It was only two weeks ago that the PGA Tour season ended but it gets back underway this week with the Frys.com Open. It’s now three times that this tournament has opened the wraparound season but only the second time that it has been played at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California. Last year the tournament was won by Sangmoon Bae but he is not around to defend his title having started his compulsory military service in South Korea. That leaves the door open for any number of the talented field who have been assembled this week.
The North Course at Silverado was initially designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr although it has undergone significant changes by the Troon Golf group. It now plays just a shade over 7,200 yards and last year it played around half a stroke under its par of 72. That places it slap bang in the middle in terms of difficulty so expect a number of birdies – especially on the relatively easy par fives – but the players will also have any mistakes they make punished. Get it out of position round here and it is tough to find the right part of the small, tricky greens and only the most imaginative players will be able to scramble their way to a par.
Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose are at the top of the betting markets for this week but there are reasons to avoid the two big guns. They are here to fulfil a promise they made to the PGA Tour after being allowed to miss an event to play in a Matchplay event in Turkey and have bigger fish to fry with the upcoming finals of the Race to Dubai.
Instead of backing either of the two popular Brits, side with the man who is the third favourite for the week, Hideki Matsuyama. This is a ball striker’s golf course and there aren’t many better with their irons than Matsuyama. He will hit the majority of fairways and greens which is a good recipe for success around this classic course and providing he putts well, he should improve on the third place he managed here last week. At 18/1 with Betfred, Matsuyama is very good value so be sure to get on board.
The second player to add to your betting this week is Justin Thomas. He missed the cut here last season but that was the first event he’d played with a PGA Tour card and he’s picked up a great deal of experience over the last 12 months. Few players in the world can live with Thomas’s ability to score on the par fives and given there are two in the final three holes, he should finish strongly so back him at 35/1 with Bet365.
Finally, consider having an each-way bet on Jerry Kelly. The veteran American has a decent record in this competition and is one of the best scramblers around. He’ll have to make up for his lack of distance but he’s been doing that for a while now and at 125/1 with Ladbrokes he looks like good value for an outsider.