Closer look: The field for the Open

Jonas Blixt hits his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the Open.
Jonas Blixt hits his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the Open. ( Getty Images )

Monday, October 7, 2013

Defending champion Jonas Blixt won't be the only notable in the field for the Open, which begins Thursday.

Blixt will be joined at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif., by seven other winners from the 2013 PGA Tour season, three members of the 2013 International Presidents Cup team, 33 of the 50 participants from this year's Tour Finals and a strong foursome of sponsor exemptions.

Angel Cabrera, Hideki Matsuyama and Marc Leishman combined for a 5-7-1 record last week at the Presidents Cup, which the Internationals lost 18 1/2 to 15 1/2. Matsuyama is also the highest-ranked player in the field according to the Official World Golf Ranking at No. 30.

All four winners of the Tour Finals events – Trevor Immelman, Andrew Svoboda, Seung-Yul Noh and Chesson Hadley – are among those who earned their 2013-14 PGA Tour cards via the Tour Finals and are using them for the first time. Michael Putnam and John Peterson, the 2013 Tour and Tour Finals money winners, respectively, are also in the field.

Making their first PGA Tour starts as professionals are Max Homa and Justin Thomas. Homa, a former Cal standout, and Thomas, a former Alabama standout, each turned pro following this year's Walker Cup and are competing this week using unrestricted sponsor exemptions.

The other two unrestricted sponsor exemptions were given to former top-ranked amateur Chris Williams and three-time European Challenge Tour winner Brooks Koepka.

In addition, eight winners from last season on the PGA Tour are in the field: Blixt, Derek Ernst, Brian Gay, John Merrick, Gary Woodland, Billy Horschel, Scott Brown and Patrick Reed.

Of course, there's only one defending champion in the field. Blixt won by a shot last year over Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak. Petrovic is not in this year's field, but Kokrak is.

The Open marks the season opener for the 2013 Fall Series and for the first time will award a Masters berth to the winner.