The season is getting ramped up this week for a lot of the stars who are ready for a tough test at Torrey Pines.
For DFS purposes, that means value and lots of value. While some of the stars are still shaking off the rust, some of the mid-tier has been warmed up for a few weeks now and ready to contend.
This week's event is played on two courses over the first 36 holes, the North Course at Torrey Pines and the South Course at Torrey Pines (host). The South will be used three times while golfers will see the easier North Course just once.
For more detailed rundown of the courses, have a look at the Farmers Insurance Open Preview I published on Monday.
Back to the DFS slate, we have a full field of 156 golfers with just top 65 and ties playing the weekend. That means lots of expected cut carnage. Combine that with a tough scoring environment on the South Course, and finding finish-position points should be a big priority this week.
Let's have a look at the weather then search for some golfers that are either playing well right now or might fit the course this week.
Thursday (R1): Sunny with a high of 77 degrees. Calm winds at 5 MPH.
Friday (R2): Sunny with a high of 76 degrees. Calm winds.
We've seen a few nasty wind rounds here in the past but a lot of that is a bias that forces us to remember the really bad rounds. In that regard, people will continue to assume they are battling winds in every round at this event. In reality, it's usually pretty calm at this event with winds falling in the 5 to 10 MPH range most years. That looks to be the case again this week.
I am going to focus on some recent results in this section to highlight what golfers may be trending in the right direction.
Cameron Davis -- The young Aussie has finished top 30 in each of his last three worldwide starts including top 10s at the Aussie PGA and Sony Open. During that time, he's gained over 3 strokes to the field in 6-of-12 rounds.
Tom Hoge -- The man from Fargo is feasting early in the season. He carded a T12 at the Sony Open and backed it up with a T6 last week in La Quinta, California. Will he have the distance to keep up at Torrey Pines? Well, he's 3-for-4 at this event but his lone cut made doubled as a top 15 (T12 in 2018).
Sungjae Im -- The Presidents Cup was a breakout week for Im in terms of casual fans realizing how talented the young Korean is. He hasn't disappointed his new fans with back-to-back top 25s. It's rare for him to take weeks off so it's no surprise to see him peg it three weeks in a row to kick off his year. Im has gained 2.2 or more strokes to the field in 6-of-8 rounds across the Sony Open and American Express.
Torrey Pines South is the longest course they play all year. You need to have your driver dialed in if you want to contend this week. Some golfers consistently play better on courses where you use your driver a lot.
Looking at sample-size-adjusted performance in rounds played on driver-heavy courses since 2018 (PGA, KFT, Euro Tour) the top performers on a per-round basis looks like this:
Other than raw performance, we can also look at who shows the biggest improvement on driver-heavy courses (versus their baseline). Using that as the criteria, the following names pop:
This list has combined for four wins at Torrey Pines since 2011.
It's funny to see Spieth on the list because his driver has been such a mess for a while. Perhaps it's something to do with driver-heavy courses leading to more missed fairways for the field, putting him on equal footing and allowing him to make up the difference on or around-the-greens.
Ryan Palmer: When you look for converging trends, you can't help but stop when you get to Palmer's name. The Texan ended 2019 with back-to-back top 15s. He's picked up in 2020 with a T17 at the TOC (meh) and then a T4 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Adding fuel to the fire, he posted a runner-up finish at the 2018 edition of this event and backed it up with a T13 last year. He's a very affordable glue guy when looking at the mid-range of salaries this week.
Best of luck in all your contests this week!