PGA: Top 9 Players to Watch This Weekend at the Frys.com Open

Carlos TorresContributor IOctober 12, 2016

PGA: Top 9 Players to Watch This Weekend at the Frys.com Open

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    The PGA Tour's Fall Series continues this week at the Frys.com Open at the CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California.

    The tournament starts this Thursday and has a purse of $5 million, with the winner's share being $900,000. 

    Rocco Mediate is the defending champ, but he'll face a strong field that includes former world No. 1, Tiger Woods, who will be making his Fall Series debut. 

    Woods has been the center of attention (as he usually is), as his saga continues regarding the struggles with his latest comeback from his bodily and mindful injuries, along with the overhauling of his working team. Everyone, his fans and detractors will be watching, to either cheer him on or be ready to declare him done forever at the first sign of struggle on the field.

    As I said, the field is a strong one; although, as expected from a Fall Series tournament, it's not an elite one. Aside from Woods, there are some players worth noting, and that should be contending for the title this week, with a very good chance at winning.

    Let's take a look at the top players to watch for this week, at the Frys.com Open.

Patrick Cantlay

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 12:00 p.m. PDT; Friday, 7:40 a.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Tiger Woods and Louis Oosthuizen

    The 19-year-old UCLA star has some serious talent and elite player potential written all over. He is the first amateur in history to finish in the top 25 in his first four PGA Tour events.

    At the Travelers Championship, his second-round 60 set the course record and the tour record for an amateur. The last pro tournament he played was the Canadian Open, where he finished tied for ninth.

    He also has a victory at CordeValle already, last year while playing for UCLA.

    The pairing with Woods should fuel him to play even better. Watch out.

William McGirt

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 8:40 a.m. PDT; Friday, 1:10 p.m. PDT

    Grouped With: David Hearn and Fran Quinn

    The rookie, McGirt, started the Fall Series ranked 137th on the PGA Tour money list and is determined to keep his tour card.

    Last week, he shot a career-best 8-under 63 for a share of the first-round lead in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

    He was unable to match his first-round score the rest of the way, but he still finished a respectable 15-under, tied for 16th place.

    He moved up three spots on the PGA Tour money list with that finish. Look for him to improve this week in his battle to keep his playing privileges for 2012.

Chad Campbell

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 8:10 a.m. PDT; Friday, 12:40 p.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Will MacKenzie and Matt Jones

    Campbell has made the cut 20 out of 27 times this year, making his last eight in a row. While he only has one top-10 finish, it was a T5 placing at The Open. Since then, while his finishes have not reflected how well he has been scoring.

    He is carrying some momentum to this tournament. After an even-par first round last week, he played 11-under the rest of the way.

    Campbell is third in GIRs, and the leader in GIR Percentage from 100-125 yards and 150-175 yards. He will have plenty of those this weekend.

Scott Piercy

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 7:40 a.m. PDT; Friday, 12:10 p.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Brendan Steele and Ben Crane

    Piercy has four top-25s since the Canadian Open, where he finished tied for sixth. Although he missed the cut at the next tournament (Greenbrier), he won the week after at the Reno-Tahoe Open.

    He has posted also a T13 at The Barclays and a T10 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last week.

    His third round (1-under) was his lone bad round of the tournament. Otherwise, he could have contended for the title.

    Piercy should crack the top 10 this weekend and contend for the win. 

Brendan Steele

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 7:40 a.m. PDT; Friday, 12:10 p.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Scott Piercy and Ben Crane

    After Steele's disappearing act on the fourth round at the PGA Championship and missed cut at The Barclays, nobody would have blamed him for folding his tent the rest of the year and becoming an afterthought.

    But he has responded with a T10 at the Deustche Bank and a T16 last week at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

    In between those two tourneys he finished a distant 68th at the BMW Championship. 

    Steele ranks ninth in total eagles on the tour, and this is a course that has some holes that are can produce lots of eagles. 

    Other than his win at the Valero Open in April, his best finishes have been in the past two months. Look for another strong finish from Steele this weekend. 

Trevor Immelman

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 12:00 p.m. PDT; Friday, 7:30 a.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Bill Lunde and Paul Casey

    He had a couple of top-15 finishes in a row at the Greenbrier and the PGA Championship. He finished tied for 32nd at The Barclays and tied for 34th last week at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

    Immelman doesn't have a top-10 placing this year. But he is another player scoring well, apparently just not good enough lately.

    The 2008 Masters champion has the game to play well over this course and should be contending during the weekend for the title.

Ernie Els

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 7:40 a.m. PDT; Friday, 12:10 p.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Angel Cabrera and Justin Leonard

    It's been day and night for Els over the past two years. A total contrast of success for him, as is stunning that he has not record a top-10 finish this year.

    His best finish this year is a T15 at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in March. But he showed some flashes of the Ernie Els we are accustomed to see on the course, during the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

    He made a remarkable run to try to get to the Tour Championship, he finished tied for 16th at the Deustche Bank, but felt short at the BMW Championship.

    He seems to be looking to finish the year on a high note and carry it for 2012. He cannot be discounted this week.

Paul Casey

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 12:00 p.m. PDT; Friday, 7:30 a.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Bill Lunde and Trevor Immelman

    Casey, who sits 147th on the PGA Tour money list, needs to finish inside the top 125 to maintain his tour card.

    Last week in Korea, he underwent herbal acupuncture on the foot injury (turf toe), which he said has ruined his golf swing.

    He then promptly went out and won the Shinhan Donghae Open. Now, fresh off that victory, it looks as though Casey is ready to make his climb up the money list.

    He should be among the top three players on the leaderboard this weekend.

Tiger Woods

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    Tee Times: Thursday, 12:00 p.m. PDT; Friday, 7:40 a.m. PDT

    Grouped With: Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Cantlay

    Woods has not won a tournament in two years, and he has now dropped outside the world's top 50.

    But after a seven-week layoff, there are some good signs for him leading up to this tournament.

    He could be feeling right at home at CordeValle, which is just a short drive away from his alma mater, Stanford University. 

    He completed the revamping of his working team, which now includes Joe LaCava as his recently named caddy.

    Last Friday, he broke the course record at The Medalist Club in his home state of Florida, when he shot an impressive 62, including 10 birdies. 

    And he is fresh off signing a new endorsement deal with Rolex, his first major deal since his downfall began in 2009.

    All this is just some sweetener on the coffee. He is still has to go out there and play. More so contend for the win. But that is why he is one of the players to watch this weekend.