Power Rankings: Korn Ferry Challenge
June 08, 2020
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- Davis Riley has finished top-12 in three of six starts this season, including a win. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- After an approximately three-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Korn Ferry Tour returns to action at this week’s inaugural Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass, contested at TPC Sawgrass – Dye’s Valley Course in the Jacksonville, Florida, metroplex.
Prior to the pandemic hiatus, six Korn Ferry Tour events were completed, with Mito Pereira leading The 25 on the strength of a victory at the Country Club de Bogota Championship in February.
RELATED: Inside the field
Per the cancellation and postponement of several events during the pandemic, the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour season has been converted into a combined 2020-21 season, where The 25 PGA TOUR cards will be awarded in late summer 2021. The top-10 players on the Points List upon the conclusion of this year’s Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance in late August will gain access into additional events on the 2020-21 PGA TOUR.
The Korn Ferry Tour most recently competed at TPC Sawgrass – Dye’s Valley Course at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, 2013-15, with the venue also hosting the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open from 2010-12.
Dye’s Valley Course, designed by famed golf course architect Pete Dye, features a variety of dangerous water hazards, strategically-placed bunkers and deceptive angles that force players to stay mentally sharp for the round’s duration. The par-70 track measures 6,847 yards, with holes 8 and 17 (normally par-4s for member and guest play) converted to par-5s for this week’s competition.
After substantial rainfall in the Jacksonville region leading into tournament week, and thunderstorms forecasted throughout the week, players should be faced with a soft layout. Dye’s Valley has traditionally held its own, though – in six prior Korn Ferry Tour events, the winning score has fallen between 6- and 14-under par. Derek Fathauer (2014) and Emiliano Grillo (2015) share the lowest total to par at 14-under 266.
Fans will not be allowed on-site for the duration of the week, in accordance with national and local health guidelines.
Who is positioned to make a jump up The 25 in this week’s return to Korn Ferry Tour competition? Here are 10 players to watch.
1. Davis Riley. The University of Alabama alum has finished top-12 in three of six starts this season, highlighted by a victory at the Panama Championship, and stands second on The 25.
2. Mito Pereira. The Chile native leads The 25 on the strength of a victory in Bogota, punctuated by an eagle at the 72nd hole, and has recorded three top-four finishes in four starts.
3. Ben Kohles. The newly minted local resident has recorded two top-three finishes this season and could be poised for a return to the winner’s circle, after earning back-to-back Korn Ferry Tour titles in his first two starts out of college in 2012.
4. David Kocher. The Maryland alum is the Korn Ferry Tour’s most recent champion, having survived a three-man playoff at the El Bosque Mexico Championship in early March, and stands third on The 25.
5. John VanDerLaan. The Florida Southern alum and former Division II Player of the Year has displayed impressive consistency in his first full Korn Ferry Tour season, 6-for-6 in cuts made and with four top-25s.
6. Greyson Sigg. The Georgia alum hasn’t shown much need for a rookie learning curve, 6-for-6 in cuts made and with five top-25s, highlighted by a T4 at the LECOM Suncoast Classic in mid-February.
7. Jared Wolfe. The local resident stands sixth on The 25 on the strength of a victory at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at Baha Mar, and has plenty of TPC Sawgrass playing experience to draw upon.
8. Tommy Gainey. The South Carolina native won the Korn Ferry Tour’s first event of 2020, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, and shares the Valley Course tournament record at 8-under 62.
9. Mickey DeMorat. The Liberty alum has stayed competitively sharp with appearances on the Moonlight Golf Tour in central Florida, and gained experience in the spotlight as the 36-hole leader at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at Baha Mar.
10. Kyle Reifers. A veteran presence in the game, Reifers can draw upon past experience at Dye’s Valley Course, having finished runner-up to David Mathis at the 2010 Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open, just one shot off the pace.