The second year of the new wrap-around calendar on the PGA Tour gets underway this week as the Fall Series events count towards the 2015 season. Fedex ranking points are available and this means we see some of the bigger names teeing it up during the final furlong of the year.
It also gives the Web.com Tour graduates - of which there are now 50 after a revamped format - the chance to get straight into the action, with the Tour championship finale having finished just a few weeks back. These players will have the opportunity to push themselves into higher ranking events in 2015 and they'll be looking to start fast at the Frys.com which sees a level playing field at a new venue - Silverado North.
Many players have not seen competitive action for over month while the market leaders such as Matt Kuchar - 15.00 - and Hunter Mahan - 23.00 - may be recovering from a Ryder Cup hangover. Concentrating on the 50 qualifiers and rookies may be a decent angle here.
The course - Silverado North
A Johnny Miller redesign now playing circa 7,200 yards to a par of 72, the man himself describes Silverado North as "Augusta like" from an aesthetical sense, with lush green grass, shiny white sand and tall oaks framing the track. The general consensus though is that it won't play anything like as tough as Augusta National GC and bombers and birdie makers are set to dominate as is generally the norm in the fall series. Miller describes the air in Napa as "mud heavy" and places the emphasis on controlling the irons in California.
Three from the pack
The one man featuring this week that didn't figure in the Web.com final series is Chesson Hadley - 67.00 or 14.00 - Of course Hadley is no stranger to playing his best stuff at this time of year having won the Web.com Tour Championship in 2013 to round off a great season where he earned his main tour card. Chesson has just been voted PGA Tour rookie of the year 2014 and will be brimming with confidence off the back of an excellent month in the Playoffs where he just missed out on Atlanta.
Justin Thomas - 67.00 or 14.00 - is my real one to watch from the 2014 graduates. A slight figure at just 5'10", weighing 148lbs, Thomas can bomb it from the tee, averaging a huge 310 yards over last season. Supposedly renowned on the tour for his precision iron play, Thomas led the all round ranking on the Web.com tour in 2014. The 21 year old bagged his first win just two starts ago and knows how to shoot low, ranking 1st in birdie average. Thomas also ventured onto the main tour and posted notable top 40 and top 10 finishes at Memorial and the Farmers Insurance respectively. He's my tip for rookie of the year 2015.
David Lingmerth - 126.0 or 23.00 - is a player who's long been on the radar but I couldn't find the right type of event to back him in. This is it, and at a healthy price. Showing a progressive form line of 27-14-6, the Swede also posted another top 4 in the Web.com finals and we've seen plenty of David on the PGA Tour too. Arguably mostly known for chasing down Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods at The Players Championship, Lingmerth also finished T2 at the low scoring Humana event in 2013. Add to this his top 5 and top 10 finishes respectively at the Crowne Plaza and Honda Classic in 2014, I can't quite see why he's so underrated this week.
Jason Gore - 101.0 or 19.00 - is a man who knows how to get the job done with no fewer than 4 wins on each of the Web and PGA Tours. Having struggled big time with injuries, he's now back to full fitness and was a top 10 machine in 2014. 11th in total driving, hitting over 71% of greens in regulation and sitting 5th in birdie average, Gore was 2nd only to Justin Thomas in the all round ranking on the second tour and we could see a re-emergence of the big man in the big time.