By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
In case you missed it, the second graduate reshuffle of the year occurred at the conclusion of the Valero Texas Open. None in that priority ranking qualified for the Masters Tournament, so only three events remain before the next reshuffle following the Wells Fargo Championship. Thereafter, it's unlikely to play a role in filling out fields.
The RBC Heritage is the last 144-man field of the season to use the overall pecking order to determine exempt status (Next month's PLAYERS will also feature 144 golfers but it utilizes an updated FedExCup points list to reach its cap, and that's only if necessary). Harbour Town is also site of the fifth of seven fields that experienced a 12-man increase over a year ago (The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and the AT&T National will also feature 12-man bumps to 132, but both are invitationals, so they won't use the pecking order).
If you're in a full-season format and you're worried about how the guys in the reshuffle may be affected in terms of snaring starts, we're approaching that time of year when 156-man fields are the norm. The remaining two opposite events go 132 deep, but guys in the reshuffle are always eligible for those on merit. So, after the next reshuffle, all in the reshuffle category should be on schedule to play in all of the nine open events that follow (in addition to any other tournaments for which they qualify). The Zurich Classic of New Orleans and Wells Fargo Championship also host 156 golfers, but their recent history shows that not every golfer in the reshuffle qualifies on merit.
Look for my choices for PGATOUR.COM’s fantasy game in Expert Picks. My one-and-done selection, analysis and season totals will appear in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
On a Roll
Charles Howell III ... Had two weeks off following a T10 at the Shell Houston Open, his fourth top 10 this season. He's survived four of his last five cuts at Harbour Town, a stretch that includes two top 25s. Ranks 42nd on TOUR in greens in regulation, 12th in strokes gained-putting, second in scrambling and ninth in adjusted scoring.
Chris Kirk ... Sets up a little like Bill Haas this week. Each has a less-than-stellar record at Harbour Town -- Kirk is 0-for-2 -- but both arrive in good form. Kirk has survived six consecutive cuts, four of which going for a top 25. Because of the proliferation of gamers that lean too much on course history, he qualifies as a calculated flier and potential difference-maker.
Brendon de Jonge ... Continues to motor along and pay dividends. Turned in a T10 and a T22 in his two starts in Texas before having last week off. Sits 40th in FedExCup points. He's 4-for-4 at Harbour Town but has yet to crack a top 20. Has yet to break 72 in a final round on the course.
Kevin Chappell ... Since missing five consecutive cuts, he's finished T6 in Houston and T15 in San Antonio. Ranks 48th on TOUR in ball-striking and 13th in scrambling.
John Rollins ... Not his first appearance in this eponymous section. Six top 25s in nine starts this year, including in his last two. Ranks 12th in ball-striking (14th in greens hit) and 23rd in adjusted scoring. Two top 20s in his last three trips to Hilton Head Island.
Richard Sterne ... Since a T7 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship early in the 2012-13 European Tour season, he has seven top 25s in eight starts. That includes a victory at the Joburg Open and a T25 at the Masters. Placed T64 in his only previous appearance at the RBC Heritage in 2008.
Martin Kaymer ... The first-timer at Harbour Town clinched a spot here with his birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie finish at the Masters, where he tied for 35th place.
Horses for Courses
Carl Pettersson ... The defending champion led last year's field in greens in regulation and par-4 scoring average. It was his third top 10 in 10 starts at the RBC Heritage. He's 9-for-11 this season with three top 25s.
Mark Wilson ... Consider him this week's snub from the Power Rankings Wild Card. He's finished inside the top 25 in the last two editions of the RBC Heritage and placed T3 in his last start at Bay Hill. Ranks inside the top 15 on TOUR in both fairways and greens hit.
Tim Clark ... It's been seven years since the South African recorded his most recent of two top 20s at Harbour Town, but he loves tight tracks. Currently fifth on TOUR in fairways hit and fresh off a field-low 67 in the third round of the Masters where he tied for 11th place.
K.J. Choi ... His stats have never really supported his overall consistency. Think Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson. Yet, like those two contemporaries, Choi's touch on and around greens is where he's made his hay. He ranks relatively high in several supportive categories and he's enjoyed a mild rebound season having already posted two top 10s to match all of last year.
Ben Crane ... Survived his last seven cuts at Harbour Town. Tied for sixth in his last appearance in 2011. Finished T4 in his last start at the Shell Houston Open.
Bo Van Pelt ... Still without a top 10 in nine starts this season. Coming off a T20 at the Masters, his third top 20 of 2012. He's logged three top 15s at Harbour Town, the most recent of which a T3 in 2010.
Scott Brown ... There are times when it's necessary to ride a guy to take a step on the learning curve. This is a perfect opportunity. Fully exempt and 34th in FedExCup points, the soon-to-be 30-year-old (on May 22) ranks 26th in ball-striking, 30th in scrambling and 24th in adjusted scoring. In fantasy parlance, he could be classified as a sniper, but his game deserves more attention and an investment in all formats.
