Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 4 places
Favourites: Back Hideki Matsuyama @ 17.016/1
As Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose have just one top five between them at a strokeplay event in California (a third place for Rose way back in 2007), I'm inclined to swerve the two market leaders despite their obvious claims.
Instead, the one I want from the top end of the betting is Hideki Matsuyama.
The Japanese star has teed it up six times in the Golden State and posted three top fours along with two other top 25s.
Two of those big finishes (both thirds) came in this very event - the first at Cordevalle in 2013 and the second at this week's venue, Silverado Resort and Spa, last year.
The most recent was claimed at Riviera (home of the Northern Trust Open) and it was noted by many ahead of last year's event that the Riv and the North Course at Silverado Resort had several similarities.
Indeed, those who spotted the link early got on winner Sang Moon-Bae at fancy three-figure prices given that he'd finished T8 and T12 at the Riviera and had been the halfway leader both times (Bae also cracked the top 10 in the Northern Trust Open this year).
Coincidentally, Matsuyama and Bae were partners in the recent Presidents Cup which is hopefully a good omen and they produced a superb display in Saturday's four-balls, blasting Jimmy Walker and Chris Kirk 6 & 5 after making birdies at 9 of the first 11 holes.
Matsuyama, the current World No.14, also won his singles against J.B. Holmes to finish with a record of W2, L1, H1 while he ended the last PGA Tour season with a run of 12-7-25-13 in the FedEx Cup play-offs so his game is clearly in good shape.
He'll be used to making the journey from Asia to the United States so there are no worries on that front and 16/1 is a working man's each-way price given how many top fives he nails, especially on the west coast.
Mid-range: Back Tony Finau @ 41.040/1
Finau, then a rookie, really get everyone's attention in this part of the calendar last year, posting 12-14-7-MC-7 in the Fall Series events.
The first of those came at this venue where he cashed in on his prodigious length by co-leading the field in par 5 scoring. The North Course at Silverado Resort (7,203 yards) has four of them including two in the final three holes and this is where Finau did the bulk of his scoring.
While ne never actually posted a win last season, he did live up to his billing as one of the Tour's rising stars and his T12 here was one of 16 top 25s. Five of those were top 10s, the last of those coming in elite company in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
Discussing his first season amongst the big boys, Finau said at The Barclays: "I feel like I've earned my stripes. I feel like I belong out here and I'm starting to prove that to myself week-in, week-out as I play here and start to get confidence."
The 26-year-old's one victory on the Web.com Tour came in California (2014 Stonebrae Classic) and he made every cut on the west coast swing last year so he enjoys this region.
Thanks to the presence of McIlroy and Rose, we're getting a decent price on Finau this week and the 40/1 is just fine.
Others to consider in this part of the market include youngsters Justin Thomas (33/1) and Daniel Berger (40/1). Both played lots of good golf last year (Berger finished 12-2-12 in the final three play-off events) but both also missed the cut in this event which is a little off-putting.
Cameron Tringale is a California boy and he's also interesting at 66s having ended his season with a T7 at the BMW Championship and finished T26 on this course last year. He's also got some very useful Riviera form with four top 25s in five appearances.
Long-shot: Back Ryo Ishikawa @ 101.0100/1
He seems to have been around forever but Ryo Ishikawa is still only 23 years old.
Yes, he's not lived up to the huge hype which surrounded his teenage years and got him invites to The Masters but it's silly to write him off as someone who won't ever make it.
"Competing like Rickie, Rory and Jordan some day. That's my goal, yeah," said Ishikawa at July's Quicken Loans National so he's still aiming high.
He co-led after rounds one and two of that event and eventually finished T10 so there are some promising signs.
After a T31 at the Wyndham Championship helped secure a spot in the play-offs, he lasted just one event but since then he's returned to Japan and boosted his confidence by winning the ANA Open and also finishing T6 on his latest start at the Tokai Classic.
In this event he took T21 in 2013 and T19 at this week's track in 2014 after three 71s and a third-round 67.
Five top 25s in west coast events over the last three seasons, including a T7 at Torrey Pines last year, shows that he tends to play well in this part of America and it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine him being a factor this week.
So, let's get a second Japanese player in the staking plan and back Ishikawa at 100s.
As for others with recent form, Arnie's grandson, Sam Saunders, finished third at the Web.com Tour Championship and is 100/1 while Aussie Rhein Gibson is 300/1. The 29-year-old was also T9 the week before and posted T6 at the Stonebrae Classic on his last visit to California in July. He's someone you could throw a dart at or back for a top 10.
Also worth a mention is Derek Fathauer. He was T9 at the Web.com Tour Championship and also T7 in the PGA Tour's Barracuda Championship in August. Not only that, he finished T12 in this event 12 months ago so looks an interesting runner at 150/1.
As for the top two at that Web.Com finale - winner Emiliano Grillo and runner-up Chez Reavie (who also won a Challenge Tour event in North Carolina last month - they're priced at 40s and 80s respectively. Reavie was T53 in this event last year while young Argentine Grillo is making his debut.
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