It’s only the third week of January, but we’ve already got one of the most anticipated events of the PGA Tour season kicking off this Thursday in La Jolla, California. As it has almost every time, the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines marks the first start in a Tiger Woods comeback.
Now, some may think calling the Farmers one of the most anticipated tourney’s — Tiger or not — is a bit of an exaggeration, but you’d be wrong.
Think about it. Not only have you got Tiger coming back, you’ve got some big names playing great golf right now. You’ve got a list of marquee names teeing off — and the even’ts reigning champ comes in on the heels of a victory. If you’re not excited, you’re not a fan.
With so many big names and talented young players with something to prove teeing it up this week, you might need a little help navigating the fantasy landscape. Here’s a look at those worth your time — and those who will just be a waste:
Justin Rose — It’s hard to believe, but I feel like Justin Rose tends to end up the odd man out when people think about the best players in the game right now. Sure, he’s been around for while and has made a career of quietly being great — but Rose is hot, hot, hot right now and is an absolute fantasy must this week at Torrey Pines. In his last 10 starts worldwide, Rose has nine top-10’s — including two wins.
Jon Rahm — Defending a title on the PGA Tour is tough. Winning in back-to-back week’s is incredibly tough — but Jon Rahm has the rare opportunity to do both of these things this week at Torrey Pines. Rahm, who burst onto the scene with his win here last year comes into the event as hot as anyone else on Tour. Personally, I don’t think he’s going to win — but the odds of him collecting at least a top-15 finish would be, in my estimation, about 2/1.
Tony Finau — In three career starts at the Farmer’s Insurance Open, Tony Finau has collected three top-25 finishes. He’s made his name on Tour out here and knows the track as well as anyone. I’ve predicted a big year for Finau, and I think Torrey Pines could serve up the second win of his PGA Tour career.
Marc Leishman — The world’s top-ranked Australian, Marc Leishman rounds out my list of players this week at Torrey Pines. Making his fifth start of the 2017-’18 PGA Tour season, Leishman has collected a runner-up and a Top-10 as as well as two finishes of T-47 or better without missing a cut. In nine starts, Leishman has finished T-2 twice (2010,2014) as part of three top-10 finishes. He likes the course and is playing well — I see no reason to believe he can’t put together a stellar week in La Jolla this time around.
Tiger Woods — Everyone knows the gaudy numbers that Tiger Woods boasts at Torrey Pines and in the Farmer’s Insurance Open, so I won’t bore you by repeating them here. He certainly fits every bucket a fantasy owner would be looking to put him in, but he needs to be approached with caution this week. While a great week — even a win — wouldn’t SHOCK me, (after all, he is Tiger) I think, realistically, no one can expect anything too great this week. Woods will find some form — but I don’t think it’s necessarily this week. Give him some time to get his legs back under him.
Jimmy Walker — For the third week in a row, Jimmy Walker tees it up at a course he’s had great success at in the past. And for the third week in a row, you need to stash him away, far from your starting lineup. After two straight missed cuts and some serious struggles, the 2016 PGA Champion is still shaking off the rust built up by a full season battling Lyme disease. I can’t wait for Walker to return to form — but it’s imperative to be patient in this scenario.
Alex Noren — One of the names that should be in the back of every stout fantasy player’s mind is Alex Noren. The Swede has enjoyed a tremendous run of success in the last 18 months or so on the European Tour and, now, is taking a chance stateside. Despite the fact that I’d love to turn him loose, I can’t bring myself to give him the starting nod. He’s making his first start in the Farmer’s and at Torrey Pines, so I’m going to pass — but don’t forget the name as the calendar pages begin to turn and the temperatures begin to rise.