As always, Torrey Pines South Course provided a brutal test for today’s PGA TOUR stars, not withstanding a day of wild weather that provided rain, hail and shine.
Patrick Reed leveraged a couple of long-range eagle putts on the par-5 sixth hole in the third and fourth rounds and showed some serious resilience down the stretch Sunday to close out a five-shot win.
His ninth TOUR title saw him move to 10th in both the FedExCup and the world rankings.
Here are five storylines you may have missed from the Farmers Insurance Open.
1. Reed’s short game stood up when it counted
Patrick Reed had already made his 45-foot eagle putt to lay waste to many of the serious challengers on the front nine as he chased the Farmers Insurance Open trophy. When he made the turn – realistically – there were three other contenders. One was a shot behind, two others sat three back. But that being said, danger can always lurk at Torrey Pines South Course. Just ask Kyle Stanley who led by as many as seven in the final round of 2012 and by three coming down the 18th only to make a triple bogey and lose a playoff to Brandt Snedeker.
So when Reed missed the green on approach at the 10th, 12th and 14th holes, he could have easily opened the door for others. Instead, he channeled his inner resilience and found ways to get up and down for critical pars. Importantly, those others like Viktor Hovland, Carlos Ortiz and former champion Jon Rahm – couldn’t do the same.
Reed was forced to punch out from trees on the 15th but still got up and down from 50 yards. The subsequent three-shot lead all but sealed the deal. At the end of the day, he ranked 63rd in the field in greens in regulation yet still won. Less than one percent of winners on TOUR over the last 30 years have ranked that low.
The win is great news for Reed given Torrey Pines will host the U.S. Open in June. It might be even tougher over those four days, but he knows he can find ways to get the ball in the hole while under pressure.
2. Xander can play well at home after all.
For San Diego native Xander Schauffele, Torrey Pines had not been a happy hunting ground in the past. Despite growing up in the area and having it as a high school course, Schauffele entered the week having missed four cuts in five starts at the Farmers Insurance Open.
This time things were finally different. Schauffele may not have been a serious threat to the title on Sunday but his 68-69 weekend was good enough to finish as a runner-up to Reed and provide some great confidence ahead of return trips – the next of which will be the U.S. Open in June.
“I’m pretty happy,” he said. “It’s nice to get over the hump. It’s one of my favorite tournaments of the year and I show up here every year and I miss the cut almost every time. It’s nice to have a good finish.
“The fact I put two rounds together I think is the big thing. I still haven’t played well on the North Course. Fortunately, the U.S. Open, that’s going to be four rounds on the South. Good play and good feels out here is what I’m going to take away from it.”
3. Viktor Hovland has a long future in this game
For a moment on the back nine on Sunday it looked like Hovland could be the one to chase down Reed and create some drama in the finish. Just one shot down at the turn the young Norwegian had a great chance to add a third TOUR win at just 23 but ultimately couldn’t get the critical putts to drop.
After a 4-under front nine, he was riding some great momentum but on the back, while Reed was seemingly making everything of consequence, Hovland bogeyed three of the last five holes. He missed a golden chance for birdie on the 13th from 6 feet and then found trouble on approach on No. 14 and off the tee on No. 15.
“Obviously the front nine was awesome, made four birdies and was just really solid tee to green; made some putts there as well. On the back I didn’t really feel like I played bad at all … it was just a couple of mistakes and it’s so easy to just let things kind of slip away,” he said.
“It’s cool to kind of be up there having a chance to win. Didn’t work out this time but feel like I learned a lot and look forward to next week. I feel like my game has been trending in a good way, so I just need to keep working on the things I need to keep working on and hopefully next time I can just get it rolling a little bit more my way.”
4. Top 10-athon
Reed’s win was also his 50th PGA TOUR top-10 finish. He became the first player to make his 50th career top 10 a victory since Jason Day won the 2016 World Golf Championships–Dell Technologies Match Play.
But there were other interesting facts among the top 10.
Tony Finau once again found himself close to a win without actually winning. With his runner-up finish – hot off the heels of a fourth-place finish a week earlier – Finau has four top 10s this season without winning.
It’s now 36 top 10s without a victory since the start of the 2016-17 season and the most runner-up finishes (seven) without a win during that same window.
Xander Schauffele also has seven runner-up finishes since his last win at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Will Zalatoris, a special temporary member, now has four top 10s this season after his T7 and 14 top 10s since the start of 2020 in the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR combined.
Henrik Norlander (T2) equaled his career best PGA TOUR finish.
Ryan Palmer (T2) earned his second runner-up at the Farmers Insurance Open and first since losing in a playoff in 2018.
Making his fifth appearance at the Farmers Insurance Open, 2017 champion Jon Rahm finished T7, his fourth consecutive top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR (T2 – ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD, T7 – Masters, T7 – Sentry Tournament of Champions and T7 – Farmers Insurance Open). His five results at Torrey Pines, starting with victory in 2017 now read 1-T29-T5-2-T7.
5. APGA alumni making waves.
The week was a big one for some APGA Tour alumni.
Kamaiu Johnson unfortunately had to postpone his dream of a PGA TOUR debut when he tested positive to COVID-19 in the lead up to the Farmers Insurance Open. But it was revealed soon after he’d been afforded a sponsor invite at both the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and The Honda Classic.
Stepping in at Torrey Pines in his place was Willie Mack III – who will also get a start at The Genesis Invitational via the Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption. Mack III missed the cut but performed more than admirably.
Kevin Hall, a hearing-impaired golfer who will also play the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, was able to fashion a third-place finish at the APGA event held Saturday on Torrey Pines North. He is now confident in his preparations for a trip to Carmel.
TOUR TOP 10