Conditions were ideal on the rocks at La Jolla on Wednesday at the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open. To deal with a gust of wind, players were able to strike the pin on both the difficult South Course and the accessible North Course. While Sam Ryder, Aaron Rae and Brent Grant took the lead with first round 8-under 64s on the North Course, it was the big name of Justin Thomas who took control of the tournament.
Firing a 4-under 68, the two-time PGA champion signed off on the South Course for his second-lowest round of the day. Amidst a lull since the summer months, Thomas came into his second start of the year without a top-10 finish in a full-field event since the Canadian Open.
With a slight drop in his iron numbers, the pristine approach play we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Thomas was well evident in Round 1. He will try to bridge the gap between the leaders in what is expected to be a stormy second round.
T1. Sam Ryder, Aaron Roy, Brent Grant (-8)
It’s a pretty eclectic group that includes a longtime PGA Tour player, a rookie and a DP World Tour winner. Rai was in contention at this tournament a year ago and plays well in fraught conditions – as seen from his 2020 Scottish Open win – so he should be at home tomorrow and could have the most staying power.
“I think the temperature and also how the wind affects the ball is a bit closer to the way I grew up in the UK. The ball doesn’t move as far here compared to other places in the US. The wind is a bit feels.” A little too heavy,” Rae said of his comfort at Torrey Pines. “So I think I hit the shots a little bit cleaner where sometimes when it’s hot out in the States and when the 5, 10-mile -If there is a wind of hour the ball can fly straight whereas here I think you can use the wind as a little buffer which probably looks a little better to my eyes so maybe I should Let us help you tee off in the green.”
4. Brendan Steele (-7)
T5. Sahith Thegla, Hayden Buckley, Sam Stevens, Andre Novak, Garrick Higgo, Gary Woodland (-6)
T 11. Luke List, Colin Morikawa, SH Kim, Ben Griffin, Vincent Norman, Taylor Montgomery, Lanto Griffin, Harry Higgs (-5)
He just keeps on doing it. Continuing a stellar freshman campaign that included nine straight cuts and eight top-15 finishes, Montgomery arrived at Torrey Pines fresh off a title run in Palm Springs. Hitting his tee shot on the 71st into the water and dooming his hopes of winning The American Express, a letdown for the best putter on the PGA Tour felt almost inevitable. Instead, Montgomery is back on the front page of the leaderboard with his eyes on more than a top-15 finish.
What happened to Jon Rahm?
The world No. 3 looked at home early in his first round when he carded two birdies in his first five holes. At two on the par-5 sixth, Rahm would end up three-putting for par at the start of 20 minutes, derailing his day. Hitting his approach shot into the next hole from the penalty area, a double bogey resulted in the loss of all his previous serves.
With two bogeys and a birdie to end his day, Rahm eventually signed off for a 1-over 73 to sit nine strokes off the lead. Marking his first over-par round in 150 days, Rahm will attempt to return to the North Course on Thursday and put himself in contention.
a tale of two courses
The South Course played exactly 2.5 strokes more difficult than the North on Wednesday, and it will play even more difficult on Thursday. With winds expected to reach 30 mph and potentially 40 mph, players will have to hold on for dear life. Whether or not this boosts the scoring average on the North Course will be the question in Round 2, as it could greatly widen the margin between the two.
Scoring Average with respect to Round 1 equivalent
- North Direction: -2.27
- South Course: +0.23
Open 2023 Kisan Bima updated odds and picks
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 Home: 35/2
- Jon Rahm: 20-1
- Sahith Thegla: 20-1
- Aaron Rae: 22-1
- Jason Day: 22-1
- Si Woo Kim: 23-1
- Ben Griffin: 25-1
I just want to take a moment to applaud Rahm, at 20-1 with better odds than the guy he’s nine strokes behind. Yes, this tournament has a way to go, but I no longer believe Rahm will win his third straight title. Instead, I see Homa at 35/2. He had a bit of a weak phase, but I like his game in tough situations. Some of the guys in front of him on the odds board, Im and Morikawa, struggle with the wind, so he has some room to go above the 4-under number despite the big names.