The PGA takes center stage this week when it heads to picturesque Torrey Pines on the bluffs of the Pacific Ocean for the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open. The views will be spectacular, and the golf should be as well as the first full field of the year tees it up in San Diego starting at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday. Among the players making their first appearances of 2020 will be Rory McIlroy, the tournament favorite at 7-1 according the the latest 2020 Farmers Insurance Open odds, and Tiger Woods (12-1).
San Diego-area natives Xander Schauffele (16-1) and Phil Mickelson (100-1) will join elite players like Jon Rahm (9-1), defending champion Justin Rose (16-1) and Hideki Matsuyama (20-1) in the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open field. Before you make any 2020 Farmers Insurance Open picks of your own, be sure to check out the PGA Tour predictions from SportsLine's resident golf insider, Sal Johnson.
A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson is coming off a red-hot year. He featured Tiger Woods in his best bets for the Masters and backed Brooks Koepka in his picks for the PGA Championship, and both players pulled off major victories. In the season-ending Tour Championship, he nailed it, pegging Koepka, McIlroy and Schauffele as main contenders to come out on top. McIlroy won the event for the second time, Schauffele was second and Koepka tied for third.
At last month's Sony Open, Johnson picked Cameron Smith as one of the long shots who could come through, and the 26-year-old won in a playoff for his second Tour victory. Johnson also has covered countless tournaments at Torrey Pines and had the inside scoop on last year's Farmers Insurance Open, selecting Rose as one of his best bets to win. The Englishman proved him right, finishing at 21-under to win by two strokes. In 2017, he also predicted that Jon Rahm could break through at Torrey Pines, and the Spaniard won his first PGA Tour title.
Now, Johnson, the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour," a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who has worked with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, and the founder of the world's top golf statistics database, has released his highly-confident 2020 Farmers Insurance Open picks, and they will surprise you. Visit SportsLine now to see them.
This time around, Johnson wants no part of Schauffele, one of the top Vegas favorites at 16-1. In fact, he says Schauffele has a history of struggles at his home event. Schauffele, from nearby La Jolla, has been the runner-up in three of his last six PGA Tour starts, but he tied for 25th at the Farmers last year and missed three cuts previously.
Johnson has spent plenty of time watching Rahm, the Spaniard who has risen up the world rankings since the golf expert called his surge before the 2017 Farmers. The 25-year-old finished fifth here last year and owns a scoring average of 69 at Torrey Pines. He has three career Tour victories and has been on fire in worldwide events, winning his last two starts in Europe. He was fifth on Tour in strokes gained off the tee last season and averaged 4.35 birdies per round.
The stats expert also knows McIlroy well and is aware the Northern Irishman has gone 32-under par while finishing in the top three in both of his starts this year. He won the WGC-HSBC Champions in his last start and has shot 68 or better in seven straight rounds. He is second this year in putts per round at 27.63 and has 39 birdies and three eagles over 144 holes. Last year, he was first on Tour in strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained tee to green.
Johnson will also have his eye on a massive long shot who finished strong at Torrey Pines last year. This unheralded player ranks high in scrambling, which is critical to taming Torrey Pines' small greens, and he also is strong with the putter. Anyone who backs this underdog could hit it big.
Who wins the Farmers Insurance Open? Where do McIlroy and Rahm finish? And which mammoth long shot stuns the golf world? Visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson's full leaderboard, picks and analysis for the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open, all from the PGA insider who nailed the Tour Championship and knows what it takes to win at Torrey Pines.