Experts' picks, Farmers Insurance Open

January, 26, 2011
01/26/11
8:35
AM ET

Each week in the PGA Tour season, our panel of experts will share their insight into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Birdie Buster, Horse for the Course, Super Sleeper and Winner.

This week's tournament: The Farmers Insurance Open.

ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig

Birdie Buster: Jhonnatan Vegas.

You have to make a lot of birdies to win the Hope, and that is what the PGA Tour rookie did. He finished 27 under par in the five-day tournament, winning in a playoff.

Horse for the Course: Tiger Woods.

How do you pick against him at Torrey Pines? He's won his last five starts at Torrey, including the 2008 U.S. Open, and seven overall. Of course, he has not played at the course since winning his 14th major title.

Super Sleeper: Rocco Mediate.

It might be a lot to ask for Mediate to duel Woods again, as he did at the 2008 U.S. Open. Mediate has played this tournament just twice in the past 12 years.

Winner: Nick Watney.

He makes his season debut this week and the two-time PGA Tour winner got a victory at Torrey Pines two years ago and has two other top-10s in this tournament.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Horse For The Course: Nick Watney.

The northern California native has finished in the top 10 at Torrey Pines three of the last four times he's played there (excluding the 2008 U.S. Open) and includes a victory in 2009.

Birdie Buster: Rickie Fowler.

In his first start of the 2011 season, keep an eye on the reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year. Fowler finished T-5 last year and also made the cut as an amateur when Torrey Pines hosted the 2008 U.S. Open. He was the youngest player in the field that year.

Super Sleeper: Charles Howell III.

In eight career starts at Torrey Pines (again, excluding the 2008 U.S. Open), Howell has never missed the cut and owns two second-place finishes. Plus, he's coming off a T-13 finish at the Bob Hope Classic.

Winner: Tiger Woods.

The now No. 3-ranked player in the world has made Torrey Pines his personal ATM. Including his 2008 U.S. Open win, Woods averages nearly $600,000 per start at the venue.


ESPN.com golf writer and blogger Jason Sobel

Horse for the Course: Tiger Woods.

Seriously? Is there really another answer for this category? Woods has won six times in 11 starts at this event, going a combined 158 under par over that span. Oh, and he claimed a little thing called the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, too. Next question.

Birdie Buster: Kevin Na.

In nine rounds thus far this season, Na has yet to post a score outside of the 60s. A traditionally fast starter, he hasn't played at Torrey Pines in a few years and owns three MCs in just five career starts, but his game might be rounding into shape this time around.

Super Sleeper: Jamie Lovemark.

Last year's leading money winner on the Nationwide Tour might have a little inside knowledge of this track, considering he attended Torrey Pines High School. In two starts here as an amateur, he made the cut both times, including a T-39 in 2007.

Winner: Rickie Fowler.

Only three players have ever competed on a Ryder Cup team without first winning on their respective tour, but it shouldn't take long for Fowler to win the first of what is going to be many, many titles on the PGA Tour. He was T-5 at this event a year ago.

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