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Jason Day favourite at Farmers Insurance Open - Ruffels begins pro career

Defending champion Day continues love affair with Torrey Pines (Photo: Bruce Young)
The Farmers Insurance Open begins Thursday over the North and South courses at Torrey Pines near San Diego in Southern California, Jason Day defending the title he won in a playoff over J.B. Holmes, Harris English and the then defending champion Scott Stallings in 2015.

Day won at the second extra hole, outlasting Holmes after both English and Stallings were eliminated at the first extra hole. It was a continuation of a lot of great results and memories for Day at Torrey Pines starting with a win at the World Junior Championships in 2004, a 9th place finish in this event in 2013 and a runner-up finish in 2014.

"A lot of good memories come from this place,” said Day following his victory last year. “I really enjoy playing tough golf courses - tough US Open courses. - I like to grind it out and playing courses that make you stressed.

Day played well in his first competitive event for three months at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions three weeks ago, improving every day after a slow start. With that run behind him he stacks up as the man to beat this week.

Phil Mickelson has been three times a winner and three times runner-up at Torrey Pines and following an impressive start to the year last week at La Quinta he stands a great chance of winning his first event since July of 2013.

His revamped golf swing looked fantastic last week and further consolidation of those changes might well see him in the mix.

Rickie Fowler returns from his impressive win in Abu Dhabi last week, a continuation of what has been a great run of form of late. Now the ranked player in the world Fowler has recorded mixed results in this event of late but earlier in his career he was inside the top six on two occasions and given the confidence he must now be playing with he stands a great chance of his current run continuing.

Brandt Snedeker has been a winner and three times inside the top three in this event and after a generally horror finish to 2015 he has been very good so far in 2016. He was runner-up at the Sony and 3rd in the Hyundai which, after three missed cuts late in the year, suggest he is now back on track.

Patrick Reed came unstuck a little last week after such a great run of earlier form but although he has played Torrey Pines just once for a midfield finish he could well bounce back into contention.

One player who enjoys a good record in the event and is showing signs of a return to the sort of form that saw him such a good player earlier in his career is Charles Howell 111. Howell seldom wins, in fact he has won just twice on the PGA Tour, the last of those coming in 2007, verses 14 runner-up finishes but this could be a chance for him to add a third PGA Tour title to his name.

Howell has six top twenties in his last seven starts and might be close to yet another big week.

Marc Leishman has been a little bit of a disappointment this year in his two starts but it was not all that long ago that he was winning the Nedbank Challenge and importantly he plays this venue well having been twice runner-up.

There is a big line-up of Australians this week, one of the biggest in a PGA Tour event for quite some time – thirteen in all.

In addition to Day and Leishman, Matt Jones, John Senden, Cameron Smith, Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy, Rod Pampling, Stuart Appleby, Rhein Gibson, Robert Allenby, Jarrod Lyle and Ryan Ruffels all get a start.

For Ruffels (below) the event represents his first start as a professional and he could not have chosen a better venue as, like Day, he boasts a win in the Callaway World Junior Championship at Torrey Pines amongst his CV.

    

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