Power Rankings: The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach

July 05, 2011
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

Editor's note: Vartan Kupelian is the Champions Tour Insider and a PGATOUR.COM Contributor. Each week, Kupelian will size up the field and provide his top 5 players going into the tournament, based on factors such as the player's strengths, the course setup, recent performances, etc.

The Champions Tour makes a coast-to-coast and country-to-country trip this week for The Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Del Monte Golf Club.


It leaves the Montreal Championship, where John Cook won his third title of 2011, for California's Monterey Peninsula, where Ted Schulz is the defending champion.

Schulz shot 68-64-70 -- 202 to win by a shot over Tom Pernice Jr., with Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Kite another shot back. Schulz became the fifth first-time winner of 2010 with the decisive stroke coming on the famous par-3 17th hole at Pebble Beach, where he holed a 12-foot birdie putt.

The victory came in Schulz' 13th career start on the Champions Tour. Nature Valley, a General Mills brand, is the new title sponsor for the annual tournament at Pebble Beach which this year has moved from its traditional Labor Day weekend dates. In its eighth year, the unique event features The First Tee participants and amateurs competing with Champions Tour players.

The tournament is a showcase for The First Tee, a youth development organization dedicated to impacting the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through golf.

Power Rankings: The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach
Rank Player   Comment
A third victory of 2011 in Montreal catapults him to the top here. An impressive three-shot victory came after no top 10s in the previous five starts, but when Cook gets the putter working (No. 2 in Montreal in putting average), recent form doesn't matter.
Warmed up for one of his favorite events with a T7 in Montreal. Sluman won The First Tee Open back-to-back in 2008 and 2009, the first victory in the sequence coming by a wide five-stroke margin. T14 at Pebble Beach last year.
Coming off his first Champions Tour victory at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, he was in contention for another in Montreal before a final-round 72 derailed him. Still managed a tie for 10th and should be poised for another solid effort in California.
Can never look past him if he's playing Pebble Beach, where he won five times on the PGA TOUR. He was T18 last year and T8 in his most recent start at Rock Barn. Tops Champions Tour in fewest putts per round, 28.34.
Twice a runner-up in 2004 and 2006, Haas was T8 last year. Rounds of 65-66 left him just two strokes off the leader after 36 holes in Montreal before a final-round 71 dropped him into a tie for 10th.

This week's Champions Tour Power Rankings for The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach: