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Monday, February 20, 2017 -
Save a couple of stops on the West Coast Swing (Torrey Pines South and Riviera), the value of par really doesn’t resonate until the PGA TOUR embarks on its annual Florida Swing, which begins in earnest at this week’s Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. Averaging 1.768 strokes over par last year, PGA National’s Champion Course was the hardest par 70 of all non-majors for the second straight season. Of the 10 times that the tournament has been contested here, Adam Scott’s 9-under 271 marked the eighth time that the winning pace was single digits under par. The defending champ is par or better in his last eight rounds at PGA National. He’s also connected six straight top 15s since October. Leads TOUR in strokes gained: putting. Stumbled since Aloha State sweep. Entered last year’s Honda similarly, and then was the only golfer to connect four sub-70s at PGA National en route to a T3. Since P2 in PGA National debut in 2014, he’s added a T3 and a T26, respectively. Actual scoring average here is 69.08. Four top-11 finishes this season. Sixth in GIR. TOUR’s leader in bogey avoidance has been mainstay here since Rookie of the Year season of 2010. Last year’s T6 is his personal best of three top 15s. T4 in last start at WMPO. The 2016 runner-up is perfect in six trips with three top 15s; actual scoring average of 69.92 at PGA National. Winner three weeks ago in Dubai. Five top 20s in last six starts. He’s 4-for-4 at PGA National with a T6 in 2011. Ranks 25th in GIR and 17th in strokes gained: putting. Three top 20s in 2017, including a T5 in his last start at Pebble Beach. Twelve consecutive cuts made upon arrival with a win, two T6s and four more top 25s. Hasn’t missed a cut in six tries at PGA National; top 15s in the last two editions. Playing well enough to deserve inclusion here with top 25s the last two weeks. Also 6-for-6 at PGA National with four consecutive top 10s (from 2008-2015). Lost in a playoff here in 2015 when he closed with 64. Two last two weeks off after a T7 at TPC Scottsdale on TifEagle Bermuda greens, which he loves. The first-timer at PGA National has sustained brilliant form since early in 2016. Top 15s in four of last six starts. Among the best in the world with his irons. Cementing a reputation as a commodity on smaller ballparks and on par 70s and par 71s with a T13 at Waialae and T22 at Riviera in his last two starts. Tournament debut. Eight consecutive top 25s worldwide since winning the Dunhill Links in October. Twelfth on the European Tour in GIR and fifth in scrambling. Cooled since bracketing holiday break with three top 15s, but has four top 25s in last six Hondas. Last year’s T14 is a personal best. Well above average throughout his bag. The 22-year-old ball-striker seeks redemption after missing cut in debut here last year. T5 in last start in Dubai. Won DP World Tour Championship in November. Had been epitome of being “close” with six straight paydays (despite no top 40s) before a distant T2 at Riviera. Can pile on now at PGA National where he finished T10 last year. POWER RANKINGS: The Honda Classic RANK PLAYER COMMENT Look for Thomas Pieters, Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka and other notables in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider. The Champion Course tips at just 7,140 yards, but it has a dozen water hazards with undulating, TifEagle Bermudagrass greens that average just 5,500 square feet and prepped to run as fast as 12 feet on the Stimpmeter. Toss in rough of two-and-a-half inches and ubiquitous winds, and you immediately understand why par is a good score. Last year’s field averaged just 10.79 greens in regulation per round, 12th-lowest of the season. It converted those opportunities for eagle and birdies only one-quarter of the time (eighth-lowest clip of 2015-16). And when the field of 144 was scrambling to save par, it did just so just over half of the time, making PGA National the fifth-stingiest. It wouldn’t be a preview without a peek at holes 15, 16 and 17, otherwise known as The Bear Trap. With respective pars of 3, 4 and 3, it averaged 0.478 strokes over par as a group last year. Scott scored 5-over on the set for the week, ultimately surviving a quadruple bogey-7 on 15 in his third round in which he still signed for a 4-under 66. Wind and rain will headline the weather early and late this week, but neither can be ruled out as a threat at any time. Daytime temperatures will climb into the mid-80s, so it’ll feel a little sticky out there. 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*: Sleepers, Comfort Zone, 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, which also publishes on Tuesdays.
