Big-name players are contending after Round 1 of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, even if some of them are not very high on the leaderboard. Torrey Pines employs two different golf courses, and they play quite differently depending on the day. On Thursday, the North Course played nearly four strokes easier than the South Course, which means that a score that looked much worse on the South might have you in a better spot than you think.
Patrick Reed and Alex Noren — both of whom played the North Course — lead after shooting 64s on a track where the scoring average was just over 69.4. However, a 64 on the North Course is tantamount to shooting 68 on the South Course, which more than a few players did as well. So let’s sort everything out with a quick look at the leaderboard.
T1. Patrick Reed, Alex Noren (-8): This does not seem like the kind of place either should thrive, but Noren lost in a playoff here a few years ago and Reed finished in the top 10 last year. Despite missing the cut last week at The American Express, this is the kind of track Reed can scrap his way around maybe better than anyone in the world, which is what he’ll have to do on Friday when weather rolls in and potentially howls at the harder South Course.
3. Scottie Scheffler (-7): Scheffler also played the North Course, but his tee-to-green game should be able to stand up on Friday at the South Course. This is a perfect spot for him to get win No. 1 of his career on the PGA Tour.
T4. Peter Malnati, Ryan Palmer (-6): There are currently 12 players tied at 6 under, but Malnati and Palmer should be highlighted because they both played the South Course. Given that the field average there was 73.1, they both gained over seven strokes on the field, which is better than anyone who played the North Course (you would have had to have shot 62 on the North Course to match that). Palmer, especially, has some staying power here as he’s had a nice start to the year and has a nice history at Torrey.
T16. Adam Scott (-5): Scott was a North Course guy on Thursday, but he has the game to stand up to the South Course as well. His only appearance here a few years resulted in a runner-up finish to Justin Rose.
T21. Rory McIlroy (-4): Rory was astonishing off the tee on Thursday as he gained three of his five strokes on the day with driver. He also hit 17 of 18 greens and putted it pretty well for the 68 (again, this is akin to shooting 64 on the North Course like Reed and Noren). His wedge play lacked at times (which has been a problem for him during stretches over the last few years), but as long as he avoids the one bad round over the next two days, he should be at or near the lead on Sunday.
T32. Tony Finau, Jon Rahm (-3): Don’t be fooled here! Both guys played the South Course, and both should be in the top 15 or top 10 going into Saturday. Finau and Rahm were both in the top 10 on the day in strokes gained from tee to green, which is usually an indicator that a big week is on deck. They’ll need to go fairly low on Friday on the North Course, but that should not be a problem given how they’re hitting it.