As we head into the third major of the 2020-2021 season, the best players in the world head to Torrey Pines for the United States Open. This is the first U.S. Open at the course since 2008 when Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a memorable playoff. It will be a second trip to Torrey for some, as the TOUR made its annual stop for the Farmers Insurance Open back in January. Patrick Reed won that even by five shots over several other big names including Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau.
As expected, the USGA has put it’s fingerprints on the course for the coming week as they grew out the rough, narrowed the fairways, and event shortened par by one shot. This will be a traditional U.S. Open where par is going to be a good score on nearly every hole, and poor shots will be penalized to the full extent.
The best players in the world are all in the San Diego area this week, at a beautiful venue, with one of the top prizes on the line. Let’s get right into the course for the week.
Torrey Pines (South Course) – La Jolla, California
7,685 yards, par 71
- 3 par 5s (568/609/612)
- 4 par 3s (173/195/222/223)
- 11 par 4s (387/434/434/440/446/449/452/460/486/501/515)
- Average Green Size 5,000 sq ft
- Bermudagrass Tees, Kikuyu fairways and rough overseeded with ryegrass 3-5″, Poa Annua greens
- One water hazard only in play on the 18th hole
- 82 sand bunkers
The first thing that stands out this week versus the tournament for the Farmers is the change from a par 72 in January, to a Par 71. The hole impacted is the 6th, which will play this week at as 515-yard par 4 instead of a par 5.
While there are just three par 5s this week and two of them are over 600 yards in length, they will still present the best scoring opportunities on the course. In fact, the par-5 18th is the logical choice to be the easiest hole on the course this week, making for some potential drama down the stretch on Sunday afternoon. Players will have to take advantage of these holes throughout all rounds in order to be in position to contend this week.
If the par 5s are where players have to score, it’ll be the par 4s that will provide the full U.S. Open experience as seven of the 11 are roughly 450 yards or longer and two check in at over 500 yards in length. Some of these holes will see a graduated rough where the further offline, the longer and thicker the rough will get. Most of these holes will require driver off the tee, which is why you will frequently hear distance as an advantage as the South Course always checks in with some of the toughest fairways to hit on TOUR during the Farmers.
The change for the 6th will likely have it as one of the toughest tests, alongside the 12th which is always difficult in the normal event. During that tournament the 12th yields birdies less than 6% of the time, and bogey or worse more than 40%. Both of these long par 4s will be a true test of a player’s game just to find par during the rounds this week.
The par 3s aren’t historically as tough from a scoring perspective, but right before the difficult 12th, the 222-yard 11th is the toughest of the three short holes. That back-to-back combination will make for an interesting start to a Thursday or Friday round for players who go off the back nine, as it could go the wrong direction in a hurry.
The other really notable par 3 is the 16th, which starts the final stretch on Sunday. It’s a tricky little hole at just 184 yards in January, and will be that much tougher this week as it’s listed at 223 yards for the U.S. Open.
I will be relying on a very direct group of stats to help me build my DFS lineups this week as I think the qualities we need are fairly straight forward this week. Players will need to be sharp throughout their bag making the standard Tee-to-green and ball striking statistics as important as always. We also know that the course will be tough, making Bogey Avoidance a more important scoring stat than most weeks, and even more than Birdie or Better. Lastly, I will look at Total Driving from the PGA TOUR stats as I want the guys that not only drive it a long way, but that are the most accurate off the tee as well.
There is value this week to understanding who likes the course at Torrey Pines, but also understanding that this course will play very differently for a U.S. Open. I will try to highlight both sides of that in this section.
The Spaniard comes in with the lowest odds on the board off of an impressive three round performance at the Memorial. He also has the track record in this event and even more-so at this course. His first career win came at Torrey Pines, and he has three other Top 10 finishes in four appearances. He is also coming into another U.S. Open where he finished 3rd at Pebble Beach in 2019 and 23rd last year. Everything lines up for the World No. 3, making it quite understandable why the bookmakers have him leading the pack.
One of the big names that people are a bit quiet on coming into the week is Rory McIlroy. He has drifted out past +2000 at some sportsbooks, which is a number I honestly can’t remember seeing on him in a really long time. It’s also interesting because he has back to back Top 10 finishes in U.S. Opens and he too has been sharp at Torrey Pines. Rory didn’t play the Farmers for whatever reasons until 2018, but quickly found he liked the course as he has Top 20 finishes in all three appearances and two of those were in the top 5.
The reason for the lack of talk around Rory may be because of the infatuation with Xander. He is getting all of the hype this week as a local guy, who grew up playing this course as a kid and through High School. Schauffele also has an impressive stretch of U.S. Open finishes as he hasn’t finished outside of the top 6 in any of his last four trips to this major. While he has all of the knowledge of Torrey Pines, he actually lacks big results at the Farmers, though he may have figured it out a bit this year where he finished in a tie for second behind Patrick Reed.
Speaking of Reed, he comes in as the only player that can complete the double this year, with a chance to win two events on the same course. He won by a large five shot margin at the Farmers at the start of the new year, which was a gradual build up from all of his solid finishes at that event. He also does well at the U.S. Open where he has finished inside of the Top 15 in three of his last four, including a fourth-place finish in 2018.
Pictured above: Rory McIlroy.
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.