SAN DIEGO – There was a time when players would attack the North Course at Torrey Pines and then try to “hold on” when they moved to the South Course at the Farmers Insurance Open.
That narrative has changed dramatically following a redesign of the North Course prior to last year’s event. On Thursday, the scoring average was less than a half-stroke lower on the North than the South, compared to the historic differential of two or sometimes three strokes.
It’s why Tony Finau’s opening 65 on the North Course gave him plenty of reasons to be optimistic, particularly considering his recent play on the South Course, which hosts the final two rounds of the event.
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“I look forward to playing the South, a golf course where I can use my length to my advantage so hopefully I keep hitting it well off the tee,” said Finau, who was 5 under par on the South Course last year on his way to a tie for fourth place. “I know I can score on that golf course. You’ve got to keep it in the fairway on both courses and I’m happy I did that today.”
Half of the top 14 scores on Day 1 came on the South Course, and Finau, who leads the tournament by one shot over Ted Potter Jr. and Ryan Palmer, is uniquely equipped to play the layout having led the PGA Tour last season in driving distance.
“A lot of the holes you can hit a fade and I’m a fader of the ball, I like hitting the fade off the tee,” he said. “I think probably a combo of those things off the tee and playing this golf course, I have some momentum.”