After a brief offseason, the PGA Tour returns for the 2014-15 season with the Frys.com Open. A field of 144 players will tee it up at Silverado Resort & Spa, which plays host to a PGA Tour event for the first time since 1980 after the event moved north from CordeValle, which hosted from 2010-2013.
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Jimmy Walker won this event a year ago at CordeValle by two shots over Vijay Singh. Here are 10 names to watch in Napa:
1. Matt Kuchar: In a tournament with many unknown variables, go with the consistent choice. Kuchar was second on the PGA Tour last season with 11 top-10 finishes, and despite a subpar Ryder Cup he has the tee-to-green ball-striking to contend on a seemingly weekly basis.
2. Jimmy Walker: Walker is defending a title for the first time on Tour, and while his maiden win came at CordeValle he is carrying plenty of momentum with him to Silverado after a breakout Ryder Cup. Finished third last season in birdie average and 11th in strokes gained putting.
3. Hideki Matsuyama: The Japanese phenom tied for third last year at CordeValle, and at No. 20 in the OWGR he is ranked behind only Kuchar and Walker among this week’s field. He finished the season fourth in strokes gained tee-to-green while advancing to the Tour Championship.
4. Brandt Snedeker: If he’s anywhere near as accurate on the course as he was this week on the skeet shooting range, Sneds could be in for a big week. After missing out on a Ryder Cup spot, the veteran has had a chance to recharge and should get out of the gates quickly this week.
5. Brooks Koepka: The bomber nearly won this event a year ago while playing on a sponsor invite, and now he returns as a fully-exempt Tour member. Koepka cracked the top 15 at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship and appears poised for a breakout season.
6. Lee Westwood: After a mediocre 2014 season, Westwood may have found something at Gleneagles. Assuming the Ryder Cup hangover has worn off, the Englishman has a good chance to contend as he makes his debut in this event.
7. Graham DeLaet: The Canadian hasn’t teed it up since the BMW Championship, where he finished 11th after four rounds in the 60s. DeLaet struggled with the flat stick last season, but he did finish third on Tour in GIR percentage.
8. Justin Thomas: Remember the name. After a national title at Alabama in 2013, Thomas breezed through the Web.com Tour last season and is among the top names expected to stand out among a promising rookie class.
9. Hunter Mahan: Mahan’s game seemed to fade as quickly as it appeared during his run in August, one that featured a win at The Barclays. He remains one of the top ball-strikers on Tour though, and that trait should serve him well on an unfamiliar layout.
10. Russell Knox: The Scot quietly had a solid rookie campaign in 2014, finishing the season 18th on Tour in driving accuracy and 22nd in GIR percentage while nearly making the Tour Championship. Four of his last six starts resulted in finishes of T-29 or better.