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Best bets and steals at the Frys.com Open

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The PGA Tour’s 2015-2016 season begins this week at the 2015 Frys.com Open. Not a very long off-season, I know, but that means DraftKings weekly fantasy golf is back!

In this week’s fantasy contest, $400,000 is on the line with $100K going to the winner. There’s golf to be played and money to be made; don’t miss out on the opportunity, especially since I’m here to help you with my “best bets and steals” below.

Click here to ENTER the contest.

The Course 

silveradomembers.com

silveradomembers.com

The North Course at Silverado Country Club located in Napa Valley, California, measures 7,171 yards in length, plays to a tournament par of 72, and has served as the temporary home for the Frys.com Open in both 2014 and 2015. The golf course was re-designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. in 1966 and recently updated by World Golf Hall of Fame member and owner, Johnny Miller.

The Frys.com Open is the opening event for the 2015-2016 season on the PGA Tour and its field includes both world No. 3 Rory McIlroy, world No. 7 Justin Rose, as well as Presidents Cup savior for the United States, Chris Kirk.

Check out my best bets and steals below.

Martin Piller ($5,500)

MartinPiller

2014-2015 Web.com Tour season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 432 (39th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 41.53% (83rd)
  • Total Driving: 148 (T-89th)
  • Putting Average: 1.719 (T-9th)

Piller previously played on the PGA Tour during the 2011 season finishing 193rd in the FedExCup. He won twice at the Albertson Boise Open and Digital Ally Open and earned $343,649 in official money during the 2014-2015 Web.com Tour season. Piller is a strong putter and likely to make the most of his return to the PGA Tour.

That said, he struggled in his last few starts of the Web.com Tour season, but his upside as evidenced by being a multiple winner on that tour in 2014-2015 makes him a worthwhile bet. While consistency may become an ongoing issue for Piller, those weeks where he puts all the pieces together are going to provide significant return on investment. Piller can play and win on the PGA Tour when at his best.

Steve Marino ($6,100)

2014-2015 Web.com Tour season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 280 (4th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 45.86% (44th)
  • Total Driving: 112 (T-137th)
  • Putting Average: 1.740 (T-24th)

Marino is a former PGA Tour player and steal this week in Napa Valley with 173 career starts, 57 top-25s, including four second-place finishes, and more than $9 million in earnings. Having suffered a knee injury in 2012, Marino eventually lost his status on the PGA Tour for the 2014-2015 season.

Based on his play on Web.com Tour in 2014-2015, he was able to earn PGA Tour status for the upcoming season. With vast experience, a well-rounded game, and a seemingly healthy knee, Marino would appear ready to once again compete. He will be playing hard from day one and looking for a fast start to his second chance on Tour. Marino is a veteran with too much experience to overlook.

Ollie Schniederjans ($6,800) 

OllieSchiederjans

Ollie played in four PGA Tour events last season after turning professional upon finishing T12 at The Open Championship as an amateur. His best PGA Tour finishes in 2014-2015 were a T15 and T22, at Tiger’s tournament, the Quicken Loans National and RBC Canadian Open, respectively.

Ollie is a former No. 1-ranked amateur and winner of the Mark H. McCormack Medal based upon the same in 2014. He was No. 1 for 41 weeks, is a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, and is a two-time first-team All-American at Georgia Tech. Ollie is inevitably going to compete on the PGA Tour, but unlike other players on this list, he is not presently exempt. Having been given a sponsor’s exemption, Ollie will be playing to win and believe it or not, he can do it.

Zac Blair ($7,300)

2014-2015 PGA TOUR season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 793 (112th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 43.13% (75th)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 0.362 (142nd)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 0.520 (11th)

At 5 feet, 6 inches, and 155 pounds, Blair is arguably the biggest surprise on the PGA Tour last season, given the emphasis on length at the professional level. He will inevitably continue to master the art of putting, especially as his familiarity with venues on the PGA Tour grows.

