Well after a long break, which lasted all of two weeks, we are ready to start the new PGA Tour season, with the Frys.com Open being played in San Martin, California this week. The event has been part of the PGA Tour schedule since 2007, when it was originally known as the Frys Electronics Open (yeah, not quite as catchy) and was first staged at the Grayhawk’s Golf Club, Raptor Course in Scottsdale, Arizona. In 2010, the tournament made the move to it’s current home, CordeValle Golf Club, and although it’s been it’s home for the past three editions of the event, it will again up and move in 2014. As of October 2014, the Frys.com Open will be played at Silverado Country Club, Napa, California, so any players who are fans of the current course will be looking to take advantage of this years instalment.

On first look, this tournament looks to have a weak field, but when you look beyond the surface, there are no fewer than 62 players in the field have won on the PGA Tour, add that too the players participating that won on the Web.com Tour last year and you have in my opinion a really exciting golf tournament.

Another event that may be of interest, is too hosted here and that’s the Gifford Collegiate Championship, which is as the event name suggests a college event. This may not seem to be of relevance to many, but there are players in the field this week, who have played well in this event, and may well take that confidence into the pro event at the same course. Two previous winners that you will know about are Patrick Cantlay in 2010, and Peter Uihlein in 2009, both of whom have gone on to win professional events, both being winners in 2013. Although neither player is in the field this week, you can tell just from them winning in recent years that this event does hold some relevance in a players career, and winning at any level provides valuable experience.

Whichever way you choose to look at this event, whether you’re disappointed that the “big guns” aren’t playing, making Billy Horschel and Gary Woodland joint 20/1 favourites, or like me you’re excited to see all the new players in action, it’s the start of the 2013/14 PGA Tour season and for that reason alone, we will be watching. Let’s look at the course, and last years winner to try and get a gauge of what will need to done to get the win, here in San Martin, California.

The Course: CordeValle GC, 7,368 yards, par 71. CordeValle Golf Club has played host to this event since 2010, as previously mentioned, but it’s not given away too many clues when trying to find a winner. Due to the low scoring nature, Putting is going to come into the spotlight this week, proved by last years winner Jonas Blixt, who was 2nd in Putting Average. Not only does can you take interest from where Blixt came in the putting stats, but looking at his performance in Driving Distance (41st), Driving Accuracy (43rd) and Greens in Regulation (59th) it’s fair to say it matters more what you do once you get to the greens, than how you actually get there. Of course Putting is always important, but in many tournaments, other factors seem to come in to play, more than this so if you know a player can go low, and get hot with the putter, go ahead and back him. Scrambling is also a key statistic, with the last three winners placing inside the top-4 in the field. On and around the greens will be the game this week, and it could only take a player to get on a roll to record a victory here. The last three winning scores at this event, since being held here at CordeValle are, -16, -17 and -15, so scoring shouldn’t be a problem, it’s a case of can you go low enough to keep up with the competition. Here is a hole-by-hole guide to the course. http://www.cordevallegolf.com/golf/course/hole-by-hole-course-tour

I really like this tournament this week, with two added incentives that have not been included before being put in front of the field this week. For the first time in the tournaments history, FedEx Cup points will be available, a key part of the Tour in recent years, and secondly there’s a spot at the 2014 Masters up for grabs. So although the field is weaker than many would of hoped, the players who are should be pumped up enough to provide us with an exciting tournament, a tournament that looks very open. I am keen to back newly promoted players this week, as in recent years we have seen that players have taken to the Tour in no time at all, highlighted by Russell Henley’s win at the Sony Open this year, his very first PGA Tour start. I’ve included a mixture of players, which range from a player who won the PGA Tour in 2013, and a player who is making just his 4th professional start. It’s also a week where I am backing a massive outsider, something that I hope will pay off.

Looking to start as we mean to go on, here’s my first selections of the 2013/14 PGA Tour season.

John Peterson 33/1 (General) 2pts e/w: John Peterson has had a largely succesfull start to his professional golfing career, and many people believe this could be a breakout year for him. After turning pro in 2011, Peterson played two Nationwide Tour events, finishing T2 and T23 in two starts, and it’s got even better since. Peterson qualified for the 2012 U.S Open through a sectional qualifying event, and finished an impressive T4, which earned him exemptions to the 2013 Masters and U.S Opens. He earned enough in 2012 as a non-PGA Tour member to gain a spot on the 2013 Web.com Tour and in my opinion it’s been perfect for him, and a good experience going into his first full PGA Tour season. He made 16 of 18 cuts, finished 2nd once, 3rd three times and had a further six top-10s, this is impressive form. Although the most obvious thing that’s missing is a win, I think he can up his game straight away, and get a win early on. Peterson went to LSU, just like his mentor David Toms, and not only that but he now has Toms’ former caddie Scott Gneiser, which I believe is a massive positive. David Toms has 13 PGA Tour victories to his name, including a major and a WGC, winning the PGA Championship in 2001 and the WGC Match-Play in 2005. This is the sort of career that Peterson will not only be aspiring too, but also looking to emulate, and I think he’s more than capable of doing  just that. In terms of his suitability to this course, Peterson’s putting will need to be at it’s very best this week as his finished just 39th in Putting Average last year on the Web.com, but with the form he’s been in I can see him going particularly well this week, and set the tone for the season. His last five results on the Web.com Tour are T2, 3, T3, T5, 3 and if he keeps that up, 33/1 will look generous in what could be viewed as an upgraded Web.com field. It’s also worth noting that he was 2nd in Scrambling > 30 yards this past season on the Web.com Tour.

