GOLF

Power Rankings: Barbasol Championship

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OTHERS TO CONSIDER

• Michael Kim… The 2018 John Deere Classic champion avoided a bye as a past winner of that event last week in favor of The Ascendant presented by Blue. He finished T18. See, he’s on his way back to the PGA TOUR via the Korn Ferry Tour where he’s 43rd in points with seven top 25s in 18 starts. He has connected for six of those in his last seven. Second appearance at Keene Trace (T72, 2021).

• Yannik Paul … The 28-year-old German is making his second start on the PGA TOUR. Just three weeks ago he made his US Open debut for which he was listed eighth out of 10 automatic qualifiers in a four-event series on the DP World Tour. His stretch included a T2 among three top 20s. He is among the most accurate approaching his circuit.

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• Marcel Schneider… Paul’s compatriot is the best German golfer, 188th in the OWGR. Schneider placed last of 10 automatic qualifiers for the US Open with three top 10s. Since the major, he has added a pair of top 20s. Among the best putters on the DP World Tour.

• Justin Walters … Ranked seventh in greens hit on the DP World Tour, it’s understandable why he’s racked up six top 20 finishes in his last nine starts. This is proof that the 32-year-old South African pays for this precision with an improved putt.

No matter where any of the contestants traveled from, they are advised to waste no time getting their land legs under them, for, true to its regional interests, the Keene Trace Champions Course is a racetrack.

The par 72 stock in Nicholasville has yielded three scoring averages below 70 since its 2018 debut. (The 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic.) It was the easiest par 72 to singularly host an event. complete in his first two seasons, then second easiest (behind TPC Craig Ranch in his debut as host AT&T Byron Nelson) last season. Fittingly during America’s birthday week, more eagles have been seen at Keene Trace in its last two stagings than at any other in the seasons it has hosted. Barbasol Championship. That includes a PGA TOUR record 114 eagles in 2019.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the course experience should be successful. Of course, there are always examples of this, but Keene Trace hasn’t been shy about revealing the secrets of his bentgrass greens. Surfaces average 6,000 square feet, but they’ve been stingy in all distances compared to all of ShotLink’s other laser courses.

All shootouts require a combination of hitting the greens in regulation and sinking putts, but this is one of those instances in which the proverbial (but ultimately short-sighted) reference to a putting contest actually applies. Consider that Keene Trace’s average converted putt distance per golfer last year was just 68 feet, one inch. Out of 39 courses measured, he placed second to Copperhead (67’5”). So hoarding scoring opportunities still applies, but there’s some comfort in the promise that there are no gimmicks.

The winner will likely be able to sum up their experience in one word: momentum. Whether his rhetoric includes the combination of sticking it close, “everything,” or never putting in a big number when missing a green, tidy work in those areas will define how he prevailed. As usual, the primary rough is allowed to extend up to 3½ inches and greens are governed to 11½ feet on the Stimpmeter. Without change, the Champions Course remains at 7,328 points.

If a PGA TOUR member wins, they will receive the usual set of rewards. It includes 300 FedExCup points, membership extension through at least the 2024 season, and spots in the 2022 editions of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, THE PLAYERS Championship, and PGA Championship. If a DP World Tour member wins, their optional exemption from PGA TOUR membership would only extend to the 2022-23 season, although they will still receive the standard two-year exemption on their tour at residence.

Additionally, non-members who finish in the top 10 will not be eligible for a top 10 bye for next week’s Barracuda Championship. However, the top finisher, who is not otherwise exempt from next week’s Open Championship, will be the last man on the pitch at St. Andrews.

The warm, heavy air will help bring rain and the potential for thunderstorms on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons, so it would be an upset if it weren’t for at least a delay at some point. Gradual cooling will set the stage for a pleasant finish. The wind will not be a factor.


ROB BOLTON’S CALENDAR

PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews each tournament from many perspectives. Look for his following contributions as expected.

MONDAY: Power Rankings (Genesis Scottish Open)
TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (Barbasol Championship), Sleepers (Genesis Scottish Open), Expert Picks, Draws & Fades
WEDNESDAY: Preview of Pick ‘Em
SUNDAY
: Medical extensions, Qualifications, Reorganization, Ranking of recruits

* – Rob is a member of PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks panel for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.

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