Farmers Insurance Open 2022 picks: Is it (finally) Willy Z's time?
Move over, Deion Sanders. The PGA Tour will take center stage in PRIMETIME this week with the Farmers Insurance Open kicking off on Wednesday and finishing Saturday night to avoid the ratings giant that is the NFL. If any early-season event is deserving of a primetime slot, it’s the Farmers, which always boasts the first truly great field of the year.
This year is no different, with 12 of the top 20 players in the world teeing it up, including World No. 1 Jon Rahm and World No. 4 Dustin Johnson, who is making his 2022 debut.
Three rounds will be contested on the South Course, which hosted last summer’s U.S. Open epic won by Rahm, who birdied the 71st and 72nd holes to claim his first major title by one stroke over Louis Oosthuizen. Players will get one crack at the North Course, too, which is widely regarded as the “easier” of the two courses, though it’s hardly a pushover.
Last week, we missed on longshot winner Hudson Swafford, but we’re confident in finding a winner at Torrey Pines, which offers less variance each year. (The average winner here has boasted odds of 56-1 over the past eight years; compared to 110-1 last week.) That’s all to say: It’s easier to bag a winner at Torrey (we hope).
Our panel—which consists of an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Mayo Media Network; Brandon Gdula of numberFire and FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports and these two authors—is motivated to find another winner this week at The American Express.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 Farmers Insurance Open.
Farmers Insurance Open 2022 picks: Our experts' outright predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Xander Schauffele (14-1, DraftKings) — Jon Rahm is going to be tough to beat here, seemingly for the next five years or so. If anyone can do it, it’s Xander. It seems like he’s over those initial struggles at Torrey—finishing T-2 last year and led the field in ball-striking at the U.S. Open. He should’ve won if he could’ve putted. From what I saw at Sentry, the putting stroke has improved a bit … I like his familiarity here and his hunger to take down Rahm this week.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Will Zalatoris (30-1, DraftKings) — After a horrendous Day 1 in his first round of 2022, Zalatoris finished T-7 at the AMEX, where he was top five in ball-striking and tee-to-green at the Stadium Course. He can now put his prolific skill on tough courses to good use. Zalatoris already has a top 10 at this event to go along with top-10 results at The Masters, PGA Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational and a pair at the U.S. Open … all on the longer end of courses on tour.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Scottie Scheffler (29-1, FanDuel) — Scheffler has the game to get the win at an event that usually separates the best from the rest. He has distance and an improving wedge game. He overcame his Torrey struggles with a T-7 in the U.S. Open last summer.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Xander Schauffele (14-1, DraftKings) — In his first five trips to the Farmers Insurance Open, Schauffele missed the cut on four occasions. However, he seems to be figuring it out now—finishing T-2 at Farmers last year and T-7 in the U.S. Open. Schauffele has proven to be an excellent putter on Poa annua greens—gaining 0.31 strokes per round on the surface, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s been knocking on the door constantly, and it’s about to open.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Daniel Berger (25-1, Bet365) — If it’s not Rahm, I think Berger has a chance to contend. My friend Andy Lack, whose podcast, Inside Golf, is a must-listen this week, points out how well Berger rates out in proximity from 175 yards plus over a larger sample size. He also leads this field in strokes gained/approach over the past 50 rounds, per Fantasy National. After Collin Morikawa, Berger should be in the conversation for best iron players on tour. And he also has a solid short game and has won on Poa in the past year (Pebble).
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Will Zalatoris (30-1, DraftKings) — OK, I’ll bite on Willy Z. He’s almost half the odds of what he was a week ago, but for good reason. That was a very impressive T-6 after a rough start, and he does his best work on tough tracks like Torrey, where he finished T-7 last year. Poa is the one surface he’s (barely) a plus putter on, historically. If he can just be mediocre on the greens this week, we might finally get the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jon Rahm (+650, DraftKings) — Rahm played well last week but it was obvious from his viral outburst that he didn’t fancy his chance in a “putting contest.” The more difficult test Torrey Pines offers will be more up his alley. He comes into this event ranked second in the FanShareSports Course Suitability Ranking for the South Course where three of the four rounds will be played. He also ranks first in the field for SG/total over the last two years and third over the last three months.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Rick Gehman hitting Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Farmers Insurance Open 2022 picks: Sleepers/Dark horses who could win
Caddie: Ryan Palmer (80-1, Bet365) — You’ll see this week: Palmer worked really hard in the offseason to add some distance. He has already had success at Torrey—that added power should only help his chances here. These feel like great odds for someone who loves Torrey. A nice finish at Sony means his vibes should be strong entering this week. He’s due to sneak in a win this year—his game’s been close over the past two years.
Mayo: Luke List (70-1, DraftKings) — Can List make enough three-to-five footers during the week? I mean, probably not. But here we are. That’s still a big ask for Luke List. However, both these courses have higher than normal three-putt percentages, so maybe that will drop the field back to his level. Now, the good: of all players in the Farmers field, he’s top 10 in SG/off-the-tee, Driving Distance, and SG/around-the-green over the past 50 rounds while also sitting top 20 in approach. He’s made the cut in this event the past four years and picked up his first top-10 result here in 2021.
