2023 Farmers Insurance Open Ranking, Points: Justin Thomas Tends to South Course as Jon Rahm falters

Conditions on the La Jolla cliffs were ideal Wednesday at the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open. Without a breath of wind, players could attack pins on both the difficult South Course and the accessible North Course. While Sam Ryder, Aaron Rai and Brent Grant took the first round lead thanks to 8-under-64s on the North Course, the bigger name Justin Thomas took control of the tournament.

With a 4-under 68, the two-time PGA champion signed for the second-lowest round of the day on the South Course. Amid a lull since the summer months, Thomas started the year without a top-10 finish in a full-field event for the second time since the Canadian Open.

As his iron counts dwindled less and less, the flawless approach play we’ve come to expect from Thomas was clearly on display in Round 1. Second place on shots won from tee to green and fourth place on shots won the approach among those on the south course, Thomas will be looking to close the gap between him and the leaders in what is expected to be a windy second round.

The leaders

T1 Sam Ryder, Aaron Rai, Brent Grant (-8)

This is a fairly diverse group with a longtime PGA Tour player, a rookie and a DP World Tour winner. Rai was at this tournament a year ago and is playing well in appalling conditions – as evidenced by his win at the 2020 Scottish Open – so he should be home tomorrow and possibly have the most staying power.

“I think the temperature and also the effects of the wind on the ball are a bit closer to what I would have grown up with in the UK. The ball doesn’t fly as far here as it does in other places in America. The wind feels a little bit heavier too,” Rai said of his comfort at Torrey Pines. “I think I’m seeing the shots a little bit clearer where sometimes when it’s hot in the States and there’s wind at a speed of 5 , blowing 10mph, the ball can just fly straight through, while here I feel like you can use the wind as a little buffer, which probably suits my eye a bit better, so that probably helps me on the tee shot.”

Other contenders

4. Brendan Steele (-7)

T5. Sahith Theegala, Hayden Buckley, Sam Stevens, Andre Novak, Garrick Higgo, Gary Woodland (-6)

T11. Luke List, Collin Morikawa, SH Kim, Ben Griffin, Vincent Norrman, Taylor Montgomery, Lanto Griffin, Harry Higgs (-5)

He just keeps going. Montgomery continued an outstanding freshman campaign that included nine straight made cuts and eight top-15 finishes, and came to Torrey Pines fresh from a title run in Palm Springs. When he hit his tee shot on the 71st and dashed his hopes of winning the American Express, disappointment for the PGA Tour’s top putter felt almost inevitable. Instead, Montgomery is back on the front page of the leaderboard and has more than just a top 15 finish in his sights.

What happened to Jon Rahm?

The world No. 3 seemed right at home right from the start of his first round as he made two birdies on his first five holes. On the 6th of 2 par-5s, Rahm landed a 3-put for par at the start of a 20-minute stretch that ruined his day. Hitting his approach shot into the following hole in the box was followed by a double bogey , which ruined all his previous work.

With two bogeys and a birdie to end his day, Rahm eventually signed a 1-over-73 and is nine shots off the lead. Rahm marks his first over-par round in 150 days and will try to recover on the north course and get back into contention on Thursday.

A story in two courses

The South Course played exactly 2.5 strokes harder than the North Course on Wednesday and will play even harder on Thursday. With expected wind speeds of 30mph and gusts of up to 40mph, players will have to hold on for their lives. Whether this will push up the scoring average on the north course as well will be the question ahead of Round 2 as it could very well widen the gap between the two.

Scoring averages relative to Round 1 par

  • North course: -2.27
  • South course: +0.23

2023 Farmers Insurance Open updated odds and tips

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook

  • Taylor Montgomery: 21/4
  • Justin Thomas: 17/2
  • Sungjae Im: 10-1
  • Collin Morikawa: 10-1
  • Will Zalatoris: 35/2
  • Max Homa: 35/2
  • Jon Rahm: 20-1
  • Sahith Theegala: 20-1
  • Aaron Rai: 22-1
  • Jason Day: 22-1
  • Si Woo Kim: 23-1
  • Ben Griffin: 25-1

I just want to take a moment to acknowledge Rahm at 20-1 with better odds than the man he’s nine shots behind. Yes, there is still a lot to do in this tournament, but I no longer believe that Rahm will win his third consecutive title. Instead I’m looking at Homa at 35/2. His round was a bit overwhelming but I like his play in difficult conditions. A couple of guys ahead of him on the odds board, Im and Morikawa, tend to struggle with the wind so despite the big names there is some room to improve from the 4-under number he’s on.

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