I’m sure you’ll all join me in welcoming back the PGA Tour this weekend. It’s been a long few weeks since we watched Henrik Stenson take both the TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup in the playoff finale, but your withdrawals are about to end.
The Frys.Com Open has been been around since 2007, but it’s placement in early October after the Tour’s regular schedule had wrapped up relegated it to part of the “Fall Series“. Those tournaments were meant for the players who hadn’t locked up their membership for the following season on the money list.
While a majority of the game’s top stars like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods aren’t expected to play again until the new year, this presents a major opportunity for some of the game’s younger stars to get the season started off right. Not only will winners of the tournaments earn the full allotment of 500 FedEx Cup points, but they’ll also receive a coveted invitation to Augusta National to play in the Masters.
The lack of marquee players in this tournament doesn’t mean that there won’t be some interesting players to watch. 2013 Masters runner-up Angel Cabrera and fellow President’s Cup players Marc Leishman and rookie Hideki Matsuyama will tee it up, along with 2012 winner Jonas Blixt, who went on to win this past season’s Greenbrier Classic as well. All of these players have had some success in their careers and would have a huge head start on the playoff points race with a win.
There will also be several new faces in the field, as 39 of the 50 qualifiers from the Web.Com Tour Finals will use their shiny new membership cards for the first time. Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, has as much on the line as anybody. His five-year exemption for winning the Masters expired this year, and his win at September’s Hotel Fitness Championship gives him one more year to get his game back.
Even without the star power that we’ve gotten accustomed to over the last several weeks, the new season is set to get started in a big way in California this week.