This week marks the first week of the PGA Tour's new 2013-14 wraparound season, as a field of 132 players head to Northern California for the Frys.com Open. CordeValle Golf Club plays host to the event for the fourth consecutive year, though the tournament will move to Silverado Resort in 2014.
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Jonas Blixt returns to defend the title he won last year by one shot over Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak. Here are 10 players to watch this week in San Martin:
1. Billy Horschel: After a breakthrough spring, Horschel struggled somewhat during the homestretch of the 2013 season but bounced back during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Horschel finished the season ranked eighth on Tour in both birdie average and the all-around ranking and has played well in two career starts at CordeValle, tying for seventh in 2011 and posting a T-29 finish last year.
2. John Peterson: After bursting onto the scene at last year's U.S. Open, Peterson tore through the Web.com Tour Finals last month, winning the four-event money list. As a result, the former LSU standout enters this week with serious momentum, having ended his 2013 campaign with five straight top-five finishes.
3. Hideki Matsuyama: Fresh off his appearance at the Presidents Cup, Matsuyama is the highest-ranked player in this weeks field according to the OWGR (30th). The Japanese sensation notched top-10 finishes at both the U.S. Open and British Open this summer, recording six top-25 finishes in seven starts overall last season on the PGA Tour. Now a full-time Tour member, the 21-year-old appears poised for a strong start to his season in California.
4. Gary Woodland: A winner two months ago in Reno, Woodland also tied for second at The Barclays and recorded a T-18 finish at the BMW Championship in his most recent start. Perenially one of the longer hitters on Tour, he appears to have put recent injury issues in the rear-view mirror and now returns to CordeValle, where he tied for ninth a year ago.
5. Jonas Blixt: The defending champ followed up his maiden win with another triumph at The Greenbrier Classic in July, then very nearly claimed the PGA Championship the following month. The Swede struggled somewhat during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but returning to CordeValle should help Blixt rekindle his old form.
6. Rory Sabbatini: The South African quietly finished the year on a bit of a tear, recording seven top-20 finishes across his final nine starts to the PGA Tour season. Sabbatini finished the season ranked third on Tour in birdie average and fourth in par breakers, which should bode well for his return to a course where the winner has averaged 67 strokes per round across the last three years.
7. Charles Howell III: After narrowly missing out on a spot at the Tour Championship, Howell heads to a course where he tied for 11th in 2012. The Georgia native cooled off significantly after his hot start to the season, but still finished 2013 ranked 17th in strokes gained putting and should make his fair share of putts this week at CordeValle.
8. Marc Leishman: Like Matsuyama, Leishman heads to California after an unsuccessful bid to help the International Team claim the Presidents Cup. The Aussie, who had four top-10s and eight top-25s last season on the PGA Tour, tied for 36th in this event in 2011, his only appearance at CordeValle.
9. Bryce Molder: A winner here in 2011, Molder followed up that victory with a T-11 finish last year. Statistically one of the best putters on Tour, the former Georgia Tech product finished the 2013 season ranked 10th in strokes gained putting and has made the cut in eight of his last nine starts overall, with three top-25 finishes during that stretch.
10. Jimmy Walker: With a tie for 11th at Conway Farms, Walker capped another consistent campaign, one that included five top-10 finishes and 10 top-25 finishes in 24 starts. The Texan finished 22nd in the all-around and 27th in birdie average in 2013, cracking $2 million in earnings in the process, and now tees it up at CordeValle where he tied for fourth a year ago.