Monday, February 20, 2017 -
Each PGA TOUR player has earned a position on the priority ranking system that will be used to select tournament fields for the 2016-17 season. The complete ranking system, in order of priority, is as follows: 1. Winner of PGA Championship or U.S. Open prior to 1970 or in the last five seasons and the current season: Jack Burkjon rahe, Jr. Jason Day Jason Dufner Dow Finsterwald Raymond Floyd Doug Ford Al Geiberger Don January Dustin Johnson Gene Littler Rory McIlroy Bobby Nichols Jack Nicklaus Gary Player Justin Rose Webb Simpson Jordan Spieth Lee Trevino Jimmy Walker 2. Winner of THE PLAYERS Championship in the last five seasons and the current season: Rickie Fowler Matt Kuchar Tiger Woods 3. Winners of the Masters Tournament in the last five seasons and the current season: Adam Scott Bubba Watson Danny Willett 4. Winners of The Open Championship in the last five seasons and the current season: Ernie Els Zach Johnson Phil Mickelson Henrik Stenson 5. Winners of THE TOUR Championship in the last three seasons and the current season: Billy Horschel 6. Winners of World Golf Championships events in the last three seasons and the current season: Russell Knox Shane Lowry Hideki Matsuyama Patrick Reed 7. Winners of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament in the last three seasons and the current season, beginning with the 2015 winners. Matt Every David Lingmerth William McGirt 8. Leader from the final FedExCup Points List in each of the last five seasons: Brandt Snedeker 9. Leader from the final PGA TOUR Money List in each of the last five seasons: 10. Winners of PGA TOUR co-sponsored or approved tournaments, whose victories are considered official, within the last two seasons, or during the current season; winners receive an additional season of exemption for each additional win, up to five seasons: Aaron Baddeley Sangmoon Bae Daniel Berger Steven Bowditch Keegan Bradley Alex Cejka Greg Chalmers Tony Finau Jim Furyk Sergio Garcia Fabian Gomez Branden Grace Cody Gribble Emiliano Grillo Bill Haas James Hahn Padraig Harrington J.J. Henry Jim Herman Charley Hoffman J.B. Holmes Mackenzie Hughes Billy Hurley III Smylie Kaufman Si Woo Kim Chris Kirk Kevin Kisner Brooks Koepka Danny Lee Davis Love III Hunter Mahan Peter Malnati Ben Martin Graeme McDowell Troy Merritt Ryan Moore Rod Pampling Pat Perez Scott Piercy Jon Rahm Charl Schwartzel Brendan Steele Robert Streb Steve Stricker Brian Stuard Hudson Swafford Vaughn Taylor Nick Taylor Justin Thomas Jhonattan Vegas 11a. Players among the top 50 in career earnings as of the end of the preceding season may elect to use a one-time exemption for the next season: Geoff Ogilvy Carl Pettersson Bo Van Pelt 11b. Players among the Top 25 in career earnings as of the end of the preceding season may elect to use this special one-time exemption for the next season. Stewart Cink 12. Sponsor exemptions (a maximum of eight, which may include amateurs with handicaps of 0 or less), on the following basis: A. Not less than two sponsor invitees shall be PGA TOUR members not otherwise exempt. B. Not less than two of the 2016 Top Finishers of the Web.com Tour, if not all can otherwise be accommodated. NOTE: PGA TOUR members may receive an unlimited number of sponsor invitations. Non-TOUR members may receive a maximum of seven per year. 13. Two international players designated by the Commissioner. 14. The current PGA Club Professional Champion up to 6 open events (3 must be opposite The Open Championship and World Golf Championships events), in addition to any sponsor selections. The exemption does not apply to open, limited-field events. Rich Berberian, Jr. 15. PGA Section Champion or Player of the Year of the Section in which the tournament is played. 