This is the strangest Power Rankings you've ever read. This is because it's based on only 88 golfers. That's the committed field to the Safeway Open as of press time (to yank a term from the old days).
The Web.com Tour Championship required Monday to conclude. It determines the last 25 PGA TOUR cards for the 2017-18 season as well as the opening reshuffle of Web.com Tour graduates. Once the dust settles, most of the remaining spots in the field of 144 at Silverado Resort and Spa's North Course in Napa, California, will be filled. So, while you usually extend your research to my complementary preview material (found in the writing schedule beneath the ranking), you'll have to rely on it a little more than usual as the new season begins.
The Safeway Open is the first of 49 tournaments in the 12th season of the FedExCup era.
The old saying that it doesn't take much time for touring professionals to solve puzzles most certainly applies at Silverado. In its third consecutive spin as host a year ago, the field averaged 70.827. That's down nearly a full stroke from its debut in 2014.
The 2016 field averaged a whopping 12.8 greens in regulation per round despite splitting just 7.45 (of 14) fairways on average. Proximity-to-the-hole (33 feet, nine inches) and scrambling splits (61.12 percent) also set tournament records in its brief history.
Mounting scoring opportunities is usually the path to success in such templates, but Silverado actually has required a balanced attack from the tee to the cup. Tuesday's Confidence Factor will dig into the how and the why. It will include a focus on conversion percentage inside 10 feet. It was just 86.33 percent in last year's edition, ninth-lowest of any course all season.
Adding to the difficulty this year are new closely mown areas around seven of the greens, including each of the last four. The course still measures 7,166 yards, the primarily Poa annua greens are ready to run up to 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter and the longest rough will again measure three inches.
The unseasonably warm weather that has blanketed the Napa Valley in recent weeks will stick around for the Safeway Open. Daytime highs will flirt with 90 degrees, while sunshine and relatively dry air will dominate. Wind is not expected to be a factor.
ROB BOLTON’S WRITING SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week’s event. Look for the following columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Full-membership Fantasy Ranking, Sleepers, The Confidence Factor, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: Ownership Percentages in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf and One & Done presented by SERVPRO
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.