Whether Blair will threaten this week at the Frys.com Open depends on his ball-striking, but having finished T12 last year at this event and course he likely is feeling comfortable in Napa Valley. Blair earned more than $1.2 million in earnings on the PGA Tour last season and finished in the top-25 eight times in his rookie year. When he starts climbing the leaderboard this week, do not be the least bit surprised as Blair is a steal.

Jamie Lovemark ($7,500)

JamieLovemark

2014-2015 Web.com Tour season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 314 (10th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 57.14% (1st)
  • Total Driving: 130 (T-67th)
  • Putting Average: 1.731 (17th)

Despite leaving the University of Southern California early and turning pro in 2009, Lovemark has encountered many obstacles in his time as a touring professional, including back surgery in his early 20s. Nevertheless, he put together a solid year on the Web.com Tour and solidified his place on the PGA Tour in 2015-2016 by finishing 4th on that tour’s money list.

Lovemark also has 64 career starts on the PGA Tour and more than $1 million in career earnings. Provided he is truly healthy, Lovemark is now 27 years old and seemingly ready to live up to those expectations so many others had for him in 2009-2010. Physically, he seems to have all the tools to succeed and it will be shocking to very few when Lovemark starts challenging for PGA Tour titles. Even as early as this week.

Charles Howell III ($7,600)

2014-2015 PGA TOUR season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 840 (126th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 42.94% (79th)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 0.557 (38th)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: -0.217 (T-144th)

A veteran of the PGA Tour, Howell has amassed career earnings of almost $29 million. A two-time winner, he finished in top-10 three times in 2014-2015 in 30 total events. Last year at this same event, Howell made the cut, but ultimately finished T71.

There is little doubt that Howell is capable of winning on the PGA Tour, with 23 top-10 finishes in the past five seasons. While his ball-striking statistics from last season fail to evidence it, Howell has no problem tee to green. A hot putter will put Howell in position to win not only this week, but other events in the 2015-2016 season.

Patrick Rodgers ($8,000)

PatrickRodgersNike

2014-2015 PGA TOUR season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 627 (58th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 48.68% (20th)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 0.105 (91st)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: -0.001 (107th)

Rodgers, like some other well-known youngsters (Justin Thomas and Ollie Schniederjans, in particular) is inevitably going to find success on the PGA Tour and remains a steal this week. He played both the PGA and Web.com tours last season, but earned his current status on the former by way of his earnings in events played through sponsor’s exemptions. Rodgers was precluded as a result from playing in the Web.com Tour Finals and thus unable to improve his priority ranking.

Irrespective of the same, expect Rodgers to be a weekly threat this year, especially at those events where he finds his stroke on the putting greens. He did miss the cut last year at this same event, but in 17 total PGA Tour events in the 2014-2015, Rodgers earned more than $1 million. His year was highlighted by a T2 at the Wells Fargo Championship and third place at the Barracuda Championship. Rodgers has the pedigree and skills to win not only this week, but almost every week he tees it up to play on the PGA Tour.

Emiliano Grillo ($8,800)

2014-2015 The European Tour season stats

  • Driving Accuracy: 68.5% (17th)
  • Greens in Regulation: 71.8% (34th)
  • Putter Per GIR: 1.762 (52nd)
  • Race to Dubai: 515,558 (59th)

Seemingly destined to win on the PGA Tour in the very near future, Grillo has primarily played on The European Tour since 2012. In limited starts on the PGA Tour last season, he notched two top-10s, including, a T2 at the Puerto Rico Open.

Grillo earned the opportunity to play on the PGA Tour in 2015-2016 based on his play during Web.com Tour Finals, including a win at the Web.com Tour Championship. He possesses a game that’s sharp from tee to green, making the biggest challenge to a successful year Grillo’s lack of familiarity with PGA Tour courses from week to week. Grillo has critical experience as a professional golfer, and even as a PGA Tour rookie his name will be one to watch at the Frys.com Open.

