The PGA Tour heads back to California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Scott Stallings defends while Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson all start.

Lowdown:
The PGA Tour heads back to California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Scott Stallings defends while Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson all start.

This tournament began life as the San Diego Open way back in 1927 and from 1996 to 2009, it was known as the Buick Invitational. In that guise it was won six times by Tiger Woods. Since 2010, Farmers Insurance has been the title sponsor and Tiger won again here in 2013. Woods also won the U.S. Open over the South Course at Torrey Pines, playing on a broken leg in 2008.

Woods comes into this tournament on the back of a disappointing return to action in the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week. A second round of 82 there was his worst score as a professional and there have been a number of questions asked about the state of his short game. Does Tiger have the yips? He’ll be out to prove his doubters wrong this week at a venue where he has enjoyed considerable success.

San Diego’s Phil Mickelson will be making his 26th appearance in this tournament. He’s won on three occasions (1993, 2000 and 2001) and, like Woods, he’ll be hoping for better things after a poor showing in Scottsdale.

Dustin Johnson is also back in action this week after a prolonged layoff because of “personal issues.” There will be a great deal of interest in what sort of form he is in. Apparently, he fired a 61 in a bounce game at Sherwood CC at the end of last year.

Aside from Woods, Mickelson and Johnson, a very strong field is in San Diego for this event. World Number 5 Justin Rose tees it up, so too do Jimmy Walker, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and last week’s winner Brooks Koepka.

In last year’s tournament, Scott Stallings birdied the final hole to win by one from K.J. Choi, Graham DeLaet, Jason Day, Pat Perez and Marc Leishman.

The tournament is contested over the two courses at Torrey Pines – North and South. The pros will play one round on each on Thursday and Friday before those who make the cut go on to play the last two rounds over the South Course. Revamped for the 2002 Buick Invitational, the South Course at Torrey Pines was the venue for the 2008 U.S. Open.

Early morning sea mists may delay play this week but conditions generally look like being perfect, with sunny skies and mild temperatures.

Venue: Torrey Pines GC (South,) San Diego, California
Date: Feb 5-8
Course stats: South – par 72, 7,698 yards; North – par 72, 7,052 yards
Purse: $6,300,000 Winner: $1,134,000
Defending Champion: Scott Stallings (-9)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Friday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Saturday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player Watch:
Hideki Matsuyama – The Japanese star is on great form at the moment. He was tied second last week in Scottsdale – the third top-three finish he’s recorded in his last eight starts internationally. He played in this event for the first time last year and finished in a creditable tied 16th.

Graham DeLaet – He was tied second in this event last year and was tied seventh in the Phoenix Open – the planets are aligning for DeLaet.

Gary Woodland – He led this tournament after three rounds last year but faded to a tie for 10th. His power game is ideally suited to the South Course and he’s never missed the cut here.

Key hole: 12th. A monster par 4 of 504 yards, bunkers wait left and right for both drive and approach shot. If the wind blows hard against, some players will struggle to reach the putting surface in two shots.

Skills required: Power hitting. Over the years it’s been the Tour’s longest hitters who have enjoyed success at Torrey Pines – Tiger’s won seven times and Mickelson three. Nick Watney, John Daly and Bubba Watson have also won here.