Frazzled looks at the Frys.Com Open from Silverado Golf Club and has four selections ranging from 70/1 to 125/1
The Frys.com Open is an event that we feel compelled to preview given that it has provided us with so many highs in the past few years. We landed the winning bet in the last two renewals at Cordevale and the move to the Silverado Resort and Spa did not break our stride, as we selected 150/1 Sang Moon Bae last year. The pressure is on so we will have to see how we do with that in mind!
The event now marks the start of the PGA Tour season for the second consecutive year and as stated last year, a whole new dynamic has been created with Fedex Cup points up for grabs, a place in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions available to the winner and a spot in The Masters also going to the winner of this event. In addition the field is bolstered by obligations for Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel to play the event in addition to Webb Simpson, so it is quite a strong field at the front of the market, but does lack in depth as we delve further down the list of entrants.
Like last year, the graduates from the Web.com Tour make their first full appearance on the main Tour and they will be very keen to make an impression at the outset. The event had fallen to a debut Tour winner for a number of years, but last year's winner Sang Moon Bae had previously won the Byron Nelson. The policy of trying to find someone that is seeking a first win or trying to bounce back after a q quiet spell, is one that we like to follow here, rather than back some of the top class players that have bigger events to focus on in the coming weeks and/or are after playing in the President's Cup last week.
The North Course at the Silverado Resort and Spa was opened in 1968. It had staged PGA events in the past, such as Kaiser International in the 60s and 70s and the course also held the Transamerica on the Champions Tour between 1989 & 2002. However nothing was staged here until last year, after the venue had been substantially redesigned by Johnny Miller after he bought it along with two partners in 2010.
Miller made a lot of changes to the course, which included the lengthening of it to 7,203 yards, which plays to a Par 72, widening of the fairways and changes to the bunkering. He described the course as a venue that caters for the resort players, but greens that play at tournament speed. He has made numerous reference to the fact that it provides an Augusta feel and the greens may well bear some resemblance to The Masters venue, in which case, putting and around the green play is going to be crucial. This information was available last year, but what was important was the feedback from players and they had stated that it was quite a tight venue, where you have to shape the ball both ways and that it would provide quite a test. Riviera was mentioned as a similar type of layout and we used this in our analysis to find Sang Moon Bae last year, given he has such a good record at Pacific Palisades. Therefore we will be using this link again, although we will also include the very important connection with poa annua greens at other venues and in addition the Byron Nelson classic now looks as though it could prove to be a guide given that Bae won it and Steven Bowditch won it last year after finishing 2nd in this event.
Seven of the Top 10 last finished in the Top 10 in GIR and scrambling proved to be hugely important, with the first 3 in this category filling the first 3 places on the leaderboard. In addition Bae topped the Par 5 scoring. Putting did not prove to be as vital although on this tricky course, holing putts will be important in order to score something like last year's winning total of -15. Bae however used an outstanding tee to green and around the green game to lift the title.
Graham De Laet:
With the Toronto Blue Jays beating the Texas Rangers and Toronto FC flying high, there is huge positivity in Canadian sport at the moment and Graham De Laet might be able to feed off this and finally land an elusive title.
The 33 year old is an outstanding tee to green player and he has form at many of the venues that correlate well with Silverado. He was 8th at Rivieria last year and was 10th and 7th in the Byron Nelson in 2013 and 2014. He has also been 9th and 2nd in the past three years in the Farmers Insurance and is clearly effective on poa annua greens, which is important given that his putting can be his Achilles heel.
De Laet looked like one of the sure fire first time winners ahead of last season, but it was a disappointing campaign that saw him register Top 10s only at the Northern Trust, Phoenix Open and then 4th at the Travelers Championship. The latter 4th does prove that he plays the same venues well, even if he is in poor form, as he was 3rd the previous year and therefore playing a similar venue to where he has previously enjoyed success might prove to be a big advantage this week.
In a relatively poor 2014/15 season, De Laet still ranked 22nd in GIR, 67th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 13th in Par 5 Scoring Average. He was also 32nd in Driving Distance, 5th in Total Driving, 7th in Ball Striking and 24th in All Round Ranking. After such an anti-climax last season, he should be raring to go now and he looks worth supporting at odds of 125/1 which are three times what he would be if he was playing near his peak.
Brendon Todd is our second pick this week given that he such an accurate driver, an excellent around the green player, a very solid putter who keeps bogeys off his cars and he is still improving season by season. Todd has his best finish at Rivieria last year when he was 14th. He has also been 6th in the 2014 Humana Challenge, 9th and 10th in two of the last four renewals of the AT&T at Pebble Beach and he also won the Byron Nelson in 2014.
He had a very solid 2014/15 season with results such as 4th in the RBC Heritage, 6th in the Greenbrier Classic and a 23rd in the BMW Championship in the Fedex Cup playoffs, which really should have been much better but for following opening rounds of 66-63 with a weekend of 76-70. That will really have irked him and I would think he has been itching to put things right.
He has the perfect game for this week, given his tee to green game and the fact that he was 7th in Strokes Gained Putting last year, along with 26th in Strokes Gained Total and an all round ranking of 47.
He is a better player, in better form than 70/1 quotes indicate and he is worth an interest at these odds.
Nick Watney has not played in this event since 2008 and his putting is always a concern, but he is a poa annua greens specialist, loves playing California venues and he fits the mould of a player that could use this event to come right back to form.
Watney is a 5 time PGA winner with his wins including the Farmers Insurance Open in 2009 along with huge titles like the WGC Cadillac Championship. He also has some excellent form at the venues that we have listed as guides to this week. His performances include 8th in the Byron Nelson in 2011 and 10th last year, 5 other Top 10 placings at Torrey Pines along with his 2009 win and he has steady performances at Pebble Beach which has poa annua greens. These include 2nd last year, 6th in 2011 and 7th in 2006, while he was also 8th in the Barracuda Championship last year, which also has poa annua greens.
Watney started 2015 very well with placings of 14th, 7th and 2nd on the California swing and after having a mid-season dip, he finished strongly with a 19th in the BMW Championship. He ranked 66th in GIR last year and 32nd in Strokes Gained Tee To Green. If he can have a solid week on the greens he could be a big contender this week and is worth including in our bets at 70/1.
George McNeill was one of our picks last year and although he missed the cut, we will give him another chance this time around. He is not a PGA Tour maiden, with victories in the 2007 Frys.com Open and 2012 Puerto Rico Open, but he has not won for over three years at this stage and after another solid season in 2015, when he secured finishes such as 5th in the Zurich Classic, 13th in the Memorial Tournament, 11th in the Honda Classic and most recently a 13th in the BMW Championship, he will be eager to add another win to his CV.
McNeill is solid from tee to green and he ranked 50th in Strokes Gained from Tee to Green last year. He was also 44th in Scrambling and 61st in Par 5 Scoring, so he does match up well to this venue.
He also has some notable finishes with this week in mind, such as 7th in the 2013 Frys, 6th in the 2014 Northern Trust Open, 7th in the 2014 Valspar Championship at the tricky Copperhead venue and runner up in the 2014 Greenbrier Classic, won by previous Frys winner Jonas Blixt in 2013.
Given that we liked him last year and the same principles apply, we will go in again at 125/1 which is 45 points bigger than we took in last year's event.
1.5 points each way Graham De Laet at 125/1 with William Hill, Betfred and Stan James
1.25 points each way Brendon Todd at 70/1 with Paddy Power and Bet365
1 point each way Nick Watney at 70/1 with Betfred and Totesport
0.75 points each way George McNeill at 125/1 with BetVictor, William Hill and Boylesports