Gdula: Aaron Wise (90-1, FanDuel) — Wise would probably have shorter odds if he had knocked off the rust before this week. He enters with five straight top-26 finishes and has the right stats to thrive at Torrey even if the results haven’t shown it yet.
Gehman: Keegan Bradley (80-1, DraftKings) — Bradley's best asset on tour is his ball striking. Specifically, how far and straight he drives it off the tee. He is a staple on top of the Total Driving statistic, which combines every golfer’s rank in Driving Distance and Driving Accuracy. Knowing that, it should be no surprise that Bradley has earned six top-25 finishes in his 10 trips to this event.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Maverick McNealy (70-1, FanDuel) — It might be a fool’s errand picking anyone north of 50-1 if past champions are any indication. But McNealy’s worth a flier. He’s someone who has been priced in the 30- to 50- range in some bigger events in the past six months. He ranks fourth in my model this week thanks to rating out second in par-4 scoring in the 450-500-yard range (six holes fit that bill), being 12th in this field in SG/putting on Poa. We expect Mav to break out this year—it would be a bit unexpected to take down this field—but at these odds, we’ll bank on it.
Powers, Golf Digest: Brandt Snedeker (110-1, DraftKings) — Sneds let me down last week by playing the par 3s in four over, which cost him a top-10 finish. As bad a taste as that left in my mouth, there is no way I’m quitting on him at Torrey, where he’s won twice. If that course history isn’t good enough for you, consider that this time last year, during a stretch where Snedker missed five of six cuts, the Farmers was the only event in that stretch he played the weekend, finishing in the top 40.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Maverick McNealy (70-1, FanDuel) — McNealy comes into this event ranked sixth for SG/total over the last three months. He is also, statistically, the best putter in the field this week when putting on poa greens over the last two years.
Farmers Insurance Open 2022 picks: Players we're fading
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (29-1, FanDuel) — For someone who is struggling putting, Poa is probably not the surface you want to see. Scottie will no doubt win this year, but he needs to fix the putting.
Mayo: Justin Thomas (12-1, DraftKings) — In a stacked, full field, these odds are too short. Yes, Thomas is one of the best five players on the planet, but when you can grab Dustin Johnson or Bryson DeChambeau for double his odds, it’s tough to make a case for one bet on Thomas over two bets on DJ and Bryson.
Gdula: Dustin Johnson (21-1, FanDuel) — It’s been a while since we’ve seen Johnson play (October for The CJ Cup). He had a good end to the FedEx playoffs with a sixth at the BMW and an eighth at the Tour Championship but has largely been fueled by putting. He’s not a priority this week.
Gehman: Bryson DeChambeau (20-1, DraftKings) — It’s a scary fade of DeChambeau who was destroying Torrey Pines for about 64 holes at the U.S. Open last year. His clubhead speed gives him a huge edge coming out of the thick rough that will adorn Torrey Pines this week. The problem for DeChambeau is his around-the-green play, losing strokes in that category for nine straight measured starts. On top of that poa annua has been his worst putting surface in his career which could lead to a very frustrating week both on and around the greens.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (12-1, DraftKings) — The only thing I’d add to Mayo’s point is that I’d much rather bet Rahm if you’re going to dip this low in the odds board.
Powers, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (40-1, DraftKings) — I’m normally a hammer-the-three-time-major-winner-at-40-1 type bettor, but Jordy’s irons went cold in the fall and that carried over into the Sentry TOC, where he lost 4.4 strokes on approach. At Torrey, where pure-ing your long irons is a key to contending, that ain’t going to cut it.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bryson DeChambeau (20-1, DraftKings) — DeChambeau comes into this event ranked just 108th in the field for SG/total over the last three months and just 61st in the FanShareSports Course Suitability ranking for the South Course.
Farmers Insurance Open 2022 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Justin Rose (+126) over Scottie Scheffler (FanDuel) — You’re getting a past champion with great history at Torrey against Scheffler who struggled last week and doesn’t have as good of course form.
Mayo: Luke List (-110) over Cameron Tringale (DraftKings) — Tringale’s surprisingly done alright at Farmers over the years but enters with MCs in two of three and his improved driver has seemingly regressed over the past six month. Not good at Torrey Pines.
Gdula: Bryson DeChambeau (+110) over Xander Schauffele (FOXBET) — These two have been about even over the past year with DeChambeau getting the edge, based on my recency-adjusted data. We get decent odds on DeChambeau to fare better than Schauffele. That’ll work.