Daniel Berger ($8,900)

DanielBerger

2014-2015 PGA TOUR season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 499 (25th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 50.16% (T-8th)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 0.617 (33rd)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: -0.193 (142nd)

Berger finished 11th on the final FedExCup points list and he was selected by his peers as PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. While he struggled mightily at times last season missing 14 cuts (seven in a row at one point late in the year) in 31 total events, Berger also notched 6 top-10 finishes highlighted by second place finishes at both the Honda Classic and BMW Championship.

A strong week on the greens in Napa Valley will inevitably place Berger in the thick of things, much like it did in Chicago during the FedExCup playoffs. There is little doubt Berger will win on the PGA Tour as the question is not if, but when.

Justin Thomas ($9,300)

2014-2015 PGA TOUR season stats

  • All-Around Ranking: 324 (7th)
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 55.36% (1st)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 0.881 (17th)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 0.043 (95th)

Thomas is a must bet every week this season on the PGA Tour, even as his value aligns with talent and upside, which is the case for the Frys.com Open. In other words, he remains a steal, given his numbers from 2014-2015. He was as deserving, if not more than Daniel Berger, of the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award based on consistency. Thomas finished 32nd in the final FedExCup rankings, just missing out on the Tour Championship, and earned over $2.2 milion.

He posted seven top-10s and made 23 of 30 cuts, despite missing each of the first two cuts last season, including, at this same event. Importantly, Thomas has demonstrated the all-around game and length necessary to compete on the modern day PGA Tour. Any week where he finds his rhythm on the greens, Thomas will be a legitimate threat to win. And that first win will inevitably open the flood gates to several more, so get on board before it is too late.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Jang Hyung-sun

    Oct 14, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Cordevalle is a better track than Silverado. I can’t wait til they play at The Institute. I love that track- Fry’s own course.

    • Tom

      Oct 15, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Cordevalle is a chipmunks course for wanna bee’s.

    • Tom

      Oct 18, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      Something tells me you already knew that Fry’s would be pulling out of the sponsorship. Well get a club house built and “The Institute” rated and get back to the PGA we need you.

  2. Tom

    Oct 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Ror’s is there,entourage in tow. Great event at a beautiful challenging course.

  3. Rors

    Oct 13, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    All the new young guns, eh. What about McIlroy? He’s been forgotten, has he?

  4. Pingback: Frys.com Fantasy Golf Primer | GolfJay

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the 2020 Players Championship

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The field this week featured the best golfers in the world, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and more.

Rory McIlroy enters the tournament as the defending champion, looking hoist the crystal again.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from TPC Sawgrass.

General Galleries

Special Galleries

Bettinardi’s St. Patrick’s Day covers  

Brand-new Srixon 745 in Keegan’s bag

Roger Sloan’s custom Cameron

Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal irons spotted in Nick Watney’s bag 

Joel Dahmen with a battle-worn hybrid

Fresh eggs for Patrick Reed…

Justin Rose continues to tweak his equipment

Carlos Ortiz looks to be picking up some supplies to mark the end of his driveway…

Jordan Spieth with a Vokey WedgeWorks Proto 60T in the bag

Kiradech Aphibarnrat with lead tape and stamping on cavity-back irons. Solid! 

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Tour News

GolfWRX Spotted: Justin Rose with mixed bag at Arnold Palmer Invitational

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It’s not very often we get breaking equipment news this time of year on the PGA Tour schedule, but this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of the highest-profile players on tour, Justin Rose, was spotted testing multiple brands of clubs throughout his entire bag.

It started last week at the Honda Classic when Rose put a TaylorMade SIM driver with Mitsubishi Kuro Kage in play. As of today’s first round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose has a mixed set including TaylorMade, Cobra, and Titleist clubs, along with an Axis1 putter.

