Power Rankings: The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay
January 09, 2020
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- Augusto Nunez led the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in scoring average and total birdies. (Janiel Dickenson/PGA TOUR)
In 2017, the inaugural iteration of The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay featured winds in excess of 40 miles per hour, some of the most demanding conditions in Korn Ferry Tour annals, and Kyle Thompson’s winning score of 2-under.
The subsequent two years at the Greg Norman-designed Sandals Emerald Bay GC brought more scoreable conditions, with Sungjae Im (13-under) winning in 2018, and Marty Dou (18-under) hoisting the trophy last season.
This week, the tournament’s fourth playing looks to revert back to its 2017 ethos, as the forecast in Great Exuma calls for winds in excess of 20 miles per hour across all four competition days, Sunday-Wednesday.
Sandals Emerald Bay GC does not particularly challenge players with its length, as the par-72 layout measures just 7,001 yards. But narrow fairways and abundant hazards will cause the field to pay particular attention to club selection and ball control, particularly as the winds gust throughout the week.
Who is primed to have a big week at the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour season opener?
Here are 10 players to watch.
1. Augusto Nunez. The 27-year-old Argentinian dominated the 2019 PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, finishing top-20 in all 15 of his stroke-play starts, and comfortably winning the Tour’s Order of Merit.
2. Braden Thornberry. The Ole Miss alum finished No. 101 on the Points List as a rookie in 2019, but made amends with a successful trip through Q-School, sharing medalist honors at Final Stage.
3. Marty Dou. Last year’s winner in Exuma, Dou fell just short of a spot in The 25, but he’ll carry plenty of positive memories around Sandals Emerald Bay as he aims to become the first player to defend a Korn Ferry Tour title.
4. Paul Barjon. The New Caledonia native won twice on last year’s Mackenzie Tour, en route to Order of Merit-winning honors, and is amped to return to the Korn Ferry Tour for the first time since 2017.
5. Curtis Thompson. After spending time as a caddie in 2019, the LSU product blistered through Q-School last fall, finishing top-two at his First, Second and Final Stage sites. He carries abundant confidence into 2020.
6. Kevin Dougherty. After narrowly missing his first TOUR card via The 25 in 2018 and The Finals 25 in 2019, the Oklahoma State alum will aim to make amends in 2020. A fast start would go a long way.
7. Max McGreevy. Last year’s PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit winner will aim to build on the momentum from nine top-10 finishes in 13 starts, as he returns to the Korn Ferry Tour for the first time since 2018.
8. Stephan Jaeger. The original Mr. 58 (2016 Ellie Mae Classic), and a four-time Korn Ferry Tour winner, Jaeger has proven he is not afraid to keep the pedal down when his game hits its stride.
9. Steve LeBrun. Runner-up last year in Exuma, the veteran will not be fazed by windy conditions. He carries plenty of motivation into 2020, as he chases a PGA TOUR card for the first time since 2013.
10. Chase Koepka. The brother of renowned TOUR pro Brooks, Koepka fell short of guaranteed starts via Final Stage and will be geared up to take advantage of a sponsor’s invite and bolster his spot in future reshuffles.