News & Opinion

2021 Farmers Insurance Open field will get U.S. Open preview

Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines, the San Diego municipal complex that runs along the Pacific, proves to be a magnet for the PGA Tour's elite golfers and thrill-seeking paragliders alike.

No. 2 Jon Rahm headlines the event at Torrey Pines, which will feature 10 of world's top 20 at site for this summer’s U.S. Open

San Diego’s Torrey Pines Golf Course has attracted 10 of the world’s top-20-ranked players this week for a sneak peek at the 2021 U.S. Open site, with some notable exceptions (tee times).

Four of the world’s top five – that’s No. 1 Dustin Johnson, No. 3 Justin Thomas, No. 4 Collin Morikawa and No. 5 Tyrrell Hatton – are skipping the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, the second stop on the five-event West Coast Swing. And then there’s the most notable absence this week and for at least a few more weeks to come: Tiger Woods. After having undergone a fifth back surgery earlier this month, Woods will not play one of his favorite tracks. He won eight times at Torrey Pines, most memorably in a 2008 U.S. Open thriller when he edged Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole Monday playoff.

Despite the prominent no-shows, many of the world’s elite players will take their respective shots at the $1.35 million first prize from the $7.5 million event.

No. 2-ranked Jon Rahm, the 2017 FIO winner, will headline the field. No. 6 Xander Schauffele, a San Diego native and lifelong resident who played college golf at San Diego State, will be one of the local favorites. The other, Phil Mickelson, will be trying to rebound from a missed cut last week at The American Express. No. 7 Rory McIlroy, No. 11 Patrick Reed, No. 12 Brooks Koepka, No. 14 Viktor Hovland, No. 15 Matthew Wolff, No. 16 Harris English, No. 17 Sungjae Im and No. 20 Tony Finau also are entered (field).

The past two U.S. Amateur champions, Tyler Strafaci (2020) and Andy Ogletree (2019), will be entered on sponsor exemptions. They were teammates at Georgia Tech. Perhaps the sentimental favorite will be another sponsor exemption, Willie Mack III, who was added to the field Tuesday night. Mack got the call when Kamaiu Johnson, who won last year’s Advocates Pro Golf Association title and would have been making his PGA Tour debut, tested positive for COVID-19.

“To say that I’m disappointed would be a massive understatement," Johnson said in a statement released by the PGA Tour. "I’ve dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour for a long, long time, but health and safety come first. It’s times like these where you have to keep focusing on the bigger picture at hand, and from my experience, a fork in the road often has an interesting way of leading to new opportunities."

Mack recently was awarded the annual Charlie Sifford exemption into the Genesis Invitational in three weeks at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. It would have been his PGA Tour debut, but he now will be making it this week.

Torrey Pines' North and South courses will be used for the first two rounds before the low 65 players and ties advance to weekend play on the South Course.

The South Course, a 1957 William Bell design, has been stretched to 7,765 yards in recent years.

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.