Farmers Insurance Open Wrap Up
Updated: Feb 1
What a strange week on the PGA Tour.
The Wednesday - Saturday schedule to avoid clashing with the NFL felt a bit like a LIV event, something that the Tour has been at pains to distance itself from. For the purists, the PGA says golf tournaments should be played Thursday - Sunday with four rounds and a cut after two - moving away from even just one of these elements didn’t do the PGA, the defenders of tradition, any favours. It also felt unnecessary as the Phoenix Open will be played on Super Bowl Sunday in 2 weeks time with a $20m purse and one of the best attended weeks of the PGA schedule.
At the same time, the European Tour was in Dubai and thanks to rain delays went on to finish Monday morning UK time. Why is that strange? Well it had an incredibly compelling battle between Patrick Reed (the villain) and Rory McIlroy (the hero) - with the latter holing a brilliant putt on the 72nd hole to end Reed’s chances of heading into a playoff. Cameras were trained on Reed in the scorers hut watching Rory finish his round and every fan was praying for a playoff to see them go head to head. After the drama at the start of the week with tee gate and another potential rules violation for Reed, it felt more like Hollywood than an event on a Tour that is struggling to compete for eyeballs with the PGA Tour and LIV but creating the heroes v villains storylines by allowing LIV players to play could add a new dimension of interest to the European Tour that we hadn’t imagined. It certainly did this week, even before a ball had been hit.
Anyway, I digress.
The Farmers was a great event that had plenty going on despite the Saturday finish.
The pre event huge favourite and my only tip for the week, Jon Rahm, looked for all the world like he was adding another trophy to the cabinet on Friday evening after 54 holes. Sam Ryder (pre event 680/1) was two shots clear at -12, Rahm -10, Finau -8, Morikowa -7, Homa/Im/Theegala -7. With one round to go Rahm was 2.26 on the Exchange and favourite by a fair way. On a course he loves and chasing the chance to go top of the world rankings and win 3 PGA Tour events in a row with the W your wife would have forgiven you if you’d put the house on him.
However, it wasn’t to be. A bogey and a double bogey in the first 5 holes led to a three over front 9 and 74 for the final day (+2). Sam Ryder also struggled with a 75 despite starting with a birdie on the first hole and it was Max Homa that picked up his 5th win in the last 2 years as the King of California came from behind.
Homa, unlike the villain in Dubai, couldn’t be more likeable. During the Scottish Open last year he finished his round and went to play North Berwick with the club pro and two friends because it was on his bucket list. Stories like this are drowned out by the persistent ugliness of the LIV vs PGA Tour money and power tug of war being (ironically) fuelled further in Dubai this week. A tournament played on a brilliant course steeped in history, with great players and a couple of outsiders in contention to win a PGA Tour title is the golf I love to watch and Max Homa makes it really easy to be a fan. His struggles when he lost his card after he missed 15 of 17 cuts on Tour have been well documented, more so than his steady and stealthy rise to number 2 in the FEDEX Cup standings and how interesting his honesty has been in interviews on all subjects, from his struggles, to LIV and even being the first on Tour to be mic’d up during an event.
A pre event 26/1 saw Homa 7th favourite and if I’m honest I’d have backed Rahm and JT before touching Homa, seeing him in the same bracket as talented but not prolific contenders like Finau, Zalatoris and Schauffele. Maybe this thought process needs to change and players in hot form will take priority.
For the season we’re -£600 so a good week needed at the AT&T!
See you later in the week for the tips column!