The Farmers Insurance Open - 2020 Tournament Recap and Major Implications
By Mark Morton on January 27, 2020
This past weekend, Torrey Pines once again showed the golf world why it is one of the best venues in the game. The course's beautiful scenery belies the treachery that awaits wayward shots. But in the end driving accuracy wasn't nearly as important as putting, with the course setup allowing good scoring even with poor driving. But the course was still difficult, and provided glimpses into the state of the games of top players as they head into this year's major championships.
Marc Leishman was able to win the tournament, and move into the Top 20 of the world rankings, hitting just over 21% of the fairways for the week. Leishman separated himself, and ultimately won the tournament, on the greens, where he destroyed the field in the Strokes Gained Putting stat for the week. Leishman is certainly a possibility to win a major in 2020, but he will have to drive the ball far better for him to be considered a top pick. None of the major venues this year will be this forgiving, so Leishman has to find a long game that will hit fairways if he wants to win his first major.
Tiger Woods seemed very in control of his golf swing for the week, hitting many quality iron shots, and a lot of greens in regulation. But he never seemed to get comfortable putting and that was the difference for him. Still he managed a solid T9 finish and seems poised, and confident. I think we will definitely see his 83rd PGA Tour win soon, and I have him better than 50/50 for his 16th major in 2020. There was also this shot from Tiger on #2, which is one of the most amazing things I've seen in golf, as his ball actually disappears into the hole and then somehow resurfaces. Incredible!
Two players we mentioned in our preview article did well, with Jon Rahm finishing 2nd and Rory T3. Both of them fought their way back into contention after poor 4th round starts, which bodes well for their chances in the 2020 majors where patience and determination are always critical. It was also good to see Jason Day have a nice tournament which will boost his confidence after some poor play down the stretch in 2019.
On the negative side, it was quite surprising to see Justin Rose miss the cut as the defending champion, his first MC since the Masters last year. Unless we see more poor play in the weeks prior to Augusta, it would be wise to chalk this up as a bad week and not indicative of his 2020 major outlook. We still expect to see Rose contend in at least a couple of majors in 2020.
And then there is the enigma known as Jordan Spieth. After 2 rounds of 70 he headed into Saturday's 3rd round and there was a feeling he might be returning to form. But the weekend saw both ball striking and putting woes that continue to plague the former #1 player in the world. He has fallen to #51 in the world rankings, but more importantly he's now #239 in Tour Driving Accuracy, #232 in GIR and all the way down to #219 in Total Putting. Speith's game is not just slightly off, it's very poor across the board. He's won 3 major championships, so it's hard to totally write him off, but at this point it's hard to see him being any factor in 2020 major golf.