As the Frys.com Open inches closer, and with it the start of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season, let’s take a look at this week’s power ranking.
Covered in yesterday’s preview, the introduction of a new venue, new players fresh off the Web.com Tour and the layoff between when many of those in the field last competed and now offers quite the trifecta for handicapping this field. We've pieced it together to the best of our abilities and have the following to offer.
- Jimmy Walker – While the thought of Walker successfully defending in his first PGA TOUR title seems a bit daunting, he’s likely the most stable investment in the field. With 19 top-25 finishes in 27 starts last season, it’s impossible to argue his consistency. Played better than his record in the Ryder Cup.
- Matt Kuchar – A reflection of his stature in the game, he has the style of play that should adapt just about anywhere. His form hasn’t been the best over the last six weeks, but it isn’t bad either. Ranked third in par-4 scoring average and 15th in strokes gained-putting last season.
- Brooks Koepka – He’s been busy overseas, cranking out a T3/T11/T9 in his last three starts. While this tournament was at a different venue last year, he tied for seventh in the Frys.com Open in 2013. If there is a minor concern, it could be due to travel. He was playing in Scotland at St. Andrews on Sunday.
- Brandt Snedeker – Ended the 2013-14 season a bit chilly, but I’m anxious to see if he’s made any offseason progress working with Butch Harmon.
- Cameron Tringale – I half expect the winner of this event to be a player similar to Jimmy Walker last season. A non-winner who has been trending towards a breakthrough. Tringale absolutely fits that bill after a solid T2 at The Barclays in 2014. He’s also a California kid, which can’t hurt.
- Richard Sterne – Showed some grit with a runner-up finish in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship to earn his full status for 2014-15, and then tied for sixth at the Alfred Dunhill Links last week. Like Koepka, Sterne is one of the few players in the field that touts some reliable form.
- Graham DeLaet – Finished out 2013-14 with three top-15 finishes in his last six starts. He also ranked third in GIR for the season. Because of his ball-striking prowess, he is a safe option to make a cut and record a solid finish on many occasions. With everyone unfamiliar with the greens this week, expect marginal putters to stand a better-than-average chance of breaking through.
- Chris Stroud – Similar to Tringale, and Jimmy Walker a year ago, Stroud has developed into a very consistent player who is knocking on the door of a maiden PGA TOUR victory. He made 10 of his last 11 cuts last season and was 18th in par breakers.
- Robert Streb – Made a deep run in the FedExCup Playoffs last year despite beginning the year with only conditional status. Perhaps most impressive, he was tied for sixth in par-4 scoring average. Streb cracked the top 20 in three of his last four PGA TOUR starts.
- Daniel Summerhays – Another steady Eddie primed for a breakthrough, he ended 2013-14 by making 11 of his last 12 putts and was ninth in strokes gained-putting.
- Justin Thomas – He’s this year’s “can’t miss” rookie, and is just two tournaments removed from a Web.com Tour win at the Nationwide Hospital’s Children Championship. He will find his way to the front page of a leaderboard soon. Was first on the Web.com Tour in multiple statistical categories last season.
- Derek Fathauer – Perhaps nobody had a better Web.com Tour Finals than Fathauer, capped off with a win in the Web.com Tour Championship on the heels of a T9-T16-T8 run. Ranked second in putting average, fourth in par-4 scoring average and sixth in par breakers on the Web.com Tour.
Next 5 (alphabetical): Blayne Barber, Jason Gore, Scott Langley, Hunter Mahan and Lee Westwood
We will return tomorrow to discuss not only who my one-and-done pick is this week, but also the strategy that goes into a pick on a week with so many variables.
Until then, best of luck to all!