New PGA TOUR season starts at CordeValle

SAN MARTIN, Calif. — The chill of the morning air in California. Veteran players discreetly looking at golf bags on the practice range so they can put names to the faces they have never seen. Young players concerned about getting into enough tournaments. A parking lot filled with Mercedes-Benz courtesy cars. Everything about the Frys.com Open looks and feels like a new season on the PGA Tour.

SAN MARTIN, Calif. — The chill of the morning air in California. Veteran players discreetly looking at golf bags on the practice range so they can put names to the faces they have never seen. Young players concerned about getting into enough tournaments. A parking lot filled with Mercedes-Benz courtesy cars.

Everything about the Frys.com Open looks and feels like a new season on the PGA Tour.

Except for the calendar.

Just 18 days after Henrik Stenson tapped in for par and collected the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus at East Lake, the new PGA Tour season gets underway at CordeValle. It’s the first time the tour starts its season in one calendar year and finishes it in another.

“I’m back to zero,” Stewart Cink said. “I like the fact I don’t have to be No. 76 anymore. I can hopefully establish something new.”

Cink was No. 76 in the FedEx Cup playoffs last month until he failed to advance to the next round after the Deutsche Bank Championship. He has been home for the last five weeks — his off-season — before packing his bags and heading to the airport. And to his surprise, it reminded him of heading off to Hawaii or California in winter, just like the old days on the PGA Tour.

“The last six or seven years, I went to fall tournaments and didn’t have that amped-up feel. I didn’t feel like I was in the heat of things,” Cink said. “I had my charity event, this and that. My mind was so elsewhere. I went to play just to play. You hit a lot of shots; you play a lot of holes. Coming here, I feel a little bit more of a hunger.”

Since the FedEx Cup began in 2007, the tour had a half-dozen events that were nothing more than playing opportunities for the restless or a time for others to make enough money to secure their cards for the following season. Winning didn’t come with an invitation to the Masters. It didn’t count toward the FedEx Cup. Now it does.

To avoid losing sponsorship of the fall tournaments (and some $25 million in prize money), the tour made them part of the FedEx Cup season.

“This new system has given these fall events greater credibility,” John Senden said.

As always, a golfer’s off-season is as long as he wants it to be.

Tiger Woods won the clinching match at the Presidents Cup on Sunday. He’s not expected to play another PGA Tour event until Torrey Pines in January. Adam Scott won’t return to the tour until Kapalua the first week of January. Phil Mickelson will be in Asia later this month for two tournaments now part of the official 2013-14 season.

And then there’s Marc Leishman.

Just three days ago, he holed a 15-foot par putt to win his singles match against Matt Kuchar in the Presidents Cup. He flew to California, got reacquainted with sunshine, and felt remarkably refreshed.

“I thought I would be stuffed,” Leishman said Wednesday morning before his pro-am round. “I got here and I’m feeling good. You want to try to get off to a good start.”

Geoff Ogilvy has never played a fall tournament in America since the FedEx Cup began. And he said he might not have come to CordeValle for the first time if he had played longer (he took part in only one FedEx Cup playoff event) or better (No. 104 in the standings).

He still wasn’t sure if this felt like a season opener the way it did at Kapalua or Palm Springs.

“It’s weird. It’s like a false front,” Ogilvy said. “I’m playing two (including next week in Las Vegas) and then going to Australia to play, so it’s like a teaser. But it’s a good chance to get a couple under your belt, and then come back and do the normal West Coast. Some guys might do five of these, get to the West Coast and won’t know what to do. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the West Coast.”

The Frys.com Open field is not terribly strong. It has only two players from the top 50 (Hideki Matsuyama and defending champion Jonas Blixt), three players from the Presidents Cup (Matsuyama, Leishman and Angel Cabrera) and two from the Tour Championship (Billy Horschel, Gary Woodland).

But it’s not so weak that the field is loaded with rookies who just got their card at the Web.com Tour Championship two weeks ago. At least 12 players who just earned PGA Tour cards did not have a tee time at CordeValle.

For the rookies, it had the feel of a big-time event. Rental cars have been replaced by courtesy cars.

“It’s nice out here on the PGA Tour,” Cink said with a smile.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer County approves home-based hair salon

Salon would be located in rural residential area just west of Innisfail

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Labour Minister Harry Bains arrives at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, June 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. pledges to introduce permanent paid sick leave program in January

B.C. pledges to introduce permanent paid sick leave program in January

In this June 8, 2017, file photo, fresh nuts, bolts and fittings are ready to be added to the east leg of the pipeline near St. Ignace, Mich., as Enbridge prepares to test the east and west sides of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac in Mackinaw City, Mich. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Dale G Young/Detroit News via AP, File
‘Massive and potentially permanent disruption’: Canada’s bleak view of Line 5 closure

‘Massive and potentially permanent disruption’: Canada’s bleak view of Line 5 closure

A Suncor logo is shown at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Thursday, May 2, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Oilsands producer Suncor and utility Atco to pursue ‘world-class’ hydrogen project

Oilsands producer Suncor and utility Atco to pursue ‘world-class’ hydrogen project

A street sign along Bay Street in Toronto's financial district is shown on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
North American stock markets rally to pare early losses over inflation concerns

North American stock markets rally to pare early losses over inflation concerns

This photo provided by World Food Prize shows Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted.  On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, Thilsted was named this year's recipient of the $250,000 World Food Prize, which was created by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug in 1986 to recognize researchers who have improved the quality and availability of food. (Finn Thilsted/World Food Prize via AP)
World Food Prize goes to nutrition expert for fish research

World Food Prize goes to nutrition expert for fish research

FILE - Norman Lloyd, executive producer of Hollywood Theater, a series of high-class dramatic shows seen on affiliated stations on the Public Broadcasting Service, poses for a photo on Dec. 26, 1974, in Los Angeles. Lloyd, the distinguished stage and screen actor known for his role as a kindly doctor on TV's "St. Elsewhere," has died at 106. Manager Marion Rosenberg said the actor died Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/George Brich, File)
‘Saboteur,’ ‘St. Elsewhere’ star Norman Lloyd dies at 106

‘Saboteur,’ ‘St. Elsewhere’ star Norman Lloyd dies at 106

A Palestinian man inspects the rubble of a partially destroyed residential building after it was hit by Israeli missile strikes, at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, early Tuesday, May. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israel, Hamas trade deadly fire as confrontation escalates

Israel, Hamas trade deadly fire as confrontation escalates

Heidi Illingworth, federal ombudsman for victims of crime, takes part in an interview at her office in Ottawa on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Watchdog worries federal benefit for parents of missing, murdered kids going unused

OTTAWA — The federal ombudsman for victims of crime says she remains… Continue reading

Most Read