Power Rankings: Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship

September 10, 2013
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Though young guns frequently have commandeered the spotlight at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the lineup that arrives for the third leg of the Web.com Tour Finals has a different composition.

From the tournament’s inception, the NCC created a niche by extending invitations to All-Americans from the just-completed college season. Some wasted no time taking advantage of the exemption.

BYU’s Daniel Summerhays won the inaugural edition in 2007 while still an amateur, a feat duplicated by Georgia’s Harris English in 2011. Ben Kohles (Virginia) won last year’s event just days after turning pro, coming to Columbus straight from the Porter Cup.

Kohles beat fellow All-American entry Luke Guthrie in a playoff last year, while John Peterson (2011) and Rickie Fowler (2009) also have been runners-up from that category.

The custom ended when the NCC joined the Finals schedule (though now used by the Mylan Classic). With the four-event Finals past its midway point, there’s urgency for many players seeking one of the final 25 PGA TOUR cards at stake, as well as positioning on the priority order for next season.

Ohio State’s Scarlet course is a favorite among many players, where good shots are rewarded and poor ones largely penalized. A four-hole stretch on the back nine features two of the Web.com Tour’s’ 25 toughest holes last year (Nos. 11 and 14), plus one of the 10 easiest (No. 12).

Power Rankings: Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship
Rank Player   Comment
Ben MARTIN Ben MARTIN The Clemson grad played well enough to win last week, blaming a poor decision Thursday that drenched his ball and led to a double bogey. Martin has won already this year on tough tracks in Evansville and Pittsburgh; the Scarlet fits in both geography and difficulty.
John PETERSON John PETERSON Easily the Chiquita Classic's best ballstriker, Peterson stood at 73 percent in both hitting fairways and greens. He’s the only man on the Finals roster to finish top-10 in each of the first two events, and now returns to a venue where he finished runner-up two years ago.
Michael PUTNAM Michael PUTNAM The Web.com Tour earnings champion wasn’t kidding when he said he saw no reason to ease off the pedal in the Finals. Putnam was seventh in Fort Wayne, 14th last week and trails only three of his fellow Web.com regular-season graduates in Finals money.
Camilo BENEDETTI Camilo BENEDETTI Last week’s tie for eighth was Benedetti’s third top-20 finish in his past five starts. But they’ve been sandwiched around missed cuts – and the Colombian hasn’t made back-to-back cuts since May. Perhaps a good track record in Columbus will break the trend.
Ben KOHLES Ben KOHLES The defending champion showed signs of snapping out of his recent struggles with an opening 67 at River Run on the way to a tie for 19th. It was just the second time he’d broken 70 in his past 14 rounds; maybe coming back to the Scarlet will put him at ease again.
Jamie LOVEMARK Jamie LOVEMARK The California native was runner-up in his last visit to the Scarlet – back in 2010, when he was on the way to winning the money title. Lovemark missed last week’s cut, but he’s been playing better over the year’s second half as he puts back woes behind him.
Heath SLOCUM Heath SLOCUM A closing 66 propelled Slocum into a tie for eighth last week at River Run – his first top-25 finish on either circuit this year. Chalk it up to an improved putter, taking no more than 28 swipes in any round and gradually lowering the number each day.
Scott GARDINER Scott GARDINER A final-round 77 derailed what had been a decent week for the Aussie, dropping him 19 spots on the leaderboard into a tie for 47th. Gardiner has a good track record at the Scarlet with three top-15 finishes, though all came in the tournament’s early days.
Ricky BARNES Ricky BARNES The former U.S. Amateur champ made just two bogeys over his final 63 holes at River Run, including a stretch of 43 bogey-free holes that ended two from Saturday’s finish. Barnes topped the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation, never a bad stat to take to the Scarlet.
Brice GARNETT Brice GARNETT A pair of top-15s in the Finals have extended a run in which 10 of Garnett’s past 16 rounds have broken 70. Improved putting and scrambling numbers have been key. The Missouri native also plays well in Columbus, posting two top-20 finishes in three visits there.