Farmers Insurance Open DFS picks 2024: Why Max Homa is an auto-play at Torrey Pines
The PGA Tour heads to beautiful La Jolla, Calif., this week for the Farmers Insurance Open, an event hosted at Torrey Pines since 1968, and a venue we have come to associate with some of the most indelible golf moments of the past 25 years. Players will split their first two rounds between the North and South courses, and those who make the cut will play both their weekend rounds on the South Course, the much more difficult of the two.
La Jolla, CA
La Jolla, CA
While the Farmers has found itself in a precarious schedule spot ahead of two more signature events in the next three weeks, many of the best players in the world will still be making the trip to the iconic layout. Max Homa returns to defend his title, and he will be joined by the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Sungjae Im, Sahith Theegala, Will Zalatoris, Tony Finau, and two-time winner Jason Day.
Torrey Pines is sure to provide an interesting juxtaposition from the easy scoring conditions we saw to open the season, as it consistently ranks as one of the most difficult tracks on tour. Let’s dive into the pricing.
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$10,000 and above
Play: Max Homa ($10,100):
Let’s not overthink this one. It’s no surprise that Max Homa, Southern California native and defending Farmers Insurance Open champion, is a slam dunk anytime he’s on the West Coast. The 33-year-old has now recorded four wins in California alone, and there is certainly something to be said for his comfort on Poa greens. Poa is a “confidence surface,” and it can drive players who are used to smooth bentgrass and grainy Bermuda nuts. Homa has been the No. 1 Poa putter in this field over the past three years, and he is also one of the best overall approach players in the field. I’d expect the seven-time PGA Tour winner to build upon his tremendous track record in the Golden State.
Fade: Patrick Cantlay ($10,500):
It’s challenging to pick a fade in the succinct $10,000 range this week, as all options check a number of boxes for me statistically and possess strong California ties. With that being said, Patrick Cantlay’s final round at The American Express left such a poor taste in my mouth, and it’s hard to justify paying such an exorbitant price this week. Of the $10,000-plus players, Cantlay has the least experience at Torrey Pines, and we have not seen him here since the 2021 U.S. Open. Experience matters here, and Schauffele, Homa and Morikawa are all better versed in the unique test of Torrey Pines.
Play: Tony Finau ($9,300):
Sean M. Haffey
Tony Finau has become a frustrating proposition for DFS golf players. We are all aware of his limitless talent, yet the floor remains low due to the incredible volatility of his putter. With that being said, Torrey Pines is a golf course that emphasizes Finau’s elite driving and long iron play, and his track record here should come as no surprise. In eight appearances at the Farmers Insurance Open, the six-time PGA Tour winner has recorded seven top-25s, which includes five top-10s and a ninth-place finish last year, where he gained over seven strokes ball-striking. Between his success at Riviera and Torrey Pines, Finau is an easy plug and play at difficult Southern California tracks until he proves otherwise.
Fade: Eric Cole ($9,000):
Eric Cole is an easy player to love in easy scoring conditions and at golf courses that de-value elite driving, but we have a much different task on our hands this week. While Cole is an elite wedge player and putter, his driver is the weakest aspect of his game. Cole is not particularly long or accurate. Due to the extremely narrow fairways and thick rough, possessing either elite distance or elite accuracy is paramount at Torrey Pines. Cole has neither, which could spell disaster for him this week. Hitting long irons out of Kikuyu rough is far from an enjoyable endeavor.
Play: Harris English ($8,800):
Harris English isn’t typically the first name that comes to mind when I think of long and difficult golf courses, but the four-time PGA Tour winner has an incredibly sneaky track record at these style of tests. The 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot is a wonderful reference point in terms of the strategic challenge that we should be looking for this week. Both Torrey and Winged Foot feature extremely narrow fairways, thick rough, and devilishly challenging greens, albeit for different reasons. English is the only player in this field to finish top five at both the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Coming off back-back top-15 finishes to start the year in Hawaii, English’s game is beginning to trend at the perfect time.
Fade: Adrian Meronk ($8,200):
I’m a big fan of Adrian Meronk’s skill-set, but not at this price. Meronk’s only experience at Torrey Pines is a missed cut at the 2021 U.S. Open, and we have not seen him play golf in America since the U.S. Open. While the Polish Hammer continues to play some impressive golf across the pond, I’m going to need to need to see a little more before I spend up for him here.
Play: Michael Kim ($7,300):
Michael Kim has been a mainstay in this column over the first few weeks of the season, and I’m already on record that it’s only a matter of time before we come to know the San Diego native for more than just his social media presence. Kim is coming off an impressive sixth-place finish last week at The American Express, and as a graduate of Torrey Pines high school, he now returns to his home-town track playing some of the best golf of his career.
Fade: Ben Griffin ($7,700):
It is no surprise that Ben Griffin excels on short, easy Bermuda-grass courses that emphasize wedge play, but he will up against a much different challenge this week at Torrey Pines. One of the shorter players in this field, Griffin is one of the only players at this price point to rank outside of the top-100 in long iron play and driving distance. Griffin will face a tremendous amount of pressure on his putter to keep up this week, generally a losing strategy at this style of golf course.
Flier: Nick Hardy ($7,000):
If I was distilling success at Torrey Pines into three crucial checkpoints, I would mention long and accurate driving, elite middle to long iron play, and putting inside 15 feet/experience on Poa greens. At $7,000, Nick Hardy somehow checks all three boxes. That’s right, Hardy is one of only two players in this field to rank top-20 in driving distance, long iron proximity, and putting inside 15 feet. Coming off a 42nd-place finish at the Sony Open where he gained strokes in all four major categories, Hardy is my favorite value play on the entire board.
Play: Joseph Bramlett ($6,800):
As one of the longest drivers on tour, Joseph Bramlett possesses the proto-typical skill-set for Torrey Pines. Think Luke List in 2021: bomber off the tee, awesome long iron player, sneaky solid short game. Famous last words, but if we could only just get the putter to cooperate, Bramlett could return great value this week.
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Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for Run Pure Sports, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for RickRunGood.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports