Inside the Ropes
CordeValle Golf Club
San Martin, California
CordeValle Golf Club
Yards: 7,368 as per the scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bentgrass; 8,300 square feet on average.
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye grass at 3”
Water Hazrds: 2
Course Architects: Robert Trent Jones, Jr. (1999; redesign 2010)
Winner’s Share: $910,000
Defending Champion: Bryce Molder outlasted Briny Baird over a six-hole playoff to win for his first time on TOUR.
Date: October 11-14
Format: 72 holes of stroke play; top 70 and ties make the weekend.
Notes: Gamers, please note that ONLY the last two years have been played at CordeValle Golf Club. The first three editions of this tournament were staged at Greyhawk Golf Club outside Scottsdale so remember that when looking at horses of courses.
All five former champions are in the field this week. Mike Weir (2007*), Cameron Beckman (2008*), Troy Matteson (2009*), Rocco Mediate (2010) and Bryce Molder are the past champions. The * denotes the players that won at Greyhawk GC.
There has never been a repeat champion or multiple winners in this event.
Bryce Molder is the only first-time winner on TOUR here.
The average winning score is 16-under par in the two years that this tournament has been held at CordeValle.
So What? So Let’s Dance!
CordeValle is a picturesque resort set in the Santa Clara Valley that ranked 35th-easiest out of the 51 courses played on TOUR in 2011. With green sizes over 8,000 square feet, the premium iron players should have the final say once Sunday comes along. As we learned last week at TPC Summerlin, you can also be in the mix if your putter catches fire (see: Blixt, Jonas). The resort course will play over 7,300 yards but that length shouldn’t bother the TOUR pros. The rough is three inches deep, which is average, but shouldn’t be a big deal because the greens are large enough to hit in regulations. Bryce Molder’s winning formula last year included finishing T41 GIR but he was first in putts per GIR and putts per round. He also was T1 with 22 birdies made and only had one bogey in his final three rounds. If you hit a bunch of greens, you will have plenty of chances to make birdies. If you make a bunch of putts, it won’t matter how many greens you hit! We’ll combine some ball-strikers, putters and guys who are just in-form this week for the 10 Best.
Jonas Blixt: First, it was Carl Pettersson in 2012 and now it’s Blixt leading the charge for Sweden. The rookie has made four cuts in a row and has improved in each outing. His hot, hot putter saw him begin last Sunday in the final group as he was tied for the lead with Ryan Moore and Brendon de Jonge. His 70 on Sunday was quiet but he still finished no worse than third in the three measured putting categories and made T3 birdies with 25 and that was finishing T43 GIR.
Nicolas Colsaerts: Stories have surface through the Twitter feeds of Justin Rose and Luke Donald that Colsaerts is a man to be reckoned with once the sun goes down. Comparisons to the Big Lebowski were made and his legend has been cemented on the disco floor along with how well he bends an elbow. I should mention that he’s playing some excellent golf as well. In his last stroke play event in the States he followed up a MC at the PGA with a T7 at Wyndham. Back on the European Tour, he was on fire as well as he finished T19 (Johnnie Walker), T8 (KLM) and T5 (BMW Italian Open). He’s playing on a special exemption for the rest of the 2012 season as he tries to earn his PGA TOUR card.
Ernie Els: The 2012 Open Champion played in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last weekend in Scotland where he finished T34. His best finish since winning The Open Championship was T26 at the DBC but Els likes CordeValle as he fired 14-under last year to finish T4. He’ll hit plenty of fairways and GIR and the speed of the greens should be right up his alley.
Richard H. Lee: I’m going to continue to ride his hot hand this week after his 65 on Sunday last week which led to T6 and his fifth-consecutive finish in the top 22 in his last five events on the Web.com and PGA TOUR. He was in the top eight in all three putting categories last week despite finishing in the bottom half of GIR. His accuracy off the tee and the size of the greens this week should help improve that GIR ranking.
Jimmy Walker: Per his wife’s Twitter account, Walker had knee surgery just three weeks ago after finishing the playoffs T38, T51 and 64th. Whatever procedure he had, it worked as his putter caught fire last week. In his T10 finish Walker was T10 in strokes gained-putting and that helped off-set his T53 GIR. Only a 73 on Sunday slowed him from climbing even further up the leaderboard.
Jeff Overton: A steady T13 last week at JTSHCO saw Overton post his second solid result in his last three outings. Overton cranked out his third top 10 at the DBC (T7) before slipping to T51 at the BMW. He tends to play hot in patches and currently ranked No. 37 in the all-around.