Patrick Reed 40/1 (PaddyPower 1-6) 2pts e/w: Patrick Reed got his first win of his PGA Tour career at the Wyndham Championship, when he managed to defeat PGA Tour Rookie Of The Year Jordan Spieth, who has proved a tricky person to beat already, and that would of given him massive confidence. It looked likely at various points during the season that Reed would get a win, especially after coming T9 and T7 two weeks prior to the Wyndham Championship. His 5th at the FedEx St.Jude Classic and T7 at Pebble Beach were all big positives and he’s shown everyone just what he is capable of. Although Reed isn’t at the very top of the Putting charts he finished 34th in Strokes-Gained Putting and also proved extremely competent in contention. To add to this Reed has had a previous showing at CordeValle, and a good one at that, a T11 in 2012. That was by far his best performance in 2012 and a massive improvement on his T75 in 2011, so it’s looking positive for the recent winner. I really do see Reed adding to his wins total this season, and why not here in an event that is missing the Tour’s elite players. 40/1 for a player who has won recently, played well at this course and played well/won in stronger fields than this, looks extremely fair, and I’m keen to have him on side.

Chris Williams 500/1 (StanJames) 1pt e/w & 50/1 (StanJames) Top-10 1pt: If you can remember back as far as the Travelers Championship this season, I wrote a small essay on the fact that Chris Williams was making his first PGA Tour start, and tipped him to finish in the top-20. Unfortunately for us he didn’t manage to do that, however he did finish 30th, a superb result considering it was his first event, and although he’s missed two cuts since, I can see him putting himself back in the spotlight again this week. He shot 3 rounds in the 60s, after an opening round of 71 at the Travelers Championship, and that was a course he didn’t know, that’s different this week. If you look back to earlier in this post I mention the Gifford Collegiate Championship, which just like this week’s Frys.com is held at CordeValle Golf Club. He finished 4th and 11th in his two appearances at the event, proving he is comfortable with the layout of the course and hopefully that will show this week, when he plays the course for the first time as a pro. It may be a bit of reach to see the former No.1 Amateur win here, early on his PGA Tour career, but with the positive mindset behind him, not only with the experience of the course, but knowing he’s good enough to play in these events should serve him well. This is an optimistic pick and time will tell just how good this guy can be, but his amateur record makes great reading, and we hope that ability shines through as a professional.

Portugal Masters Tips

Alvaro Quiros 40/1 (General) 1pt e/w: 

A previous winner of this event, the long-hitting Spaniard is still trying to recover his season after coming back from a wrist injury, and has done so with reasonable success. He finished 5th at the Irish Open and more recently T8 in the Open De Italia, so hopefully playing in an event has won before will spur him on to a good performance again this week. He missed the cut last year, but finished 16th in 2011 and 2009, after getting his win here in 2008. Quiros has six Tour wins, which a more than almost all the players above him in the betting, so he knows how to win. Quiros has recently moved to the area, and has now become a member at the course, just another positive to go against his name. Yes he’s relatively short at 40/1 considering his up and down form over the last couple of years, but players turn it around and his loss of form is injury inflicted, so with the signs he’s shown it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him win.

Tom Lewis 50/1 (General) 1pt e/w:

Just like Alvaro Quiros, Tom Lewis is a previous winner here in Portugal, and although he has struggled to establish himself since winning here in 2011, he has shown some good form in recent weeks, to make him worth a second look here this week. A second look was enough for me to decide that Lewis was fairly priced and that I did indeed want to back him. T3 last time out at Gleneagles, Lewis should be full of confidence, and the promising Englishman will want to start living up to his potential.  He came 49th here last year, when trying to follow up his win, but he’s coming into the week in better form this time around and hopefully he can play well yet again. Apart from the 3rd last time out, Lewis has finished T15 at the Omega European Masters and T17 at Gleneagles and has started tournaments fast on a few occasions this year, so he’ll be looking to do that again this week.

Scott Jamieson 110/1 (Bet365) 1pt e/w:

Simply put, Scott Jamieson, to me, looks overpriced this week, and at 110/1 I’m more than happy to get involved. Not only has Jamieson had a solid 2013, but he had a good showing here this time last year, finishing in a tie for 12th. After finishing T17 at the Alfred Dunhill Links, Jamieson went on to play the Seve Trophy this past week, and performed well, until coming up against the inspired Gregory Bourdy in the singles on Sunday. Apart from the 17th at the Alfred Dunhill Links, Jamieson has finished T23 in Italy not too long ago, so he’s showing good signs again, after ending 2012 and starting 2013 with a bang. Jamieson won the Nelson Mandela Championship in December 2012, then went T3 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship later that month, and also nabbed a 3rd place in the Volvo Golf Champions. If he can finish 2013 the way he closed out 2012, and started 2013, he could be in for a great year and hopefully that all starts here.

Total Points Staked this week: 17

Profit/Loss for 2013: +99.25

So after a week off whilst the team events were on, I’m looking forward to getting back involved this week, and hopefully adding to the current profit total. After a good run, we had a disappointing week in Scotland for the Alfred Dunhill Links, and I’m hoping our luck will reverse immediately this week. I really like both events this week, and wish I could of gone into detail about both, but I am more than happy with my picks in both events, and look forward to seeing how both pan out.

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