Power Rankings: Reno-Tahoe Open

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August 01, 2011
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

After its one-time appearance in July on the PGA TOUR schedule in 2010, the Reno-Tahoe Open returns to its familiar position opposite the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, where it began in 1999.

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Montreux Golf and Country Club offers pretty much what you'd expect from a Jack Nicklaus design, albeit with a curious combination of variables. First, fairways are generous, but the shrewd will play to specific positions from which to attack difficult greens that average 5,500 square feet. The course ranked sixth-most difficult in greens in regulation a year ago; it's been inside the top 10 in three of the last four years.

The test continues once on them. The putting surfaces are a blend of Bentgrass and Poa annua. This was the third-most challenging track in strokes gained-putting a year ago, its third consecutive year inside the top 10.

Meanwhile, at an altitude between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, tee balls will soar. Since comprehensive figures were first recorded in 2002, Montreux has ranked first or second in distance off the tee every year but 2003, when it sat fourth. However, the scoring averages over the years hardly reflect characteristics of a pushover. In fact, at 73.03 last year, it ranked as the most difficult par 72 in a non-major all year.

This profile of diversity will result in a final leaderboard populated by bombers, consistent iron-strikers and solid putters. Yes, sir -- pretty much what you'd expect from Jack Nicklaus.

Seasonable weather conditions are forecast. Early-week moisture gives way to high pressure and nothing but sun throughout the tournament. The high temperatures will flirt with and likely eclipse 90 degrees. Winds will moderate to gusty, which is also typical at this event.

Power Rankings: Reno-Tahoe Open
Rank Player   Comment
Robert
GARRIGUS
Recently sidelined with a sore back, the long-hitter has rested since missing the cut at the British Open. He ranks 60th on TOUR in greens in regulation, and has posted top 10s in each of the last two trips. Co-led after 36 holes in 2010.
John
MERRICK
His worst finish in three starts here is a T8 in 2008; he shared third a year ago. Recently strung together top 15s in three consecutive starts. Averages over 295 yards off the tee and ranks 25th in greens hit and 60th in Strokes Gained-Putting.
Kevin
NA
Top 25s in each of his last four starts here, including a T5 in 2009. Best finish in his last seven events this season is a T40 at Colonial in May, but droughts have never prevented him from suddenly contending. Ranks sixth in Strokes Gained-Putting.
Chez
REAVIE
His share of 18th place at The Greenbrier Classic clinched his fourth straight top 20. Currently sixth on TOUR in total driving and 19th in greens in regulation. Also ranks 79th off the tee at 291.7 yards.
Steven
BOWDITCH
Coming off his second T18 in three starts. In both (Viking, Greenbrier), he's kindled a blazing putter, which is more of his trademark moneymaker than his serious length off the tee. Also working up a reputation as a fearless closer.
Bob
ESTES
Suffered a loss in the playoff at The Greenbrier, but played his final 33 holes of regulation in bogey-free 12-under-par. Ranked second in putting for the week. Fourth appearance at Montreux where he was the runner-up in 2006.
Chris
DIMARCO
The soon-to-be 43-year-old is quietly piecing together his best season in a while, and doing so on a career earnings exemption. His T11 at The Greenbrier was his fifth top 25 of the season. He's 3-for-3 at Montreux with a T10 last year.
Brian
DAVIS
Returns for the first time since 2008 when he was the co-runner-up. Also placed T9 here in 2007. Shown glimmers of form recently, with a T18 at The Greenbrier and T9 at the Travelers Championship. Currently 33rd on TOUR in greens hit.
Bud
CAULEY
Since turning pro, he's 5-for-5 with three top 25s on the PGA TOUR, including a share of fourth at the Viking Classic. After a T13 at the RBC Canadian Open, finished T4 at the Utah Championship on the Nationwide Tour on Sunday.
Kevin
STADLER
Born in Reno, he's been a regular at the event and has had some success, going 5-for-5 with a pair of top fives, including last year's share of fifth. Infamously inconsistent week to week, recently finished T11 at the AT&T National. Ranks 38th in greens.

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