Get ready for the paragliders along the coast this week as the PGA Tour heads west and a little south from the Arizona desert to La Jolla, California and the Farmer’s Insurance Open. Everyone with a little professional golf knowledge remembers the 2008 US Open in prime time when Tiger Woods made two eagles on the back nine on Saturday, and an eight foot snake of a putt to force a 18 hole playoff on Monday. Quick side note, can you imagine how much more dramatic it would have been if Tiger and Rocco had settled it that on Sunday instead of waiting overnight? Anyway, counting that win, Tiger has won 8 times total as a professional at Torrey Pines. So seeing Tiger listed as the 16th most expensive player — even below a Dustin Johnson who hasn’t played in 6 months — seems like an Oceans Eleven / Twelve / Thirteen level heist.
Well, unfortunately for Danny Ocean and his crew, it is not. With his second round 82 last Friday in Arizona, Tiger showed that his salary should probably be so far down that you would struggle to find his name in the mid $5,000s. But I guess past success should be honored at a course he’s played so well at. Either way, I don’t think you can put much stock in him making the cut, or at least at a high enough percentage to make him a good pick at any salary.
But now onto topics more fun than the fall of the most fun golfer to watch on TV in the past 22 years (22 since I’m counting his US Am wins which they showed on TV too).
Brooks Koepka — $10,100
Yes I know he won last week. And yes I know that back-to-back winners on tour are rare. But based on how he’s playing, there’s no indication that his play over the past year or so will slow down anytime soon. He’s proven he can win, and win on all different types of courses all around the world. He’s collected six career wins: 4 on the Challenge Tour (the European Tour’s version of the Web.com Tour), 1 on the European Tour in the middle of last November, and then last week on the PGA Tour. If you care even more about stats, he’s made 15 out of 19 cuts on the PGA Tour in the past two years and is 3 for 3 this year. If you care about how a player looks when playing rather than just data, you can’t beat the show he put on during the tournament in Phoenix while putting the competition away. The only reason Koepka doesn’t have a higher salary is because he spent his first couple years in Europe rather than in the US and his name isn’t quite as well known as the highest salaried player, Jordan Spieth. As long as Koepka’s salary stays relatively low, I’d be inclined to pick him every tournament
Brendon de Jonge — $6,500
Moving down the salary ladder, we see Brendon de Jonge. Yet another player with consistent play during the 2014-2015 wraparound season. His only missed cut of the year was at the Sony Open in Hawaii a few weeks ago, despite a second round 65 that brought him back into weekend contention. Though he’s yet to have a win on tour, his play over the past few years makes him a solid pick at this salary. A T26 last week also shows confidence going into this week. Not necessarily a guarantee, but I like his chances for performing well again this week.
Nicholas Thompson — $4,300
Finding value in the low $4,000s is a little difficult, but very important. In order to cash, you’re probably going to need a player or two in that range to make the cut. One such guy this week is Nicholas Thompson. Before missing the cut by only 1 shot last week, he was 7 of 8 in cuts made dating back to last October and the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. Thompson also made the cut at last years Farmers Insurance Open which, granted, isn’t everything, but might mean a little more at a tournament like this because there are two courses played during the first two rounds. By his decent showing last year, it proves that he’s comfortable on both tracks. Thompson probably isn’t going to win — there’s a reason his salary is so low. Nevertheless, I can see him having a solid week, bouncing back from a missed cut anomaly.