Here’s hoping you enjoyed the offseason between the close of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season and the kick off of 2015-16, because the Frys.com Open is now upon us. It’s time to get things started with a preview to get you off and running with your research.
The Frys.com Open returns to Silverado Resort and Spa (North) in Napa, California for the second consecutive year. It is a par-72 layout that stretches out to 7,203 yards and offers the expected buffet of four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. The putting surface is poa annua, which is not uncommon for courses in California. It often requires some level of previous experience and comfort.
Because last year was our first look at Silverado, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions in regards to statistical tendencies. The inconsistent stat pack of the players at the top of the 2014 leaderboard only confuses matters more.
It should be pointed out that Sangmoon Bae was the winner in that edition, but will not be back to defend his title due to his commitment to the South Korean military.
The typical concoction of course history, current form and statistical fit will be more difficult to sort through this week than it is most for several reasons.
- Many players are out of their normal routines, meaning current form is a bigger variable. Some have been off since the Wyndham Championship, while others bowed out throughout the FedExCup Playoffs. A few even played in the Presidents Cup just last week.
- This is the first look at the new crop of 50 Web.com Tour graduates. The first 25, technically including Patrick Rodgers who earned his card via the 2014-15 PGA TOUR regular season as a non-member, came out of the 2015 Web.com Tour regular season. The second 25 emerged from the Web.com Tour Finals. It remains to be seen how they will make their presence known in the new season.
- Because the statistics were inconclusive last year, and it was the first look at Silverado in this tournament, course history and statistics are also a bit of a problem.
Enough with the disclaimers! Here is what we know to be true.
Almost without fail, there are players in every field with the seemingly perfect blend of current form, course history and statistical prowess. This week is no different.
Hideki Matsuyama: He tied for third in the 2014 Frys.com Open, which is the first check mark. He ended the 2014-15 season with a T7-T12 run at the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship respectively before competing in the Presidents Cup. Throw in top-10 rankings in strokes gained: tee-to-green (SG:TTG), par breakers and par 4 scoring average and we have a thoroughbred.
Steven Bowditch: Runner-up in this event last season enters off the momentum of his first Presidents Cup berth and a T12 in the TOUR Championship. In terms of stats, he ranked third on TOUR in scrambling last season.
Brooks Koepka: Not only did he tie for eighth here last season, he also tied for third in the 2013 edition at a different venue. Perhaps there’s something about this time of year? Fresh off a runner-up finish (tie) in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and top 10 on TOUR in par breakers and par 4 scoring last season.
Class is Permanent
One of the first rules of fantasy golf is especially noteworthy when venues are relatively new. Form is temporary, but class is permanent. These studs embody that.
Rory McIlroy: Need I say more?
Justin Rose: In addition to the obvious, he’s hot off a T2 at the TOUR Championship.
Brandt Snedeker: Form at the end of 2014-15 was average at best, but he’s a known poa annua expert. His T57 in this event last season is a pause for concern.
Horses for Courses
For the course history buffs in the audience, dinner is served.
Tony Finau: A T12 last year kicked off what was a great rookie campaign. Expectations are nearly through the roof in 2015-16.
Bryce Molder: Tied for third last year in this event last year and actually flashed some form late in 2014-15.
Martin Laird: Current form is a disaster, having missed six of his last seven cuts on TOUR, but he did manage a T3 last season.
Hunter Mahan: This time last season he would have made the cut for “Class is Permanent,” but no longer. His T3 in this event last year should have been a springboard, but it was among the biggest highlights of 2014-15.
Hudson Swafford: Teased the savvy gamers with a T8 in this event last year, but proved to be more tools than production for the majority of 2014-15.
Jon Curran: The course history is about all that the sophomore has going for him this week. Proceed with caution.
The Hot Hands
Justin Thomas: Nearly made it to East Lake with a T13 in the BMW Championship to end his season. His is primed for a huge year, and it could start immediately.
Kevin Na: Ended last season with a pair of top 20s and his only PGA TOUR win came in October?
Robert Streb: Turned the corner in the autumn of 2014 and enters this week on a trendy T39-T23-T18 run.
Daniel Berger: Ended his rookie season with a T12-T2-T12 blitz all the way to the TOUR Championship.
Lucas Glover: Five consecutive top-25 finishes dating back to the Wyndham Championship and continuing through the Web.com Tour Finals.
Emiliano Grillo: Won the Web.com Tour Championship to go with a runner-up finish earlier in the Web.com Tour Finals.
Chez Reavie: Being the leading money leader during the Web.com Tour Finals has to count for something, right?
Because I Said So!
While gut feelings have no place in fantasy sports, punting, or pretty much any other aspect of life, educated hunches are acceptable. In fact, they are even more acceptable in an event with an unestablished history like this one. Here are some options that earned a second look in some way, shape or form.
Roberto Castro: Strong ball-striker cruised through the Web.com Tour Finals.
Jamie Lovemark: Solid Web.com Tour Finals prompts whispers of the fulfillment of his amateur promise several years ago.
Cameron Smith: One of the most interesting prospects on the PGA TOUR this season, the Aussie starts the season by answering the bell.
Will Wilcox: If the fantasy drafts of this past weekend are any indication, everyone is attempting to buy some Wilcox stock.
Nick Watney: California roots could lead to a fast start for the one-time star.
Tom Hoge: Took care of business in the Web.com Tour Finals after a late run in the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season.
Unfortunately for loyal gamers, the platforms that host some of the more popular fantasy games didn’t get the memo that the season starts this week. That means no Yahoo! and no Golf Channel games, thus no Playing the Tips.
For questions specific to the Frys.com Open, hit the Rotoworld golf staffers up on Twitter.
Best of luck to all, and we’ll see you next week!