Tiger Woods is as short as 9-4 to win the Farmers Insurance Open this week on the US PGA Tour. At first glance this looks a very short price for a full field tournament but in view of the world number one’s record in the event there could still be some juice in the price. Tiger has won seven of the last fifteen renewals which suggest odds of about 11-10 would more accurately reflect his prospects this week.
The Qatar Masters on the European Tour has an early start this week with organisers arranging Wednesday first round play to take advantage of the two free days in this part of the world which fall on Friday and Saturday. With time differences to consider it should be noted that the tournament has an early morning start on Wednesday. The new golf service managed through the Winning Information Network, OnParProfits has selections for both events this week.
Between 1996 and 2009 the Farmers event was known as the Buick Invitational but has always been played on two courses at Torrey Pines in the Jolla area of California. It is a long established tournament and part of the ‘West Coast Swing’. Golfers play a round on the South course and North course over the first two days then both weekend rounds are played on the South course.
The South course was completely overhauled after the 2001 tournament and was then lengthened significantly as part of preparations for hosting the US Open in 2008. When Woods won that championship, his 14th major, he looked odds on to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors but that was the last time he won one of the four biggest prizes in golf.
Woods won five regular tournaments last season and regained his status as the world’s number one. He won his seventh Farmers Insurance Open or equivalent a year ago and four other events on the PGA Tour. However, he never got beyond the periphery of the leaderboard in the majors and it is these championships that define his career.
In 2008 Woods was on schedule to win his 19th major by about 2011 but it just hasn’t happened since then in the most important championships of the year. He is now odds on not to get to 19 but the end of this season may be a better time to assess his potential final tally. He has won majors on three of the host courses for this year’s Grand Slam tournaments. Returning to Augusta, Valhalla and Hoylake provides his best opportunity to get closer to Nicklaus over the next few years.
The best player in the world would probably swap another six Farmers events for that elusive next major. With massive earnings on the course and lucrative sponsorship deals in place money is not an issue. Woods wants to be remembered as the best player in the history of the game but he must win five more majors to achieve that aim.
The two courses at Torrey Pines are suited to Woods’ game but it is course experience rather than any specific skill that makes him so hard to beat at this complex. In fact apart from smaller than average bentgrass greens the tracks don’t have much in common. The South course is almost 700 yards longer than the North course.
Unless there are unusual weather conditions there’s no real advantage to the tee times at this tournament as a two tee start over two courses means rounds are usually all played in similar conditions. However, the draw has a significant impact on the round one leader. With the North course about five shots easier than the South course the round one leaders will come from the North half of the draw.
Rather than suiting a particular type of player course experience is the biggest advantage at Torrey Pines and that is why Woods is such a short price to record a ninth career win at the venue. Despite the length of the South course relatively short hitters often do well here. Another interesting trend is for California players to often figure at Torrey Pines. Woods now lives in Florida but was born in California while Phil Mickelson is also a resident.
Mickelson himself is another multiple winner though his record is nowhere near as prolific of that of his great rival. He arrives at Torrey Pines on the back of finishing joint second with Rory McIlroy behind Pablo Larrazabal at the Abu Dhabi Championship on the European Tour. His average stats for finding the greens in the correct number of shots may be a hindrance on courses with small greens.
Brandt Snedeker has the best course form of the entire field over the last five years. He won the tournament in 2012 and made the cut every other time over that spell. In winning the FedEx Cup in that year he took his game to a new level and he is now firmly established in the top 20 in the world rankings. Bill Haas is another player with a great deal in his favour this week but subscribers to OnParProfits have access to tips for a number of other less obvious contenders.
With the Qatar Masters starting a day early the event may be in progress when this article is being read. The Doha Golf Club is the regular host of an event that is the second leg of the ‘Middle East Swing’. Tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the weeks before and after the tournament complete the part of the schedule in this area of the world.
Doha is a long course that favours big hitters. The fairways are average width and lead to grainy bermuda greens that have many tricky slopes. Water is a big factor on six holes. Two of the par fives are reachable in two so provide plenty of eagle and birdie opportunities. The key to scoring is the Shamal wind as when it blows Doha becomes a severe test. It tends to get up in the afternoon so an early round one start is advantageous here.
Course experience on such an exposed track subject to a brisk wind is very important at Doha. If betting in running do bear in mind that the back nine plays almost a shot easier than the front nine. The final hole, a par 5 that is below average in length, provides an opportunity to make up one or two shots on the field. With the tournament following the Abu Dhabi Championship an important consideration is the advantage of playing the previous week.
Alvaro Quiros has the best overall course form and is the headline tip in the Racing Post. I would agree that he has built up a solid bank of course form but his current form is not that of a player who is about to win a tournament that has attracted a decent field. Sergio Garcia is the favourite but the OnParProfits service has unearthed some bigger priced players with the profile to contend.