By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
Say this about the Frys.com Open: it has provided some of the best imagery of any tournament in recent memory.
Jamie Lovemark didn't win the 2009 edition at Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course, but anyone watching will never forget his ball exiting the water hazard (after it flew in on the fly) on the first playoff hole. He parred to advance. He (and Rickie Fowler) then lost to Troy Matteson's birdie on the next hole.
CordeValle's debut in 2010 hosted arguably the most impressive set of hole-outs by one golfer in PGA TOUR history. Rocco Mediate jarred an eagle in every round (to go with 14 birdies against seven bogeys) en route to a one-stroke victory and the bridge he desperately wanted to the Champions Tour. The respective yardages of Mediate's hole-outs were 181, 160, 110 and 116.
In 2011, Bryce Molder and Briny Baird went toe-to-toe for five playoff holes before Molder buried a birdie on the sixth extra hole. It was the kind of free golf that you'd think was inspired by the playground game of H-O-R-S-E. Each was seeking his PGA TOUR breakthrough; Baird remains winless.
Last year, although it's now technically two seasons ago, Jonas Blixt emerged with his first victory on TOUR. After an epic, up-and-down birdie at the par-4 17th, his short par conversion at the last to secure the title sparked a raucous celebration.
Sticking with the history at CordeValle, none of Mediate's eagles contributed to his strokes gained-putting rank of 10th (at 1.157) because the statistic assigns a value of 0.000 to all balls holed from off the putting surface. Meanwhile, Molder and Blixt led their fields in SG-P at 2.314 and 2.469, respectively, but none of the three champions cracked the top 40 in greens in regulation. In fact, Blixt finished outside the top 40 in distance off the tee, fairways hit and proximity to the hole as well. So how did he win? The Swede missed only one putt (of 61) from 9 feet and in.
All three winners ranked inside the top five in scrambling. And in the proven successful factor of par-4 scoring, Mediate co-led his field, Molder ranked T2 and Blixt finished first.
Whoever wins this week has a high standard to make it unforgettable.