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Virtual Insanity! John Duggan'...
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Virtual Insanity! John Duggan's Golf Tips for the Farmers Insurance Open

Welcome to Virtual Insanity, where we spend virtual money to try and win virtual money on golf betting. It's that simple!

So the virtual pot is at €956 from €1000 entering this week's tournament of focus, the Farmers Insurance Open on the US PGA Tour in California.

Played at two courses - the North and South courses at Torrey Pines, the event starts at 5pm Irish time on Thursday.

The easier North course is used for one round, with the difficult South course, which will hold this year's U.S. Open, staging the other three rounds.

Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are among those in the field this week.

Based on talent alone, either of the pair could easily win. McIlroy will have had a long flight from Abu Dhabi and was only firing on all cylinders for two of four rounds last week. Rahm, a previous winner of the Farmers, withdrew last week and has also changed his equipment. A victory for either player wouldn't be surprising, but they won't be going into my staking plan this week.

It's a test that suits big hitters that possess a touch of class. One needs to hit the golf ball well around Torrey Pines and one must scramble efficiently around the small undulating greens at the South course. Conditions can get windy, so it really does test many skills on the 'West Coast Swing'.

Be sure to shop around, with bookmakers such as Paddy Power, Betfair, William Hill, SKY Bet and Boylesports offering 1/5 the odds for your pick to get into the top eight.

Our headline selection is Tony Finau for €4 each way at 20/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places). 

There's two schools of thought when it comes to American Tony Finau - that he's a brilliantly consistent golfer who will win many tournaments - or that he's a serial bottler. I am in the former camp. The 2016 Puerto Rico Open is all he has to show for on the PGA Tour - a measly return for a man of his talents who has posted 35 top tens since then. Finau had a chance to win at the American Express last week, but some loose shots saw him out of the final conversation between Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay. Nevertheless, Finau took a glass half full approach afterwards, saying he was pretty encouraged by his four rounds. Finau is a long hitter with a crisp iron game - the putter is the weakness - but Torrey Pines punishes that club less than others in the bag. In the last four years, Finau has finished tied sixth, tied 13th, tied sixth and tied fourth in this tournament. It's consistency to reward each way backers. I remember being on Jim Furyk to win the 2003 US Open after he produced a string of top tens without winning that year. He claimed the US Open quite easily in the end. I think Finau will win his second PGA Tour golf title in similar fashion. So I am backing him this week.

Our second selection is Will Zalatoris for €2 each way at 50/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places). 

Former US Junior Amateur champion Will Zalatoris blitzed the satellite Korn Ferry Tour last year, topping the points list. He then finished in a tie for sixth at the US Open at Winged Foot in September. Another couple of top ten finishes means he's going to have unlimited exemptions for the rest of the season. His tour card is secure for 2021/22 and he's having fun out there. Eighth in driving distance and fifth in strokes gained approach, Torrey Pines looks tailor made for the 24 year old American, who belongs on this circuit and could even have the carefree approach to meld natural talent and attitude into a victory by Sunday.

Our third selection is Doug Ghim for €2 each way at 125/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places). 

It's always important to note the top golf amateurs that come onto the circuit. American Doug Ghim lost the final of the 2017 US Amateur and he won the Ben Hogan award for top collegiate golfer in the United States in 2018, pipping current PGA champion Collin Morikawa. Two years ago, he finished in a tie for 20th at Torrey Pines, with a 63 at the North course and a 67 at the South course among his rounds. Last week, he posted a tied fifth finish at the American Express - so his PGA Tour card should be secure for next season. This is a card he won by sinking a clutch 10 foot putt on the Korn Ferry Tour in September 2019 to qualify for the big show. Ghim has had to battle hard for his status and like Zalatoris, he's now playing with 'house money'. So I think he could be a decent outsider this week.

Our final selection is Harry Higgs for €2 each way at 150/1. (1/5 the odds the first 8 places). 

I love the vibe off Harry Higgs. Laid back, gripping it and ripping it, smile on his face. The 29 year old reminds me a bit of Shane Lowry - he just screams authenticity. Higgs started the season with a close run at the Safeway Open, finishing second, so he doesn't have tour card issues to worry about. Last year, on his first appearance at the Farmers, he ended up in a tie for ninth place. He enters this week off the back of a 65 in the final round at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Higgs makes a ton of birdies, but it's his mindset that I find most attractive when weighing up who to include. He's shown an early liking for the track and may raise a few eyebrows by contending for a maiden PGA Tour title.

So that's €20 wagered virtually on this week's golf.  Make sure you bet less at home! A euro each way will do!

Please gamble responsibly, never bet more than you can afford, and good luck!

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