years but he could return to form in 2012. His game suits Torrey Pines despite his past results here.
9. Harris English | The Georgia grad won as an amateur on the Nationwide Tour in 2011, and his game is impressive. He looks a lot like a Martin Laird – big, strong and takes a fluid slash at the ball. A real power forward. All of that is good here. He doesn’t seem like a typical Tour rookie and I expect a modest improvement on his t19 finish last week in the desert.
8. Ryo Ishikawa | The American golf community is waiting the Japanese phenom to break through, and while we don’t have much to go on so far in 2012, the elements are in place for Ryo to perform well in San Diego. He hits it a long way and, more importantly, putts extremely well… No. 1 on Tour in 2011 (although not a huge sample size). He’ll be playing in front of a friendly crowd and if he can keep it in the fairway (not a strength), watch out.
7. Chris DiMarco | Eight rounds into his season, DiMarco is yet to shoot an over-par round and has four 67-or-better tallies. That’s a promising trend for a guy who had a lot of free weekends in 2011 and only has one top-10 in two years. While he hasn’t played this tournament frequently and the course doesn’t really fit his game tee-to-green, the winner isn’t going to be -25, either… and his scrappiness around the greens is an asset in a par-friendly tourney. I don’t think he’ll win, but another top-15 finish wouldn’t be surprising. Might want to use him while he’s playing well.
6. Stewart Cink | He’s played well here recently (t3, 2008), but the pick here is more for what I expect from Cink this year. He only made $900,000 in 2011 and isn’t even on the radar for the Ryder Cup (67th in the standings), which is a major motivator for him. Many have forgotten that just two years ago he was one of the top players in the world, and this is a good place for him to get some mojo back. Plus I like the bald guys.
5. Phil Mickelson | Yes, he could win. Hometown guy, three-time winner here, no Tiger, etc. But after watching his putting last week, I’m more convinced that he’s not going to win this year – seems to be thinking about it way too much and he’s switched back to his original blade (no more belly putter). He’s never a bad play here, though.
4. Marc Leishman | It’s doubtful many people will favor the big Aussie this weekend, but he’s finished t9, t2, and t26 here the last three years, respectively. It’s his first appearance of the year, but I expect he’ll be in position to make a run come Sunday.
3. Rickie Fowler | James Dalthorp will have a lot more on Rickie tomorrow, but I like him here as well. Could be a springboard week for him.
2. Justin Rose | He's had two top-25 finishes here his last two starts and his game continues to progress. Could be the start of a big year for him. All bets are off if his fair skin is exposed for too long without multiple sunscreen applications.
1. Nick Watney | His last three tournaments at Torrey: t6, t9, win. Last year his finish here started a string of top-10 finishes that culminated in a win at Doral (WGC Cadillac Championship). He just always seems to play no matter the geography and there’s no reason to expect different playing in his home state this week. He also has major ‘honey badger’ potential this year – he could take whatever he wants.
Potential bust: Robert Garrigus. He bombs it and hits a draw – two keys at the Torrey Pines courses. He’s also on fire, as evidenced by his play at the Humana Challenge, in which he went one stretch of -20 thru 37 holes. But the stats indicate he’s not putting well (159th) and he’s not getting it overly close with his wedges (ranks 100+ in each of the under 125-yard breakdowns) – two essential elements. He’s also missed three of his last four cuts at Torrey, with a t26 mixed in.
Others who should play well: Past champs Bubba Watson and Ben Crane; Hunter Mahan; Anthony Kim.
Decent picks from last week’s 10-Fer (Humana Challenge): Dufner (t12, ranked 10th), Laird (t14, ranked 3rd), Kuchar (t22)
Bad picks: Sam Saunders (MC), Bill Haas (t64), Scott Stallings (WD)
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