Brooks Koepka: The youngster without any TOUR status held the fort down for 62 holes last week before limping home with T3. He’s won four times as a professional overseas but received a taste of what it takes to close out on the big boy TOUR. There’s no question that he has the talent. Hell, he had a four-shot lead on No. 9 tee on Sunday. His press conference on Sunday showed me all I need to know and I think he bounces right back into the top 15 again this week.
Robert Garrigus: He began the final round with a chance to catch Koepka last week but he also was over par on Sunday to finish T12. His double on the 72nd hole knocked him out of the top 10. The question with Garrigus is always with the putter and last week at Frys.com he was seventh in strokes gained-putting and T9 in putts per GIR. If he has that success again this week on the greens he’ll be there again on Sunday.
Brendon Todd: He matched his worst start in 11 starts last week (where he’s made the cut in nine of them) with his T26. He came alive on the weekend to fire 69-66 to jump into the top 30 again. He’s hot. Giddy up.
Ben Martin: Get used to seeing this name in these preview columns. He was No.1 in the all-around category last season on the Web.com Tour and he did nothing in his return to the TOUR last week to make me think he can’t cut it out here. He was 10-under heading into Sunday before an even par 71 stalled out his bid for a top 10 as he finished T16. I know the Web.com is NOT the PGA TOUR but check his numbers from last year. Can’t “fake it” through that many events and this week will feel like a Web.com event where it takes 25 birdies to win. He led that Tour in birdies last year.
John Peterson: A complete letdown last week as Peterson did NOT finish in the top FIVE for the first time in six events. He was T21. #sarcasm. He remarked on Twitter that (reading between the lines here) that he “faked it” around last week and he needed to get better. I like that he’s not satisfied with T21.
Camilo Villegas: He played great last week minus one bad round, again, sunk him to T26. I liked that the three others had only three bogeys and a double and he closed bogey-free with 65. He’s played the weekend in 14 of his last 15 as well. Get in.
Russell Knox: Similar to Brendon Todd, the Scotsman has hit inside the top eight times in the last two months including T6 at the Web.com Tour Championship. He finished T26 last week to keep up his solid play and was T13 here last season.
Ryo Ishikawa: His Web.com Playoffs included finishes of fifth, T7 and T8 and he was on course for another top 10 last week at Frys.com before his final round 72 knocked him down to T21. You know my rule. Good golf is good golf no matter where it’s being played. I’m not jumping up for him but if he’s there in later rounds this week, I’m taking a look.
Vijay Singh: He opened here 66-66 last year before fading on the weekend. That is exactly the OPPOSITE of what he did last week as he closed 65-68 to claim second alone at Frys.com. He only had four bogeys on the week and led the field in GIR. He’s found something so it’s time to take advantage now.
Max Homa: Jordan Spieth has opened our eyes to college kids that can really play and Max Homa’s audition last week at the Frys.com didn’t scare me off. The NCAA and Pac-12 champion from 2012 looked quite comfortable as he posted four rounds in the 60s to finish T9 and get into the field this week. His 22 birdies were T5 last week.
Ryan Moore: In the three times he’s played since the event moved exclusively to TPC Summerlin he’s finished T24, T7, MC on top of his victory last year. Moore had a tough 2013 as he made half of what he earned in 2012 ($2.8) but he closed well with T11 at the BMW and obviously is comfortable at home.
George McNeill: Some will ask why he’s not in the form category or even in the chalk category but this is where he belongs. He’s six-for-six in this event and that includes his 2007 victory. He backed that victory up with T15 in 2008, T2 in 2009 and T14 in 2010 before MDF in 2011 and T36 last season. I kept him here because he did fire two rounds in the 70s last week, including even par in the final group on Sunday. His 10 birdies and 62 on Saturday vaulted him from four-under to 13-under. One round doesn’t make me panic and overvalue.
Kevin Na: As I discussed last week in the wrap up column, Na missed the entire summer trying to get his discs healthy in his native Korea. His game came together last week as he dismissed an opening round 75 to close 67-64-64 to finish T3. He’s played this event six times in the last seven years and the Las Vegas resident has the 2011 title plus four top 25s in his CV.
Martin Laird: He won here in 2009 and lost in a playoff in 2010. In 2010 he shot 62-63 on Friday/Saturday. In 16 rounds he’s put 13 of them in the 60s.
Spencer Levin: The former TOUR player is working himself back into shape after a wrist injury and his brother’s death. If you remember, he had a massive lead at Scottsdale two years ago before giving way to Kyle Stanley in the end. He jumped onto the Web.com Tour last year to play himself back into shape before taking his Major Medical Exemption on TOUR in 2013-14. He started off quite well last week with T12 and the last two times he’s played in Vegas he’s placed T4 in 2011 and T5 in 2010.
Off the Radar
Ryan Palmer: He hits it a mile, tags plenty of GIR and can get the putter hot. His summer of 2013 saw him lose a childhood friend and he didn’t have a top 25 in his final seven events. He had a T8 here in 2010.
Richard H. Lee: Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Go ahead and look up his numbers. Go on. It won’t hurt. He was T6 on his maiden voyage here last year but most will just remember that he fizzled out in the playoffs. He almost doubled his rookie dollars last season and I expect another doubling or close to it this year.
Josh Teater: His last three trips to the desert have seen him post a 65 or better in finishes of T18, T57 and T22 last year. He made 21 birdies last week and was T5 in putts per GIR. He also made three doubles but he was obviously close.
David Hearn: He was T5 here in 2011 and T30 last season and his worst round is 70. He’s a superb putter, 15th in strokes gained-putting and 20th in birdie average last season. He also was eighth in par four birdie percentage. His best two finishes last year were on easy courses in Puerto Rico and TPC Deere Run.
Andres Romero: He hits it everywhere but has a penchant for showing up at courses when bushels of birdies are needed to contend. He has 10 of 12 rounds in the 60s here. He made plenty of birdies in his only top 10s last season at Puerto Rico and Reno-Tahoe.
Jason Bohn: I almost put him in here last week because of the birdies needed to be in the mix. He made 19 of them on his way to T40. His best three scoring rounds last year were at the Humana, JDC and Sanderson Farms which all are in the bottom quarter of easiest courses played. Calculated flier.
Carl Pettersson: He was second in strokes gained-putting in 2010. He was 23rd in 2011. He was 21st in 2012. He was 111th last year. He could begin his rebound here this week where he was T5 in 2011.
Russell Henley: His last top 25 was T6 at the Memorial in the first week of June. He was third in total putting on TOUR last year and that should help him avoid a sophomore slump. You can never have enough putters on big greens.
Charley Hoffman/Morgan Hoffmann: Charley makes birdies for fun but hasn’t seen the top 25 since late June. Morgan was 13th in birdie average and second in par four birdie or better leaders because he can really putt.
Will MacKenzie: His last two top 10s on TOUR were both at the Frys.com. One came last week and the other one was in 2010.
John Huh: His putter went cold in 2013 as he went dropped from 34th his rookie year to 120th last season. His ball-striking has been solid but I’m going to sit back and wait for him to get back into form.
Derek Ernst: His only top 25 last year was his WIN at Wells Fargo when he out-dueled Mickelson on Sunday. This is a UNLV connection that I don’t endorse as he missed 14 of 21 cuts last year and fired 73-75 last week at Frys.com