This will be just the 6th staging of the Frys.com Open, the second event of the PGA Tour's final Fall Series.
CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin, California
Par 71, 7,368 yards
Stroke index in 2011 - 70.47
After three years at the Grey Hawk GC, Arizona, the tournament moved to California and to the Robert Trent Jones Jnr designed CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin in 2010 - a venue Jones himself describes as "perhaps my finest golf course creation".
Set in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the course has an elevation change of around 150 feet over the 18 holes. The greens will be running at around 11 on the stimpmeter and there are just two water hazards.
Live on Sky all four days, 9.00pm on Thursday, 10.00pm on Friday, and 9.00pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Last Five Winners
2011 - Bryce Molder -17 (playoff)
2010 - Rocco Mediate -15
2009 - Troy Matteson - 18 (playoff)
2008 - Cameron Beckman -18 (playoff)
2007 - Mike Weir -14
What will it take to win the Frys.com Open?
The first stat to take a look at is Par 4 Performance. In 2010, winner Rocco Mediate and tied second Alex Prugh both played the par 4s in 10 under-par, two better than anyone else and last year's winner, Bryce Molder, also played the par 4s in ten under-par. The only player to better that tally was Briny Baird, who he beat in the playoff. He played them in 12 under-par.
Hitting greens and setting up plenty of birdie opportunities is what's required at CordeValle and scrambling is a key stat too. Molder topped the scrambling stats the week he won and Mediate ranked 4th.
This will be just the third staging at CordeValle, so we haven't an awful lot to go on, especially given the two winners to date won in contrasting fashions. Mediate won wire-to-wire but Molder made up plenty of ground after opening with rounds of 71 and 67.
If you're betting in-running on Sunday, anyone posting an early score could be vulnerable and changes over the closing stretch could be plentiful. The par 5 15th is the easiest on the course and provided a par is secured at the tricky par 3 16th, further shots can be gained over the last two holes. The par 4 17th is drivable and the 18th is straightforward enough and has averaged below par in each of the last two years.
I thought I was stepping back in time around six years or more when I first glanced at the market here. Ernie Els was favourite and second best was Vijay Singh! I know, hard to fathom isn't it?
Needless to say, neither make any appeal and nor does, Nicolas Colsaerts, who has now gazumped Singh to challenge Ernie for jolly status. Colsaerts has just one European Tour stroke play title to his name so far so the chances of him popping in stateside are slim as far as I'm concerned, especially on a track where his long-hitting won't be especially advantageous.
With two vets to the fore in the market at uninspiring odds, it might make sense to try a couple of stars of the future and first up is real bright spark - 22 year-old Luke Guthrie.
Twice a winner on the web.com Tour just last month, Guthrie looks very much a player capable of taking the next step up. He's no great shakes off the tee, not particularly long or especially accurate, but after that he has some game. He hits plenty of greens, scrambles well when he doesn't, and his biggest strength is putting. He's already played three times on the PGA Tour this season and he's finished inside the top-20 on each occasion, with a 5th placed finish at the John Deere Classic the highlight. This venue could suit and given he's won twice since the last time he mixed it with the big boys he may well improve on his already impressive PGA Tour record and notch a win.
My only other pick from the get-go is Billy Horschel, who already has course form in the bag. After a sluggish opening round 72, he gave himself plenty to do 12 months ago but still managed a tie for 7th. His best performance so far this year is third at the True South Classic but he could well improve on that here and secure his card for 2013. Accurate iron-play is Billy's strong suit and he ranks 12th for Par 4 Performance and 18th for Greens In Regulation, so he ticks the right boxes.
Luke Guthrie @ [46.0]
Billy Horschel @ [75.0]
I'll be back in the morning with my preview for the Portugal Masters.