Season Debut Preview: PGA Tour’s Open

Preview – PGA Tour – Open – Silverado Country Club – Napa, California –

The PGA Tour’s 2014-2015 wrap-around season tees off this week in California with the Open at a new venue – Silverado Country Club in Napa.

Full FedEx Cup points are up the grabs as this week’s champion garners 500 and a quick start to the new season. Last year’s champion Jimmy Walker used the victory to springboard his way into multiple wins and eventually a Ryder Cup spot onthe U.S. team. The winner also receives an invitation to the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

The tournament hosts a strong open-event field that includes several participants from the Ryder Cup including Walker, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Patrick Reed along with Top 50 players including Hideki Matsuyama and Brandt Snedeker.

Kuchar is the top-ranked player in the field at No. 9 at the Official World Golf Ranking. He struggled in the Ryder Cup posting just a 1-3 mark, while Reed was undefeated at 3-0-1.

This week features a host of new PGA Tour card holders coming off the Tour including Tour Championship winner Derek Fathauer. Tony Finau and Jason Gore –both Tour grads – are also competing.

Several international players make up the field like Tim Clark, Marc Leishman, martin Laird and Graham DeLaet. Last season’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Chesson Hadley is also teeing up in Napa.

The course will play to a par-72 and reach more than 7,200 yards. The weekend drama should come late with Par 5s at 16th and 18th holes.

Last Year’s Recap:

  • Playing at CordeValle Golf Club, Walker (17-under) edged Vijay Singh by two shots for his maiden PGA Tour title. Walker’s third-round 62 set the pace. Either with VJ heading into the final round, Walker carded a 66. Scott Brown, Kevin Na (64-64 on the weekend), Brooks Koepka and Matsuyama logged T-3 finishes three shot back.

The Golf Channel has the television coverage all week.

FANTASY: A new venue tends to shatter the trends. But, look for guys in solid form from the Tour Finals and Ryder Cup to shine like Fathauer and Reed. Pay attention to Singh this week.  Take Koepka, who contended last weekend in Scotland on the European Tour. Consider Matsuyama in this spot. He finished 6th on the PGA Tour last season in Strokes Gained Putting.

BETTING: Kuchar headlines the betting picks at at 12-to-1 odds. He logged 11 Top 10s last season, but may not be in great form. He rarely plays the fall series. Defending champion Walker is 14-1, but consider a younger winner like Kevin Chappell at 40-1. He’s hungry and enters with nine straight made cuts. For a long shot pick, take William McGirt at 66-1.

Other Golf News:

  • The European Tour’s Portugal Masters this week ramps up the Race To Dubai competition. Shane Lowry is the to pick at Tommy Fleetwood, Bernd Wiesberger and Richie Ramsay are among the contenders expected to challenge this week for the title.
  • Tiger Woods, now 17th in the world rankings, is reportedly opening up a sports bar and restaurant this fall in Jupiter, Florida.
  • The LPGA Tour returns to action this week at the SIME Darby LPGA Malaysia. Lexi Thompson is defending champion. Stacy Lewis, Rolex Ranking World No. 1, tops the tour’s Race to CME Globe standings followed by Inbee Park.
  • Oliver Wilson jumped from 636 places to No. 156 in the Official world Golf Ranking thanks to his first career victory at last week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Fleetwood, runner-up in Scotland, moved up 10 places to 63rd.
  • The Champions Tour hosts the SAS Championship in North Carolina this week at Prestonwood Country Club. Russ Cochran won the title in 2013. Charles Schwab Cup standings leader Bernard Langer, at 5-1, is the betting favorite.