16. Four low scorers at Open Qualifying which shall normally be held on Monday of tournament week. 17. Past champions of the particular event being contested that week, if cosponsored by the PGA TOUR and the same tournament sponsor, as follows: A. Winners prior to July 28, 1970: unlimited exemptions for such events. B. Winners after Jan. 1, 2000: five seasons of exemptions for such events. 18. Life Members (who have been active members of the PGA TOUR for 15 years and have won at least 20 co-sponsored events). Vijay Singh Tom Watson 19. Top 125 on the previous season’s FedExCup points list. Paul Casey Kevin Chappell Gary Woodland Roberto Castro Sean O'Hair Kevin Na Jason Kokrak Ryan Palmer Louis Oosthuizen Harris English Jamie Lovemark Charles Howell III Brian Harman David Hearn Luke Donald Kevin Streelman Kyle Reifers Daniel Summerhays Jon Curran Marc Leishman Ricky Barnes Jerry Kelly Chad Campbell Patrick Rodgers Harold Varner III Martin Laird Johnson Wagner Colt Knost Scott Brown Chez Reavie Patton Kizzire Adam Hadwin Russell Henley John Senden Bryce Molder Freddie Jacobson K.J. Choi Spencer Levin John Huh Sung Kang Jason Bohn Tyrone Van Aswegen Derek Fathauer Blayne Barber Lucas Glover Jonas Blixt Brett Stegmaier Robert Garrigus Zac Blair Francesco Molinari Cameron Tringale Andrew Loupe Boo Weekley Mark Hubbard Kyle Stanley Ben Crane Michael Kim Anirban Lahiri Graham DeLaet Luke List Shawn Stefani David Toms Seung-Yul Noh 20. Top 125 on previous season’s Official Money List through the Wyndham Championship Ken Duke Steve Marino Bud Cauley Retief Goosen Chad Collins Morgan Hoffmann 21. Players who finished greater than or equal to top 125 on the 2015-16 PGA TOUR Official Season FedExCup Points List or top 125 on the 2015-16 Official Season Money List through the Wyndham Championship as non-members: Byeong Hun An Rafa Cabrera Bello Soren Kjeldsen 22. Major Medical Extension: If granted by the Commissioner, if not otherwise eligible, and if needed to fill the field, Special Medical Extension. Nick Watney Kevin Stadler Ian Poulter Tim Clark Brian Gay Jeff Overton Bob Estes Chris Couch Ryo Ishikawa Troy Kelly Briny Baird Will Wilcox Harrison Frazar Charlie Beljan John Peterson 23. Leading Money Winner from the previous season’s Top 25 regular season players using combined money earned on the Official Web.com Tour Regular Season Money List and Web.com Tour Finals Money List, Leading Money Winner from the previous season’s Web.com Tour Finals and Three-Time Winners from previous season Web.com Tour. Wesley Bryan Grayson Murray 24. Leading money winner from Web.com Tour medical 25. Top 10 and ties, not otherwise exempt, among professionals from the previous open tournament whose victory has official status are exempt into the next open tournament whose victory has official status. 26. Top Finishers of the Web.com Tour: Finishers 2-25 from the previous season’s Top 25 Web.com Tour Regular season players using combined money earned on the Web.com Tour Regular Season Money List and money earned in the Web.com Tour Finals and the top 25 players and ties on the Web.com Tour Finals Money List at the conclusion of the Finals who are not already exempt. Kelly Kraft C.T. Pan Ollie Schniederjans J.J. Spaun Cameron Smith Ryan Blaum Whee Kim Richy Werenski Michael Thompson Scott Stallings Martin Flores Trey Mullinax Dominic Bozzelli Cameron Percy J.T. Poston Seamus Power Tim Wilkinson Ryan Brehm Xander Schauffele Rory Sabbatini Steven Alker Andres Gonzales Will MacKenzie Brandon Hagy Tag Ridings Brian Campbell Brad Fritsch Kevin Tway Nicholas Lindheim Brett Drewitt Miguel Angel Carballo Ryan Armour Julian Etulain Bryson DeChambeau Gonzalo Fdez-Castano D.A. Points Sebastian Munoz Andrew Johnston Mark Anderson Joel Dahmen Patrick Cantlay Jonathan Randolph Zack Sucher Rick Lamb Bobby Wyatt Max Homa Brian Davis Kris Blanks Will Claxton Bobby Gates Lee Williams Shane Bertsch David Berganio, Jr. Note: Reordered after the conclusion of The RSM Classic and the Genesis Open; thereafter, Mondays of the Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, U.S. Open and The Open Championship. 