Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 Farmers Insurance Open Preview and Predictions

The PGA Tour makes its next stop in San Diego.  Continuing its west coast swing, the tour heads to heralded Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open.  Top PGA Tour professionals are heading to southern California for the tournament, enhancing an already strong field.  Torrey Pines is one of the longest courses on tour and a former US Open venue.

TV and Radio Schedule
Thursday, January 24: 3-7 PM ET The Golf Channel
Friday, January 25: 3-7 PM ET The Golf Channel
Saturday, January 26: 1-2:30 PM ET The Golf Channel, 3-6 PM ET CBS
Sunday, January 27: 1-2:30 PM ET The Golf Channel, 3-6 PM ET CBS

Radio: Sirius XM Radio PGA Tour Network
Thur., Fri., Sun.: 1-7 PM; Sat.: 12-6 PM ET

In the Field
The Farmers Insurance Open boasts one of the strongest fields on the PGA Tour each year.  This year does not disappoint.  Three of the top-ten in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field, as well as numerous players within the top-50

Players to Watch
Tiger Woods: Always the biggest draw in the world of golf, Woods is making his 2013 PGA Tour debut here at Torrey Pines.  Woods, who missed the cut last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in weird fashion, will look to rebound at the site of his last major championship victory.  Woods struggled with his long game in Abu Dhabi but putted well.  He should be very comfortable at one of his favorite golf courses in the world.

Phil Mickelson: Mickelson enjoys playing in the Farmers Insurance Open each year as it is the only tournament in his home town.  Mickelson opened his 2013 season this past week at the Humana Challenge, where a lackluster opening round saw him playing catch-up for the next three rounds.  Mickelson shot three rounds in the 60s on the weekend, so his game is coming around.

Rickie Fowler: Fowler opened his season at the HyundaiTournament of Champions and has taken the next couple of weeks off.  Fowler is a southern California boy as well, so this is somewhat of a home tournament for him.  Fowler will look to get his 2013 season off to a solid start and try to win his second career PGA Tour event.

Charles Howell III: One of the most talented golfers on the PGA Tour, Howell III has underwhelmed with his results up to now in his career.  2013 has been a solid year for him so far, as he has tallied a T3 and T2 at the Sony Open and HumanaChallenge, respectively.  Howell will look to continue his strong play and win for the third time on the PGA Tour.

Dustin Johnson: After winning the opening event on tour this season, Johnson was forced to withdraw from the Sony Open with the flu.  If he has fully recovered, his long driving ability should help him immensely at Torrey Pines.  Watch for Johnson to be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.

Hunter Mahan: Mahan also played in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and will make his second start of the 2013 season.  After a solid 2012 season where he was snubbed for a Ryder Cup position, Mahan will look to make the 2013 Presidents Cup team on points and prepare himself for the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Bubba Watson: Another player who hits the ball a mile, Watson will have no trouble reaching the par 5s at Torrey Pines.  Watson will be looking to fine tune his game in preparation for a defense of his 2012 Masters title.

Holes to Watch
The Farmers Insurance Open is played on Torrey Pines’ North and South courses.  The North Course is the easier and shorter of the two and is only played for one of the four rounds.  The South Course at Torrey Pines is highly regarded as one of the top 10 public golf courses in the world.  Host to the 2008 US Open, the Torrey Pines South Course will give the players all they can handle.

Hole 3: The first par-3 on the South Course, the third hole will give the players much to think about.  Multiple teeing areas with over 50 yards of difference will make the players guess each time they arrive at this hole.

Hole 9: The final hole on the front nine at the South Course, this par-5 is only reachable by the longest hitters.  At over 600 yards, the layup will be key to making a birdie on this hole.

Hole 13: The third par-5 at the South Course, hole 13 is reachable in two by many players in the field.  A drive that releases down a steep bank on the fairway will give the players a good chance at birdie and an outside shot at eagle.

Hole 18: Another week, another finishing par-5.  This one is reachable, but a water hazard blocks the front of the green.  Kyle Stanley made 8 here last year while leading the tournament.  Look for the win to come down to this hole Sunday.

With all the history at Torrey Pines and having won this tournament numerous times, I would love to pick Tiger Woods as my winner.  But having played one tournament this season so far and the jet lag from the trip will see Woods near the top of the leaderboard but he will not be able to seal the deal.  Howell III will once again finish in the top-5.  Rickie Fowler will have a solid finish.  But I am going with Bubba Watson, as his length will help him overpower the field en route to a win on the PGA Tour

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