I'm actually here at the event this week so make sure to check out the pics from
Wednesday- new TaylorMade irons in Sean O'Hair's bag
and Video from this week
The final Fall Series has arrived. As of 2013, it will cease to exist. Next season will conclude with the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Shortly thereafter, the new wraparound 2013-14 schedule will commence. This week's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open begins what has been an annual home stretch for PGA TOUR members to chase goals established early in the year. The primary focus of the next few weeks will center on the edge of the bubble at No. 125 on the money list, for everyone inside it is fully exempt for next year.
Check out some Sleeper Picks
Jonas Blixt ... Eight of the last 10 champions of this event were first-time winners on the PGA TOUR. This includes Kevin Na, who defends this week. Blixt last competed at the Deutsche Bank Championship and placed T20, but fell one spot shy in FedExCup points to advance to the third phase of the Playoffs. It was his fifth top 20 in eight starts dating back to late April. (He missed 10 weeks due to a rib injury.) TPC Summerlin requires a hefty gathering of birdie opportunities to contend, so while the rookie ranks a forgettable 140th in greens in regulation, he's 12th in strokes gained-putting and 35th in par breakers. Second, should he find any of the 105 bunkers on the property, he'll be right at home as he leads the TOUR in sand saves on a track that perennially ranks among the most difficult in that category.
Chris Stroud ... Once upon a time, October served as his proving ground. For the first four years of his PGA TOUR career (2007-2010), he thrived when his back was up against the wall, which is to say he's a poster boy for the inherent value of the Fall Series. This time around, he's comfortably inside the top 125 in earnings at 99th thanks a rare strong first half of the season. Nevertheless, other goals remain. He's 4-for-4 at this tournament with top 25s in each of his last three appearances.
Tim Herron ... The only PGA TOUR winner of this bunch has fared nicely at this tournament, recording a trio of top 15s in his last five appearances. Last year's T5 is his last top 10 anywhere. He carded just four over-par holes all week. In his last start, he matched the season-low score on TOUR with a 61 in his second round at the Wyndham Championship. Ranks 52nd in greens in regulation.
Richard H. Lee ... It was in this space during the week of the John Deere Classic that I noted his strong metrics in several key areas. They all but beg for one hot week as he navigates his way on the PGA TOUR for the first time. He'd go on to miss the cut that week, but he posted a pair of top 15s to close out the regular season. Then, of the 14 rookies that made an aggregate 33 starts on the Web.com Tour during the FedExCup Playoffs, his co-runner-up at the Albertsons Boise Open was one of two class-best T2s recorded. He's 21st on the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation and 68th in par breakers. Those are criticial factors for a run at TPC Summerlin.
Danny Lee ... Unrelated to Richard H. Lee but also a PGA TOUR rookie, this Korean-born Kiwi logged the other T2 on the Web.com Tour during the FedExCup Playoffs. Danny Lee shared second place at the WNB Golf Classic, his fourth of five consecutive starts on the developmental circuit since the conclusion of the regulation season in the big leagues. He ranks a disappointing 126th in greens hit but he's capitalized on his opportunities, evidenced by sitting 41st in par breakers. What's more, TPC Summerlin should play more like a Web.com Tour stop in allowing a plethora of eagles and birdies. Given his splits of 28.09 percent in par breakers and 5.00 in birdie average in 18 rounds on the Web.com Tour, his return to the PGA TOUR may offer for a smooth transition.