The PGA Tour returns to California this week as Torrey Pines plays host to the Farmers Insurance Open. As ever with the tour there are any number of storylines to choose from. From the return of Dustin Johnson after six months away dealing with “personal issues” to Tiger Woods going off at 50/1, the biggest he’s ever been priced in his career. Amidst all the soap opera, there is a golf tournament to be won. So let’s have a look at it.
In terms of favourite status, the bookies are torn between Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. You can get both of them at prices between 8/1 and 14/1. That the pair of them are favourites is understandable. Day finished tied second at the 2014 tournament and Spieth just lacked the experience and mental strength to turn a second-day lead into a victory as he shot consecutive rounds of 75 on the weekend. The 21-year-old has gained a great deal of fortitude in the last year. He won the Australian Open, finished tied second in the Masters and competed well in the Ryder Cup. Those experiences will no doubt help him this week. The claims of both on victory are strong, but there are other ways to go this week.
The first challenger to include is Jimmy Walker. The Oklahoma-born golfer experience a break-out year in 2014. He won three events on the PGA Tour and has already followed that up by defending his title at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Walker is the sort of player who plays well in spells and gets his form up to scratch early on in the season. The best price available on Walker is 16/1 with Ladbrokes who are paying five places for each-way bets. Taking him each-way rather than in a top 10 or top five market is the way to go because he could well be in contention for victory on Sunday.
Backing a player coming back from a six month break may not seem overly prudent, but with Dustin Johnson, there are reasons to support his claim for a top 10 finish. He loves playing at Torrey Pines – in a casual round with his father-in-law, ice hocky legend Wayne Gretzky, Johnson shot 61 around the track. Obviously, the much-debated issues that Johnson sought help to fix have had an effect on his price. You can back him at 40/1 to win with Coral but it’s probably best to back him at 11/4 to finish in the top 10 as a victory is likely beyond him.
How about a long shot pick for the chance of some serious returns? This week the pick is Scott Piercy who can be backed at 100/1 for the win with Coral. The suitability of his game to Torrey Pines is the reason for picking the Las Vegas-born Piercy. He struggled at the Phoenix Open as he missed the cut but the par fives at Torrey Pines rank among the easiest holes on the course and Piercy ranks fifth out of everyone in the field in terms of his scoring on the long holes. He also tends to get stronger as events go on, so as long as he doesn’t blow-out early on you can bank on his price shortening significantly come the weekend.
Finally, a word on Tiger Woods. The multiple major winner shot the worst round of his career when he carded an 82 last week. To be fair to Woods he faced the media afterwards and is still entered for this week’s tournament. Not only has he won this event eight times but he also won the US Open in 2008 when it was held at Torrey Pines. His game is so poor at the moment however, that it is difficult to make a case for him. For Tiger fans, the best hope is that he improves and gets some confidence from competing for all four days here. If you can’t turn down the 50/1 about a Woods win, just know that backing him at the moment is a brave decision.