Power Rankings: The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay
January 09, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Rafael Campos finished T3 last year at Sandals Emerald Bay, and he'll aim to contend again in 2019. (Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)
After a few months, some exciting Q-School results, and a change of the calendar, it’s time for the 30th Web.com Tour season to begin.
This week, the Web.com Tour returns to action at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay for the season-opener in paradise.
As is the case on the Web.com Tour, there is a hearty mix of returning veterans, award-winning collegiate stars, and a handful of those who progressed on the path to the PGA TOUR via the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, or PGA TOUR Series-China all in this week’s field.
Here are 10 to watch this week in the Bahamas as the 30th Web.com Tour season gets underway.
1. Tyler McCumber. McCumber captured the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada money list title and was Player of the Year after winning three times. The 27-year-old earned more than $139,000 in 2018 and was also first in scoring average. McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA TOUR winner Mark McCumber, made his PGA TOUR debut in 2018 and was in the final group on Sunday at the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. He received a sponsor’s exemption into the Safeway Open this fall and finished T25. McCumber will be no stranger to the Bahamian winds – having also won on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and spending a large part of his life in South Florida – and should be considered the favorite this week.
2. Danny Walker. Walker has been known for saving the best for last, but he’s certainly hoping to get off to a fast start on the 2019 Web.com Tour. Walker captured medalist honors at Final Stage of Q-School after a final-round 63, his low round of the week. He also won the final event of the Mackenzie Tour season to move into seventh on the Order of Merit. Walker helped his high school team in Florida win three straight state championships before going to the University of Virginia.
3. Norman Xiong. Xiong was very nearly the medalist at Final Stage of Q-School after rounds of 65-63-65 to start the championship. His final-round 69 left him one shot back of eventual medalist Danny Walker, but Xiong should hold his head high. He’ll come into the first event of the Web.com Tour season as one of the most decorated collegiate stars on Tour, having won the 2018 Jack Nicklaus Award as NCAA Division I men’s golfer of the year, along with the Haskins Award as the most outstanding collegiate golfer the same year.
4. Harry Higgs. Who more appropriate to watch out for this week in the Caribbean than the guy who played the best on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica last season? Higgs topped the circuit’s 2018 Order of Merit on the strength of seven top-10 finishes, including five straight to end the season (with a victory in Peru).
5. Dan McCarthy. McCarthy, a past Mackenzie Tour Player of the Year, hasn’t yet regained the form that saw him win four times on the Canadian circuit in 2016 after battling injury. But this year might be the one that changes the fortunes of the 33-year-old. McCarthy finished 73rd on the 2018 Web.com Tour money list and has a pair of solid results in Exuma the last two years, including a T4 in 2017 and a T21 in 2018.
6. Andy Zhang. Zhang finished T8 at Web.com Tour Q-School after being tied for the 54-hole lead and will be exempt for the first 12 Tour events this year. Zhang was a decorated amateur and collegiate golfer while at the University of Florida. His Web.com Tour debut this week will be his first PGA TOUR-sanctioned event since he qualified for the U.S. Open as a 14-year-old.
7. Rafael Campos. The native of Puerto Rico has a penchant for playing well at tournaments in the Caribbean and proved that with a T3 at this event in 2018. Campos, 30, finished 47th on the Web.com Tour money list last year; between a gluttony of experience and the fact that he is likely more comfortable than anyone in the field with the unpredictable Caribbean weather, he should be considered someone to watch this week.
8. Ben Taylor. Taylor is the second highest-ranked player from the 2018 Web.com Tour money list (outside The 25) who is in this week’s field. The LSU alum finished 29th on the Regular Season money list a year ago after winning the Country Club de Bogota Championship. Although he missed the cut at Great Exuma a year ago, he opened with a solid 69 on Thursday.
9. Maverick McNealy. McNealy was one of the steadiest players during the Regular Season last year, having started his Web.com Tour career making nine of his first 10 cuts. Those weeks included a T3 and a T6, his two best results of the year. McNealy finished 65th on the 2018 money list and is hopeful his professional career will start to mirror his celebrated amateur and collegiate career; he won the 2015 Haskins Award and has held the title of No. 1-ranked amateur golfer.
10. Jimmy Stanger. Stanger finished 78th on the Web.com Tour money list in 2018, but had a spectacular run at Final Stage of Q-School, where he finished T3. With a year’s worth of experience on the Web.com Tour now under his belt (he had four top-25 finishes) and with a decorated collegiate career in his back pocket, Stanger should make some noise on Tour in 2019 – starting this week.