SAN MARTIN -- The Frys.com Open has a new spot in the PGA Tour order -- batting leadoff -- and a deeper lineup because of it, but most of golf's hottest hitters are sitting this one out.

Only one player in the World Golf Rankings top 30, Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, is in the field that will begin play Thursday at CordeValle Golf Club.

"It's the start of the year," defending champion Jonas Blixt said, explaining the lack of marquee names. "I still see that some guys maybe want to take a little longer time off."

Still, aided by two new perks for the tournament champion -- full FedEx Cup points and an invitation to the Masters -- the Frys has assembled a field that includes 11 major champions and 62 tour winners, nine from 2013.

There is no Tiger or Phil, but Angel Cabrera and Vijay Singh are here. So are Retief Goosen, Davis Love III and Mike Weir. Matsuyama, 21, will make his debut as a tour member after cracking the top 10 in the U.S. Open and British Open.

"Compared to last year's field, we've seen a very, very significant improvement in the middle of the field, kind of the meat of the field," said Andy Pazder, chief of operations for the tour. "You look at the 31 through 125 group of players from last year, and it's a much, much stronger field."

With Woods in the field in 2011, tournament attendance reached 75,000. It was less than 40,000 last year, but tournament president Duke Butler said he's expecting at least that many this week plus a "nice worldwide viewing audience on the Golf Channel."

Frys.com struggled to land the marquee players because the tournament comes on the heels of the Presidents Cup and a grueling 2013 season. But a more favorable tour schedule in 2013-14 -- players will get a week off before and after the Ryder Cup in Scotland, feeding into next year's Frys.com Open -- could bring in more big names, Butler said.

According to an Associated Press report, Woods and others have agreed to play in the tournament once every three years. That list also includes Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar.

"There's a number of different ways that you look at a tournament strength of field," Pazder said. "One would be how many in the top 30; the other would be if you looked down the list of marquee players here this week. A Davis Love III, for example, is not a top 30 player from last year.

"But when you're out here later this week and you're walking around talking to fans, ask them about Davis Love. He's an iconic figure in our sport. You look at a guy like Angel Cabrera just coming off the Presidents Cup team. Billy Horschel is coming off a breakout season. ... There's more than enough players of note to draw interest to the tournament."

  • The par-71 CordeValle, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is ranked No. 61 among the nation's top 100 public courses by Golf Digest. Butler's claim the course is in "its best-ever condition" was supported by Blixt. Ranked No. 34 in the world, Blixt went the 2012 tournament without a three-putt and said he has a good chance to successfully defend his title "if I can get my putter warm."

  • The tournament will move to Silverado Resort in Napa in 2014 and 2015, as CordeValle prepares to host the 2015 PGA Cup and 2016 U.S. Women's Open, among other events.

  • U.S. Walker Cup teammates Max Homa of Cal and Justin Thomas of Alabama received sponsor's exemptions and will make their tour professional debuts.

  • Goosen, who's battled back problems, will see his first action on tour since the Players Championship in May. Others making comebacks are Sacramento native Spencer Levin (left thumb) and Paul Goydos (left wrist).

  • All six former Frys.com champions are in the field -- Blixt, Bryce Molder (2011), Rocco Mediate (2010), Troy Matteson (2009), Cameron Beckman (2008) and Weir (2007).

  • Erik Compton received the first PGA Courage Award from commissioner Tim Finchem. He was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy when he was 9 and had heart transplants when he was 12 and 28.

    FRYS.COM OPEN
    Course: CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin
    TV: Golf Channel, 2-5 p.m. (5:30-8:30 p.m., taped)