27. Top Finishers from the Web.com Tour medical: NOTE: This category will be reordered with the above category #26. 28. Players winning three Web.com Tour events in the current season: 29. Minor medical extension: 30.Twenty-five finishers beyond 125th place on prior season’s FedExCup Points List (126-150): Greg Owen Matt Jones Hiroshi Iwata Chris Stroud Steve Wheatcroft Tom Hoge Sam Saunders Tyler Aldridge Michael Putnam Stuart Appleby Bronson Burgoon Nicholas Thompson S.J. Park Note: Reordered after the conclusion of The RSM Classic and the Genesis Open; thereafter, Mondays of the Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, U.S. Open and The Open Championship. 31.Nonexempt, major medical/family crisis: NOTE: This category will be reordered with the above category #30. 32. Reorder Categories 33-37 Camilo Villegas Andres Romero Jonathan Byrd Brendon de Jonge Y.E. Yang Mark Wilson Dicky Pride John Merrick Michael Bradley Angel Cabrera Bill Lunde Tim Petrovic Eric Axley Charlie Wi Fred Funk John Rollins Tommy Gainey Robert Allenby Craig Barlow Note: Categories 33-37 Reordered after the conclusion of The RSM Classic and the Genesis Open; thereafter, Mondays of the Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, U.S. Open and The Open Championship. 33. Past Champions, Team Tournament Winners and Veteran Members Beyond 150 on the FedExCup Points List: If not otherwise eligible and as needed to fill the field, Past Champion members, Team Tournament Winners and Veteran members beyond 150th place on the previous season’s FedExCup Points List in order of their combined official PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour earnings in the previous season. Jason Gore Tim Herron Justin Leonard D.J. Trahan Derek Ernst Ted Potter, Jr. Marc Turnesa Bernhard Langer Brendon Todd Cameron Beckman Ted Purdy Billy Mayfair Steve Flesch Troy Matteson Rocco Mediate Frank Lickliter II Arjun Atwal Larry Mize Mark O'Meara Trevor Immelman Marco Dawson Shaun Micheel Rich Beem Mark Hensby Peter Lonard Ben Curtis Chris Smith Len Mattiace Kent Jones Omar Uresti Matt Bettencourt Richard S. Johnson Brett Wetterich 34. Past Champion Members: If not otherwise eligible and if needed to fill the field, Past Champion members, in order of the total number of cosponsored or approved events won, excluding Team events. If two or more players are tied, the player who is higher on the PGA TOUR Career Money List shall be eligible. 35. Special Temporary Members: If during the course of a PGA TOUR season, a nonmember of the PGA TOUR wins an amount of points (e.g., by playing in PGA TOUR events through sponsor exemptions, Open Qualifying, etc.) equal to the amount won in the preceding season by the 150th finisher on the FedExCup points list, he will be eligible to become a special temporary member for the remainder of the season. 36. Team Tournament Winners: If not otherwise eligible and if needed to fill the field, winners of co-sponsored team championships, in order of the total number of team championship tournaments won. If two or more players are tied based on the number of such tournaments won, the player who is higher on the official PGA TOUR Career Money List shall be eligible. 37. Veteran Members: If not otherwise eligible and if needed to fill the field, Veteran members (players who have made a minimum of 150 cuts during their career), in order of their standing on the PGA TOUR Career Money List.
