This week, the PGA moves to Torrey Pines in San Diego. Traditionally, this tournament draws an excellent field, and this year is no exception. There are six top 15 in the world rankings (Day, D. Johnson, Matsuyama, Reed, Rose and Fowler). In addition, Michelson and Woods will be participating in the event. After two weeks of rain the course may be a bit soggy. Fortunately, weather reports are calling for sun through the weekend. Torrey Pines is a U.S. Open venue and can play long and tough. I generally expect the big hitters to do well, but you need to stay out of the rough.
The big name players tend do well at this event, although a number of winners have come out nowhere…usually if they are having a great start to the season. Since Justin Thomas is not here, the mantel of hot golfer falls on Hideki Matsuyama. Depending on the putter, he has to be considered a favorite. DJ played well last week, and the course seems well suited to his game, so I expect him near the top of the leaderboard. Jason Day also has the game for this course and is a past winner, so picking him is not risky. I like Justin Rose’s game (again subject to putting) and would put J.B. Holmes as my fifth pick. I will be very interested to see where Ricky Fowler ends up. He has experience here, and will have the hometown crowd, along with Phil; who is also likely to do well, having won three times at Torrey Pines, albeit not since 2001. Watch out for Brant Snedeker; a two time winner, and Gary Woodland.
This brings us to Tiger Woods. A seven time winner of this event, and winner of the U.S. Open played at Torrey Pines, the course will bring back plenty of good memories. That said, I am sticking with my prediction I made last year. I cannot imagine all of the downtime lending itself well to a strong performance. I am sure the apologists will be hanging on every great shot…and there will be some. However, there figure to be numerous hiccups over four days (if he makes the cut). Personally, I would be impressed if he plays the weekend. If he does, you can figure on big crowds and a larger TV viewing audience. Without football, golf with Tiger should take center stage.
As a San Diego resident, I have had plenty of opportunities to play the local courses. In order, these are places I would book if making the trek to America’s Finest City:
Torrey Pines South is the U.S. Open venue, and hosts the final two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open. Tough course, that plays long. Great ocean orientation. Book a second round in the afternoon at Torrey Pines North, which is part of the Farmers Insurance rotation.
Maderas is a really cool, Johnny Miller design located north of the city. Top 100 in some surveys, there are a number of blind shots, so you might want to play a couple of rounds.
La Costa Resort and Spa has two courses. I much prefer the Champions venue, although Legends is not bad. The resort formerly hosted the Tournament of Champions and the Accenture Match Play, amongst others. Due to renovation, you can no longer play the tournament course. Omni has an expansive facility on-site that caters to the non-golfer as well.
Aviara is a touch on the expensive side, but is a terrific facility that hosts the LPGA KIA Classic. The Park Hyatt is a great hotel. Located near La Costa, you can stay at either and be close to Legoland if you need to make it up to the kids.
Coronado Golf Course is located on Coronado Island, with many of the holes running along the bay. This is great course for the recreational golfer. It is not too long, nor are there many dramatic holes, however, the visuals are terrific.
There are plenty of other decent golf venues in San Diego County, but few are memorable. Carlsbad Crossings, Encinitas Ranch, Eagle Crest and The Vineyard in North County are all affordable, fun tests of golf. Steele Canyon, Cottonwood and Willow Glen in South County are other good options. There is so much to do in San Diego that golf takes a back seat. I would not come to San Diego on a destination golf trip ( better options can be found at my website) but it is still worth bringing the sticks.
Weekly Observation: Predicting the CareerBuilder Challenge is always tough given the field and comparatively easy set up. My top 5 had 4 top 25’s Howell III (T12), Reed (T12), Haas (T17) and Michelson (T21), but no top 10’s. Kevin Na made the cut, but finished bottom of the pack. Of my dark horses, only Dufner (T25) was in contention. Zach Johnson missed the cut. His game seems to be off.
Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He has recently released Confessions of a Golfaholic: A Guide to Playing America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses; now available in hardcover edition. Please visit tophundredgolf.com regularly for more (im)practical information.