October 08, 2012
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
It's been a challenging year for non-winners to break through on the PGA TOUR. Just six of the 42 champions have been first-time winners, and all of the last 13 had already picked up a victory previously. That's the longest drought without a breakthrough since the 2003 season started with 13 straight.
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In contrast, when Bryce Molder broke through at last year's Frys.com Open, he became the fourteenth and final first-time winner of 2011. It capped off an incredible run of 30 first-timers since the beginning of the 2010 season. (This includes Francesco Molinari's victory at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in November 2010.)
Since the Fall Series was introduced in 2007, eight of the 28 champions were first-timers (through last week's JT Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and excluding Molinari's win at the WGC-HSBC Champions). There's been at least one in every edition.
Molder outlasted another non-winner, Briny Baird, in a six-hole playoff, the longest sudden death of the year. Both completed regulation in 17-under 267, impressive considering the scoring average of par-71 CordeValle Golf Club was 70.472, or just 0.528 strokes under par. This was down from its debut in 2010 when it posted a 71.010 mark and Rocco Mediate's 15-under 269 set the pace.
The Robert Trent Jones Jr. design stretches to 7,368 yards. The nines are reversed for the Frys.com Open and the sixth hole plays as a 480-yard par 4 for the field of 132 (when the TOUR isn't in town, it's a par 5 that can extend 540 yards.)
Greens average a hefty 8,300 square feet and are expected to run at about 11 on the Stimpmeter. Therefore, the objective is similar to last week's; that is, aggressive strategy and strong putting are rewarded. The exception is that course management off the tee carries an elevated premium. CordeValle ranked as the second shortest of all courses in terms of driving distance last year at 275.8 yards.
Although CordeValle is consistent and scorable, its three par 5s are not gimmes. In two years on the scene, they've ranked inside the top-10 most difficult as compared to all of the other sets on TOUR. Last year's aggregate scoring average of holes 9, 12 and 15 was 4.76. In 2010, the trio registered a clip of 4.84. The 605-yard 12th has ranked as the 12th-most challenging of all par 5s on TOUR in both years the Frys.com Open has been contested in the rolling countryside of the Santa Clara Valley.
Beautiful conditions are expected throughout the week as sunshine and rising temperatures into the low 80s by Sunday are forecast.
Note: Bolton's original No. 1 pick, Tim Clark, withdrew from the event early Tuesday.
|Power Rankings: Frys.com Open|
| || ||Jonas |
|Co-led last week at TPC Summerlin after 36 and 54 holes. Opened with a pair of 64s and holed an eagle and 25 birdies for the week. Also led the field in strokes gained-putting, and ranks third on TOUR overall in the stat. Also 17th in par breakers.|
| || ||Brendan |
|En route to a T7 at CordeValle last year, ranked T3 in fairways hit and co-led the field in greens. Coming off a T13 at TPC Summerlin, where he finished third in strokes gained-putting. Top-15s in two of his last three starts (T8, Reno-Tahoe).|
| || ||Jeff |
|Making his debut at CordeValle. Pieced together a T13 last week in Las Vegas despite ranking T53 in greens hit. Top-15s in two of his last three starts (T7, Deutsche Bank). Ten top 25s on the year. Ranks 18th on TOUR in par breakers.|
| || ||Bud |
|Off since finishing T56 at the BMW Championship. Enjoyed a recent run of four top 10s in five starts capped by a T10 at The Barclays. A solo third at last year's Frys.com Open clinched his 2012 PGA TOUR card. He co-led the field in birdies (22).|
| || ||Vijay |
|First appearance at CordeValle. Arrives having survived 10 consecutive cuts, three of which resulting in top-10s. Opened last week with rounds of 66-66 before falling off the pace to finish T36. Ranks 45th on TOUR in ball-striking and 52nd in par breakers.|
| || ||Josh |
|Started the final round of the JT Shriners inside the top 10, but faded to a T22 with a 72. Still, it's his fifth top 25 in seven starts. He ranks 24th on TOUR in greens hit and 31st in par breakers. Tied for seventh place at last year's Frys.com Open.|
| || ||Ernie |
|Since winning the British Open, he's gone seven starts without a top 25, but he's the only golfer in this field that advanced to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Placed T4 here last year, co-led the field in GIR and had just four bogeys all week.|
| || || |Fredrik
|Update: Fredrik Jacobson withdrew from the tournament early Thursday morning.|
| || ||Richard H. |
|Fresh off a career-best T6 at TPC Summerlin, where he closed with a 65. Combining his last five starts over the PGA and Web.com Tours, all have resulted in top 25s. The PGA TOUR rookie ranks 19th on TOUR in greens hit and 41st in par breakers.|
| || ||Jimmy |
|Settled for a T10 last week after starting the final round inside the top five. Nonetheless, it was an impressive return from recent knee surgery. Ranks 22nd on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained-putting and 28th in par breakers.|
|Five more to watch|
|These players didn't make the top 10 this week, but they're worth keeping an eye on:|
|JOHN MALLINGER ... The southern California native posted a T22 in Las Vegas last week, his sixth top 25 among 12 cuts made this year. Carded just five over-par holes all week. Sits 54th on TOUR in greens hit. Placed T18 in his last appearance at CordeValle in 2010.|
|LUKE GUTHRIE ... The two-time Web.com Tour winner sits second on that circuit's money list. If qualified, he's rank third and first in GIR and par breakers, respectively. Posted three top 20s in as many starts on the PGA TOUR in June and July. Ask Guthrie a question|
|TIM HERRON ... Tied for 10th in Vegas after starting Sunday inside the top five. Opened with a bogey-free, 8-under 63. Ranked inside the top 20 in fairways hit, greens hit and strokes gained-putting. Sits 46th on TOUR in GIR. Posted a T13 at CordeValle in 2010.|
|MATT EVERY ... While the last of his five top 10s occurred over four months ago (T6, Memorial), he's a solid fit for CordeValle. Ranks 71st on the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation and 30th in par breakers. Also leads the circuit in birdies or better on par 4s.|
|NICK COLSAERTS ...The first-timer at CordeValle leads the European Tour in distance off the tee but he ranks 125th in putting, and that matters more this week; otherwise, the Ryder Cupper would sit higher on this page. Currently 120th in non-member earnings on the PGA TOUR, hes gunning for a spot inside the top 125 and a 2013 card.|
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