Monday, February 20, 2017 -
Welcome to the Monday Finish, where Dustin Johnson is the 20th player in history to become the world No. 1 golfer after his 13th PGA TOUR win. Here’s five observations from the Genesis Open, where the reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year survived a marathon Sunday to take the trophy. FIVE OBSERVATIONS 1. Dustin Johnson is as athletic a golfer as we’ve ever seen with his raw power and strength now coupled with some deft touch. Just over a year ago, Johnson made a significant commitment to his wedge game, and as such, has become a much more well-rounded player, catapulting him all the way to the top of the world. At Riviera this week, the 2015-16 PGA TOUR Player of the Year added an impressive week with his putter, and the result was a demolition of the field. A new putter grip for the Genesis Open may have been the switch he needed as he gained nearly two shots a round on the field in putting. If Johnson can continue mixing up a great short game with his power, his reign at the top of the world rankings could be a long one. 2. It was only a matter of time for Johnson at Riviera. His record at the storied Los Angeles course was no doubt trending towards this victory and perhaps is a little kismet for the win to coincide with his trip to the top of the world rankings. In his 10 trips to the Genesis Open, Johnson now has a win, plus two seconds, a third, two fourths and a T10. For a long time, it appeared as if the tournament scoring record of 20-under was under threat. An impressive 14 of his last 16 rounds at Riviera have been under par for a scoring average of 67.9375 in the last four years. In his 36 career rounds, he averages 69.19. Impressive stuff. 3. Johnson has now won at least once in each of his opening 10 years on the PGA TOUR. It is a very impressive record. The only other players to do that? Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. It is exalted company for sure but Johnson has a long way to join the trio’s lifetime winning efforts. Johnson now has 13 TOUR wins, four in his last 14 starts since the U.S. Open last year. But Nicklaus (1962-78) and Palmer (1955-71) kept the streak going for a record 17 years each. Woods (1996-2009) managed 14 years. Woods has 79 TOUR victories to his name. Nicklaus has 73 wins, Palmer 62. 4. Jason Day certainly hasn’t played his best golf to start 2017 after taking three months off for back rehabilitation last year, but the Australian should be applauded for his impressive 47-week stint at the top of the world rankings. Since 1986, and the rankings birth, only 10 stints at the top have been longer, the last being Rory McIlroy’s 54-week run from Aug. 3, 2014 to Aug. 15, 2015. Day now has 51 career weeks at the top, putting him behind only Tiger Woods (683 weeks), Greg Norman (331 weeks), Nick Faldo (97 weeks), McIlroy (95 weeks), Seve Ballesteros (61 weeks) and Luke Donald (56 weeks). With Day, McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth all close to Johnson on the current list, we have an exciting season ahead. 5. Justin Rose may not have won on the west-coast swing but the former U.S. Open winner was certainly impressive on the way to three top-4 finishes in four events. He was second to Justin Thomas at the Sony Open and T4 at both the Farmers Insurance Open and Genesis Open. Rose suffered with back issues late in 2016 and has now picked up a small thumb complaint, but if the Englishman can remain healthy heading into the majors, you get the feeling the 36-year-old could be a serious contender once more. The Olympic Gold Medalist has been inside the top 25 for the last six Masters tournaments, including a runner up finish in 2015. He’s certainly one to watch in the coming weeks. FIVE INSIGHTS 1. Dustin Johnson led the field for Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee on the way to his victory, marking the 25th time he’s accomplished this feat on the PGA TOUR since 2008. Only Bubba Watson has led more events Off-the-Tee over this time frame (27 times). 