The Turning Stone Resort Championship marks the beginning of the end of the 2009 PGA Tour season, as the first of the closing ‘Fall Series‘ of events that will determine playing privileges for next year. We may see the odd performance from the top stars, but largely this time of year is about the players battling to retain their card. Tiger Woods certainly won’t be seen in a US event until his own event in December.
 
For various reasons, the opening Fall Series event represents quite a puzzle, but at least that’s reflected in the betting, with the favourite available at 20/1. Some players, such as defending champion Dustin Johnson, carry on after a gruelling Fedex Cup schedule, while those who fared less well in the money list have enjoyed a few weeks off. Some may be ring-rusty, others may have used the time to fine-tune their games ahead of this pivotal series. In either case, there’s a strong element of guesswork.
 
The venue, Atunyote GC, is a 7,500-yard par-72, with generous fairways that allow for aggression off the tee and large, undulating greens. Driving distance is not essential here, but it is clearly an advantage, especially if rain arrives to soften the fairways. All three champions in its short history on the PGA Tour were fairly pickable, though equally plenty of outsiders were in contention as the fields finished closely bunched. All things considered, its not a week to take particularly strong opinions or lay out vast sums.
 
Johnson thoroughly deserves favouritism, as he has improved markedly since that breakthrough win last year. He hits it as far as anyone else in this field, and had been in cracking form up until the last two Fedex Cup events. However, those failures could suggest he needs a break, and there is a suspicion that he wouldn’t be playing here if there wasn’t a title to defend.