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Monday, October 7, 2013

Frys.com Open - Power Rankings

The Frys.com Open Power Rankings feature a number of players with past success at CordeValle Golf Club, as well as some fresh faces off the Web.com Tour. In some ways, the Web.com Finals offer us the best glimpse at a player’s current form. It will be interesting to see if there is some immediate carryover to the Fall Series for the newly minted card holders.

As we touched on yesterday, driving accuracy seems to take a back seat in order of importance. That brings the bombers more into play, since wayward drives don’t appear to be punished proportionally to most TOUR stops. Putting is also a very good skill to have a CordeValle.

Let’s take our first crack at the 2013-14 season!
  1. Billy Horschel – Seemed to snap out of a very small funk in the Playoffs, improving from T70 to T18 and then T7 in his last three starts of the 2013 season. In two previous starts at this venue, he has a T7 in 2011 and a T29 in 2012. Ranked 42nd in driving distance and 28th in SGP in 2013, so seems to be a fit on all three (form, history, stats) fronts. A win this week wouldn't change his life, which could make the task easier for him than others.
  2. Jimmy Walker – Could have just as easily led off with him, having tied for fourth last year, but didn't due to a conscious effort not to over-value course history. His T11 at the BMW Championship to end his 2013 season snapped a lengthy slump, and 20th in driving distance and 46th in SGP in ’13 solidifies why he was such a good fit here in 2012. Not a bad spot for a breakthrough win.
  3. Gary Woodland – I always cringe a tad when I rank Woodland this high, but he can’t be ignored. He was hot through the Playoffs, beginning with a T2 at The Barclays, and also tied for ninth here last year. He’s a noted bomber, and managed to be in the middle of the pack with the flat stick. If the putter cooperates, he will be in the thick of things.
  4. Charles Howell III – Howell always seems to play well early in the season, so we’ll find out if that’s the case with a new start date, or if the West Coast Swing (especially the Sony Open) are just a good course lineup for him. Could be that he just hasn't placed his personal expectations too high early in the year, but they build as his finishes roll in. Either way, he made some cuts late last season and tied for 11th here last year. Ranked 37th in distance and 17th in SGP last season.
  5. Jason Kokrak – In his third season on TOUR, he seems primed for a breakthrough win at some point in 2013-14. This is actually a logical spot, as he tied for second last year and ranked sixth in driving distance. He also made the cut in three Playoff events.
  6. Bryce Molder – A winner in 2011, he put up a T11 in his title defense to demonstrate he’s a serious course horse. Was surprised that he was 176th in distance last year, but his 10th in SGP is in line with the eye test. Notched a couple of top 25s late in 2013.
  7. John Peterson – I don’t care that he missed the cut here last year, he’s arguably the hottest player coming of the Web.com Tour. He doesn't lack for confidence, either. He was just above average in distance and putting on the Web.com Tour, meaning CordeValle may not be his ideal statistical fit, but much like Horschel last Spring; he should be considered very dangerous until he proves he’s cooled off.
  8. Jamie Lovemark – Lost this event in a playoff on a sponsor exemption in 2009 at the previous venue, then tied for 30th a year later when the tournament moved to CordeValle. He’s been a bit feast or famine on the Web.com, but has a win and four top 10s in his last nine starts. Also ranked third in driving distance and ninth in putting average on the junior circuit last season, so it’s quite possible this course will really fit his game.
  9. Chesson Hadley – If Peterson isn't the hottest player coming of the Web.com Tour, Hadley is. He tied for fourth in the next-to-last event of the season, then picked up his second win at the Web.com Tour Championship. Two wins in his first full season on that Tour tells me to expect his adjustment period to be rather small. He was 17th in distance and fourth in putting average on the Web in 2013.
  10. David Hearn – Was a steady player from his P2 at the John Deere Classic through the end of the season, ranking 15th in SGP despite lacking length off the tee. He shared seventh here in 2011, then missed the cut last year. It’s easy to like that he enters the week a little under the radar, with plenty of eyes on the fresh faces on TOUR.
  11. Hideki Matsuyama – One trend from 2013 was that International players seemed to underwhelm as PGA TOUR rookies / first-time members. The Japanese star is fresh off a decent showing at the Presidents Cup, and will look to make a big splash at CordeValle this week. Our sample size is pretty small on trying to guess how he will handle moving past a premiere global event and into a Fall Series tournament. This week could set the expectations for the rest of his season, as silly as that may sound.
  12. Morgan Hoffmann – The sophomore had a nice run of four consecutive top 25s deep in the 2013 season, but faded a bit late. The fade could have to do with any number of factors, but if fatigue was one of them, that should likely be solved. He’s trending as a sexy pick to notch a win in 2013-14, but must be careful to avoid the pratfalls that Bud Cauley and Seung-yul Noh fell into last season. Ranked 32nd in distance and a respectable 58th in SGP.

The Next 5: Jonas Blixt, Marc Leishman, Ben Martin, Seung-yul Noh and Patrick Reed

Feeling risky? (To clarify, these aren't necessarily meant to be the next three players in line after the "next 5," rather a way identify guys that may be off other radars that could be a nice fit for certain games.)
  • Russell Knox – Perhaps this one isn't so much a risk as it is a way to turn some attention his way. He split time between the PGA TOUR and the Web.com in 2013, finishing inside the top 20 in his last two TOUR starts and regaining full status via the Web.com Finals last month. He tied for ninth here last year.
  • Spencer Levin – Making his first TOUR start since 2012, but played well in spurts while rehabbing an injury on the Web.com Tour. Strategically didn't play any in ’13 so as to have a full slate of medical starts. Tied for seventh here in 2011.
  • Rory Sabbatini – Ended 2013 on fire, with top 20s in six of his last seven events, but has missed the cut in all three of his trips to CordeValle. Form meets history.

As always, best of luck to all!

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