Gehman: Sam Burns (-110) over Daniel Berger (Bet365) — I’m a massive fan of Berger but Torrey Pines is a really tough setup for him. The course often asks you to hit a high draw, the complete opposite of Berger’s natural shot-shape. We saw Berger struggle on 18 at Kapalua trying to hit the shot and he missed the cut in his last three trips to this event. I’ll take a pass on Berger this week and look to invest in the near future.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (+100) over Bryson DeChambeau (Caesars Sportsbook) — My model gives a slight lean to Burns here (eighth compared to 15th). But what makes this most attractive is the fact that Bryson’s wrist is likely not 100 percent. It forced him to WD from the Sony after committing that Friday. Interesting that this is a matchup of guys who held the lead at Torrey last year: Burns led after 54 holes at the Farmers and Bryson fell apart after leading on Sunday of the U.S. Open. Burns has had the better six-plus months of performance since then, so give me the underdog.
Powers, Golf Digest: Lanto Griffin (-120) over Keegan Bradley (DraftKings) — Like Keegan a lot this week (+275 on a top 20 is stealing), but I like Lanto a lot more. Expect them both to play well, but Lanto’s putter is just a tad more reliable.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Dustin Johnson (-105) over Bryson DeChambeau (Bet365) — Bryson is a big fade for me this week. DJ on the other hand is a course specialist and although he hasn’t played an event since October he has posted four top 10 finishes in his last seven starts.
Matchup Results from the American Express: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Ancer (+105) over Conners); Powers: 1 for 1 (Cantlay (+140) over Rahm); Caddie: PUSH (Henley (+100) over Power); Gehman: PUSH (Power (-125) over Henley); Hennessey: PUSH (Power (-125) over Henley); Gdula: 0 for 1; Alldrick: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 9-2-2 (up 6.39 units); Powers: 9-3-1 (up 5.92 units); Caddie: 6-6-1 (down 0.45 units); Hennessey: 6-6-1 (down 2.61 units); Alldrick: 4-8-1 (down 4.77 units); Gdula: 4-9-0 (down 5.27 units); Gehman: 3-8-2 (down 5.49 units)
Farmers Insurance Open 2022 picks: Top 10s
Caddie: Sungjae Im (+320, FanDuel) — The guy is becoming Matt Kuchar of the mid 2010s … he’s just an automatic top-10 ATM. It’d be nice to be William Spencer, his current looper!
Mayo: Tony Finau (+250, DraftKings) — Played sneaky well at the Stadium course a week ago, gaining 4.5 strokes ball striking despite a T-40 finish. And that T-40 has trumped his immaculate course history in the odds market. He’s posted top 10s in four of his past five starts at the Farmers and his form is better than you think.
Gdula: Talor Gooch (+490, FanDuel) — Gooch’s approach play is some of the best in the field over the past year if you adjust for field strength, and he also has elite poa and bentgrass putting. We can go back to him despite the missed cut last week.
Gehman: Tony Finau (+250, DraftKings) — From tee-to-green, Finau has been excellent. He’s gained at least five strokes in that category in six of his last 15 measured tournaments. That’s a very high ceiling that he can tap into if the putter cooperates. While he’s struggled with the flat stick as of late, poa annua has been his best surface during his career. He’s gained strokes putting in 11 of his 15 career events on poa annua and has notched a top 10 in four of his last five trips to this event.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Will Zalatoris (+300, DraftKings) — This is officially a Willy Z column, so I will add to the love affair here.
Powers, Golf Digest: Luke List (+600, DraftKings) — Going back to the well with Sir Double L. Last week’s putting contest was probably a bad time to tout him, though he still managed a T-22. At Torrey, where tee-to-green play reigns supreme, List will be in the mix as he looks to pick up a second straight top-10 finish in this event.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Will Zalatoris (+300, DraftKings) — The 61 Zalatoris shot in Round 2 last week after a couple of months off shows what a class player he really is. He ranks top 20 this week for long-term form, short-term form and SG/putting on poa over the last two years.
Top-10 results from the American Express: Everybody: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 4 for 13 (up 12.75 units); Mayo: 2 for 13 (up 3.45 units); Gehman: 3 for 13 (up 1.2 units); Hennessey: 3 for 13 (down 0.47 units); Alldrick: 1 for 13 (down 2 units); Caddie: 3 for 13 (down 6.35 units); Gdula: 0 for 13 (down 13 units)
Farmers Insurance Open 2022 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Tony Finau — We’ve discussed the reasons to be optimistic for Finau in the top-10 section and he also makes for a solid One and Done option. Finau should thrive on longer courses that are demanding off the tee. Most of those setups on tour are major championships. It’s unlikely that we’ll use Finau in a major, so this is one of the best spots to deploy him.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler. Sentry TOC: Sungjae Im. Sony Open: Corey Conners. American Express: Talor Gooch.
Hennessey: Daniel Berger — Xander or Burns would be my picks, but I used them in this space. I’ll roll with Berger … you probably wouldn’t use him for a major, but this will be a top-10 test in terms of difficulty on tour this year, and Berger has proven he loves a tough setup.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Marc Leishman. American Express: Sungjae Im.
Powers: Luke List — Love List for top 10, and there’s a good chance I bet him outright, too. Torrey Pines plays to his strengths, so this is as good of a spot as any for him to break through, even against this strong of a field.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Daniel Berger. Sony Open: Kevin Na. American Express: Seamus Power.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.