2024 Farmers Insurance Open Preview, Picks & Analysis
Forget everything that has happened so far. The PGA Tour gets started for real this week when they tee it up at the Farmers Insurance Open at the majestic Torrey Pines.
It was won last year by Max Homa, who shot a 66 to come from five behind as Jon Rahm, who had been attempting to win his third event in a row slumped to a 74.
Homa carded seven birdies and a bogey as he finished the tournament on 13 under par in San Diego.
He won by two shots from Keegan Bradley, who also shot a 66, and three from Collin Morikawa. Third-round leader Sam Ryder carded a 75 to drop to nine under.
"Obviously there's a ton of great players out here,” Homa said. "That board was stacked. But I just had to know that it's obviously a hard golf course. Winning takes a lot of luck, but it just takes, I think, a lot of patience and knowing that, especially on these final rounds, 18 holes is a marathon and a lot of stuff goes on."
Homa is one of the most underrated golfers on the planet and will fancy his chances of retaining his title. He had a fabulous 2023. Homa finished the year having risen to seventh in the world rankings and many people believe he is now ready to take the next step and add a major to his six PGA Tour titles.
Apart this tournament, he also claimed the Fortinet Championship and produced a slew of impressive results, including a tied third at the Tournament of Champions, second at the Genesis, tied sixth at the Players Championship, tied 10th at The Open, tied fifth at the BMW Championship and tied ninth at the Tour Championship. And, as America were thrashed by Europe at the Ryder Cup, Homa was a rare shining light for US captain Zach Johnson. At 33 he is a late developer. He has made 177 starts and made 110 cuts but last year he made the weekend 21 times from 25 starts and recorded a hugely impressive 18 top-25 finishes, winning more than $10m in prize money. He has a wonderful temperament and is one of the best wedge players on the planet. We haven’t seen much of him since the Ryder Cup but you can be certain that he will be ready to defend his title this week.
I also like the chances of Keegan Bradley, who has started 2024 in fine form and is still smarting from not being given a pick by Johnson for the Ryder Cup. Bradley remains one of the most infuriating players on the planet to watch but he is a ferocious competitor and he has finally found a way to putt - and that makes him extremely dangerous.
It may have passed you by but 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari has been showing some signs of life recently. Dogged by injury and a loss of confidence since his golden spell, the Italian played superbly at the Dubai Invitational. It would have been easy for him to remain in Europe but it is a measure of new-found confidence that he is back in America preparing for another campaign.
A player who needs to start turning things around soon is Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama. The former Masters champion spends much of his life travelling the globe and he had a pretty miserable time of it in 2023. His work ranking has plummeted and he has been working on swing changes - the pause at the top of his backswing has now all but disappeared. I still struggle to understand why so many golfers who reach the summit decide to go away and change their golf swings. It hardly ever works, and perhaps now is the time for Matsuyama to go back to what he knows works best for hm.
Speaking of confidence, Collin Morikawa will surely be looking forward to 2024. Remarkably, he is still only 26. He made a remarkable start to his professional career, winning the US PGA in 2020 and The Open in 2021. He then suffered a worrying drought before claiming the Zozo Championship in October last year. A man known for his incredible iron play, Morikawa lost his touch but has worked hard on his game and once again looks like the man who has claimed two majors.
The Farmers is played over two courses at Torrey Pines and they are made for Morikawa’s game. Do not be surprised to see him win his seventh PGA Tour title this week.
It was won in 2016 by Brandt Snedeker, in 2017 by Jon Rahm, in 2018 by Jason Day, in 2019 by Justin Rose, in 2020 by Marc Leishman, in 2021 by Patrick Reed, in 2022 by Luke List and last year by Max Homa.
Defending champion Max Homa is being tipped by many to land his first major in 2024. He has a fabulous temperament, is a wonderful iron player and although he is streaky putter, when he gets hot with the short stick he is well-nigh unbeatable. Collin Morikawa is back to his very best and a requirement to scoring well at Torrey Pines is to hit fairways and accurate iron shots - and he does both on a regular basis.
The Farmers Insurance Open is played over two courses at Torrey Pines, the North and the South. The South is a monster at 7,765 yards and features a wonderful closing par five that calls for a second shot played over water. It has seen many dramatic finishes over the years, never more so than in 2017 when Rahm won his maiden PGA Tour title by holing an outrageous putt on the 18th green. The North course measures 7,258 yards. Both layouts are par 72.
Max Homa. Has no weaknesses
Collin Morikawa. Back to his best
Patrick Cantlay. Wonderful golf swing
Five to Follow:
Max Homa. Brilliant temperament
Collin Morikawa. Hitting it close for fun again
Patrick Cantlay. Looking for a win
Ludvig Aberg. Will love Torrey Pines
Keegan Bradley. Astonishingly, now one of the best putters on the PGA Tour
Five Outsiders to Watch:
Francesco Molinari. I have a sneaky feeling that Molinari is about to turn things around
Gary Woodland. Getting there
Hideki Matsuyama. Too good to keep struggling
Austin Eckroat. Will surely make the breakthrough soon
Taylor Montgormery. Exciting talent
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