Here are the details of Rose’s equipment:

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees @ 8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 80 TX

5-wood: Cobra SpeedZone Tour (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 X

Irons: TaylorMade P730 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52, 56 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design Prototype K Grind (60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X 6.5 (52, 56), Proto Hi-Rev 135X (60)

Putter: Axis1 Rose
Grip: Flat Cat Svelte

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ‘19 (No. 1)

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Equipment

Inside look: Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges on tour…6 months after launch

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Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges hit professional golf tours months ago. We reported on the launch extensively (see our videos later in the article) with deep coverage on the PGA Tour and at retail. As with any new offering, and especially for the gearheads on GolfWRX, it’s the tour chatter that drives us. What the pros do, play, and think is always a driving force.

However…

Personally, I have always been fascinated by the aftermath of a launch. What are the reactions and tweaks that are made once the shine has worn off?  It’s not uncommon for players to need to warm up to a new product before it ultimately finds its way into the bag permanently.

When Jaws hit the scene, it integrated quite quickly, and that is saying a lot. The MD4 was a very successful wedge line on tour and at retail. It was a huge initial launch and one Callaway was happy with as a solid portion of its staff put Jaws in play straight away.

In my conversations with tour staff and techs, spin and lower ball flight has been a recurring theme. In the case of the Tour, being able to flight a wedge down and not have it float, while maintaining maximum spin, is a weapon. Imagine being at Honda last week and knowing you can hit a knee-high fastball with a 58-degree wedge and trust the ball will stay down, not skip, and will stop dead in its tracks. On tour, its the speed of the stop that is valuable, not ripping it backward—that is typically only fun for TV. Golf these days is more like darts and less like billiards.

As to be expected, the grinds on all Callaway wedges are tour favorites. It’s pretty simple to fall in love with something that comes ought of the mind of Roger Cleveland, who has been the driving force in putting Callaway consistently at the No. 2 most-played wedge on Tour.

But how has the MD5  really done thus far?

Let’s be clear, most guys don’t make switches late-summer or fall (when MD5 was launched on tour). The season is too far down the river and the coming winter gives them quiet time to really test. Also, when you work through the California swing, a good portion of the higher-ranked staff only poke their heads out once or twice. This doesn’t mean the guys on the truck aren’t building new products, but a good portion of it is for winter testing, emergency backups, etc.

But now we hit the Florida swing. The Masters is a month away. The world’s best start to show up consistently, the playing surfaces change from the West Coast to the East Coast, and all of these guys are in full attack mode. Any real testing or guesswork is pretty much done, and it’s time to get going. This is the time when you can actually see if a product has staying power.

The question is since Jaws hit the scene, what have the pros learned, what adjustments have been made to dial them in, and ultimately, is this wedge line a success? I wanted to tackle this question from two different perspectives: from the reps on tour and two young staff players that have them in play.

In this case, there is the guy on the Callaway tour trailer who is in charge of wedges, Simon Wood, and young tour staffers Akshay Bhatia and Min Woo Lee.

Three unique perspectives—and also perspectives that give us an honest look at the performance and popularity of a “new” wedge on Tour.

I talk with Simon Wood quite a bit. He’s a good as they get in this category, having worked for years in Europe and on the U.S. tour. His knowledge is extensive and even more importantly, he is ridiculously honest. If the product is solid and he believes in it, he will tell you. If he goes quiet, there’s that too.

I caught up with him on a day off and this was the update he gave:

Wunder: It seems MD5 came out of the gates quickly and never really slowed down, are you surprised at the response?

Wood: Not at all. Truth is, these players are very particular about what makes it in or out of the bag. A new club has to do something better than the old one and do all the things they liked about the old one. The Jaws really spins. This is a unique groove system, and I’ve noticed the players like it for two main reasons 1) They can keep the trajectory down on the high lofts 2) they can be a bit more aggressive because of the amount of spin these wedges offer. Out on tour that’s a big deal.

Wunder: What percentage of staff (25+players on U.S. Tours) are in the MD5 across the board?

Wood: I’d say close to 50 percent, which is a good number considering how many good options are out there.

Wunder: Now that we are in the Florida swing, are you having to do anything special to adjust to the new grass and conditions?

Wood: No its the opposite actually. I think with the grooves being as good as they are and the number of options we have grind wise, we on the truck are doing less tweaking and grinding to wedges. That’s a sign one the R&D team did a great job with this design and two that our players trust our product enough to let their creativity take over.

