Xander Schauffele
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Odds and Ends

Farmers: Backing a dialed-in Schauffele to win

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: January 24, 2023, 7:16 pm ET

The PGA Tour is now in the vice grip of Jon Rahm. There's no better way to describe how scorching hot Rahm is than to call him Mr. En Fuego. The man has been almost unbeatable. Whether he is teeing it up abroad or playing here in the United States, he is undoubtedly the man to beat in the field. Now he's set to tee it up at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open. The sportsbooks have acknowledged his success and priced him at +450, the shortest odds we have seen on a golfer this season. These odds are even shorter than when Tiger Woods won as a +750 favorite in 2013. Not saying Rahm doesn't deserve the price; it's just hard for me to fathom him winning three straight.

The golfer this week will alternate between the North and South Courses with the tournament ending the final two rounds on the South Course. The North is the easier of the two, meaning that golfers must take advantage and go low when they play the North. The South Course is long, measuring 7,765 yards. Golfers who are long off the tee and skilled with their long irons will have the most significant advantage. It's also important to note that this week's greens on the South Course are Poa. Look for those who putt well on those greens.

Torrey Pines will play difficult this week. You will hear many say it's Major-like conditions. I'd have to agree with them. Despite picking Luke List at (+10000) to win last season, I will likely bet inside the top-heavy board, with a few sprinkles on a handful of long shots.

Here are the golfers I am betting on this week to win the Farmers Insurance Open.

Xander Schauffele (+1100) – FanDuel

Had it not been for a back injury and an eventual withdrawal from the tournament prior, I would've been all over Xander Schauffele at the American Express. Luckily for my sanity, despite playing lights out, he did not go on to win. Schauffele was great off the tee but even better on approach. He gained +2.1 strokes on approach and drained putts in the final round to put a little pressure on the leaders.

Schauffele's success at the Farmers has been up and down. However, he does have a T2 here, and he fits every criterion I am looking for in the golfers I am betting on. He's long and accurate off the tee and gains a ton of strokes on approach. He's also a great short-game player who has quality wins under his belt. When the going gets tough, he's mentally strong enough to fight through adversity and compete.

As I mentioned, it's important to back golfers who putt well on Poa greens. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, there's no surprise that he's a great putter on Poa. It's what he's used to putting on. Statistically, he's better on Poa than on Bent Grass and Bermuda. If he continues his fine play, I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes as the leader come Sunday.

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Will Zalatoris (+1800) – PointsBet

I don't bet on Will Zalatoris often, but I was fortunate enough to back him for his first PGA Tour win. If we are talking about ticking boxes, Zalatoris ticks them all. He's super long off the tee, a great long iron hitter, and his short game is greatly improved. Zalatoris probably should've won here last season, but he failed where it mattered most, on the putting surface. This is by no means a knock-on List's fantastic play, more a notice that Zalatoris did everything right except putt well. He lost -1.3 strokes putting here last year, which was bundled in a string of poor putting performances.  

Since his missed cut at the Byron Nelson, he's seemingly turned over a new leaf. Most of the success he's seen on the putting greens comes from the new putting stroke. He's gained strokes, putting in five consecutive events, and seems to have healed from his back injury. Backing him here makes the most sense.  

Justin Thomas (+1800) – PointsBet

The price for Justin Thomas here will likely be the best price we see on Thomas this season. Thomas hasn't been in his best form to start the season. His putter has failed him. There's no denying that when he even breaks even on Strokes Gained: Putting, he's a contender to win. However, that hasn't been the case over his last five events. He's lost an average of -2.2 stokes per average. All I'm asking from him this week is for his putter to be average. Like Schauffele, Thomas is a much better putter on Poa greens. Unlike him, it's not even a marginal difference; it's a reasonably significant difference on average.

If he brings his putter, he's a force to be reckoned with. He's the most skilled long-iron player in the field. When Thomas played with Woods, he asked him about his game; Woods basically told him he needed more shots with his irons. Since then, Thomas has focused a lot of time and energy on being able to hit any shot he wants with his irons. A skill that has led him to 15 Tour wins and multiple majors.

Thomas also is great with his wedges and one of the best out of the bunker. Datagolf.com has Thomas sixth in course fit, and I'd argue that he should be closer to third. At this price, I can forgive his poor putting and hope that he finds his way on the top of the podium.

Longshots: Hideki Matsuyama (+4500) - PointsBet, Taylor Montgomery (+3000) PointsBet, Cam Davis (+6600) BetMGM
Brad Thomas

Brad is a sports handicapper who is lucky enough to write about his true love; sports. "We may all root for different teams, but our objective remains the same… Beat the books! Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint." Follow Brad on Twitter @MrBradThomas.