Lee can Be the Frys General

  • By: Dave Tindall
  • Last Updated: October 9 2012, 16:09 BST

1.5pts e.w. Richard H Lee at 80/1 (bet365 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).

1.5pts e.w. Brendan Steele at 50/1 (totesport, Betfred 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).

1pt e.w. Jimmy Walker at 40/1 (sportingbet, Coral 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).

1pt e.w. Jonas Blixt to lead after round one at 40/1 (Ladbrokes, bet365 1/4 1,2,3,4,5).

Richard H Lee sounds perhaps more like stand-up comedian than a golfer.

However, there's nothing funny about his recent results which show a sixth place in last week's Justin Timberlake Shriners Open and, before that, a second place in the Web.com Tour's Boise Open.

Rewind a little further and good performances in Reno (12th) and the Wyndham Championship (14th) mean he's now racked up three successive top 15s on the PGA Tour.

Three of the four tournaments mentioned came on the West Coast - scene of this week's Fry's.com Open - and that's maybe no surprise given that Lee grew up and went to college in Washington, Seattle.

Lee's other top 15 this year also came on the West Coast with a T15 at Pebble Beach so this really does look the best place to catch him.

Now living in Arizona, Lee was a husband at 18 and a father at 19 and says: "I have a different perspective on life. Golf isn't everything."

Perhaps it was that attitude that helped him play the last five holes in five-under to earn his 2012 US Tour card at Q-School last year.

As for his strengths, Lee hits the ball very well (17th in Ball Striking) and no player on Tour has played the par 3s better than his combined 11-under (eight shots better than anyone else).

His putter has heated up in recent weeks too so his whole game looks to be rounding into top shape.

Perhaps most crucially of all he's 130th on the US Money List so is tantalisingly close to the top 125 who earn their cards for next year. A big week here and he'll have achieved his goal.

Get on board at 80/1.

Brendan Steele has strong local connections (born there and went to college at University of California, Riverside) and is coming home on the back of a good week in Las Vegas.

He made a hole-in-one in the pro-am at TPC Summerlin and was third in strokes gained-putting as he eventually finished tied 13th.

Steele is already a winner on Tour having captured last season's Valero Texax Open and he made a bold defence there this year, finishing fourth.

His other best performances this year have been in West Coast events - fifth in Phoenix and eighth in Reno. The latter came just three starts ago so, with two top 15s in his last three starts, he's in good nick.

The other big tick in his box is a tied seventh place in this event 12 months ago.

"I feel pretty comfortable on it since it's a California course," said Steele after his opening 67 and hopefully the better weather forecast this year will give him the hotter Southern California conditions he prefers.

Like Lee, he's really found some form on the greens and that was a big key in Bryce Molder's win here last year.

Steele looks a decent each-way punt at 50/1.

My other outright pick is another hot putter who seems to excel in California.

Jimmy Walker is 22nd in strokes gained-putting while his form in the Golden State is superb.

Walker bagged three top 10 finishes in four California starts earlier this year, bettering last year's run of 29-49-9-4 on the West Coast, and his profile is one of a man who reproduces his best in certain places and on certain tracks.

He ranked 10th in strokes gained-putting on his way to a share of 10th in Vegas last week, and that would've been even better but for a lacklustre back nine.

Given that the JT Open was his first event since returning from minor knee surgery, it's reasonable to expect him to improve, especially having spent Monday getting used to Poa Annua greens in a charity event at Pebble Beech.

Walker is exactly the type of player that can find these Fall Series events the perfect opportunity to get off the mark so take the 40/1.

I can't say I'm a big fan of Jonax Blixt's outright price of 33s but I am willing to play him at 40/1 in the first round leader market.

The Swede has made hot starts in his last three events.

Round scores of 67-67-64 are his three most recent day one scores and that's equated to R1 placings of 8th, 10th and 5th.

He looks like a player with real late-season momentum so after his third place in Las Vegas last week I can see him bursting out of the blocks here.

Blixt has got his 2013 Tour card wrapped up (he's 60th on the Money List) so doesn't need to go steady and he showed he could shoot low by opening with a pair of 64s last week.

Around this time last year he carded a first round 62 to lead the Boise Open after day one so, all-in-all, Blixt has some good credentials for this market.

  • Preview posted at 1600 BST on 09/10/2012.