Winner’s Share: $1,080,000
Course: Silverado Resort & Spa (7,203 yards – Par 72)
FANTASY GOLF (PGA TOUR) – With the new season starting (far too soon for us mind you) come and join our fantasy league over on the PGA Tour. Bit of fun, pitting your wits against not just the PGA site, but the DownThe18th universe! We will have a surprise or two for the genius that finds themselves staring down at the rest of us come September next year.
Simply create your team on: FANTASY PGA TOUR and go to Create/Join Leagues and type in ‘DownThe18th’. You will find us there!
As for the actual tournament, a decent field, considering the ludicrous timing of a first PGA Tour event, will be in attendance. The remnants of another Ryder Cup defeat linger on here, with Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker and Hunter Mahan vying to right their recent wrongs. Whilst it will be interesting to see if Lee Westwood can continue his momentum from Gleneagles as he puts himself forward for this week.
Traditionally this tournament has been held in California and although a different course for 2014, we will be in the same, sunny state. The North Course at Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa Valley will play host and no big event has ever been held here, so it has been tough to work out what we should be looking out for.
What we do know is that at 7,203 yards, the par 72 is not particularly long, but it will provide quite a difficult test for the players, especially considering its the first one back for many and the first PGA event ever for some of the Web.com graduates. Four par 5s and four par 3s are a rare occurrence, let alone together on the same course, so it makes this an interesting prospect.
We can see its a parkland course, with tree-lined fairways and plenty of strategically placed bunkers everywhere. There are water hazards galore, so impetus will be on finding the short stuff and plotting your way round. The greens are bent grass and not particularly small, but should be playing quite fast, making for even greater intrigue.
We have put all this together and made our own assumptions that you will be looking for a deadly accurate player. Doesn’t necessarily have to be long, but tee to green efficiency seems to be everything – particularly the first shot.
Cleeeeaaarrly that just gives you the name Kuchar, but be our guest if you want to touch a probably soul-destroyed pro, who travelled back from Scotland a defeated man just last week at 12/1. Seriously.
Don’t forget to follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Brandt Snedeker (33/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)
Oh we really do miss you Sneds. You should have been at Gleneagles, your talent is there, but what happened last season? When will you be back?
No, this is not a benign love letter to Brandt Snedeker, but a genuine loss and confusion for someone who found nothing all year, when he should be challenging leaderboards weekly. Only 3 top 10s all season is simply shocking for his standards and we are so sure that in 2014/15, he will bring a completely different game. Well, he sorta has to.
He started finding a bit of consistency at the back end of the season with 9 straight tournaments making the weekend, 2 top 10s and 3 further top 13s. 3 of this finishes followed one after the other, before he missed 2 cuts in a row at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank, crashing out of the FedEx in the process.
We are taking confidence in those 3 outings before the missed cuts though; a sign that something better is on the horizon and that the old Sneds isn’t far away. Because, when you look at this course and what it needs for it to be mastered, his game is perfect.
Strategic, straight, tee to green and one of the best putters on Tour (still!), this has the Jamie Donaldson lookalike written all over it. You can see the headlines, you can see the story and how often do we look back in hindsight, thinking arrgghhh that makes sense? Without a whole host of big names, Snedeker could really feature strongly here.
Cameron Tringale (50/1 Ladbrokes BEST PRICE)
Cameron Tringale is another interesting one this week. As we always do for tournaments like this (i.e unknown course entity), going through the entry list, we instantly felt Tringale had plenty to offer this sort of track.
Firstly, you cannot argue with the fact that he is in plenty of form, especially compared to the majority of the field, having played well in the last few weeks of the season. T2 at The Barclays, T69 at the Deutsche Bank, T31 at the BMW and 15th at the Tour Championship. When you consider all those events involved the worlds best, you can’t help but be impressed with that reading.
Secondly, he is outrageously consistent tee to green. One of those remarkably efficient iron players, he has every bit of ability to play well on a course such as this. 59th accuracy, 45th GIR and 43rd strokes gained shows how good he is across the board. He is yet to win on the PGA and it can’t be far away. This could be that time.
Heath Slocum (150/1 StanJames)
To say Heath Slocum didn’t have one of his most memorable seasons is probably an understatement. Put simply, he wasn’t great. He showed sparks but just couldn’t put 4 rounds together in the same week. However, finally, at the Wyndham Championship in August, he recorded a 4th place – his highest finish since 2010 – and proceeded to fight for his card at the Web.com season ending tournaments. Here, he showed outstanding character, playing beautifully for 4 rounds, finishing T4 and clawing his way back to the big time.
It could have been so easy to lose your way and your card in that instance. He didn’t rest on his laurels after the Wyndham, he had to fight back on the Web.com. His momentum could be seriously underestimated going into this week as he will be one of those ‘graduates’ that has plenty of experience in the big time. He has 4 titles to his name for crying out loud – including that outstanding Barclays victory in 2009.
So, when you consider that even with his poor finishes, he was 5th in driving accuracy, 33rd in GIR and 75th in strokes gained throughout last season, you have to think he is an interesting fit here. His lack of power off the tee clearly hampers him on most of the bombers courses that America throw at us, but this is different. A short, stern test that could suit a momentum-building Slocum.
At the end of the day if he shoots an 80 Thursday and Friday, missing the cut horrifically, it wouldn’t have really mattered considering his odds. Always worth a cheeky punt.
Adam Hadwin (100/ WillHill BEST PRICE)
A name not many would have heard of. We cannot say we knew much about Adam Hadwin before last year, but here is one of the Web.com graduates with a genuinely intriguing future ahead of him.
At only 26, the Canadian has plenty of years in the game, but his interesting past shows that he has a great deal of raw ability.
His first ever PGA Tour event was (obviously!) at the RBC Canadian Open in 2010 where he finished respectably in T37. He won the 2010 Canadian Rookie of the year and outrageously finished T39 at the 2011 US Open before he continued his form at the RBC again, finishing T4. A further T7 at the Frys.com proves that he showed plenty of promise as a youngster. Undeniably he went on to struggle for a few years, before an outstanding 2014 has found him with a permanent Tour card.
He would have grown up and learnt a lot in the past 3-4 years, which could make him a highly interesting player to watch throughout the year. On the Web.com he won twice and found 9 top 10s, which is a remarkable proof of talent.
In his last 5 outings he has a victory, 2 top 10s, a 2nd placed finish (and a missed cut in between) and he finished the year as winner of the money list.
No doubt he has the game – 44th driving distance, 39th deriving accuracy, 64th GIR and 23rd putting average last year.
Wouldn’t be ironic if he just came in, swooped the title and beat countryman Graham DeLaet to a first PGA trophy? Blimey, the latter has certainly been trying!
Let us know your thoughts on our selections and who you fancy this week! @DownThe18th