Power Rankings: Panama Championship
January 27, 2020
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- January 27, 2020
- Veteran Roberto Diaz has recorded-back-to-back top-25s to open the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour season. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The Korn Ferry Tour’s traditional Central American swing begins at this week’s Panama Championship, the third of 25 Regular Season events on the 2020 calendar.
Venerable Club de Golf de Panama, a traditionally firm and fast venue, will host the event for a 17th consecutive season. The par-70 layout requires well-thought-out strategy when it comes to club selection off the tee, as well as creativity in how to play approach shots toward the greens.
Panama GC, which measures 7,157 yards, is historically one of the more challenging venues on the Korn Ferry Tour slate. Last year, the course played as the most difficult on Tour in relation to par (+2.012), although with only one hole (No. 7) among the 20 most difficult on Tour. With minimal ‘gimme birdie’ holes on the card, the course provides a consistent mental and physical challenge throughout.
Notable past champions at Panama GC include Jimmy Walker (2004), Carlos Ortiz (2014), Ryan Armour (2016) and Andrew Putnam (2017). Vance Veazey (2005, 2009) and Mathew Goggin (2011, 2015) are two-time champions in Panama.
Who’s slated for a big week at Club de Golf de Panama? Here are 10 players to watch.
1. Will Wilcox. After an eight-month injury layoff where he also got engaged, a revitalized Wilcox opened T16-T13 in the Bahamas and will aim to maintain the positive vibe in Panama.
2. Will Zalatoris. One of the Tour’s premier ball-strikers, Zalatoris should embrace the challenge of plotting his way around Panama GC. T4-T23 to open the season in the Bahamas.
3. Roberto Diaz. A veteran who relishes the opportunity to think his way around a course, Diaz has gone T24-T7 to open the season, and also finished T19 in his most recently appearance at Panama GC (2017).
4. Jared Wolfe. After his breakthrough victory at Baha Mar, four clear of the field, the all-time PGA TOUR Latinoamerica great returned home to the Jacksonville Beaches area to celebrate with his family as he readies for an attempt at back-to-back.
5. John VanDerLaan. The Florida Southern product who won his Second Stage site by eight shots, VanDerLaan finished T11-T23 in the Bahamas to open his first full Korn Ferry Tour season.
6. Curtis Thompson. The long-hitting LSU product is coming off a T3 at Baha Mar, matching his career-best Korn Ferry Tour showing (2016 Panama Championship).
7. Scott Langley. The University of Illinois alum shot a final-round 65 to win the 2018 Panama Championship by two, his first PGA TOUR-sanctioned title, and returns for the first time since.
8. Greyson Sigg. The University of Georgia product recorded back-to-back top-25s to open his rookie Korn Ferry Tour campaign, continuing his success from a ninth-place showing on last year’s Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit.
9. Nick Hardy. Baha Mar was a breakthrough week for Hardy, as the University of Illinois alum not only recorded his first career Korn Ferry Tour top-25, but contended down the stretch en route to a T3.
10. Grant Hirschman. The University of Oklahoma product shot a third-round 64 at Baha Mar en route to a T9 finish, and his even-keeled temperament should serve him well around the tricky Panama GC layout.