Power Rankings: The McGladrey Classic

October 15, 2012
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

Not long after the second edition of The McGladrey Classic was in the books a year ago, the title sponsor extended its agreement through 2015. With a plethora of PGA TOUR members calling Georgia's St. Simons Island and nearby Sea Island home, it's a natural arrangement.

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The Seaside Course has received much praise as host of this tournament. The 84-year-old track isn't difficult for the touring professionals inasmuch as it furnishes fair tests in course management and creativity on and around greens.

The field of 132 that descends on the barrier island this week will be best served to eliminate all concerns as it relates to putting. While there was negligible variance tee to green from its debut in 2010 to last year, Seaside's greens ranked among the most difficult on TOUR in all of 2011. They were no slouches the first time around either.

In 2011, Seaside ranked inside the top-five most challenging in putting average (second overall; 1.707), one-putt percentage (second; 32.52%), putts per round (second; 30.73) and three-putt avoidance (fifth; 4.24%). It also ranked second in total putts in both the second (30.93) and third (30.86) rounds, and finished first in the split in the final round (30.93).

While Seaside finished with a scoring average of 69.571, fourth lowest among 14 par 70s utilized in non-majors, there were 113 fewer par breakers as compared to 2010, or an average of nearly one per golfer. Interestingly, there were 25 more eagles but 138 fewer birdies.

Seaside reads 7,005 yards on the scorecard. Predictably, its par 5s -- holes 7 and 15 -- respectively ranked as the 17th- and 18th-handicap holes in each of its two years as host. So, while scoring on the pair is a component for success this week, the primary test remains on the 7,000-square foot greens that could run at 12 on the Stimpmeter.

A mild threat for rain and boomers late on Thursday through Friday muddles an otherwise fine forecast. Once it passes, high temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s will accompany sunshine and light-to-moderate winds.

Power Rankings: The McGladrey Classic
Rank Player   Comment
Making his debut at The McGladrey Classic. Took a week off after a solo fourth in Vegas where he led the field in birdies (28), including 18 on the weekend. Ranks 10th on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained - putting and 26th in adjusted scoring.

En route to a T11 at Seaside last year, he led the field in fairways hit and ranked T2 in greens in regulation. Suffered just five bogeys all week, all on the back side of the course. Currently 24th on TOUR in strokes gained - putting; third in adjusted scoring.

Solo eighth at CordeValle, his third top 15 in four starts. Turned in one of the year's odder scorecards for his second round: bogey-free 69 with one eagle and no birdies. Seven straight rounds in the 60s running. Tied for sixth in his debut here last year.

The St. Simons Island transplant tied for 12th place at Seaside in 2010, but missed the cut in his return. He's missed just one cut in all of 2012. Rested since a T15 at East Lake. Ranks 12th on TOUR in strokes gained - putting and 19th in par breakers.

Coming off a season-best T4 at the Frys.com Open where he led the field in putting (1.596), co-led in birdies (21) and added an eagle. Admitted that a change in his grip on the putter has made all the difference. His confidence is growing.

Remains one of the TOUR's most underrated putters at 25th in strokes gained - putting. Tied for 13th at the JT Shriners where he holed an eagle and 20 birdies. Held the 54-hole lead at Seaside last year before finishing one stroke outside the playoff.

The local resident is riding an active consecutive cuts made streak of nine. Tied for 36th in his last start in Vegas where his opening-round, bogey-free 64 featured an eagle-eagle run. Tied for 15th at Seaside in 2010 with four rounds in the 60s.

Notoriously streaky. Top 25s in his last two starts, including a T22 at CordeValle where he carded a bogey-free 65 in the third round. Tied for 15th at Seaside in 2010. Currently seventh on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained - putting.

Fresh off breakthrough victory at the Frys.com Open, TOUR's leading putter (0.864 in strokes gained - putting) sets up well for Seaside. However, a letdown has to be expected. Dynamic of family to distract him last two weeks can't go overlooked either.

Rested after a solo runner-up finish at the Shriners where he buried an eagle and 25 birdies. He's 2-for-2 at Seaside with a T15 in 2010. Ranks 83rd on TOUR in strokes gained - putting, but 33rd in par breakers and 30th in adjusted scoring.
Five more to watch
These players didn't make the top 10 this week, but they're worth keeping an eye on:
CHARLES HOWELL III ... Ended his drought without a top 25 at 16 with a T11 at the Frys.com Open. Ranked T4 in greens hit and circled an eagle and 18 birdies at CordeValle. Closed out a T6 at Seaside in 2010 with a course-record 62 that still stands today.
MARTIN FLORES ... One of the best putters on TOUR (13th in strokes gained - putting) enjoyed a 42-hole bogey-free stretch spanning the first and last rounds at CordeValle en route to a share of 11th place. Ranked ninth in SG-P for the week. Eight top 25s on the year.
GARY WOODLAND ... First-timer at Seaside. Converted 20 birdies at the Frys.com Open en route to a share of ninth place, his first top 10 of the year. Fully exempt for 2013, but still piecing together positive results after early-season swing modifications and injury.
BILLY HORSCHEL ... Temporarily held the 36-hole lead late on Friday at CordeValle, but failed to break par on the weekend and finished T29. Held the lead at the midpoint at Seaside last year. One of Sea Island teacher Todd Anderson's many pupils.
DAVIS LOVE III ... This week's host refuses to rest. He admitted he likes to stay busy, and this is a home game. Since coming out on the short end of the Ryder Cup, the American captain has gone 2-for-2 in the Fall Series, albeit falling out of contention after each cut.

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