Power Rankings: LECOM Health Challenge
July 02, 2018
By Stephen Andress, PGATOUR.COM
- July 02, 2018
- Australia's Rhein Gibson finished runner-up at Peek'n Peak in 2016 and looks to take the next step in western New York. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Three previous champions at Peek’n Peak Resort, Kevin Stadler, Roland Thatcher and Rick Lamb, return to this year’s LECOM Health Challenge in hopes of winning again and securing positions inside The 25.
Former PGA TOUR winner Kevin Stadler won at the western New York course near Lake Erie in 2004, defeating Bubba Watson and Michael Long in a playoff. It was his first of four career Web.com Tour wins.
Stadler made his first PGA TOUR-sanctioned cut since 2014 earlier this season at the Rust-Oleum Championship in early June. He had dealt with a nagging hand injury, a stress fracture in his palm, since the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season, the same season he claimed his first TOUR victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
"It was a lot of fun," Stadler said, after his T22 finish in June. "It’s been a long time since I've done this and certainly it was better play than I was expecting. I wasn't expecting a whole lot; I just wanted to kind of see, kind of go through the motions, see what happens, see what it's like to be back in competition."
Thatcher could use his previous success on this course to jump-start a PGA TOUR comeback, where he hasn’t played since 2012. Thatcher won at Peek’n Peak in 2007, a three-stroke victory, and one of his three career Web.com Tour wins.
Lamb won the LECOM Health Challenge in 2016, catapulting him to a PGA TOUR card. Lamb won in a four-way playoff. One of the players in that playoff is also in the field this week, Rhein Gibson.
Those are just a few of the players to look out for this week.
1. Sungjae Im. Until he relinquishes the top spot in The 25, this spot is his. He has yet to concede the top spot on the money list in any week this season.
2. Anders Albertson. His Sunday 63 to win last week was his 24th consecutive round under 72. Whoa. Albertson may be able to keep the momentum going at the LECOM Health Challenge, where he finished top-10 last season.
3. Adam Long. Is the Duke alum’s breakthrough up next? Fifteen of his last 16 rounds have been under 72, capped by a T2 finish last week at 23-under-par. He should be comfortable again at the LECOM Health Challenge, where he finished third last season.
4. Rhein Gibson. A T26 finish last week and now a return to the event where he lost in a playoff in 2016. Let’s not forget Gibson began this season with back-to-back top-three finishes. The talent is there.
5. Joseph Bramlett. He is the leader in scoring average (69.27) on Tour this season. His last seven finishes: T11, T15, T4, T27, CUT, T8, T16. That’s pretty darned good and enough to reach the cusp of The 25, now 29th in earnings this season.
6. Cameron Champ. Champ is sixth in scoring average (69.50) and continues to edge closer to The 25, now 32nd after a very strong last four events (T11, T4, 7, T5).
7. Kevin Stadler. A former champion here, and a top-25 finish in his first and only event this season after being injured makes Stadler one to watch this week.
8. Rick Lamb. Lamb has struggled on the PGA TOUR this season, only making one cut, but having won here in 2016 makes him a contender this week. He’s also made six of eight cuts on the Web.com Tour this season, including a T5 finish last week. Lamb is in good form going into the week.
9. Roland Thatcher. The 2007 win here puts him on the radar. Entering the week at No. 118 on the money list, he could benefit greatly from a strong showing in western New York.
10. Jim Herman. The PGA TOUR veteran is making his first start since February as he recovers from injury. One of the game's premier ball-strikers just might find himself in the mix.