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In this April 14, 2019 file photo, Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. Woods' victory at the Masters might not have been the most important sports story of 2019. It was certainly one of the most uplifting. Voters chose Woods' dramatic comeback at Augusta National as The Associated Press sports story of the year.
In this April 14, 2019 file photo, Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. Woods' victory at the Masters might not have been the most important sports story of 2019. It was certainly one of the most uplifting. Voters chose Woods' dramatic comeback at Augusta National as The Associated Press sports story of the year.|David J. Phillip | Associated Press
Golf

Golf: Kern picks the Farmer’s Insurance Open, where Tiger Woods has won 8 times — can he do it again?

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

Time for the Farmer’s Insurance Open, from Torrey Pines near San Diego, where Tiger Woods has won eight times, including the epic 2008 U.S. Open. And this week he’s playing for the first time since going 3-0 in the President’s Cup matches in Australia, where he was also the United States captain. That was five weeks ago. He last won at Torrey in 2013. And he hasn’t finished better than 20th since then. But he’s still the third favorite, for obvious reasons. He’s Tiger, playing at this course. And he did win his 82nd PGA Tour event, which tied him with Sam Snead for the all-time record, just a few months back.

Maybe he’ll make more history this week. Going full disclosure, cause I always try to be honest if nothing else, I have Tiger in my yearlong pool that I pick in December. Don’t know why exactly. I could have saved him for something bigger, but at least I knew he’d be playing this week so I’m taking a chance. I did the same thing with Phil Mickelson last week and that didn’t work out so well. I’m not taking Tiger to win at 10-1, but he is Tiger so anything is often possible. It wouldn’t shock me if he did so in this setting, but I’m going to go in other directions that I think offer better odds. However, if you want to take Tiger I wouldn’t argue. I could certainly think of a lot worse things you could do.

That being said, Rory McIlroy is 6-1. It’s his first appearance this year. And he won the WCG event in November, after winning the Tour Championship three months earlier. Right now, him and Justin Thomas are probably the two best golfers on the planet. Especially with Brooks Koepka, who’s not playing, just coming back from knee surgery. Thomas isn’t playing either. So Jon Rahm is 7-1. He’s been playing really well too, especially over in Europe.

Defending champion Justin Rose is 14-1. As is Rickie Fowler, who led last week at the midway point and then didn’t do much the rest of the way. Xander Schauffele is 16-1, Hideki Matsuyama 17-1. Tony Finau, who hasn’t won nearly enough but is consistently solid, is 22-1.

Three guys are 33-1: Patrick Reed, Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa. Sungjae Im, who I took last week when he tied for 10th, is 40-1 along with Jason Day, who’s won this twice but hasn’t done much in awhile, Cameron Smith and Brandt Snedeker. Those at 50-1 are Jordan Spieth, Ryan Palmer and Joaquin Neimann.

Marc Leishman is 55-1, Matthew Wolff 60-1, Franceso Molinari 65-1 and Phil Mickelson is 100-1.

So which way to go? Isn’t that usually the dilemma.

You could certainly make a case for either Rory or Rahm. But among the faves I’m going with Xander Schauffele, at 16-1. He’s usually in the hunt, and it’s hard to ask for much more in an investment. Let’s just hope this time he can close the deal.

Since I might not take a real longshot, I’ll also give out a couple of blokes from the middle tier. Let’s try Scottie Scheffler, at 33-1. He’s a really good young player, and he’s already shown he’s going to give you at least a shot more often than not. So why not this week too? And he’s coming off a solo third. I hope that’s not asking too much for him to come right back with another strong effort.

I’m also going with Gary Woodland, another 33-1 bet. He’s played well there, and he’s finished in the top three in his last three starts. So that’s something.

Remember, it’s mostly about fairways and greens. And those occasional one-putts. And yes, I will also be rooting for Tiger, since I need to start accumulating more points in my pool after having Justin Thomas to win at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Don’t want to get into a stagnant rut, especially this early. Yo, you can also bet Tiger to finish in the top five at 2.5-1. I'm just not sure that's the way you want to go, at least not in this spot.