Power Rankings: Panama Claro Championship

February 18, 2013
Jeff Shain,

A visit to Panama begins the Web.com Tour season for the seventh time in the past nine seasons, where Edward Loar will defend his title at the Panama Claro Championship. The purse stands at $600,000.

A year ago, Edward Loar survived Sunday struggles to hold on for a one-stroke win over a quartet of pursuers. A 6-foot par putt at the final hole secured the lefty’s first victory on a top tour since the 2004 Korean Open.

With no PGA TOUR event opposite the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship this year, the 132-man field finds a greater presence of PGA TOUR veterans. That includes three major winners – Rich Beem (2002 PGA), Shaun Micheel (2003 PGA) and Todd Hamilton (2004 British Open). There also are four entrants from among last year’s graduating class.

Panama Golf Club has been the event’s locale since its 2004 inception and doesn’t yield birdies easily. Only in 2010 has anyone gone lower than 11-under par for 72 holes – when Fran Quinn won at 15-under and Brian Smock was two shots back.

This week’s Power Rankings selections for the Web.com Tour opener at the Panama Claro Championship.

Power Rankings: Panama Claro Championship
Rank Player   Comment
Camilo Benedetti Camilo Benedetti The Colombian pro owns three top-15 finishes in Panama, including a tie for fifth in 2007. Benedetti arrives with plenty of motivation after finishing No.26 on last year’s money list, missing his PGA TOUR card by just $940.
Patrick Cantlay Patrick Cantlay The former UCLA standout got a dose of reality upon turning pro last year, struggling to match the results he posted when invited to PGA TOUR events as an amateur. A tie for ninth at Pebble Beach this season, though, showed promise.
Rob Oppenheim Rob Oppenheim The Massachusetts native has shown to be a fast starter in his three previous Web.com Tour seasons, though some missed cuts has made it a bit of feast or famine. He picked up some momentum by winning last month on the NGA Winter Series.
Jeff Klauk Jeff Klauk Still less than a year removed from brain surgery to alleviate epileptic triggers, Klauk got a boost from a tie for 16th in Phoenix three weeks ago. He has a major medical extension on the PGA TOUR, but will compete in Panama to stay sharp.
Peter Tomasulo Peter Tomasulo The California veteran makes just his second stop in Panama since 2008, but he’s been productive in a handful of PGA TOUR starts this winter. Tomasulo has made the cut all three times he’s teed it up, including a Saturday 66 at Pebble Beach.