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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the Open

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

Happy New Year, and welcome to the new PGA Tour season, everybody! Did everyone have a great holiday season?

Oh, that's right, it's still October.

It's true - just two weeks after Henrik Stenson won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup we're back at it again with the PGA Tour's new wrap-around schedule and a brand new season.

This week it's the open, and good luck fantasy owners, because more than ever, this week - and most of the fall schedule in general - is a crapshoot. Here are the faces, both familiar and unfamiliar, playing in the event.

Those You Might Know:

Defending champion Jonas Blixt is in the house. Diehard golf fans may remember the emotion Blixt showed when he won The Greenbrier Classic in 2013. That was because his victory at the Frys last October did not get him an invitation to The Masters. Beginning with this year's event, all fall events now award a ticket to Augusta to the winner. In the 2013 PGA Tour season Blixt made more than $2 million, finished 52nd in the FedEx Cup and was 15th in scrambling from the rough.

Three players from the International Presidents Cup team are also participating this week: Hideki Matsuyama, Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman. We wrote about Matsuyama in the Foreign players section of our 2013-14 Draft Kit, so check that out if you're interested in the young superstar who has taken up PGA Tour membership for 2013-2014.

We do not recommend Cabrera, who has one of the oddest stat lines in golf. He has four Top-3 finishes in his PGA Tour career. Two are his two major wins, the 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters, and another is his playoff loss at this year's Masters. Long story short: Cabrera is feast or famine. Fantasy owners don't need that inconsistency.

Other notables include Stuart Appleby, Davis Love III, Stewart Cink, Retief Goosen, Billy Horschel, Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas and Johnny Vegas.

Vegas is a player some may want to watch after he missed most of 2013 due to injury. As a result of the injury happening so early in the year he has nearly a full major medical exemption to begin 2013-2014 and used the Tour Finals as warm-up events. His results: T43-MC (missed cut)-MC-T32.

A (Brief) History Lesson:

We interrupt "Getting to Know You 2013-2014 Edition" to give a brief background of the event. The Open is held at the CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif. It first came on the scene in 2007, and the inaugural event was won by Mike Weir. Its subsequent winners are Cameron Beckman, Troy Matteson, Rocco Mediate, Bryce Molder and Blixt. It was Mediate's win in 2010 that inspired Tiger Woods to use this event as a re-launch of sorts after an injury-plagued first part of 2011 led him to miss the FedEx Cup Playoffs entirely.

Woods is not in the field this week, but all the aforementioned prior champions are.

Your best bets fantasy wise are Molder and, surprisingly, Mediate. Rocco won right out of the gate on the Champions Tour this year and feels comfortable at CordeValle. And, considering that he's safely planted on the senior circuit and has nothing to lose this week, he could be a go-for-broke player to watch.

Molder, meanwhile, had a decent 2013, having zero top-10 finishes but eight top-25s en route to more than $800,000 made and a 64th-place finish in the FedEx Cup. He was 10th in strokes gained - putting this past season.

Those You Might Not Know:

Michael Putnam and John Peterson are fully exempt for the PGA Tour season (that puts them in exemption category 22, three categories ahead of the Reshuffle List players) for having been the top money earner on the Tour during the regular season and the top money earner during the Tour Finals, respectively. Putnam is not playing this week but Peterson is, and since the Tour Finals ended just two weeks ago, there is suddenly a thing called season-to-season momentum.

Peterson has been on an absolute tear the last month. Take his last five events: 3-T5-T3-3-T2. Peterson also likes the West Coast and specifically the Bay Area, as he tied for fourth at least year's U.S. Open at Olympic Club in nearby San Francisco. In albeit a very small sample size (six events) he was 18th in Par-3 Performance this past season on the PGA Tour. If you want a fantasy sleeper this past week, he could be the one.

Continuing the theme of those with momentum is rookie Chesson Hadley, the man who sits atop the Reshuffle List and won the Tour Championship two weeks ago at TPC Sawgrass, helped by an opening-round 65. It was his second win of the year and needless to say, he is one of the hottest players in the country. In an event where you'll need to go low, Hadley's ability to do that may prove clutch this week.

And rounding out the momentum list is another rookie, Andrew Loupe, who needed a T6 at the Tour Championship to clinch his card. Loupe was the longest hitter on the Tour this past season, averaging a whopping 317 yards a pop. If he can keep it in the fairway, watch out.

For those wishing to learn more about the 2013-2014 PGA Tour rookie class - with some of them debuting this week, check out our rookie preview.