2. Johnson was the only player in the field to average over 300 yards on all drives for the week. In fact, his 300.6 average driving distance was 22 yards longer than the field average and 8 yards longer than the second-longest player in the field (Adam Scott 292.4 yards). Johnson is just the fifth player in the ShotLink era to average over 300 yards off the tee (all drives) for a week at Riviera Country Club. 3. Johnson also hit a field leading 77.8 percent of the greens in regulation for the week, marking the fifth time he’s led the field for greens in regulation in a PGA TOUR event. Johnson’s average of 77.8 percent was nearly 20 percent better than the field average for the week (58.6 percent). 4. Entering the 2017 Genesis Open, Johnson ranked outside the top 100 in a number of putting stats on the PGA TOUR. However in Los Angeles he ranked inside the top 6 for Strokes Gained: Putting, Feet of putts made, putting inside 10 feet, and putting outside 20 feet. 5. Jason Day struggled with driving accuracy last year and it appears as if the problem remains in 2017. With just 22 of 56 fairways at Riviera Day ranked last of those players to make the cut. He is now ranked 200th on the TOUR this season at 51.26 percent. His 50.46 percent last season was a career low for the 29-year-old. Day has been shortening his swing in a bid to help the longevity of his back.  TOP THREE VIDEOS 1. Cameron Tringale was in trouble on the famed 18th at Riviera Country Club after a wild drive and a forced lay-up. Then he did this.  2. It seems every time he plays we can say: Here’s Phil Mickelson being Phil. The 10th at Riviera can be diabolical for some. Not for Phil.  3. A press conference with Dustin Johnson can certainly make you giggle. There are some great laughs throughout here. Our fave sound bite starts around 10:20. 
Monday, February 20, 2017 -
There are 25 rookies on the PGA TOUR in 2016-17. This feature provides a subjective ranking updated weekly. The Rookie of the Year is voted by PGA TOUR members who make at least 15 starts. SNAPSHOT: Riviera Country Club typically isn’t as kind to first-time participants and PGA TOUR rookies as it was to several in the field of last week’s Genesis Open. It probably didn’t hurt that rain softened and eased the course to some extent, so four guys in particular took advantage. Wesley Bryan paced seven rookies in the field with a share of fourth place, six strokes back of champion Dustin Johnson. Not only is it Bryan’s career-best finish in 13 starts, but he and Ollie Schniederjans (T8) became the first rookies to record a top 10 in the tournament since Alex Prugh tied for 10th way back in 2010. J.T. Poston placed T17, his personal best in 10 TOUR starts. It’s the kind of performance that not only could yield more success but serve as a turning point in retrospect if he capitalizes. Consider that he got into the field via the open qualifier at which he had to survive a six-for-two playoff. Finally, non-member Thomas Pieters shared runner-up honors for his first top 10 in seven TOUR appearances. With a T14 at the WGC-HSBC Champions already on the board this season, he’s now only 13.395 non-member FedExCup points from qualifying for Special Temporary Membership. If he achieves and accepts, the 25-year-old from Belgium would then become rookie eligible when he reaches totals 10 starts in 2016-17 or if his equivalent FedExCup points would rank inside the top 125 among members at the conclusion of the Wyndham Championship (à la Jon Rahm in seven starts in 2015-16). LOW ROOKIE: Wesley Bryan, T4. First time. CAREER-BEST FINISHES (AND TIES): Wesley Bryan (T4); J.T. Poston (T17). * - In the field at The Honda Classic as of Feb. 19. # - Top-10 alternate at The Honda Classic as of Feb. 19. Through the Genesis Open NOTE: A player’s rookie season ("Rookie Year") is defined as the season in which he becomes a PGA TOUR member (including Special Temporary Members) and plays in 10 or more events as a member or finishes in the Top 125 on the Official FedExCup Points List, the Top 125 on the Official PGA TOUR Money List or qualifies as a Top 125 - Nonmember, whichever occurs first. Further, for purposes of this definition, a new member (including Special Temporary Members) shall not be eligible for the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year if he has previously played in more than seven (7) Official PGA TOUR Money events as a professional in any prior season.

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