A recent haven for Aussie winners, the Farmers Insurance Open is where Rahm stamped himself as a star of the future with his first Tour win in 2017 and was an event dominated by Tiger Woods, the 15-time major winner (one here) claiming this title seven times.

As is typically the case, a strong field assembles this week on the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean as the PGA Tour year starts to gain more momentum and star power in its ‘West Coast Swing’.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Polarising American Patrick Reed will defend his title this week in California, and while the former Ryder Cup talisman will be hoping for a confidence boost at a venue he has played well in the past, memories of 2021 aren’t all pleasant.

It was here during the third round when Reed took controversial relief from an embedded ball that was later shown to bounce on video replay, causing a significant stir in the golf world. The then 30-year-old having the ball in hand before calling a rules official to assess the situation.

RIGHT: Patrick Reed took home the trophy replica of a Torrey Pine in 2021. PHOTO: Donald Miralle/Getty Images.

Reed was able to put the incident behind him, firing a four-under final round 68 to record a wire-to-wire victory by five strokes over a packed contingent at nine-under, including Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland and local San Diego product Xander Schauffele.

COURSE: The North and South courses of Torrey Pines Golf Course, a public facility, share hosting duties over the first two days, where each player tees it up on each layout once, before the more well-known South takes centre stage over the weekend.

A former military training ground, Torrey Pines was originally the work of father/son design team William P. Bell and William F. Bell, with the younger Bell completing the work after his father’s passing.

Since that time many hands have touched and shaped the challenge at ‘Torrey’ that is mostly formed by bunkering, large undulating greens and juicy rough, with wind an ever-present factor.

Rees Jones, Billy Casper, David Rainville, Stephen Halsey and Jack Daray, Jr. have all had their influence over the South Course, while Tom Weiskopf redesigned the North in 2016.

Host of one of the most famous U.S. Opens in history (Tiger Woods winning in 2008) the South is the longer of the two courses at 7,765 yards, while the North tips out at 7,258 yards. Both venues will play to a par of 72 this week.

Jon Rahm fist pumps are becoming a regular feature on the 18th hole of the South Course. PHOTO: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

A long-time host of the Junior World event, Torrey Pines is exceptionally familiar to the players, as it is fans from its major and annual hosting duties, with an Australian touch at the 18th hole of the South, where golfers must navigate the lone water hazard outside of the Pacific Ocean.

Fronting the 18th green is ‘Devlin’s Billabong’ named for Aussie Bruce Devlin, who made a 10 on the hole after donating a number of balls into the hazard in 1975.

RELATED: So-called expert golf tips for this week

PRIZEMONEY: US$8,400,000

PLAYERS TO WATCH: It is almost a case where making a list of unlikely contenders would be simpler than making one of those who could lift the trophy this week based on the quality of field assembled.

Six of the world’s top-10 will tee it up this week in San Diego, but none is more deserving of attention than Jon Rahm.

As mentioned above, Rahm won his first PGA Tour title here in 2017, added the U.S. Open trophy to his mantle on the South last year and was also T7 in the 2021 Farmers and runner-up to Marc Leishman here in 2020.

The World No.1 was recorded complaining about the “putting contest” last week at The American Express on his way to a share of 14th and a little fire in his belly won’t hurt his chances at his happiest of hunting grounds that places a premium on tee-to-green play.

Leishman himself is always one to keep an eye on at Torrey where he has seven top-20 finishes from 13 starts, including his victory in 2020.

The winner here two years ago, Marc Leishman is among the players to watch this week. PHOTO: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

Twice a runner-up here, ‘Leish’ has consistently found himself at the pointy end of leaderboards so far this season and is always dangerous after a spell at home where he likely has put the clubs away.

Among the others worth keeping tabs on are Xander Schauffele who finally seemed to work out his local ‘muni’ in his two 2021 starts, Will Zalatoris who set a course record on his way to a T6 last week and Dustin Johnson who makes a first start since October. So too California resident Francesco Molinari who finally showed a bit of what he is capable of last week and played well here twice last year.

From the Australian side of things, Jason Day continues to be an interesting prospect to watch throughout the year and nowhere is that truer than at Torrey Pines where he at one time seemed to have the ball on a string.

Twice a winner and once a runner-up here, Day mixed some good, average and terrible last week as he continues to juggle a new swing with his troublesome back. Typically either contends or bows out on Friday in this event.

72-HOLE RECORD: 266 (-22) (George Burns, 1987) and (Tiger Woods, 1999).

18-HOLE RECORD: North Course: 62 (Jon Rahm, 2019) and (Ryan Palmer, 2020). South Course: 62 (Tiger Woods, 1999).

PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Marc Leishman (2020) and Jason Day (2018 & 2015).

AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Cam Davis, Jason Day, Brett Drewitt, Matt Jones and Marc Leishman.

Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 4am – 8am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 503 4am – 8am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 4am – 8am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 7am – 12pm)
*AEDT, check local guides