Stat attack!: Farmers Insurance Open preview

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This week’s Farmers Insurance Open marks the 2013-14 PGA Tour debut of Tiger Woods. And what better place for the world No. 1 to return to the Tour than at the course on which he has won eight times professionally. With his seventh win at the Farmers in 2013 added to his 2008 U.S. Open title at Torrey Pines, Woods became the first player to win on the same course eight different times. He tied his own record twice more in 2013.

Most victories on the same course in PGA Tour history

Wins Player Course Years
8 Tiger Woods  Torrey Pines South (Farmers/U.S. Open)  1999, '03, 2005-08, '13 (U.S. Open, '08)
8 Tiger Woods  Bay Hill Club & Lodge (API)  2000-03, 2008-09, 2012-13
8 Tiger Woods  Firestone CC South (WGC-Bridgestone)  1999-01, 2005-07, '09, '13
6 Sam Snead  Miami Springs G&CC (Miami Open)  1937, '39, '46, 1950-51, '55
6 Jack Nicklaus  Augusta National GC (Masters)  1963, 1965-66, '72, '75, '86
6 Alex Ross  Pinehurst Resort (North/South Open)  1902-04, 1907-08, '10

*Source: PGA Tour Media Guide


Woods has won his season-opening event on Tour seven times in his career, but his victory at the 2013 Farmers ended a slide in which he was outside the top 10 in his debut in three of the previous four years. They were the only times in his career in which he did not finish in the top 10 in his season-opening tournament.

Tiger Woods season-opening events on the PGA Tour since 1997

 1997  Mercedes Championships  Won
 1998  Mercedes Championships  T-2
 1999  Mercedes Championships  T-5
 2000  Mercedes Championships  Won
 2001  Mercedes Championships  T-8
 2002  Mercedes Championships  T-10
 2003  Buick Invitational  Won
 2004  Mercedes Championships  T-4
 2005  Mercedes Championships  T-3
 2006  Buick Invitational  Won
 2007  Buick Invitational  Won
 2008  Buick Invitational  Won
 2009  WGC-Accenture Match Play  T-17
 2010  Masters  T-4
 2011  Farmers Insurance Open  T-44
 2012  AT&T Pebble Beach  T-15
 2013  Farmers Insurance Open  Won

Woods doesn’t dominate the statistics when he wins at Torrey Pines. In fact he hasn’t led the field in distance, accuracy, greens in regulation or strokes gained-putting in any of his victories. All he does is score. His career average at Torrey Pines is 68.61. In 51 rounds, he has 35 rounds in the 60s, 43 rounds under par and only three rounds over par.

Woods statistical ranking in his victories at the Farmers Insurance Open

 Year  Distance  Fairways Hit  GIR  Strokes gained-putting
 2013  7  T-17  T-34  28
 2008  11  59  T-2  6
 2007  4  T-55  T-5  11
 2006  3  T-55  T-9  27
 2005  3  T-68  T-49  7
 2003  10  T-67  T-11  N/A
 1999  N/A  T-57  T-33  N/A

Woods dominates the par-5 holes at Torrey Pines, which has become a trait of the tournament champion regardless of his name. The Farmers winner has had a scoring average of less than 4.5 on the par-5 holes seven times in the last eight years.

Farmers Insurance Open champion’s scoring average on par-5 holes

 Year  Player  Average  Event Rank
 2013  Tiger Woods  4.25  T-2
 2012  Brandt Snedeker  4.44  T-16
 2011  Bubba Watson  4.19  1st
 2010  Ben Crane  4.69  T-41
 2009  Nick Watney  4.31  2nd
 2008  Tiger Woods  4.44  T-2
 2007  Tiger Woods  4.31  T-6
 2006  Tiger Woods  4.19  1st

Woods isn’t the only superstar making his 2014 calendar-year debut on Tour at the Farmers Insurance Open. Phil Mickelson is also back after a week in the Middle East, where he finished T-2 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. It was a tournament he could have won if not for a triple bogey-7 on the par-4 13th hole Sunday. He did make birdie on three of his last five holes to finish one back of winner Pablo Larrazabal. Mickelson, who did have two top-20 finishes in the PGA Tour events in Asia at the end of 2013, is looking for his first win on Tour since the British Open. Like Woods, he has had success at the Farmers, but all three of his victories came prior to the Rees Jones redesign of the South Course, which was completed after Mickelson’s victory in 2001. Mickelson has played this event 24 times, 12 times prior to the redesign and 12 after. Here’s a breakdown.

Mickelson at the Farmers Insurance Open

 Years  Starts  Wins  Top-5s  Cuts Made  Weekend Avg.
 1988-01  12  3  5  9  69.47
 2002-13  12  0  3  10  71.35

When you look at the nearly two-stroke difference in Mickelson’s weekend scoring average, you must remember that he finished second in 2011, losing to Bubba Watson by one stroke, and that he was one stroke out of the John Daly-Luke Donald-Chris Riley playoff in 2004. It’s fair to say the Jones redesign cost Mickelson two more titles at Torrey Pines.

Woods and Mickelson have combined for 10 of the last 21 wins at the Farmers Insurance Open, but several other players have had amazing success on the Torrey Pines courses. Here’s a sampling of other players to consider if you’re in a fantasy golf league this week:

 Rickie Fowler  T-6 in 2013 was fourth straight top-20 at Torrey.
 Bill Haas  Three top-20s from 2005-09. Has been in top 10 since '11.
 Charles Howell III  Second to Woods in 2005 and '07. No missed cuts.
 Hunter Mahan  Finished T-6 in 2011 and '12, and was T-15 in '13.
 D.A. Points  Had three straight top-10s before MC in '13.
 Brandt Snedeker  Second twice (2010, '13). Won in 2012.
 Jimmy Walker  Led field in par-5 scoring average last two years (T-8, T-4)
 Nick Watney  2009 champ. Also finished T-4 in '13.
 Bubba Watson  2011 champ, with two other top-10s.

ONE FINAL NOTE: Torrey Pines South can play more than 600 yards longer than the North and the scoring average between the two courses last year reflected that difference. During the first two rounds (when play was held on both courses) the North averaged 70.67 strokes and the South came in at 72.42 strokes. The South was a little harder on the weekend, averaging 72.87 strokes over the final two days.

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