I would like to express my gratitude to Dan Malin for graciously filling in for me during my absence as I took my family on a vacation to California. Witnessing my 6-year-old son's joy at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood made the trip truly special. I extend my thanks to the entire Fantasy Alarm team for providing me with the opportunity to enjoy this memorable family time.
While immersed in the enchanting atmosphere of the "happiest place on earth," I, unfortunately, missed witnessing an extraordinary conclusion at the American Express, where amateur golfer Nick Dunlap secured victory—an achievement not seen since Phil Mickelson's triumph in 1991. Dunlap, now the second youngest winner on the PGA Tour in the last 90 years, holds the unique distinction of winning the U.S. Junior Amateur, the U.S. Amateur, and a PGA TOUR event as an amateur. His success marks a notable highlight in a new wave of talented young players making their mark on the PGA TOUR. Nick did unfortunately pull out of this event to go home and celebrate his win with the family.
Torrey Pines, a 36-hole municipal public golf facility owned by the city of San Diego, California, offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Hosting the 2008 and 2021 U.S. Open, it witnessed Jon Rahm's inaugural major championship victory on the south course. As Rahm tees up again this weekend, he undoubtedly stands out in my playbook.
This tournament, featuring a unique Wednesday through Saturday format introduced last year, strategically avoids competition with the NFL Conference Championship games. The PGA Tour aligns with CBS, which holds the rights to the Farmers Insurance coverage and also broadcasts one of the two football games on Sunday. Acknowledging the NFL's dominance, the PGA Playbook and Example Lineups are out today, because lineups lock for this event tomorrow at 12:00 PM Eastern.
Diving deeper into the event, played across two courses, participants navigate the North and South courses on Wednesday and Thursday, culminating in the last 36 holes on the championship South course. The challenging South Course, just 235 yards shy of 8,000, poses a formidable test for golfers. With seven of the 10 par-4s exceeding 450 yards and demanding features such as small greens, chipping from gnarly kikuyu grass, and the potential impact of water on the 570-yard 18th hole, the course demands precision and skill.
Despite its length, driving distance alone has not consistently correlated with success in recent years. Leaders often excel in approach play and tee-to-green performance. Noteworthy winners like Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman showcased the diversity of winning strategies, emphasizing short-game proficiency. The championship course's characteristics, including narrow fairways, small greens, and challenging poa annua surfaces, create a multifaceted test for competitors.
The weather forecast for the weekend indicates favorable conditions, with temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s, accompanied by light winds in the high single digits. While there's a slight chance of rain on Thursday, overall scoring conditions are expected to be favorable.
The 2024 PGA Tour season boasts an impressive field, including defending champion Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama, and Sungjae Im.
ONE AND DONE PICK: Sepp Straka