Power Rankings: Puerto Rico Open

Power Rankings: Puerto Rico Open

by:Rob Bolton

You wouldn’t think so to look at it as a whole, but there’re more flexibility in the PGA TOUR schedule than meets the eye.

While stretching 47 tournaments across essentially as many weeks – when setting aside the annual holiday break – prioritizes the fit of the jigsaw pieces over the process of moving them around for organizational purposes, there’s always been room for creativity and situational awareness.

Without a World Golf Championship slotted adjacent to or during the Florida Swing this year, the Puerto Rico Open slides into an unprecedented position opposite the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. That’s where PRO defending champion Branden Grace will be competing.

Both tournaments host 120-man fields, but the annual stop at Bay Hill is an invitational that takes precedence. Yet, just as it always has since it debuted in 2008, the PRO remains an official event contributing to the FedExCup.

For a breakdown of what’s up for grabs at Grand Reserve County Club east of San Juan, how it tests and more, scroll or swipe past the projected contenders and others to consider.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER

• Bo Van Pelt … Greg Kraft, Michael Bradley (twice), Alex Cejka, D.A. Points. All are former winners of the Puerto Rico Open and all were touring professionals of a certain age at the time of their triumphs. BVP is 46 but he’s made a few ripples in recent memory since returning from extended time away to heal from multiple injuries and surgery. That includes a T15 here last year to go 5-for-5 at Grand Reserve.

• Chase Seiffert … It’s always a heavier lift for non-winners with conditional status than it is for winners who often receive more sponsor exemptions, but the 30-year-old is hanging tough with a pair of top 25s this season, including a T25 at The Honda Classic where he was lurking at the midpoint. He’s 2-for-2 at Grand Reserve with a T15 last year when he averaged 14 greens in regulation per round to rank T5.

• Chan Kim … The 31-year-old continues to struggle finding success on PGA TOUR tracks. In 18 career starts spanning the last six seasons, he’s made 10 cuts but connected for only three top 25s. He’s just 1-for-3 with a T65 at Pebble Beach in 2022, but as the earnings leader on the 2020-21 Japan Golf Tour where he won twice last fall, expectations remain elevated to him to pop over here.

• Ted Potter, Jr. … The Wizard has been precisely that at Grand Reserve. He’s 4-for-4 with a T6 and a T7 in the last two editions, respectively. They’re also his most recent top-15 finishes in PGA TOUR-sanctioned competition. He scored 14-under 274 in both.

• Rafael Campos … This preview would be incomplete without him. The Puerto Rico native has teed it up in every edition of this tournament but one. In what was his debut season as a PGA TOUR member in 2020, he sat out that edition with a sore left elbow, but he returned with gusto for a personal-best T3 last year. It’s one of three top 10s in his last four appearances.

A record purse of $3.7 million will be distributed to the low 65 and ties who survive the 36-hole cut this week. The winner will pocket $666,000, 300 FedExCup points and secure PGA TOUR membership through at least 2023-24. He’ll score exemptions into the PGA Championship in May and the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions, among other invitationals.

He’ll also punch a ticket into THE PLAYERS Championship next week. Joseph Bramlett, Brice Garnett, Chesson Hadley, Kyle Stanley, Brian Stuard and Richy Werenski are the only commits at Grand Reserve who are already eligible for the PGA TOUR’s flagship event.

Although ShotLink technology isn’t used on the stock par 72 measuring 7,506 yards, there are no analytical advantages per se. Paspalum greens average just 6,000 square feet, so the premium is on hitting them in regulation as persistent breezes push in from a prevailing easterly direction. They’re governed to just 11 feet on the Stimpmeter, so they’ll hold approaches even from primary rough that’s just three-quarters-of-an-inch high and also primarily paspalum.

The threat of rain and thunderstorms – the latter of which a term we haven’t heard in a while on TOUR – will be as omnipresent as the flapping trousers along the northeastern shore of the island. There’s always a reasonable chance for rain in these parts at this time of the year, but the smaller field makes it easier to stay on time in case of a delay.


ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE

PGATOUR.COM’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.

MONDAY: Power Rankings (API)

TUESDAY*: Power Rankings (PRO), Sleepers (API), Draws and Fades

WEDNESDAY: Pick ’Em Preview

SUNDAY: Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Rookie Ranking