LA JOLLA, California (Reuters) - As the two highest ranked players in the field, England’s Justin Rose and Australian Jason Day are leading the charge on the American stranglehold of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
Since its inception on the tour in 1952 just two international players have hoisted the trophy on the iconic coastal venue, a rare public course used for top tournament play.
South African Gary Player (1963) and Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal (2002) are the only non-American flags on the tournament honor role and Tiger Woods was victorious in the 2008 US Open also held at the venue.
And while seven-times event winner Woods and local boy Phil Mickelson will no doubt take the lions share of crowd support, world number five Rose and number eight Day are ready to spoil the party.
With the rough up on both the South and North courses where players alternate on the opening two days and greens particularly firm, conditions could mirror a mini US Open.
Rose is a former US Open winner having prevailed at Merion in 2013 while Day has two runner-ups and a T4 in his four US Open appearances.
“We are obviously due on this course,” Day, who was runner up a year ago in the event to American Scott Stallings, said.
“I’m excited to get the week started because my preparation has been some of the best I’ve had in my career, almost like a major, and I hope to be ready to go one better than last year.
“Some players don’t like tougher courses but I love the challenge and this place tests every aspect of your game.”
Rose has failed to crack the top 20 in the past at the event but comes in having expelled some rust in the Middle East.
The 34-year-old finished T12 and T13 in back-to-back tournaments on the European Tour and while he is looking to peak in early April for the Masters in Augusta he is mindful of producing results in the meantime.
“I’m excited about the events I have coming up and I feel my game’s in a really good spot to sort of make a good run heading into Augusta,” he said.
“There are perils to focusing too hard on one future event and Augusta can loom very large in your head for a long time.
“It’s very important to treat each event individually and to get the most out of each event you play without chalking it up to preparation.
“I’m taking every event very, very seriously.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston