SAN MARTIN, Calif. – The PGA Tour season gets underway this week at the Frys.com Open, the first time the tour has gone to a wraparound season. And while the field might not look that strong on paper, odds are that will change.
The tournament has three players from the Presidents Cup (Hideki Matsuyama, Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman) along with assistant captain Davis Love III). It has two from the top 50 in the world (Matsuyama at No. 30 and defending champion Jonas Blixt at No. 34), and two players who were at the Tour Championship (Billy Horschel and Gary Woodland).
How might that change?
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A year ago, eight PGA Tour members took part in an exhibition in Turkey called the World Golf Finals, held the same week as the Frys.com Open. In exchange for a release from the tour, they agreed to play the Frys.com Open at least once over the next three years.
Those players were Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar.
Frys.com Open President Duke Butler recalls a similar situation nearly 30 years ago. The tour granted releases to four players to play the Australian Skins Game in 1985 when it was held the same week as the Houston Open. The players agreed to play Houston at least once over the next few years.
Those players could be called headliners: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman.
The next year, the Houston Open included Nicklaus in his first start since winning the Masters for his sixth green jacket, one of the most popular wins in golf.