RotoWire Partners Open Preview: Ready or Not, It's Tee Time

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

It's that time of the year again. The leaves are turning colors, there's crispness in the air and the word "holidays" is starting to creep back into our lexicon. It can mean only one thing - the start of the PGA Tour season? I know, it's certainly strange to think the PGA Tour season is starting in October, but with the new schedule, it is a reality. Just how this will play out and how well it will be received is yet to be determined, but like it or not, it's time to get back to it.

Along with the change in timing, there's also a large shift in the philosophy on gaining access to the PGA Tour. In years past, the best way to gain entrance to the PGA Tour was Q-School, but like the days of the fall "silly season," Q-School is now a thing of the past. Is that a good thing? Again, time will tell, but one thing is certain, there's more attention being paid to these fall events than in years' past. Perhaps that's only because this is the first time around for this new setup and curiosity is getting the better of us, or perhaps the new format is something that will actually change the perception of the fall events. Either way, it's sure to be an interesting experiment.

This week: Open

Last Year:
Jonas Blixt shot a final-round 68 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak.

Players to Consider:

Billy Horschel

With most of the bigger names absent this week, Horschel pops up to the top of the list. Horschel has played on this course twice with pretty good results - a top-30 last year and a top-10 the year prior.

Bud Cauley

While some golfers are looking to beef up their numbers for the 2014 season, Cauley's goal at this event will be to beef up his status. Cauley played poorly for most of the 2013 season, but with the new schedule, Cauley gets a new life. Hopefully the month off served him well.

Jonas Blixt

When Blixt won here last year it was the cherry on top of the sundae of what was a pretty good 2012 season. This year, he comes into this event with a win already under his belt during the 2013 season. Blixt is one player looking to take a step to the next level, and a win this week would put him on his way.

Gary Woodland

Woodland struggled early in 2013, but by then end of the season he began to look like the guy who took the PGA Tour by storm in 2011. When Woodland's on, he's one of the best players on tour, if he's anywhere near top form, he should be able to take advantage of the weak field this week.

Bryce Molder

Molder is not a name that you'd look at too often during the regular season, but considering the field is a little thin this week, and he won here in 2011, you have to consider using him. Molder also finished T11 last year at this event, so it's pretty clear he has a feel for this course.

Players to Avoid:

Sean O'Hair

O'Hair's name in a field like this sticks out a bit, but the O'Hair that has all that success on the PGA Tour hasn't been seen in a while. He's also playing this course for the first time, so the odds are, O'Hair will continue to struggle this week.

Mike Weir

I bring up Weir's name because, once upon a time, he dominated this event. His success here came at a different venue, however, and, quite honestly, he was a different player back then as well. While he showed some signs of improvement in 2013, he's still well off the form that saw him win here in 2007.

Justin Leonard

Leonard's run on the PGA Tour looks like it's nearing an end. He's made a habit lately of putting together some nice runs, but even those runs have become less frequent. His track record at this event leaves a lot to be desired - only one Top-25 in the last three years.

Ricky Barnes

Barnes is one of many players looking to improve his status for the 2014 season this week, but his odds look bleak as he's yet to crack the Top 40 at this event while playing on the current course.

Rory Sabbatini

Sabbatini has really struggled at this event since the venue change in 2010. He's failed to make the cut in three tries at the current course, and considering those results came against a traditional fall field, his odds this week look pretty bleak.

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