Wunder: Any surprise grinds that are popping up more often?

Wood: It’s not a surprise because we knew it was good, but the low bounce W has been a hit thus far. Lots of guys testing and gaming that one.

I then went on to chat with Callaway staffers Min Woo Lee (winning WITB, podcast link below) and Akshay Bhatia on their experience with Jaws. This perspective was interesting because Akshay is young, he’s fighting for a place to play this summer, and he’s still learning the nuances of playing as a professional. Min just recently won in Australia and has enough time under his belt now to understand a real asset over something he’s still trying to make work.

Point is: pressure is high on both of these kids, and the last thing either wants to struggle with is their wedges.

Wunder: You were an early adopter of the MD5 last fall, have you noticed any significant improvement over your previous gamers?

Bhatia: Trust is the biggest one. I love the shape of these wedges and just knowing that Roger and Phil have an influence on the wedges you are playing gives me so much confidence. From a performance standpoint, I like the variety in grinds the MD5 offers. Anywhere I play I have an option, whether it be X in soft conditions or C for the firmer turf.

Wunder: With the aggressive grooves of the MD5, what shots have you gained that you didn’t have before?

Bhatia: Definitely the off-speed/three-quarter shots with some spin. These wedges really keep the ball down and it’s a bonus when I know I can take something off of a shot and the ball will stay down and hold its line into the wind.

Wunder: And your current set up is?

Bhatia: Currently, I’m in the Jaws MD5 50S, 54S bent to 55, and the 60C or X depending on the conditions (KBS $Taper 130X shafts in black with Iomic grips) with some heel and toe relief in the X. I also like to mess around wit the PM Grind 60 if I’m looking for a different look.

Young Callaway staffer Min Woo Lee, who recently triumphed at the European Tour’s Vic Open, has this to say

Wunder: What ball flight differences do you see in Jaws over the past wedge set?

MWL: Overall the same. I like to pick my trajectory. So if I didn’t like it,  I wouldn’t have put it in my bag…need to have every shot at my disposal.

Wunder: Do you do any extra grinding to your S?

MWL: Just in the 60, there is a little leading edge relief ground in. Prevents it from digging and gives me a bit more ability to be aggressive into it.

Wunder: Are there any other grinds you tried?

MWL: I tried the low bounce W and really liked, but the S grind has been my go-to for a long time, I know how to play with that one.

Wunder: As far as full shot turf interaction, why do you prefer the S?

MWL: The S is always what I’ve been into looks-wise, nothing else really caught my eye like that grind did. I do pretty good chipping around with it around the greens and we have some history so why mess with a good thing.

Overall, I think the MD5 wedge line has been a success on tour. Let’s be honest, wedges arent drivers, but identifying a popular line over another is quite interesting. These guys can get a TV remote ground into something useable, so when there is a shift across the staff to a new model, it validates that the ideas in it are sound and the wedge performs like it says it will. For larger tour staffs like Callaway has, operating a 50 percent clip for full line use is a really solid number.

Let’s be clear here, Callaway hasn’t made a bad wedge…like ever. From X Forged to the MD line and now into Jaws, Roger and the team know what they are doing. In my experience with these wedges, I will say that the grooves are ridiculously aggressive, and as Bhatia mentioned, there is a grind to satisfy any conditions.

Do most OEMs make solid wedges? The answer is of course they do; they all do. But the advantage that Callaway has over the rest in this category is Roger Cleveland. Having the man who inspired some of the most iconic wedge shapes ever coupled with a superb R&D team yields a combination that will deliver quality and performance time after time.

Here are some pics from the forums of MD5 out on tour now.

Akshay BhatiaFrancesco Molinari
Brendan GraceIsaiah SalindaJ.J. SpaunAlex Noren
Chun An YunHenrik Stenson Matt Wallace 

Si Woo Kim

Check out the videos below to see me and one of our forum members put Jaws MD5 to the test!

 

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