Not So Fast
Marc Leishman ... He rode an opening 66 (and a share of the 18-hole lead) to his first top 25 in eight starts in a major as well as a return trip to Augusta National in 2014. The Aussie ranked fifth in par-4 scoring average last week. While he settled for a share of fourth place, he had the best seat in the house alongside playing partner and eventual champion Adam Scott in the next-to-last pairing on Sunday. It's impossible to quantify how that will impact Leishman moving forward, but it had to be inspiring in the least. However, gamers may want to give him a week to decompress.
Zach Johnson ... No top 20s in his last eight starts. He began his 2011 season similarly, and then missed the cut at Harbour Town. Prior to his runner-up finish here last year, he had already posted four top 20s and hadn't missed a cut all season. If you wanted to cite a primary culprit, it's club No. 14. After ranking sixth in strokes gained-putting at 0.599 last year -- his third consecutive season north of 0.500 -- he's currently 158th at -0.446.
Robert Garrigus ... Could be perceived as fairly safe given a 5-for-5 slate at Harbour Town with a career-best T13 a year ago, but he's struggled with his putting since the conclusion of the West Coast Swing. He's also gone 15 consecutive rounds without breaking 71.
Rory Sabbatini ... With no top 25s among four cuts made in eight starts this year, he sets up as a classic trap for course history buffs salivating over no worse than a T17 (2012) in his last three trips to Harbour Town.
Hunter Mahan ... Returns to Harbour Town after a five-year hiatus. He won't mind the reps as he's missed two straight cuts after a streak of seven consecutive top 25s.
Tommy Gainey ... In his last 11 starts, he's survived just two cuts, the better of which resulting in a T36 at the Sony Open in Hawaii over three months ago. Gamers are advised not to play against him this week, however. The native of the Palmetto State has played for a paycheck in his last three appearances at Harbour Town, the most impressive of which resulting in a solo third two years ago.
Matt Every ... He tied for eighth at last year's RBC Heritage, so perhaps Harbour Town will provide an elixir to his recent slump. Zero top 25s among four cuts made in his last eight starts.
James Hahn ... No top 55s among two cuts made in his last seven starts. Still 48th in FedExCup points thanks to his blistering start.
Seung-yul Noh ... Still working through swing modifications. Ended an 0-for-4 slide with a T46 at TPC San Antonio, but he hasn't broken 71 in his last 11 rounds.
Fabian Gomez ... Since his co-runner-up in Puerto Rico, he's missed three straight cuts.
Jason Bohn ... Has missed six of nine cuts this season, including his last three. Only top-70 finish was a T40 at Pebble Beach.
Robert Allenby ... Only cut made in 10 starts resulted in a T72 at Bay Hill. Hasn't broken 70 in his last 17 rounds.
Will Claxton ... He's missed eight of 10 cuts on the season, including his last three. Best finish was a T39 in Puerto Rico.
Scott Langley ... Since a season-opening T3 at Waialae, the lefty is 3-for-9 with no better than T30 at Copperhead.
Scott Gardiner ... The rookie has missed six consecutive cuts and hasn't broken par in over two months.
David Mathis ... Riding an 0-for-5 skid with an actual scoring average of 76.00.
Ted Potter Jr. and Patrick Reed ... Each has missed his last four cuts.
Lee Williams ... The rookie has missed his last three cuts on the PGA TOUR and one on the Web.com Tour.
Back in the Saddle
Sean O'Hair ... Back in play following a back injury that forced him to withdraw during his second round of the Shell Houston Open. His only notable finish among two cuts made at Harbour Town is a solo seventh in 2007.
Casey Wittenberg ... The first-timer at Harbour Town withdrew early from each of his last two commitments, both in Texas. No news has surfaced to explain it, but this week's track should give us a clear indication of his form. His strength is precision tee-to-green.
Sang-moon Bae ... Withdrew following an opening 83 at the Valero Texas Open. No explanation was released. In his debut at Harbour Town last year, he withdrew after an opening 83 due to discomfort in his right shoulder. Sits 92nd in FedExCup points, but hasn't fared better than a T40 (Bay Hill) in his last six starts.
Jeff Maggert ... Walked off TPC San Antonio during his opening round with an injury to his right wrist. It was his fourth consecutive start sans a cut made.
Miguel Angel Jimenez ... Scheduled to compete in the Open de Espana on the European Tour. It would be his first start since breaking his right leg in a skiing mishap in late December.
Mike Weir ... Acknowledged in a blog entry before the Masters that he wouldn't play for at least two weeks if the Masters next on the schedule. He went on to miss the cut by three strokes.
Tom Gillis ... No stranger to withdrawing early but this is the first time he's done so this season.