Power Rankings: Puerto Rico Open
March 20, 2017
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Graeme McDowell has made all seven cuts since November, including three top-15 finishes. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Is it harder to go undefeated in the World Baseball Classic or go wire-to-wire en route to victory on the PGA TOUR? That's a deep debate to wage even for hardcore fans of both sports, but it's now a common thread connecting both.
With two more wins in the WBC this week (a win on Monday secures a berth in Wednesday's championship), Puerto Rico will have swept its competition for the title. The island is also hosting this week's Puerto Rico Open where there's never been a wire-to-wire champion.
Wesley Bryan, Thorbjørn Olesen and 2015 champ Alex Cejka are among the others who will be included in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
Coco Beach Golf & Country Club has hosted every edition of the Puerto Rico Open. At 7,506 yards, the stock par 72 is one of the longest tests of the year. Large greens are necessary for the same purpose as what defends them: wind. Exposed on the coast on the northeast corner of the island, there's no escaping it. Easterly breezes ranging 10-15 mph are the norm, as are daytime highs in the 80s and a persistent threat for rain.
The Tom Kite design is positioned back in the pack among all courses tee to green, which helps define it as a fair test. Doubling down on that, the confluence of elements in Puerto Rico benefits ball-strikers with an emphasis on the second shot into large targets. Putting the Sea Dwarf paspalum greens pinning at just 11 feet on the Stimpmeter isn't as challenging as it is finding the proper landing area in the wind, especially from rough grown to two-and-a-half inches. Two-putting can be a reasonable goal. The course ranked 13th in putts per GIR last season and 10th in three-putt avoidance. (ShotLink has not been maintained throughout the tournament's history.)
Defending champion Tony Finau has elected to accept the position of first alternate at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play this week. So, the Puerto Rico Open will conduct its 10th edition with the guarantee that it still won't have a winner who has successfully defended. There have been six first-time winners, including each of the last four.
In addition to 300 FedExCup points and fully exempt status on TOUR through 2018-19, the winner will earn spots in THE PLAYERS and the PGA Championship among other invitationals, regardless if he goes wire-to-wire. On the flipside, Puerto Rico's baseball team cannot lose if it's going to claim the WBC title.
ROB BOLTON'S WRITING SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week’s event. Look for the following columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings (Puerto Rico Open)
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Match Play), Comfort Zone (Puerto Rico Open), Fantasy Insider, One & Done (Match Play)
WEDNESDAY: One & Done (Puerto Rico Open)
THURSDAY: Ownership Percentages in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf and One & Done presented by SERVPRO (Puerto Rico Open)
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks, which also publishes on Tuesdays.