The Field

This is the first leg of the PGA wrap-around season, a short 6 week swing which sees player’s compete for some early season FedEx points. The field in these events are generally pretty weak but this year the field in the Frys.com open (the first event) is actually much better than many regular tour stops. World number 3 Rory McIlory is playing, as is Hideki Matsuyama and as is former US Open champ Justin Rose. There’s a 150+ golfers in the field this week and the cut, like most PGA tour events, will take place after the second round where the top 70 + ties will get to play the weekend. All in all this is actually a very quality field and many of the top players will likely be looking for a win to either top off a great year or salvage their season.

The Course

Silverado CC (North) • Napa, CA

7100-7200 yards, Par 72

This will only be the second year in a row that the players will be teeing it up at the Silverado CC and so looking at results from past Frys.com tournaments (other than last year) might not help you much. The Silverado North course isn’t extremely long but there’s challenging features about the course that will once again likely keep the scores down inside the low to mid-teens. Many holes have doglegs that require some accuracy off the tee but can also be challenged by longer hitters, many of whom fared well here last season. The Greens are the tricky part as Johnny Miller—who helped with the redesign here in 2011—described them as “Augusta-like” in speed and slope and the most challenging part of the course. With four shorter par 5’s the course sets up well for those with length as the field averaged well under 5 shots for those holes in 2014. All in all Silverado’s a nice design that should challenge the players in certain ways but also allow for some low scores to be had.

Last 5 Winners

USATSI_8820809_168381090_lowres

Sang Moon Bae—2014
Jimmy Walker—2013
Jonas Blixt—2012
Bryce Molder—2011
Rocco Mediate—2010

Winning Trends

– The last 5 winners have all had a finish of T20 or better in one of their past three tournaments
– The Frys.com Open was the first PGA tour win for 3 of the last 4 winners

Statistics

Par 4 scoring
Scrambling
Driving Distance
Strokes gained-putting

In the Frys.com Open’s first visit to Silverado there were several players near or at the top of the leaderboard from 2014 that were ranked highly in par 4 scoring and driving distance at the end of the year. With the par 4’s making up many of the more difficult holes on the course I’ve keyed on par 4 scoring and, as well as driving stance, as to key stats this week and think they’re a good baseline for predicting player success. Given the difficulty of the green complexes I’ve also keyed on scrambling and strokes gained-putting as a couple different areas that could be used to cross reference against players ranked highly in the aforementioned areas. Look for strong drivers of the ball who ranked well on par 4’s last season but who are in good form in their short games. Recent form will play a factor but players ranking highly in these categories from last season can help.

Who’s Hot?

– Daniel Berger finished last season with a huge flurry, landing two 12th’s and a 2nd place in the last three playoff events. His form could easily carry over to this week
– Lucas Glover has finished no worse than 25th in each of his last 5 tournaments. He had to go the Web.com playoffs to retain his tour card but played extremely well there.
– Hideki Matsuyama had a decent finish to last season finishing no worse than 25th in his last 4 events. He went 2-1-1 at the Presidents Cup and looked in good form all week at the event.
– Emiliano Grillo had a massive 4 weeks at the Web.com playoffs and won the final event. The talented young Argentine is in great form and could be a big play this week.

Who’s Not?

– Brandt Snedeker really had a bad end of season. After a 12th at the PGA Championship he failed to finish above 43rd in his last four events. He’d be a gamble to use in fantasy this week for sure
– Graham DeLaet has been dealing with some injuries lately and really petered out towards the end of last season. I wouldn’t chance him yet and possibly not until the New Year.
– Russel Henley had a great 2015 season but really lost form towards the end. He’s a streaky player so don’t be shocked if he pulls off a big week but he’s still a risky play.
– John Peterson had a nice run of consecutive cuts at the start of last year but tailed off badly towards the end missing the weekend in 4 of his last 8 events. I’ll need to see a return to form before using.

DFS Strategy

This is a pretty deep field for a wrap-around event. Normally I’d say this is a good time to look for some sleeper players at a cheap price but with so much quality I think the best strategy might be to go with a more balanced lineup. It’s going to be hard to discern which of the top players will be in good form after the long season and the Presidents Cup so looking for slightly cheaper players who had good form to end last season or are coming off of a good tournament overseas might be a good plan. This tournament has seen quite a few first time winners as well and I won’t be shocked if it does again so don’t be afraid to roster a young or up and coming player.

My Winner: Hideki Matsuyama

Matsuyama was great on par 4’s last year and also played well at Silverado at this event in 2014. He might be the most in-form of all the top players and hasn’t won in over a year now making him extra motivated this week. He’s my pick to get the season started.

My Sleeper: Lucas Glover

Glover had a great Web.com playoffs and has been improving his putting stroke of late. I’m thinking his length off the tee and solid ball striking should really help him here and won’t be shocked if he’s in the mix come Sunday.