Bud Cauley: After a five-tournament streak of fourth, T4, MC, third and T10 (Barclays), Cauley looked to run out of gas as he finished T57 (DBC) and T56 (BMW) to close out the Playoffs. He was third here last year playing on a sponsor’s exemption and that paycheck enabled him to get his card for 2012. Last year, he was T4 at the True South Classic and he followed that up with a solo fourth this year. Let’s see if he can do the double with another top five this year at the Frys.com.
Bryce Molder: The 2011 champion hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds but when he did, it led to a solo-ninth place finish at the DBC. He played for the first time in a month last week in Las Vegas and missed the cut so he should be tuned up and ready to defend this week. His lack of length didn’t hinder his performance here last year and I don’t anticipate that to be a problem this week either. When Molder is going well he holes putts and that will again be his key this week. He’s currently 12th in strokes gained-putting on TOUR and obviously is comfortable on these greens.
Josh Teater: The “Teater Heater” was cruising along to another top 10 last week until the wheels fell off the back nine on Sunday. Teater limped home in 39 to finish T22 but that won’t bother a guy who’s 24th on TOUR in GIR. Last week, Teater, who is ranked 145th in strokes gained-putting, managed to finish fourth after only ranking T29 GIR. If Teater stays true to form and goes back to hitting GIR this week and continues a hot putter, watch out! TEATER HEATER!
Brendan Steele: Coming into 2012 gamers were wondering how Brendan Steele was going to back up his impressive 2011 rookie campaign. He won the VTO and was the leader heading into the final round at the PGA Championship. Steele finished T4 this year at the VTO but things quieted down as he MC in four of his next seven events and his best finish in that streak was T48 (WFC). Steele seems to enjoy the west coast as he finished T8 at Reno-Tahoe and was T13 last week at JTSHCO after posting four rounds under par. He played the weekend seven-under here last year to finish T7.
Horses for Courses
Billy Horschel: After taking a few weeks off after the Wyndham, Horschel tuned his game up with a T7 in Boise on the Web.com TOUR in the middle of September. Horschel, who ranks 18th in GIR, played here last year and fired a 65 on Sunday to jump him into the top 10 with a T7. Horschel also ranks ninth in ball-striking so don’t be surprised to see him challenging again on Sunday this year.
David Hearn: He’s quietly gone about his business in his last four tournaments racking up T10, T26, T65 and a decent T30 last week in Las Vegas. He also likes this course evidenced by his T7 finish last year. He’s not known for going low but his ball-striking and putting numbers are excellent.
John Rollins: Rollins best finish since his T6 at the Travelers in six events was T48. In that six-event streak, Rollins MC four times. His last event was the DBC so he’s had time to work out the kinks and he should be excited to head back to CordeValle where he finished solo sixth last year. He’s 23rd in ball-striking this season.
Fredrik Jacobson: The “Junk Man” has also been in a bit of a funk to close out 2012 including a MC last week on one of the easier courses on TOUR. I’ll take a flyer on him as a long shot this week as he finished T16 here in his only appearance in 2010. He had a week to get the juices flowing and I hope that helps him come this week.
Off the radar but might sneak up on Sunday
Russell Knox: He was T13 last week and is 25th in GIR. He’s also 173rd on the money list and could use another big finish. He’s hot as he was T7 on the Web.com TOUR’s Chiquita Classic before his T13 finish last week. Giddy up.
Kevin Streelman: He’s made six cuts in a row. He was T22 last week and T16 in his last appearance at CordeValle two years ago. He’s 32nd in ball-striking as well.
Bobby Gates: Another young ‘un looking to catch some lightning in a bottle, Gates has quietly finished T19 and T13 in his last two events and they were almost two months apart. Gates is lurking at No. 129 on the money list and can smell his TOUR card. His worst round in his last eight is 70.
Tim Herron: Young guys have some pressure and so do some old guys. “Lumpy” loves Vegas as he demonstrated last week with his T10 finish and he doesn’t hate California either. Two years ago he finished T13 (MC last year) and will need a similar result if he wants to move up from No. 132.
Heath Slocum: T13 last week as he was first in driving accuracy and T8 GIR. Slocum currently sits at No. 136. He’s made the cut in six of his last seven and that included a pair of T13’s. Lucky 13 again this week?
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: Frys.com Open (Glass Picks)
Group 1: Nicolas Colsaerts
Group 2: Jonas Blixt
Group 3: Richard H. Lee
Group 4: Bobby Gates
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
Full Disclosure: I am NOT Ned! He’s smarter and better looking!
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: Frys.com Open (Ned’s Picks)
Group 1: Nicolas Colsaerts
Group 2: Jonas Blixt
Group 3: Patrick Cantlay
Group 4: Patrick Reed
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