The PGA Tour travels down the Californian coast this week to Torrey Pines in San Diego for the Farmers Insurance Open. Nick Watney defends the title and Phil Mickelson begins his 2010 campaign.
This tournament began life as the San Diego Open way back in 1927 and, until 2009, it was known as the Buick Invitational. In that guise it was won six times by Tiger Woods. It’s all change at Torrey Pines this season – For reasons the whole world knows about, Tiger won’t be competing and Farmers Insurance have taken over the title sponsorship.
San Diego native Phil Mickelson will be making his 20th consecutive appearance in his tournament. He’s won on three occasions (1993, 2000 and 2001) and finished in the top-five seven times.
The tournament is contested over the two courses at Torrey Pines – North and South. Players will play one round on each on Thursday and Friday before those who make the cut go on two contest 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 US Open.
The par-3 sixth hole on the North Course will look a little different this season as the iconic Cypress tree that sat behind the hole was blown down in a storm last December.
Venue: Torrey Pines Golf Course, La Jolla, California
Date: Jan 28-31
Course stats: North Course – par 72, 6,874 yards; South Course – par 72, 7,569 yards
Purse: $5,300,000 Winner: $954,000
Defending Champion: Nick Watney (-11)
Thursday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Friday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Saturday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9pm
Sunday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8.30pm
Phil Mickelson – Although he hasn’t played yet in 2010 he has a fantastic record in this event and will be eager to begin closing the gap on Tiger Woods at the top of the World Ranking.
Robert Allenby – The Australian has been on superb form over the last couple of months. He followed wins in Australia and South Africa at the end of 2009 with a runner-up finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Nick Watney – The defending champion can compete with the best when he’s on top of his game. He’ll be looking to find some inspiration from the venue he won at in 2009.
Key hole: 18th South Course – This is where it will all be decided on Sunday afternoon. A par 5 of 571 yards, it used to be a hole where the longer hitters would have a crack at the green in two. It’s now a very high-risk shot with water guarding the front of the putting surface. Laying up and pitching on for three is the safest play so expect Phil Mickelson to have a go at reaching in two.
Skills required: Beating the locals. 10 of the last 13 winners of this tournament have been South California natives.