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Preview: Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines

Preview – PGA Tour – Farmers Insurance Open – Torrey Pines Golf Course – La Jolla, California –

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are back at this week on the PGA Tour.

After missing the cut last week in Phoenix – Tiger shot 82 and looked like an amateur at times – both tee it up at a familiar venue at Torrey Pines Golf Club in the San Diego.

The Farmers Insurance Open features some of the west coast’s most picturesque views, a host of FedEx Cup points and the opportunity for someone to gain momentum as the year’s first major championship approaches.

The field also includes Masters champion Bubba Watson (now the top-ranked American in the Official World Golf Ranking at No. 3), Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker and Jimmy Walker. The event uses both the North and South courses at Torrey Pines and dates back to 1952.

Competitors play each course in the first two rounds before the cut. The South Course (7,600 yards) hosts the weekend. Early-low scoring on the shorter North Course (7,067 yards) should provide tournament swings on the leader board.

Players need to drive the ball straight and have sharp irons to score well at Torrey Pines. Bumpy greens will certainly factor on the mental approach and scoring results. Just 9-under overall won the title a season ago.

Jordan Spieth enters with some momentum. He won the Australian Open in November and then the Hero World Challenge in Florida. Neither was a PGA Tour start, but both impressed the world of golf. He tees off with Brooks Koepka, a champion last week in Phoenix, and Hideki Matsuyama in the opening round in San Diego. The trio tees up at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on the North Course.

Woods, a seven-time champion at this event and most-recently in 2013, is grouped with FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel and Rickie Fowler in the opening two rounds. They tee of Thursday at 9:20 .m. local time.

2014 Recap:

  • Scott Stallings (9-under) captured the victory at Torrey Pines, thanks to a 4-under-68 in the final round. He edged five players by a shot including K.J. Choi, Graham DeLaet, Day, Pat Perez and Marc Leishman. Gary Woodland fired a first-round 65 and ended up with a Top 10. Spieth opened strong with an early 63, but finished slow with a 75-75.

FANTASY: South Course plays about 700 yards longer than the North Course, so factor that in when selecting daily match ups. The North Course ranks as one of the easiest on tour. Mickelson is playing here in his own backyard with eight Top 10s here and three victories. Consider CH3, twice a runner-up here. He also has seven Top 10s at Torrey. For younger players, take Justin Thomas, who has three Top 20s this season. He was also T-10 in 2014. Take Bill Haas, a champion at the Humana last month. He plays well on the West Coast.

BETTORS: This could be a difficult spot for Spieth, who is the outright betting favorite for one of the first times. All the pressure is on him as the 11-to-1 favorite at www.skybet.com. Two late-year wins in Australia and Florida boosted his stock, but avoid him at this payout. Consider taking Snedeker, a past champion here, at 25-1. Justin Rose, 5th in the world rankings, is attractive at 25-1. Take Horschel at 40-1 for a nice payoff.

Golf Channel has television coverage with CBS Sports handling the weekend rounds.

Other Golf News:

  • The LPGA Tour returns to action this week for Pure-Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic on Paradise Island. Newly crown Rolex Ranking No. 1 Lydia Ko is in the field after a runner-up finish in last week’s season opener. Five of the Top 6 players in the world are in the field along with defending champion Jessica Korda.
  • Woods has slipped to long-shot status on the PGA Tour this week. At skybet.com, he is a 50-1 selection at Torrey Pines – an event for which he has seven victories at 11 Top 10s in 14 starts. Woods has missed the cut on the PGA Tour in four of his last five starts dating back to last year.
  • Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell headline the field on the European Tour this week at the Maybank Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
  • Ko is a 5 1/2-1 favorite at Skybet.com this week. Inbee Park (7 1/2-1) and Stacy Lewis (9-1) can both overtake the top ranking with a victory and certain scenarios.